Topic 3: Marital Breakup {by 9/26}

There is one reading due this week – Text Chapter 4.  Address the following two discussion points:  (1) How does one know when having a divorce is a “better” decision than remaining in the marriage with regard to the mental health of the family system?  (2) Simply identify and explain something from this chapter that you learned (i.e., did not already know) about the family system and the divorce process.  Your original post should be posted by the beginning of class 9/26.  Have your two replies no later than 9/28.  *Please remember to click the “reply” button when posting a reply.  This makes it easier for the reader to follow the blog postings.

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kirsten Chirichetti
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 00:44:29

    According to the process model of divorce, this negative family circumstance is seen as the occurrence of multiple potentially stressful changes in the social and physical environments of adults and children, as opposed to the family’s reactions to a single negative event. In this way, before a divorce takes place, a chain of marital transitions and family re-organizations occur that change the roles and relationships within the family (Walsh, 2003). As these difficult transitions continue, the family must deal with the different challenges that they present, using their previous family experiences and functioning to respond to the divorce and post-divorce life. Although many children and parents adjust negatively to post-divorce life, divorce can offer other parents and children certain benefits (Walsh, 2003). If high levels of violence, verbal threats, conflict, and unhappiness highlight the family’s marriage, a divorce may be a parent and child’s escape from an unhappy, scary, or conflicting family situation. In addition, a divorce may offer family members the opportunity to build more fulfilling relationships and increase the potential for personal development. When these scenarios occur, divorce is often a “better” decision than remaining in these highly conflicting marriages because they promote the well-being, functioning, and mental health of the overall family system and all of its members. Nonetheless, divorce is a very stressful event that shifts daily routines, roles, activities, and social relationships. Studies have found that compared to non-divorced individuals, divorced people have less adequate levels of income, higher incidence rates or motor vehicle accidents, increased risk for psychopathology, and elevated drinking/drug use (Amato, 2000; Burman & Margolin, 1992; Hetherington et al., 1998, as cited in Walsh, 2003). However, at the same time, divorces can also improve a family member’s autonomy, overall happiness, social involvement, and career involvement. In this way, the decision to and the effects of obtaining a divorce are unique to each individual and it is important that a counselor consider this information when helping him or her effectively cope with the divorce.

    One interesting fact that I learned about the family system and the divorce process that I was unaware of involved the impact of divorce on the family’s siblings’ relationship. Although there have only been a few studies conducted in this area, research has found that sibling relationships following parental divorce are generally distressed, marked by patterns of conflict and negativity, as well as disengagement and avoidance (Conger & Conger, 1996; Hetherington, 1993; Hetherington & Kelly, 2002; MacKinnon, 1989, as cited in Walsh, 2003). This research provides evidence for a spillover effect that a divorce may have with other family relationships. With high levels of negative sibling conflict, more stress may be created for the divorced spouses and greater conflicts between the parents and children. In addition, the conflict that exists between siblings during the post-divorce period may be related to a sibling’s differential treatment by parents and also each sibling’s differential involvement in parental disputes (Walsh, 2003). Even though I was aware of how children could be tangled between ex-spouses in divorce and custody battles, I did not realize the impact that this event had on the siblings’ relationship. Depending on the individual, each child may understand, process, and cope with the divorce differently. These differences in how children deal with the negative family transition of divorce influence their interactions with each other and subsequently how they may help and support one another successfully deal with the family’s stress. In this way, siblings are able to promote more family cohesion in a divorced family by acting as a buffer against the negative effects of a conflicting relationship with a parent and finding ways that the family can come together to effectively function as an entire system (Walsh, 2003).

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    • Amanda Thomas
      Sep 24, 2013 @ 21:24:57

      Kirsten- I think it is really important that you identified that although divorce is a stressful event it can also improve family functioning in regard to autonomy, overall happiness, social involvement, and career involvement. With that in mind the parents contemplating divorce need to weigh the pros and cons of how divorce would influence their family system.

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    • Kristina Glaude
      Sep 25, 2013 @ 20:10:23

      Kristen:
      I although thought that the impact that occurs on the sibling relationship is interesting. I thought that this was interesting because although that child is affected by the divorce independently, each individual has an independent view of what occurred and how they remember the event to have happened. Depending on the children within the family I think that they will understand, interpret and remember what is occurring in the family dynamics of the situation differently. This remembering may increase conflict in some case but also may allow for bonding between siblings also to occur.

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    • Katrina Mitchell
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 19:36:56

      Kirsten,
      I appreciate the way you described the chain of marital transitions and family re-organizations that occur before a divorce demonstrating multiple moments of stressful changes that lead to such an event. Moments of stress include those you mentioned such as low income, psychopathology, and excessive substance use. As a result, not only are these families managing typical transitions including birth, death, and development but also those previously mentioned. This adds additional stress to the already changing family. As counselors, it is important to recognize additional stressors among marriages and families in order to intervene or process with families and allow effective coping and growth.

