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Entries in divorce (38)

Monday
Oct202014

How Do Important Relationship Events Impact Our Well-Being?

Perhaps no life events fill us with more joy or sadness than those that involve important relationship partners. Whether we are committing to lifelong partnerships with someone we love, bringing a new addition to the family, leaving a bad relationship, or losing a loved one, relationship events may have different effects on how satisfied and happy we are with our lives. 

How do important relationship events impact our well-being over time? In a recent meta-analysis (a research paper that combines results from similar studies), researchers examined this very question. Specifically, they studied how our cognitive and emotional well-being change over time in response to four important life events: marriage, divorce, bereavement, and the birth of a child.

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Friday
Oct172014

Diamonds Aren’t Forever: Expensive Rings and Weddings May Lead to Relationship Problems

My husband and I got hitched this past June, which I can honestly say was one of the happiest and most transcendent experiences of my life. However, we both agree that whereas the wedding was awesome, the wedding planning process was decidedly not awesome. Navigating the wedding industry can be quite frustrating, in part because of the relentless pressure to spend fantastic amounts of money on anything and everything wedding-related. As a relationships researcher, I was particularly interested in, and baffled by, the rhetoric that many vendors use in order to sell wedding services and products.

Many of the sales pitches boil down to the idea that couples in love should want expensive weddings. Vendors will argue that if you truly love your partner, you should be willing to go to any lengths (at least monetarily) to properly celebrate that love on your “special day”. For example, maybe you want to show your love for your partner by getting a fancy gilded guestbook for your guests to sign, or personally monogrammed hand towels for the reception bathroom. Sometimes the rhetoric even goes so far as to suggest that an expensive wedding guarantees you true love. With a perfectly straight face, some vendors will tell you that your wedding day will “set the tone” for your marriage, and you should be willing to do anything it takes to start your marriage off “on the right foot”. For example, perhaps you should set the right tone by hiring a 20-piece orchestra for your ceremony, or limos to transport all your guests to the reception.

Examples of this sort of advertising can be traced back to the 1940s, when De Beers diamond company launched their infamous “Diamonds are forever” campaign. Indeed, many of the social norms around marriage proposals—such as the arbitrary benchmark of two months’ salary that men should spend on an engagement ring—come from De Beers’ successful advertising efforts. Like the wedding industry more broadly, the diamond industry relies on the premise that spending a great deal of money shows love for your partner and predicts relationship success. This idea is widespread in our culture, likely because it is a marketer’s dream: who wouldn’t pay any price to ensure marital bliss? What’s less clear is how accurate these notions are. To what extent do high levels of spending actually predict marital bliss?

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Wednesday
Oct012014

Parental Alienation and the Fight for Children’s Hearts and Minds

Parental alienation involves one parent spoiling the relationship between a child and the other parent in the absence of actual abuse or neglect. In both my personal and professional lives, I have seen many parents actively turn their children against the other parent in an effort to “keep them (the child) close,” and to undermine their child’s loving bond with the other parent. Although research has demonstrated that parental alienation has very negative effects on children (e.g., depression, substance abuse and conduct disorders), few researchers have examined empirically how exactly parents engage in this alienation behavior.

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Monday
Sep222014

Break Up Kindly With Compassionate Love

No matter how you slice it, breakups are not much fun -- someone usually ends up getting hurt. Wouldn’t it be great if ending a relationship with someone could be a little less painful? It turns out that a dose of compassionate love can help ease the pain. 

When you think about “love” in romantic relationships, you probably are imaging what researchers refer to as passionate love (read more about passionate love here and here), the intense, desire-filled, longing (and obsession) for the object of your affection. In addition to passion, however, another ‘type’ of love is also important in close relationships: compassionate love. Compassionate love refers to the concern and care people have for the well-being of others, especially when those others are suffering; compassion love promotes support, understanding, and tenderness.1 Clearly you can experience compassionate love for a romantic partner, but it can also be directed toward friends, family, and strangers. And when it comes to breakups, you can also direct compassionate love toward a soon-to-be ex-partner.

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Friday
Jan312014

Marriage-Free, Not Fancy-Free

As a relationship scientist, I frequently consider research findings when making personal decisions in my life. The most recent personal decision I’ve made was to move in with The Consultant, a man I have been dating for some time now. Unfortunately, most of the research out there about cohabiting doesn’t quite map onto my particular situation. Although some research findings do seem to apply to us, such as cohabiters being more liberal, less religious, and more egalitarian compared to their married peers,1 other findings do not apply so clearly. 

