Divorce or Not? An Assessment of a Couple with a Four-Year-Old Child
The objective of this work is to assess through use of critical thinking skills the dilemma of a couple who is facing the question due to marital unhappiness as to whether it is best that they seek a divorce. The couple has been married for approximately seven years and a daughter has been born of the marriage. This daughter is four years of age. Both of the parents are active and engaged parents and they have been in marriage counseling and presently, are living separately from one another. For the purpose of this study is it assumed that there are no major problems such as extramarital affairs, physical abuse, nor are issues of drug and/or alcohol abuse present in this marriage.
When parents are considering a divorce, and specifically in the case where a young child is involved, there is much more at stake than simply the happiness of the parents as at stake is the child's development which will either be healthy and productive or married and negative affecting the child throughout the adult lifespan. Divorce has been a popular solution to marriages less than blissful however, this seemingly simple solution in the long-term has found to be counter-productive to the happiness of the couples who divorce instead of promoting happiness following a divorce. Since divorce can certainly be assumed to occur from 'unhappiness' regardless of the specific issue causing the unhappiness then the use of happiness as a measure would be logical in making this assessment.
I. Divorce and Happiness Outcomes
Research findings state that adult who were unhappily married and who divorced or separated "were not happier, on average, than unhappily married adults who stayed married." (Waite, Browning, Doherty, Gallagher, Luo and Stanley, 2002) Furthermore, findings state that divorce: "...did not reduce symptoms of depression for unhappily married adults or raise their self-esteem, or increase their sense of mastery, on average, compared to unhappy spouses who stayed married." (Waite, Browning, Doherty, Gallagher, Luo and Stanley, 2002) for the purpose of this present assessment, it is critically necessary to consider the fact that findings of research study show that: "The vast majority of divorces (74%) happened to adults who had been happily married five years previously." (Waite, Browning, Doherty, Gallagher, Luo and Stanley, 2002) Within this specific group findings state "divorce was associated with dramatic declines in happiness and psychological well-being compared to those who stayed married." (Waite, Browning, Doherty, Gallagher, Luo and Stanley, 2002) Just as important to note is the fact that findings show that: "Two out of three unhappily married adults who avoided divorce or separation ended up happily married five years later." (Waite, Browning, Doherty, Gallagher, Luo and Stanley, 2002) Additionally reported is that: "...the unhappiest marriages reported the most dramatic turnarounds. Among those who rated their marriages as very unhappy, almost eight out of ten who avoided divorce were happily married five years later." (Waite, Browning, Doherty, Gallagher, Luo and Stanley, 2002)
II. Investigation of Formerly Unhappy Marriages and How These Marriages Survived
One research study that was conducted through focus group interviews with 55 unhappily married couples states findings that many couples who are happily married have "experienced extended periods (typically two years or more) of marital unhappiness, often for quite serious reasons..." (Waite, Browning, Doherty, Gallagher, Luo and Stanley, 2002) Focus group interviews revealed the fact that counseling was not reported by but a minority for having an effect in turning the marriage around and this includes religious counseling.
III. Often Last Considered but Certainly Not the Least among Considerations
It is unfortunate that oftentimes the most important aspect of the marital failure is given the least of all considerations and specifically, the child of the unhappy marriage. The work of Judith Wallerstein, considered the "...foremost authority on the effects of divorce on children' states in her book entitled: "Unexpected Legacy of Divorce" that: "Children from divorced and remarried families are two to…