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  2. Julianna Aguilar
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 19:10:27

    Divorce is notoriously associated with negative consequences such as conflicts between parents and children, children engaging in high-risk behavior, and financial stress, among many others (Walsh, 2003). However, there is little attention paid to the many positive outcomes that surface as the result of parental divorce. Some of these potential benefits include removing oneself from an unpleasant situation (e.g., parental conflict, domestic violence, etc.), building stronger relationships with others, and personal growth. These positive outcomes suggest that, in some cases, divorce would promote stronger mental health for the members of the family system as opposed to the parents remaining married. Specifically, these positive outcomes are most likely to occur if the divorce process was riddled with negative stressors (e.g., parental and familial fighting, domestic violence, or financial struggle). That is, it seems that it is not divorce as a lone-standing event that dictates the outcomes of parents and children after, but rather a series of events that that place leading up to and surrounding the divorce. If the family members experienced happiness and functionality before the divorce, there is likely to be more negative social, emotional, and physical consequences to post-divorce. If the preexisting family dynamics coupled with the process of getting divorced includes many negative stressors, however, divorce would alleviate the stress caused by those events (Walsh, 2003). Thus, in the latter situation, it would be more beneficial for the parents to divorce in order to protect and promote the psychological well-being of both the parents and children

    An interesting fact I learned from this chapter involves the role of the noncustodial parent after the divorce. In particular, Walsh (2003) notes that the frequency of the child’s visitation with the noncustodial parent is a weak predictor of positive effects in the child. Instead, the conditions of the visit (e.g., little parental conflict) as well as the overall quality of the parent-child relationship are far more significant predictors. Though these findings are very logical and provide insight into how to most effectively help children adjust post-divorce, they are surprising given how custody is often portrayed. That is, regardless of any negative characteristics of the noncustodial parent, there is often an agreement that it would be detrimental for the child’s development to be denied consistent access to both parents, barring any serious issues (e.g., criminal allegations or charges against a parent). Similarly, children often desire to see both of their parents even if the interaction may not be beneficial to them or if the parent has negative qualities (e.g., alcoholic or abusive). This finding presents an interesting dilemma between the short term gratification and potential benefit for a child to see his or her parent and the possible long-term consequences of those repeated interactions. This fact along with many other highlight the complexity and diversity of parental and child adjustment post-divorce.

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    • Amanda Thomas
      Sep 24, 2013 @ 21:32:56

      Julianna- I also was drawn to the section regarding noncustodial parents. I thought it was interesting that the mother (non custodial) was less authoritative in comparison to a custodial mother however children reported feeling closer to noncustodial mothers than noncustodial father. Perhaps this is because of the nature of the relationship children have with mothers and fathers. Mothers are still exerting some parenting styles while the noncustodial father focuses on recreation during visitation and is more permissive in regard to parenting styles. Nonetheless the quality of the visit, like you mentioned, attributes to the adjustment of the child.

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    • Anthony Rofino
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 10:54:26

      Julianna, I agree that the fact about the non-custiodial parent is very interesting. I think another factor may also be at what age the child is when the divorce occurs. Speaking from personal experience, I was 8-months old when my parents got divorced. Because I did not have my father around very often when I was younger, I believe I had less of a connection to him than if I had been connected with him for years before the divorce. While our time together was nice and meaningful for the most part, the lack of his physical presence, i believe, led to my lacking emotional connection to him, compared to my mother.

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    • Katrina Mitchell
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 19:52:22

      Julianna,
      I liked how your reply included the intricate characteristics of the relationship between parents and children post-divorce. Not only did you elude to children’s functioning in regards to their current situation but also their functioning in both the long and short term. While I briefly explained that children’s relationships with parents are affected, specifically based on sex, you discussed how visitations affect their relationship. I am surprised by how much of a dilemma visitation rights can create. As we discussed in class, children need interaction with both the custodial and noncustodial parent. However, this in itself can also be quite a stressful circumstance.

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    • Brandon Pare
      Sep 29, 2013 @ 14:47:11

      Julianna,
      I like the preceding factors that you indicated that could help determine the outcome post-divorce. How that in all likelihood of there is a negative situation caused be turmoil parents then divorce could relieve this. I like how you compared this to hypothetical pre divorce positive situation that goes bad after the divorce. This creates more of a perspective.

