Living in a bad marriage is very costly…expensive to your health, your wealth, and your entire family. People get physically ill in bad marriages. (1) Research shows that chronic relationship troubles increase the rate of heart disease, diabetes, weaken your immune system, and slow or inhibit healing from illness.
Divorcing is even tougher on your health.
Only the death of a spouse is more stressful than divorce.
Divorce ranks #2 as the second “Most stressful,” life events with 73 “stress points” out of 100.
Let’s look at the numbers:
Being happily married contributes to financial success. Millionaires are overwhelmingly in long-term, stable marriages. (2) But what about the cost of divorce?
- A divorce attorney’s retainer for an amicable divorce may range from $3,500 to $5,000 or more. (3)
- The “cheaper alternative,” Mediation, runs $2500 for 4-5 sessions. (4)
- A “no frills, do it yourself” divorce runs $1135. (5)
- The average cost of a “less severe heart attack” is about $760,000. (6)
- What would it cost to run two households, instead of one?
- The “Engel Estimator” finds that the percentages of total expenditures devoted to children, on average, are: 33 percent of the family’s total income for one child; 39 percent for two children; and 49 percent for three children in an intact family. These figures are considered when assessing child support. (7)
- But beyond the financial impacts, and despite the media hype, divorce deeply impacts children. An in-depth 10-year study of children after divorce (8) shows powerful consequences.
The Cost to Kids Living in a Bad Marriage and The Impact of Divorce
For children and teens, divorce is even more stressful than it is for the adults involved. While adults rate the stress of their divorce 73 out of 100, children rate their parents’ divorce as 90 “stress points.” (9) While there are ways to reduce the harmful impacts of divorce on children, these lower, but do not eliminate the stress children experience. The average child suffers with this stress for 2 years. And long-term daughters of divorced parents are more likely, themselves, to suffer troubled marriages, according to statistics.
Children overwhelmingly prefer that their parents stay together and work it out.
But sometimes the cost to children is great either way. One of my graduate students put it beautifully, when reflecting upon her own upbringing in a severely troubled household:
Fists of fury, angry outbursts, sheltering arms of fear. This is what love looked like [to me]. (10)
Divorce is sometimes a necessary “useful tool,” but should never be the first response to marital unhappiness, especially for those who are parents.
Hope for People Living in Bad Marriages
If you are like most people, you’ve been living in a bad marriage for years…on average 6 years. You may feel hopeless, even depressed.
Your work has suffered, and you really wonder if going into couples therapy will be throwing good money after bad.
You are my typical client.
Would you like to learn more about therapy designed for troubled couples and those couples on the Brink of Divorce? Last Shot Couples Therapy.
Torn about What to Do Next?
Many attempts at couples therapy fail because one or both spouses are deeply ambivalent about whether to commit themselves to the therapy process. If this is you–if you are still undecided about whether you are willing to work to improve your troubled marriage, I can help you to decide.
Slow down and get help reflecting on your options. There is a short-term (1-5 sessions) structured, method to help couples just like you decide whether divorce, marital therapy, or doing nothing is the right move for you. And it can save you thousands of dollars.
Made the decision to begin couples counseling? Contact Dr. K at 617-240-1242. Or learn more about Dr. K
1. Is Marriage Good for Your Health? 4/18/2010 Found at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/magazine/18marriage-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
2. Stanley, T. and Danko, W. (1998.) The Millionaire Next Door. New York: Gallery Books.
3. How Expensive is it to have a divorce lawyer? Found at: http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/how-expensive-is-it-to-have-a-divorce-lawyer–780199.html
4. How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost? Found at: http://www.mcginnlawpc.com/mediation/divorce-mediation/how-much-does-divorce-mediation-cost/
5. Court Filing Fee ($215.00), Parent Ed Program ($85.00 x 2) if there are minor children, Optional Pension Valuation ($400.00), and House Appraisal ($350.00) or Free Market Analysis, Total $1135.00
67. How Much Would a Heart Attack Cost You? Found at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-much-would-a-heart-attack-cost-you/
7. Economic Analysis of the Massachusetts Child Support Guidelines. Found at: http://www.mass.gov/courts/reporteconomiccsg0106.pdf
8. A Remedy Not a Cure. Found: http://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/26/books/a-remedy-but-not-a-cure.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
9. Holmes, T. H., & Rahe R. H. (1967). The Social Readjustment Rating Scale. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. (2):213-8
10. Submitted for verification of the course “Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy, at Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA Jessica Perrine, 2013 Quoted with permission.