Women cope with divorce better than men, study finds

By Maxine Frith

Women are far more likely than men to come out of divorce feeling liberated, relieved and happy, according to British research.

Rather than feeling devastated at the end of their marriage, women are more likely to see it as a fresh start, while their ex-husbands remain stressed and unhappy even years after they receive their decree absolute.

Men are twice as likely as women to feel suicidal about their divorce, the survey of more than 3000 people for the Yorkshire Building Society found.

More than 150,000 couples divorce every year in Britain, and two out of three marriages will fail.

The people in the survey were divided into two groups: those who had divorced in the past two years and those who had been divorced for longer.

More than half (53 per cent) of the women who had divorced in the past two years said they were relieved about the break-up, compared with only 46 per cent of the men.

Four out of 10 women said they felt liberated, while only a third of men experienced the same emotion.

One in three women said the divorce had made them happier, but only one in five men said they were more content.

Men had double the level of suicidal feelings, with 7 per cent saying they had considered taking their own lives.

Ex-husbands were also far more likely than ex-wives to experience feelings of sadness, confusion and betrayal.

Although more than half the men (56 per cent) said they felt sad at the failure of their union, only 45 per cent of women felt the same way.

Even years after divorce, men were still more likely than women to feel unhappy, with 41 per cent of longtime divorced males saying they felt sad, compared with a third of their female counterparts. A quarter of the longer-term ex-husbands still retained a sense of betrayal, while 80 per cent of women felt no such negative emotion.

One in 10 men said they were unhappier even years after divorce than when they were married, compared with just 4 per cent of women.

More than a third of all the men said the end of their marriage had caused them to drink more, while only one in five women turned to the bottle for solace.

And while six out of 10 women spent more time with their friends and family, men were twice as likely to have casual sex, contact an old flame or join a dating agency.

Although they are more likely to find divorce emotionally battering, men are also far more eager to plunge into marriage again, the research found.

Within two years of agreeing to divorce, 4 per cent of men had remarried, compared with none of the women questioned by pollsters YouGov.

Jonathan Lake, a counsellor with a firm that advises people on relationships, said: "Moving forward after divorce is one of the biggest challenges most people will ever face and, after bereavement, is the most stressful thing that can happen in your life.

"Men tend to suppress their feelings more than women.

"They may do this by withdrawing from social contact, seeking to alter their state of mind through drink or drugs or finding a distraction like work to throw themselves into.

"Women tend to be better at confronting their emotions, especially through social contact with friends or family.

"This is particularly beneficial if the contact is with an emotionally intelligent person and women tend to have more of these relationships than men."

- INDEPENDENT

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