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  3. Amanda Thomas
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 21:21:23

    Parents must assess whether or not they are equipped to reconcile their marriage or to follow through with divorce to determine whether or not it is in their and or their families best interest to divorce. The mental health status of the family system is contingent upon protective factors and risk factors of both children and adults in the family. These adverse effects can be minimized by protective factors like individual / family processes and relationships, ecological systems like friends, extended family, and developmental factors. On the other hand they can be exasperated by risk factors like ethnicity, an increase in divorce trends, education, interpersonal characteristics, and even genetic components. Collectively, an unhappy marriage produces adverse effects on the mental and physical health of adults and children. Coping with divorce is a stressful event but with mediation and therapeutic interventions children and adults can minimize mental health repercussions as they result from a transition due to divorce. The best decision one could make in determining whether or not to remain in the marriage would be based on the functionality of their family system as well as their level of happiness, as it was reported that those who were previously unhappy in their marriage attained gained in psychological functioning. A positive change in adult functioning will yield a more positive effect of child functioning.

    There were several things that I learned while reading chapter 4. In the ‘Prevalence of Divorce and Related Transitions’ section I was surprised to learn two statistics. One was that 43% of first marriages end within the first 15 years of marriage. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that the raising of the children is likely to be through after 15 years. Secondly, I learned that single parent relationships are often short lived and end within 4 years. Based on these frequent transitions it seems logical that children involved in these relationships have difficulty adjusting. I was also surprised to read, in the ‘Risk Factors That Contribute to Marital Instability’ section, that risk for divorce in a first marriage doubles for couples living together prior to marriage. I would have thought that would decrease the likelihood of divorce. Lastly, another thing I learned from the reading was that when it comes to partnering, to be successful in child rearing, the adults, specifically the custodial parent, must convey effective decision making strategies for dating others, serve as gatekeepers or information regulators to their children, regarding the repartnering of the other parent, and must act as managers in regard to the emerging of relationships in repartnered families. This process is important because it allows both biological parents to exert some control over how the other parents introduces another influential adult into their child’s life. This is important to the adjustment of child and parent functioning as it elicits communication between both parents.

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    • Julianna Aguilar
      Sep 25, 2013 @ 14:08:45

      Amanda, I also found the fact that couples who live together before marriage are more likely to get divorced surprising. It seems more logical that those who experience cohabitation with their significant other prior to getting married would be more equipped to handle lifestyle changes that seem to cause problems in many marriages. However, I began to think more about this finding after you posted about it. There are likely numerous factors that attempt to explain this occurrence, but two in particular stuck out to me. First, many couples who do not live together before marriage do so for religious reasons. It could be that religious couples are more likely to stay together due to their marital values and traditions. Therefore, it could be that there is a third factor that explains couples who are more likely to stay together as opposed to lack of cohabitation being the main cause. Second, it could be that those who live together prior to engagement feel “pushed” into marriage. Sadly, I have heard friends say that it is “just easier” to stay together due to their joined lifestyle (e.g., paying a mortgage together, sharing bank accounts, etc.). In this case, it could be that, had that couple not cohabitated, they would have felt less pressure to end their relationship and enter into one that has more long-lasting potential.

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    • Kristina Glaude
      Sep 25, 2013 @ 20:24:48

      Amanda:
      I also thought that the two statistics that you brought up were very interesting. I thought the fact about how single parenthood ends within the first 4 years was short. Although I thought that single parents would find a new relationship I just thought that the 4 years was a short period of time. I also thought that the figure that 43% of first marriages end within the first 15 years was interesting. As every relationship has changes and adaptations that need to occur I thought that the amount of years would have been lower for the percent. Although the book notes that marriages in later years have been having an increase in divorce, I just thought it was interesting and surprising when I look at marriages and they have made it past 7 years let alone 15 years.

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  4. Brandon Pare
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 00:19:51

    1). When is a divorce better then continuing a marriage? There is plenty of information out there that emphasizes the negative effects of the divorce process that keep many people married. They have the mentality that it is better to stay married for the kids. That they should be brought up in a home with two parents and that if they get divorced then their child will be in some way affected. Well the truth is that staying in a conflicted unhealthy marriage could be just as damaging as a divorce process if not more so. What essentially happens is it places the parents in a dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t situation. There is a possibility that the divorce can have benefits. There can be “an escape from an unhappy, conflictual family situation; the opportunity to build more fulfilling relationships; and the potential for personal development” (Anderson et al, p100, 2003). These things are less likely to occur if the couple remains married.

    2). What I found most intriguing was the lowest risk age group for divorce was those that got married when they were about 18 and the highest divorce rate was for people that get married when they are minors or right before they turn 20. I would think that the younger you get married the more risk you are at getting divorce. Apparently that’s the case for people that are minors and around 20, but not those that are 18. That to me doesn’t make much sense to me. What I also found interesting is that the remarriage rate was higher for me then it was for women. About 75% for men and 65% for women. In my mind that seems odd because on the average the male in the duel earner household will typical earn more money in their life time then there spouse. Also if there was any children then they are typically living with mom. So there is alimony and child support checks because of these reasons. I’d think that this would be a deterrent for most men to get remarried more than women considering it would appear on the average they have more to lose. This is not to say that this is true in all situations but it would appear that on the average men have more to lose in a divorce process so it just surprises me that they are at a higher percentage to get remarried.

