Thinking About Divorce? A New Study Suggests You May Reconsider
By: M. Scott Gordon
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Chicago, you may have been contemplating this difficult decision for a very long time. We know that nobody enters into the divorce process lightly, especially after a long-term marriage and when there are children involved. At the same time, a recent study conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University and the University of Alberta determined that around 50 percent of people who consider divorce end up changing their minds within a year. As the study suggests, “if you’re thinking about getting a divorce, give it a year—there’s a fifty percent chance your feelings will change quite dramatically.”
Does this study accurately reflect sentiments and rates of divorce, or is it possible that the study includes individuals who have thought only generally about divorce in the first place? To better understand the findings, let’s take a closer look at the study.
Methods of the National Divorce Decision-Making Project
The study comes out of research conducted by American and Canadian professors on U.S. divorce rates as part of the National Divorce Decision-Making Project at Brigham Young University. It is a collaborative project that involves researchers from six universities, including BYU, the University of Alberta, University of North Texas, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, and Montana State University. The recently reported results involved studying a representative group of 3,000 different Americans, aged between 25 and 50.
How did the study work? It grouped the 3,000 participants into three different categories:
The soft thinkers, according to Adam Galovan, one of the authors of the study, “had infrequent thoughts of divorce and few problems, and were generally hopeful about improving their marriage.” The serious thinkers, differently, thought about divorce “more frequently, had more serious issues, and felt less hopeful.” The conflicted thinkers were those with “the most intense problems” in the marriage, such as adultery or addiction or abuse issues. The individuals in this last group, ironically, had the most hope for their relationships, yet they also ended up with the highest divorce rates.
Study Findings: Couples May Change Their Minds About Divorce Over Time
According to the authors of the study, they observed these three groups over the course of a year. Within that time, approximately 50 percent had moved into a different category. This does not mean that more soft thinkers started considering divorce more seriously, however. As Galovan explained, they “bounced around,” and numerous participants went from being serious thinkers to not considering divorce at all.
The study does not necessarily suggest that those thinking about divorce seriously should give it more time. Many individuals who have carefully contemplated divorce and its implications may not be entirely represented in the study. What the findings do suggest, instead, is that thinking about divorce is a lot more common than we might expect, and that it is normal to consider divorce even if you may change your mind later. According to Galovan, “couples can take these thoughts as an invitation to look at their relationship and do what they need to do to improve it.”
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