How divorce affects your health: Health and wellbeing are impacted by our relationships. In fact, if we live with our partner(s), our relationships likely have the greatest impact on our overall well-being. While an unhealthy, abusive relationship can cause health harms or worse, the stress of a divorce should never be taken lightly.
Interestingly, healing a relationship — avoiding the tumultuous events, the detrimental health impacts, financial and social disruptions of a divorce — is often possible with the integration of Couples Coaching and Psychology.
The best healing occurs when both parties are fully, honestly committed to doing what it takes to ‘get back to love’ in their relationships. However even those who are doubtful can find that love again and repair with specialised expert coaching. While couples repair is challenging work at times, compared to the agony of most divorce transitions, marriage counselling and couples therapy/couples coaching is far less traumatic for most couples. By far the majority of my high-profile couples find it surprising that they can go from nearly hating each other, can’t stand to be in the same room together, to loving each other again — holding hands and being intimate and loving — in a short a period of time. Divorce, on the other hand, can drag on for years — leaving in its wake financial ruin, emotional distress and the health impacts I’ll briefly mention, below.
Healing a relationship, however, does require strongish commitment from both parties. Both individuals need to be willing to open up about their expectations, disappointments, wounds and trauma reactions that might be having an impact on their current marriage. Also to openly discuss their affair ( cheating), if this is one of the issues impacting the quality of the relationship and sustainability of the marriage bond.
But so few couples take time to try marriage counselling and simply head for the divorce court. It’s such a shame we live in a ‘throw away marriage’ society. So many in our society seem overly keen on giving money to divorce lawyers and sustaining hatred for one another, instead of seeking guidance from professionally trained relationship coaches, despite the impacts of divorce on health on top of every other aspect of their lives!
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There are 7 Major Health Impacts of Divorce
How Divorce Affects Your Health and Well-Being: What You Likely Underestimate When You’re Heading Towards Divorce Court
1. Unprecedented stress levels relating to the divorce
- We all know traumatic events and prolonged stress have dire consequences on our health.
- But what people often don’t realise is how long their divorce will take, and how long they’ll be in turmoil.
- Many divorces take years to finalise, with bitterness and disdain increasing plus negative energies flowing into every other aspect of their lives.
- Work performance, parenting — friendships and hobbies — often take a major hit when it comes to getting a divorce, and when what matters most to you falls away, your stress levels can feel higher than you could ever have imagined — there is minimal stress brought on by expert marriage counselling as the first step instead of heading for divorce to begin with, even if initially both parties are not committed to relationship repair.
Helpful tips? Seek good counselling and self-care; make sure you have a strong social support circle and know who you can lean on. Don’t try to go it all alone. Give marriage counselling a thorough try before deciding the marriage is hopeless; at least you might reduce the divorce-related stress levels if you can manage to regain mutual respect and caring with the help of an expert relationship coach.
2. Insomnia and disrupted sleep
- Disrupted sleeping patterns (insomnia, waking early and so forth) can wreak havoc on your health and emotional well-being.
- Your decision making is impacted, and your driving is compromised when you lack sleep.
Helpful tips? Keep your exercising up and your substance use down. Meditate. Watch out for the dual impacts of insomnia combined with poor sleep quality – you’ll have enough stress on your hands! Get expert counselling.
3. Being accident-prone
- Stress, especially when combined with short-term and long-term insomnia, leads to distractions and more frequent accidents — car accidents, home injuries and so forth.
- Having an accident around the time of your separation and divorce is quite common and adds to your stress levels, also likely to your sleep disturbances and financial or scheduling concerns — a vicious circle.
Helpful tips? Make sure you don’t lean on substance use or substance abuse which makes everything worse in the short and longer term. Get expert counselling.
4. Heart problems, Crohn’s disease, IBS, Asthma and other health conditions may worsen
- Stress takes a toll on most of your organs, from the brain to the gut to the liver, kidneys and heart.
- If you have pre-existing conditions, you may find they worsen — your irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is likely to worsen, which can lead to health risk 5 – delaying medical attention or writing off symptoms to stress when something else might be going on and needing medical investigation.
Helpful tips? Get expert counselling.
5. Significant Weight Gain or Severe Weight Loss
- Not eating properly — and weight loss from losing your appetite to weight gain from binge-eating for comfort — are common outcomes during times of divorce upheavals.
- Drastic changes in weight are a concern.
Helpful tips? If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy diet, find a good counsellor with expertise in nutrition and/or eating disorders.
6. Delayed diagnosis
If you’re busy with the divorce proceedings or constant turmoil of an acrimonious split, or have lost weight or gained weight as mentioned in #5 above, two potential health impacts include:
- Delaying medical tests you’d otherwise have scheduled and/or
- Writing off symptoms of cardiovascular disease, or cancer, as relating to divorce stress or related weight changes instead of investigating other potential causes.
Helpful tips? See #4 above; make sure you prioritise healthy living and seek professional medical help and mental health supports. Pay attention to your health and get tested if you have symptoms that would normally be of concern, even if you believe they’re simply stress related.
7. Low self-esteem
- If the divorce caught you by surprise, involved a cheating wife or cheating husband (infidelity) or was otherwise unwanted and unexpected, your self-esteem may have taken a serious blow.
- This is especially likely if you’re told you’re no longer loved, attractive/attracted to or other negative input from your departing spouse, who’s often trying to make themselves feel less guilty for leaving and/or having an affair.
Helpful tips? Ask your GP if you’re okay to join a gym; ask for a referral to a counsellor or mental health support group. Be sure to prioritise healthy living and avoid substance abuse or substance-use dependency in an effort to ‘numb out’ or soothe your nerves. Substance use is a dangerous and short-lived approach with health harms that may be long-lasting. Again, see your GP, seek professional medical help and seek out positive mental health supports such as a recommended counselling group or therapist.