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    • Julianna Aguilar
      Sep 25, 2013 @ 19:02:16

      Brandon, I also found it interesting that men are more likely than women to remarry. Similarly, I did not know that, on average, men tend to struggle more emotionally after divorce (Walsh, 2003). These points stuck out to me largely due to common divorce and gender stereotypes. For example, women are often portrayed as lonely and fragile due to being “on their own,” and likely to seek out social supports after divorcing. Men, on the other hand, are portrayed as resilient, minimally affected, and able to handle the situation on their own. Though the emotional consequences are quite burdening on both individuals, it appears that it is actually women who cope with the overall situation better than men, though the opposite is often portrayed. Furthermore, this struggle for men to cope and likely desire to have a significant other to support them could partially explain, among other factors, why men are more likely than women to remarry.

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    • Paige Hartmann
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 11:59:18

      Brandon, I found the risk age groups for divorce interesting as well. Generally, we would all assume that the younger the age of marriage, the more chance of divorce. But it is interesting that those who marry at the age of 18 are at the lowest risk for divorce in comparison to those who marry as minors or those who marry at age 20. You would assume that the divorce risk rates would be the same for minors, people who are 18 and 20 years old.

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  5. Stacie Z.
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 16:52:04

    The decision to leave a marriage, even when it is clear that this is the best decision for the well-being of family members, is rarely arrived at due to a single factor in the marriage. In fact, the processes and transitions associated with divorce are often present months or years prior to actual separation. Similar to prior readings that discussed the “myth” surrounding an ideal family, a general recognition has emerged that sometimes it is a “better” decision to divorce than remain in the marriage. While there are always supporters that do not waver in their belief that children need to be raised in a two-parent household, many others are beginning to recognize factors that may support the decision to leave a marriage and become a single parent. However, if the level of conflict or abuse has risen to a point where the physical and psychological health of a parent is deteriorating, looking at alternatives becomes of primary importance. As we know, substantial learning occurs through modeling behavior, and children that consistently observe parental conflict that is being resolved through maladaptive means, can carry this on to future relationships. Although I do not dismiss the importance of either parent in raising their child, it is the quality not quantity of time spent with a child that is effective. The transition from a two-parent household to a single-parent household, and the associated difficulties, might often be more short-lived as individuals adjust. In contrast, if there were existing problems in the marriage that could not resolved, yet the parents decided to remain married for “the kids,” difficulties that may have been short-term have the potential to escalate. If not addressed and resolved, these parental conflicts could increase in intensity or frequency, they could increasingly cause psychological distress making it more difficult to deal with parenting challenges, and the quality of communication and empathy among family members will continue to decline.
    In the reading I found it interesting to read the excerpt about the influence of relationships with adult confidants. Immediately after reading “marital breakups may undermine adult relationships and thus diminish social support” (p.111), I thought of how easy it is for each partner to slowly lose touch with friends they had individually who could provide that support. As couples move toward marriage, there is a tendency to begin having friends that you only associate with when together. Especially as children begin to enter the picture and time constraints greatly increase, friends often become “family friends” or friends of both partners. This made me reflect on how important it is to help clients maintain open communication with their own friends, in addition to common friends. Being aware that those friends in common can quickly turn on one partner of the divorcing couple, can worsen an already strenuous situation for the partner left isolated.

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    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:16:50

      Stacie, I really liked how you mentioned that it is the quality of parenting that is important and not the quantity. Parents who are just not able to live with each other anymore due to unresolved problems can cause more damage by staying together to get the quantity in, rather then separate and have less time with the children and be better parents in their quality of parenting. I also definitely agree that couples lose their individual friends as they move toward marriage. And when divorce in imminent the friends then feel like they need to take sides and be loyal to one of the partners over the other. I feel that it is really important to have those friends with you partner but to also have friends that you can go to when problems occur in the relationship for support that are not mutual friends of your partner as well so this does not come up.

