Item from the Smart Marriages Archive, reproduced in the Divorce Statistics Collection

The Broken Promises of Divorce
How Divorce Hurts Children and Adults

By Glenn T. Stanton

The 1998 South Carolina Marital Health Index finds that the divorced have
significant regrets about their decision to end their marriage. Our research
found that 62% of divorced adults in the Palmetto State wish they had tried
harder to keep their marriage together. In addition, this study found that
76% of the divorced population say that people who divorce typically trade
one set of problems for another, while just 67% of the general population
believe this.1 These findings reflect a disturbing level of disappointment
with the prospects of divorce improving individual happiness.

There is a great deal of social science research to indicate that these
feelings are reasonable.

Greater Risk of Suicide
Research on suicide published in Social Science Quarterly showed that, of
many variables, divorce had the strongest relationship to suicide rates and
marriage had the weakest.2 Research done by the Centers for Disease Control
and published in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that divorced
individuals are three times more likely to commit suicide than those who are

Divorce and Decreased Health and Well-Being
Research done at Erasmus University in Rotterdam shows that "married people
have the lowest morbidity rates, while the divorced show the highest."4

The National Center for Health Statistics finds that married women suffer
half the injuries that divorced women do.5

Dr. Walter Gove, working from Vanderbilt University, found that divorced men
are over 9 times more likely to die of tuberculosis and over 4 times more
likely to die from diabetes than their married counterparts. A divorced male
is 3.4 times more likely to die from any cause than a married male and a
divorced female is 2.0 times more likely to die from any cause then her
married counterpart. 6

One of the most authoritative studies ever done in the United States on
mental health found that the divorced are nearly twice as likely to suffer
from any mental illness than those who are married.7

Additional research done at Yale and UCLA reports, "Researchers have
consistently found that highest rates of mental disorder among the divorced
and separated [and] the lowest among the married... Compared to the married,

persons are six to ten times more likely to use inpatient psychiatric
facilities and four to five times more likely to be clients in outpatient

Divorce and Increased Risk of Assault
From 1973 to 1992, the violent crime victimization rates for females (per
1,000 females age twelve or over) were 45 for divorced women and 11 for
married women. This rate was 43 for single women.9

Impact of Divorce upon Children
The literature on how divorce negatively impacts children is extensive and
rich. Divorce diminishes every area of a child's life and follows that child
into adulthood.

Nicholas Zill, one of the nation's leading researchers on how divorce impacts
children, found that 55 percent of children in intact families had positive
relationships with both parents, while only 26 percent of children from
divorced homes reported positive relationships with both parents.10

Zill elaborates, "The common belief that parental divorce poses long-term
hazards for the children involved is supported by [an] analysis of
longitudinal data from...a nationally representative sample of American
youth." He continues, "Effects of marital discord and family disruption were
visible twelve to twenty-two years later in poor relationships with parents,
and [there is] an increased likelihood of dropping out of high school and
receiving psychological help."11

For a more thorough treatment of how divorce impacts adults and children, see
Glenn T. Stanton's Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in
Postmodern Society, (Colorado Springs, Pinon Press, 1997). To order, call
Palmetto Family Council at 803/733-5600.

1 Glenn T. Stanton, 1998 South Carolina Marital Health Index (Palmetto
Family Council, 1998), pp. 38-42.
2 Jeffery Barr, et al., "Catholic Religion and Suicide: The Mediating Effect
of Divorce," Social Science Quarterly, 1994, 75:300-318.
3 Jack Smith, et al., "Marital Status and the Risk of Suicide," American
Journal of Public Health, 1988, 78:78-80.
4 I. M. Joung, et al., "Differences in Self-Reported Morbidity by Marital
Status and by Living Arrangement," International Journal of Epidemiology,
1994, 23:91-97.
5 Robert Coombs, "Marital Status and Personal Well-Being: A Literature
Review," Family Relations, 1991, 40:97-102.
6 Walter Gove, "Sex, Marital Status and Mortality," American Journal of
Sociology, 1973, 79:45-67.
7 Lee Robins and Darrel Regier, Psychiatric Disorders in America: The
Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study (New York: Free Press, 1991), p. 44.
8 David Williams, et al., Marital Status and Psychiatric Disorders Among
Black and Whites," Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 1992, 33:140-157.
9 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Highlights from 20 years of Surveying
Crime Victims: The National Crime Victimization Survey, 1973-1992
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, 1993), p. 18.
10 James Peterson and Nicholas Zill, "Marital Disruption, Parent-Child
Relationships and Behavior Problems in Children," Journal of Marriage and the
Family, 1986, 48:295-307.
11 Nicholas Zill, et al., "Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce on Parent
Child Relationships, Adjustment and Achievement in Young Adulthood," Journal
of Family Psychology, 1993, 7:91-103.

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