Study: Divorce has less impact on the health of older couples

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It’s well known that divorce is almost always a difficult experience filled with hard choices and emotional costs.

But a recent study suggests that on average, divorce causes fewer health-related problems for older couples than it does for younger couples. Of course, younger couples are more likely to have to deal with difficult child custody and child support disputes.

The study was conducted far from St. Louis by a sociologist at Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan.

She published her findings in the research journal Social Science and Medicine.

In the published report, she says older people have developed more complete coping skills with which they’re able to more successfully deal with the many stresses of divorce.

“It’s clear to me that we need more social and family support for the younger divorced groups,” the assistant professor of sociology said in a statement. “This could include divorce counseling to help people handle the stress, or offering marital therapy or prevention programs to maintain marital satisfaction.”

The professor analyzed health reports from nearly 1,300 participants in a long-term national survey, measuring the differences in health between those who stayed married during the entire 15-year study and those who divorced during that time.

She also analyzed the self-reported differences in health between the older divorced people and the younger ones.

Those who divorced between the ages of 35 and 41 reported more health problems than those who divorced between the ages of 44 and 50. Both groups were compared to the continuously married group.

The results surprised the researcher, she said in her statement: “I would have expected divorce to carry less stress for the younger generation, since divorce is more prevalent for them.”

Of course, no matter what the results of studies such as this one, it’s important to remember that we are all individuals with entirely unique reactions to stress. Studies can only speak to averages and groups, not individuals.

Source: Michigan State University: “Divorce hurts health more at earlier ages,” Jan. 30, 2012

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