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  6. Kristina Glaude
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 20:31:25

    1) As a couple goes through out daily events that occur within the marriage they encounter both stressful and happy events. There are times though within marriage that the stressful events out way the happy times. When couples feel that they have tried to work things out and that they are unable to come to another conclusion they often turn to divorce. This couple when evaluating situations such as continuing on with a divorce they review within their marriage stress, risk and resilience. This adult within the marriage has to review the facts and events around themselves and the marriage. Within this review they have to consider things such as changes that they will have socially as they try to develop new friendships and relationships not associated with the marriage. They also have to evaluate physically what is going on around them such as where they will live. Such coping methods as protective factors and developmental factors can help both the child and parent to adjust to new roles that occur while the divorce is going on and after divorce has occurred. This change in roles can cause increased conflict as the child is adjusting to the new situation both within the home and outside the home. At times divorce can be seen as a negative as it is a challenging event that is occurring in the family’s home. However, divorce can also allow for positive events to come out of the divorce. Such positive things could be allowing for alternative relationships to develop decreased family conflict and escape from the unhappy/stressful marriage.
    2) With in the reading I thought that it was interesting as stated by Walsh on page 106 that ”men are more likely, however, to have lingering emotional attachment to the ex-spouse and to entertain thoughts of reconciliation, although, ironically, men also are quicker to remarry”. As I was not surprised by the second part of this statement that men are quicker to remarry then the women I was surprised by the first part of the quote. I would have thought that as they are quicker to remarry they would be quicker to also drop ties to the original marriage and parts that are associated with it. I think that it is important to remember that every marriage is different and every couple is different for what one couple is enduring and working through other couples might call it quits on. As every couple is different allowing for both partners to have time to individually and together work on problems that may be affecting the marriage in order to allow for the marriage to continue to work or together come to the conclusion that the marriage is no longer going to work. Another thing that I thought was interesting was the fact that most post-divorce families do not continue to co-parent their children but rather parallel parent. The parallel parenting does not allow for collaboration or communication and does not undermined the other parent. However, although this method does not undermined the other parent it does not allow for communication between both parent figures to occur allowing for the most support and best path for the child to go down.

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    • Kirsten Chirichetti
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 00:15:14

      Kristina, I also found the fact that men are more likely to have lingering emotional attachment to the ex-spouse and to entertain thoughts of reconciliation interesting. In one of my undergraduate courses, the class discussed a study in which the results found that men became more angry when they found out that their wives physically/sexually cheated on them, while women reported more anger when they discovered that their husbands had emotionally cheated (i.e., formed a connection/attachment) on them. Based on this premise, I assumed that women would have the lingering emotional ties to the ex-spouse, being more in-tuned with their emotions and feelings. However, after thinking about it a bit more and reflecting on what we discussed in last week’s class, it now makes sense to me why men still have these lingering emotions. In the past, women were less likely to leave their marriages for economic, social/norms, and religious reasons. Now, women are more apt to leave a conflicting and unhappy marriage, believing in themselves that they can move on, be on their own, and be successful. For this reason, men may feel taken back or blind sided, not sure how or why their marriage ended so abruptly. In this way, men may continue to have more feelings/emotional attachment to their ex-spouse and seek to be back with him/her. However, each individual (male or female) is unique and therefore when working with a couple going through a divorce it is important the clinician is aware of both spouse’s perspectives to gain a greater understanding of the situation.

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    • Brandon Pare
      Sep 29, 2013 @ 15:13:04

      Kristina,
      I agree with you that it is quite interesting that men are statically more likely to get remarried and are statically more likely to harbor feelings and thoughts of reconcile for the past marriage. Makes you wonder if these feelings of the previous marriage get in the way of the second marriage and are more likely to cause another divorce. The concept of parallel parenting and that it somehow doesn’t undermine the other parent is hard for me to understand. Without communication between the parents yes there is less chance for negative communication but it doesn’t allow for constancy on rules. One parents maybe more favorable for the child. This could unintentionally undermine the other parents level of authority.

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  7. Paige Hartmann
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 20:46:37

    1) An individual is aware when a divorce is a “better” decision than remaining in the marriage when the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks involved for both the individual and the family. For instance, an individual might be apprehensive about divorce because of inadequate income, loneliness, difficulty raising children alone, and the overall negative impact it may have on the children. However, potential benefits of divorce such as ending martial conflicts that contribute to a conflictual family situation, the opportunity to establish more fulfilling relationships, and potential for personal development can outweigh the potential risks. Walsh (2003) explains the positive outcomes after a divorce including improved overall happiness, autonomy, social involvement, and career development for the individual.
    2) In Chapter 4, Walsh discusses the effects of divorce on family relationships including the relationships between divorced spouses, custodial parents and children, noncustodial parents and children, siblings, and grandparents. I found the section regarding the effects of divorce on the relationships with grandparents to be interesting, as many parents rely on their family for child care and emotional support following a divorce. I found it interesting that specifically African American children benefit the most from the presence of a grandmother in the home following a divorce. In addition, help from grandparents following a divorce within a white family tends to be economic support, whereas within an African American family support involves providing services.