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Thursday
Jan022014

Longer Commutes Linked to Higher Likelihood of Divorce

Commutes. They’re dull; they’re stressful. They’re even hilariously frustrating, if you’re Ron Livingston in the movie Office Space. But could a commute hurt your relationship?

A 10-year study from Sweden suggests that the answer is yes.1 More than two million married or cohabiting Swedes (from an annually updated database containing the entire Swedish population) were included in this study on long-distance commuting. In the study, a “long-distance commute” was defined as a commute spanning 30 kilometers (approximately 18.6 miles) or more, which in Sweden translates to a one-way commute lasting approximately 45 minutes by car. (The 30-kilometer distance was measured in a straight line, so the actual distances traveled were greater.) The researcher found that couples who had lengthy commutes had a 40% higher risk of separation, compared with non-commuting couples.

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Monday
Dec092013

Getting Married? Love Science? Here are Our Ten Research-Based Wedding Vows

I study romantic relationships. I’m also engaged. So, of course, I’ve given a tremendous amount of thought as to what it really means for my partner and I to marry one another. Researchers have found that weddings are deeply significant life events, but we don’t really know why they’re so meaningful. Marriage may simply be about celebrating a milestone: recognizing the relationship that a couple has built together and the love that they share for each other. But weddings are also very future-oriented, as the couple publicly promises to maintain their relationship for life. I suspect that it’s really these vows – the solemn promises that the newlyweds make to each other in front of their closest friends and family – that are at the crux of why weddings have such an emotional impact.

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Monday
Oct282013

Is Divorce "Catchy"?

image source: newsbusters.orgWhat do divorce and the flu have in common? Obviously, both of them can be pretty unpleasant. But another thing they have in common is that both might be contagious. A new study indicates that being "exposed" to others' divorces can increase your likelihood of divorce by 33%. Click more to read about this study at TheAtlanticWire.com.

Check out all of our articles about divorce here, and our articles about social networks here.

Tuesday
May212013

The Kris and Kim Split: Dr. John Gottman Would Have Predicted It

Scientific American recently reviewed research by Dr. John Gottman and colleagues within the context of Kim Kardashian and her short-lived marriage to Kris Humphries. Gottman's research team can predict divorce with great accuracy by carefully watching short video clips of couples discussing areas of conflict. If given the opportunity, would they have seen the markers of Kim and Kris' marital demise? See more at Scientific American here.

Also check out our posts about Kim and Kris here and here.

Thursday
Jan312013

After the Breakup: Who’s Through and Who Pursues

When I told my ex-husband that I wanted a divorce, I knew that it would not be easy to overcome the legal and logistical hurdles that would inevitably follow. But I was eager to tend to my emotional bruises and move on to whatever else life had to offer. My ex-husband, on the other hand, was not ready to let our relationship—or me—disappear quietly into the night. Months after I filed the paperwork and I had moved across town into a small, one-bedroom apartment, he continued to pressure me to give our relationship another chance. He sent dozens of texts and emails declaring his undying love. I awoke one morning to him banging on my door, asking me to comfort him. He left a (gaudy) handpicked bouquet of flowers at my office. Most recently, I opened my front door and literally stumbled over a container full of leftover food and a $500 winning lottery ticket (okay, so I kept the lottery ticket). These events took place so frequently that, for a while, I was genuinely scared to leave my apartment, lest I run into him or another “gift” that he left for me.

My situation is not unique. Unwanted pursuit behaviors—which include relatively innocuous behaviors, such as gift-giving or exaggerated displays of affection, as well as more serious types of intrusions, such as stalking or threats of physical violence—occur relatively frequently following relationship breakups.

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Monday
Dec032012

Dating with Children: How and When Should You Introduce the Kids? 

