Divorce is life-altering for everyone, but research shows that women end up happier than men when it’s all said and done. In a 20-year study of 10,000 women and men, researchers at London’s Kingston University analyzed responses to common life milestones, including divorce.
The survey asked participants to rate their happiness levels before and after divorce. Researchers found that women were significantly happier and more satisfied with their lives after divorce—regardless of the reason for the divorce.
Men were slightly happier after divorce but to a much lesser degree than women.
Why the difference? Women have learned to express feelings of loss, grief and sadness in ways not taught to men because of societally imposed expectations of masculinity. On top of that, women often have wider and more emotionally profound support networks than men. Generally speaking, women’s ability to use emotional coping skills makes them better able to adapt to adverse change.
Here are a few specific tendencies that tip the scales toward women’s enhanced ability to move on and thrive:
- Willingness to ask for help: Women are more willing than men to express and address their feelings with the help of a coach and/or therapist.
- Tapping into friendships: Women are more likely than men to let friends and family deeply “in” on what’s going on and create a positive support network.
- Staying present: After divorce, women are less likely than men to try and distract themselves from their feelings by quickly starting new relationships, engaging in casual sex or indulging in drugs and alcohol.
- Focusing on self-care: Women are more likely to take care of their health during and after the upheaval of divorce. Healthy eating and exercise help stave off illness and depression.
Deb Purdy is a divorce coach and author of Something Gained: 7 Shifts to Be Stronger, Smarter and Happier After Divorce