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    • Kirsten Chirichetti
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 00:15:48

      Paige, I like how you pointed out the major reasons why couples may be apprehensive about divorce. In terms of financial reasons, couples may stay together because each spouse’s income is not enough to pay for a house/apartment, rent, mortgage, bills, etc. In addition, I have also heard of couple’s staying together in order to utilize or be covered under the other spouse’s insurance policy. If an individual needs a major surgery or wants to be the primary caretaker of the children, then he or she may need to be covered under a certain policy in order to receive the funding needed to perform these procedures. For this reason, the partners may stay together in order to be covered by each other’s plans. Furthermore, couples stay together because of the negative impact that the divorce could have on the children. Children may blame themselves for the couple’s breakup or be caught in between the conflicting family members pre-, during, and post-divorce. A divorce can also negatively impact the child’s view on romantic relationships, trust, attachment, and his or her own self-esteem in the future. In many cases, children learn about relationships by modeling their parents’ behavior and actions. Thus parents are fearful that their children will model their arguing and yelling that may increase while a divorce is occurring.

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    • Stacie Z.
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 11:33:34

      Paige, I also found it interesting to read about the differences regarding how grandparents provide support to their children and grandchildren through a divorce. Although the financial support is necessary in most cases as household income is reduced and expenses inevitably rise with two households instead of one, having grandparents present to provide services and stability has significant advantages. Not only can parents and grandchildren feel more emotionally supported, but by providing services such as childcare grandparents also provide financial support indirectly, limiting the amount parents might have to pay for daycare or afterschool care.

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  8. Emily B
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 07:41:43

    When a couple or individual is considering divorce it is important to consider not only the negatives that will come from this event but also the positive. In some cases divorce can lead to greater feelings of satisfaction for family members. For example, after divorce some women are more self-confident. Also, in situation where abuse and dysfunctional situations are in the home it may be beneficial and healthier to consider a divorce. There are some common ideas and feelings that are involved with divorce such as getting guilt associated with a “failed marriage,” the negative effects of divorce on children. It is important to acknowledge that in some situations children thrive in divorced home especially homes in which parental conflicts are a constant and when home life is identified in being more negative. In typical divorces mothers retain most of the custody and although some negative behaviors are present among children during initial transitioning period most children adjust to their living situations and gain positive relationships with their parent allowing, in some cases to be more resilient that their nondivorced counterparts.

    I found several thing interesting in the chapter is the studies conducted about children’s adjustment after divorce. I found it interesting to discover that after 1-2 years post divorce children who had no behavior problems in the past are adjusted to their new lifestyle. I also found it interesting that children who are in the custody of their mother have different relationships with their mother based on gender. Boys have a more distressed relationship with their mothers compared to non-divorced parents. While girls have a warm and compassionate relationship with their mothers. Finally, I found it interesting that girls divorced to remarried families achieve physical signs of puberty earlier. This can produce greater risk factors for girls in becoming sexually active sooner.

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    • Sara Grzejszczak
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:27:52

      Emily, I definitely agree that there is sometimes that idea that a marriage has failed because of divorce. More people need to realize that divorce and actually in fact help the children thrive because the constant fighting is no longer a stressor that they have to deal with. Instead the children are able to adjust and then learn how to deal with the new situation and then continue on with their lives. I also found it interesting that children of different genders have different relationships with their mothers. Since most of the time there is evidence that mothers and sons are very close I would not expect them to have a distressed relationship.

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    • Anthony Rofino
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 10:50:42

      Emily, I also found it very interesting about the different genders’ reactions to various parents after divorce. Speaking from personal experience, I am from a divorced home, but I am very close to my mother and not close to my father at all. Conversely, my cousin (a female) is from a divorced home, does not speak to her mother, and lives with and loves her father. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rules, but I have found that most children living with their mothers tend to gravitate towards their mothers, regardless of gender.

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    • Melissa Recore
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 17:40:06

      Emily,
      I also found it very interesting that the gender of the child was in itself a risk factor for not being able to adjust to the stress of a divorce. Boys seem to get less support from their parents and showed a harder time adjusting to the divorce 4-6 years later when compared to girls. I think it is important to mention that girls did not adjust better because of any “superior girl powers” but instead adjusted better to the divorce because the parents gave the girls more support. The difference in support between genders in children likely has some relationship with the existance of sibling conflict after divorces, especially when the gender of the children is different.