I have not been able to see The Consultant much the last few weeks due to his travel schedule. When he is in town, our ability to find time to spend together has been further complicated by the fact that we both have kids. Faced with the possibility of not seeing each other at all over the long Thanksgiving weekend because of our childcare obligations, I proposed “running into each other” at a local museum. He was looking for something to do with his tween girls anyway, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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Sunday
Nov112012

Helping a Friend After a Divorce

Friday
Oct192012

Match Me if You Can: Lack of Matching Between Partners Predicts Divorce

Let’s play a quick game. What do all of these celebrity couples have in common?: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries; Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony; Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher; Heidi Klum and Seal; Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. If you said divorced, you’d be correct (we would have also accepted “lack of talent” as a correct answer). These couples are just a few among the many who had a marriage that didn’t survive, and some, like Kim and Kris, had barely left the wedding chapel by the time they were divorced! (Clearly, they didn’t think this one through before having a multi-million dollar wedding!). 

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Thursday
Oct182012

Fighting with an Ex-Husband Harms Mother-Child Relationships

High conflict with an ex-husband spills over negatively onto women’s relationships with their children. In a recent survey of a random sample of 1,239 divorced mothers, conflict with an ex-husband was associated with increased feelings of parental stress -- the greater the conflict, the more mothers felt their children were challenging to deal with (acting out, tantrums, etc.). This stress reduced the quality of mother-child interactions. The researchers proposed that mediated communication between ex-spouses, such as with a lawyer or psychologist, could help alleviate some of this conflict and improve family relations.

Hakvoort, E. M., Bos, H. M. W., Van Balen, F., & Hermanns, J. M. A. (2012). Spillover between mothers’ postdivorce relationships: The mediating role of parenting stress. Personal Relationships, 19, 247-254.

image source: parentdish.co.uk

Tuesday
Sep042012

Should We Live Together? A Question Worth Asking

Many people believe that living together before marriage is a good idea because it helps couples test out whether they are a good fit and ready for marriage. Is he too messy? Does he leave the toilet seat open? Is her mother too involved? Is she a neat-freak? Can we manage finances well enough together? Many think that cohabiting will teach us something important about each other that we need to know before tying the knot. It’s counterintuitive then that some research indicates the living together before marriage, particularly before engagement, is associated with higher risks for divorce.

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Monday
Aug062012

Friendship Fallout: The Post-Divorce Apocalypse

Having been divorced more than once, I have noticed a sad, but unfortunate by-product: Losing friends. My ex-husband and I had many mutual friends that we met through some parent networking groups; we hosted play dates and attended children’s birthday parties together. Our shared participation was essential for my adjustment to motherhood. The collateral damage I did not anticipate after the divorce was losing some of these friends.

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Monday
Jul302012

Too Romantic and Too Short: Why Relationships from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette Fail

Now that Emily has chosen Jef over Arie in the most recent Bachelorette, the question is whether their relationship will make it to the altar and beyond. After fifteen bachelors and eight bachelorettes, so far there has only been one successful marriage (Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter). Although three other couples, including Jef and Emily, are currently engaged, and one bachelor married the runner-up instead of the winner, most of the bachelors and bachelorettes actually found love elsewhere. Why might this series, which is supposed to help people find love, fail so miserably at producing long-term relationships?

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Thursday
May312012

Now or Later? The Ideal Age to Say “I Do”

When to get married is one of the most debated topics among my group of friends. It is becoming more apparent that most do not intend to tie the knot until they are in their late twenties or thirties, if at all. Indeed, the desire to postpone marriage is on par with the rising trend in the age of first marriage in the United States. In 2011, the average age of marriage for men and women is 28.7 and 26.5 respectively compared to 24.7 (men) and 22 (women) in 1980 (read more about age differences here). However, regardless of the reasons behind the delay in marriage, research suggests this may not be a wise move.

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Wednesday
May302012

Cooperation During Divorce Negotiations: Guilt and Shame Matter

Let’s face it: Many marriages end. Divorce occurs for a variety of reasons, but regardless of the cause, ex-partners often need to negotiate with one another during the divorce process. For example, if there are kids in the picture, how is custody resolved? How does the couple divide up their friends? Who gets to keep the reality TV show that helped pay the bills?

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Tuesday
Apr242012

Fact Checking Cohabitation and Marriage

Recently, people in the mainstream media have been talking about how cohabitation (living with a partner out of wedlock) impacts marriage, beginning with a New York Times article, continuing on Slate.com (here and here) and The Daily Beast. The question at hand concerns the so-called “cohabitation effect,” or the idea that the mere act of living together causes less marriage satisfaction later on and increases the likelihood that those marriages will end in divorce.

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