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  9. Sara Grzejszczak
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 09:07:35

    Many times there really is never fully a right answer as to whether or not divorce is a “better” decision than remaining in a marriage. If there is physical and emotional abuse or neglect that one of the partners is committing to the other partner or their children then there will be many advantages of getting divorced, but for the many other situations that do not have these types of extremes it should be a case-by-case basis. Couples who are not happy in a relationship and are constantly arguing and causing conflict are not helping the family system grow but instead causing it distress. There is evidence that suggests that children of divorce are better adjusted than the children from nondivorced families and those children do not display serious difficulties after the divorce of their parents. On the other hand, studies also show that children do have a greater risk of having higher levels of problem behavior and more serious problems; couples can also go through some great difficulty if the divorce is a very angry one with a lot of resentment. The partners can also benefit from getting a divorce after some time of being hurt after the divorce; this even can include new romantic partners that are able to be supportive and mutually caring. Over all it seems that while everyone in the family system have difficulty right after the divorce over time each member will be able to adjust to the new arrangement and move on well adjusted which is the most important part into deciding if divorce or staying married is the best option.

    One thing that I learned about the family system in the divorce process is the amount of different risk factors that can contribute to marital instability. I had always assumed that people who had divorced parents were more likely to divorce and even those with less education but risks such as being African American and cohabitating before marriage doubles the risk of getting divorced was a surprise. I would figure that cohabitating before marriage would help a relationship because couples are able to learn how to live with each other rather than hurt a relationship. The statistics about the ages of the partners and how likely they were to divorce was also a little shocking, I would have thought the numbers would be higher for those who marry in their early 20s and lower once you reached 25 and older while the statistics of couples that get married in their teens and end in divorce was not surprising.

    Reply

    • Melissa Recore
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 17:35:41

      Sara,
      I liked your comment about how certain risk factors exist that make divorce more likely. I too was surprised to read that cohabitation or race was a risk factor for divorce. One would think that cohabitation would lower the risk of divorce sense the couple had the oppurtuntiy to live together and get all the pet peeves and oddities of their partner under control before marriage. Nice post.

      Reply

  10. Anthony Rofino
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 10:47:04

    1) When assessing whether a marriage should end in divorce, too often the people involved in the marriage focus on the negatives of the situation, leading to possible reasoning to stay together. However, more often than not, those who are considering divorce should consider the positive effects the divorce can have. This is a lot simpler for marriages that do not have any children. In this case, general unhappiness in a marriage can be handled with divorce. The question for the couple is whether this unhappiness is due to a general “rough spot” that typical marriages go through, or a longterm unhappiness that can not be fixed. This gets more complicated when children are involved. Some couples will stay together, “for the kids’ sake” and not realize that their toxic relationship is harming the child more than a divorce ever would. It is almost impossible to determine a child’s resilience in the case of a divorce, but if the parents can talk to the child as civilly as they can, it may be possible to help alleviate some of the stress of the actual divorce. To make a long story short, one should not assume the stigma that the child is worse off if the parents get divorced.

    2) One thing I learned from this chapter is the interesting facts about child adjustment that include some contradictory facts that are both true. These facts include that children are more at risk for maladaptation if they are children of divorce, but at the same time, most children display no serious difficulties post-divorce. It makes sense looking at the statstics, as 25% of children experience problems after divorce, a very large percent. However, the majority percent (75%) shows that children are perfectly fine after a divorce. These statistics both prove and disprove the general idea that a child will be worse off if they are from a divorced home. What it really comes down to is the resilience of the child, how bad the marriage truly is for the child’s mental health, and how open and honest the parents are with the child.

    Reply

    • Angela Vizzo
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 18:01:46

      Anthony, I really like how you explain that a divorce can have positive effects on the family rather than only negative. I agree, too many people do not realize these things as in research and media they do not get as much if any attention. However, I also agree that before a couple jumps into divorce they need to assess whether they are just going through a rough patch or are dealing with unresolvable conflict.

      Reply

    • Paige Hartmann
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 12:09:47

      Anthony, I like how you raised the point that there are some contradictory facts about divorce that are both true. Research shows that 25% of children experience problems after a divorce, while studies also show that 75% of children show no serious difficulties following a divorce. These studies show contradictory results, but show that the majority of children do not experience serious problems post-divorce. Each divorce is situation specific in how it may impact the child and family post-divorce.

      Reply

  11. Katrina Mitchell
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 14:25:01

    One knows when having a divorce is a “better” decision than remaining in a marriage when several stressful changes during transitions create violence, conflict, unhappiness, or fear experienced within the family. These negative stressors lead to more issues than a divorce. Therefore, remaining married when such stressors are experienced can impair family members’ functioning, well-being, and mental health where a divorce can mediate and defend said affects. However, divorce in itself can create negative stressors occurring to changes in routines and activities and shifts in roles and relationships. Walsh (2003) found that individuals who are affected by divorce have higher incidence rates, are more likely to engage in high-risk behavior, and are at an increased frisk from psychopathology. Yet, if the stressors of remaining married are greater than the stressors of divorce, then divorce is a better decision. Divorce from a violent, conflicted, or unhappy marriage can lead families to more pleasant environments, alleviation of stress, stronger and healthier relationships, and personal growth increasing the overall mental health of family members.

    This chapter identified the affects of the divorce process on children’s multiple relationships among the family system including relationships with their grandparents, parents, and siblings. It seems that negative stressors created by divorce not only affect the immediate family or just relationships with parents. This makes sense as parents often reach out to others, particularly family members such as grandparents, for support whether economically or emotionally, especially when the care for children becomes strained. In fact, the presence of grandparents proves as a buffer for children experiencing divorce. Children’s relationships with their parents are also affected. Boys tend to have distressed relationships with their mothers while girls grow closer to their mothers. Therefore, it is crucial for parents to demonstrate collaborative and effective decision making and to regulate information regarding divorce and new relationships that is being shared with their children in order to increase parent and child functioning after divorce. Effective collaboration and communication between divorced parents especially when children are visiting both parents is significant in supporting children’s adjustment and development. Additionally, children’s relationships with their siblings are also affected by divorce between their parents. Children not only become conflicted with their parents but demonstrate distress in their relationships with their siblings, too (Walsh, 2003). Such distress can create even more conflict among all family members. On the other hand, siblings can also use each other as buffers against the negative stressors of divorce by supporting each others’ understanding, coping, and processing of the stress created during such a transition.

    Reply

    • Stacie Z.
      Sep 28, 2013 @ 11:59:37

      Katrina- I agree with your point about how in certain situations, the negative stressors present lead to greater issues potentially than divorce itself. As we discussed in class this past week, one factor that can influence the way a child responds/adjusts to divorce is whether or not the child expected it to happen. I think that similar to other life transitions, all members of a family will have periods of negative and positive adjustment. However, in those families where the environment is toxic and change is not likely to occur, the resulting issues could be much more pervasive and lasting than those arising from a divorce.

      Reply

  12. Melissa Recore
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 17:32:22

    Divorce can be beneficial for several reasons. If a family is in a state of extreme conflict and dysfunction because of a toxic or ineffective marriage then it would be beneficial for all parties for a divorce to occur. Divorce occurs because of substance abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, neglect, would all be beneficial. Basically a divorce is always beneficial when it removes individuals from an unsafe environment.
    Personally I think that whenever a couple is negatively modeling appropriate relationships then marital therapy or possibly divorce should occur. This is because parents teach their children through social learning how to treat a significant other and when I child see parents fighting, yelling, etc. with one another they are essentially teaching their children how a relationship should function. Hence why staying married “for the children” often does nothing but negatively effect the way the children experience and understand intimate relationships.
    The most interesting material I learned by reading Chapter 4 is the relationship divorce has between siblings, The book stated that children in divorced families are more negative in the way the siblings interact and relate with each other than with non-divorced siblings. This sibling negativity consists of disengagement, avoidance, negativity, and sometimes even aggression. This conflict between siblings normally settles after 4-6 years but in high conflict divorces this sibling conflict can continue. In addition, divorces with high levels of conflict produce more negative sibling relationships that divorces with lower levels of conflict. I also was surprised that boys receive less support during the divorce process from parents as girls. This seems it may correlate with why the siblings are in conflict if one sibling(boy) is getting less support and adjusting more difficulty then another sibling(girl) who the parents are supporting.

    Reply

    • Angela Vizzo
      Sep 26, 2013 @ 17:58:14

      Melissa, I totally agree with your statement about how if a couple is modeling inappropriate relationship patterns that divorce should occur. The children who grow up seeing these kinds of relationships can internalize that this is how a relationship is supposed to be, and go on to have a similarly dysfunctional relationship or marriage, themselves.

      Reply

  13. Angela Vizzo
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 17:53:57

    In some circumstansces divorce is a better option in regards to the mental health of the family system than having the parents remain married. These circumstances is when marital conflict is high, which can adversely affect the children. Sometimes “staying together for the children” is not the best option as they may be exposed to more household conflict, physical, emotional, or verbal abuse and less than adequate parenting. The best option for these marriages would be divorce where there is communication and support between the two parents, and the non-custodial parent remains involved in the children’s lives. Though this may seem harder if the marriage is already in turmoil, some couples actually communicate and parent better after divorce as they are happier than when they were married.

    One interesting fact the book points out is that “risk for divorce in a first marriage doubles for couples living together prior to marriage”. I found this intriguing since now-days it is very common for couples to co-habitate before marriage, and many individuals will not even consider marriage until after they have moved in with their significant other. However, I did notice that the reference for this fact was from 1992 (over 20 years ago) and would be interested to see if it still holds true today.

    Reply

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Adam M. Volungis, PhD, LMHC

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