What’s worse for your health, a bad marriage or divorce?

A study out this week says divorce has a lasting impact on your health, with divorcees 20 per cent more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses than those who never marry. For those who get married again after divorce, the figure drops to 12 per cent.

The study carried out by Chicago University Researcher Dr Linda Waite, said divorce or widowhood undermines health because incomes drop and stress develops over issues such as shared child care. She explained the study on The Takeaway.

So what’s worse for your health – staying in a bad marriage or divorcing? It seems to be different for everyone, as bloggers here are saying staying in a marriage was bad for them. Christine Northam, a counsellor with Relate says, “It’s another reason to work hard to make marriages last, unless it is a very destructive relationship.”

What’s the best way of dealing with stress in relationships? Is divorce the answer, and is your health ever a consideration when thinking about divorce?

26 Responses to “What’s worse for your health, a bad marriage or divorce?”

  1. July 29, 2009 at 11:58

    The pain of a divorce is better to endure than that of a bad marriage with its attendant sorrows.

  2. 2 Sena
    July 29, 2009 at 12:01

    i think divorce is not the answer of dealing with stress in relationships and marriage. the answer for this disease is LOVE,UNDERSTANDING & TRUST.
    in every relationship, there is ups and downs , problemsmmay come and go, thorcher, sadness and happy may go and come.
    LOVE in a sense that in the begining of our world , it was love that design it and the same love that designs Jesus Christ to come and die for our sins. all i want to say for every relationship to last longer with no stress, each partner shhould love each to the extent that if one falls the other would lift mhim/her up again.
    so far as love exist, UNDERSTANDING. each party should be able to understand what the other says , if it’s in situations. they must come togther as one person to defend and figth as one body against problems araising.
    TRUST is another medicine to cure stress in relationships. this why couples go attend to church for their blessing in their marriage b’cos they belife and trust that the creater would provide them their needs . its the same turst that must exist in every couple . that is why they take oath at the church to say togther for better or worse, it dosen’t state that for better for divorce . all is LOVE: UNDERSTANDING:& TRUST is the cure for stress in marriage and relationshipe.

  3. 4 Deryck/Trinidad
    July 29, 2009 at 12:04

    Communication,communication,communication! That’s our problem we know everything and listen to nothing.

    BAD is a relative term that is subjective to each person’s perception. The question is whait is a bad marriage?

  4. 5 Nigel
    July 29, 2009 at 12:27

    A big question would be how many times more is a person who stays in a bad marriage likely to contract a chronic disease than those who don’t marry at all as a comparison with the 20% for those who divorce. Also are the American statistics based on their own social values and standards repeatable with places like the UK which still has a different societal base. I can’t think of one divorcee (the initiating party) who has regreted breaking off the marriage but a high percentage who have not been happy with their post divorce life. I know a couple of people who were divorced by their partners and completely trashed their lives after the divorce. Both males.

  5. 6 Ann
    July 29, 2009 at 12:40

    I think it’s a very subjective experience. My experience has been that staying in a marriage which was clearly not working had a very bad effect on my self worth. To keep the peace, particularly for the children, I compromised and accepted things I should not have.

    After years and years of trying to make things better, I finally accepted that no matter how hard I tried I could not achieve this and brought it to a close. I felt such a failure. Low self esteem heaped on already low self esteem.

    But raising two children pretty much on my own was hard and my ex-husband did not make it any easier. It seemed for a number of years his vindictiveness towards me would never end. The stress of that and the constant worries about managing work, childcare, family members and financial insecurity definitely made it’s mark. But over the years I grew stronger and found a new strength in myself. I learned I could do it on my own. I think i needed to leave my first marraige for my the survival of my ‘soul’, but that is not too say have no regrets.

    But happy ending though 🙂 Ex-husband and I get on fine now. He’s remarried and has more children and they are close to their half sisters. I remarried a lovely man despite telling myself I’d never marry again! And my kids all grown up and doing well 🙂

  6. 7 Gar Adel Gar
    July 29, 2009 at 13:09

    Dear Sinaisix,
    I do indeed concurre with you but if one imagine the African way of marriage is not than a purchase in many of the tribes traditions. It is better you know yourselves before marrying one another. Living together need trust and confident and if otherwise, because the divorce as an option is painful than enduring the stress.
    ANYWAY Im not yet marry
    Gar, Sudan

  7. 8 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 13:43

    Seriously, given in the US, there is a 50% divorce rate, and the other 50% aren’t all happy marriages, doesn’t this mean that getting married would raise medical costs given apparently it makes you less healthy? Should unmarried people be given insurance discounts? Any kind of stress makes you more susceptible to illness. Look at the name partners on many law firms, many never live past their 60s because the stress of their jobs killed them. I imagine marriage to be the same way. Imagine having a stressful job AND a stressful marriage.

  8. 9 patti in cape coral
    July 29, 2009 at 14:43

    I would imagine a bad marriage is worse than divorce, because when you are divorced, you just have to learn to live with yourself again, but in a bad marriage, the source of the stress is constantly there. Unless you yourself are the reason the marriage is bad, in that case the divorce won’t help you because you are the source of the problem. Having experienced both, I realized there were things about me I had to change once I was divorced, the stress didn’t magically disappear. My ex-husband and I have talked about the parts we played in our marriage’s downfall and owned up to them. We get along fine now, so long as we don’t have to live together.

  9. 10 tipsylife
    July 29, 2009 at 14:55

    Primarily we are created like incomplete beings who are prone to pair with another in order to fill completed. Where that completion is accidently missmatched, there is pain and regret because the bonding might result in pain either for one or both.

    What I do tend to see is that there are many couples who are just mere husband and wife. The perfect bonding will only take hold when you are married to your true friend. Most people are married to people who are not their friends. Such people may not care about their spouse-partners thereby ending up in painful relationship. A friend cares about you and your feelings; sometimes a lover does not.
    It is better to be divorced instead of enduring pain in the name of fulfilling falsified cultures and customs which may not be there. So get your friend and; STAY LUCKY.

    • 11 Michael
      August 26, 2009 at 21:25

      I just had to comment on your reply. Two thumbs way up! It was simple and so completely true. A marriage based on sex and not on friendship will not last and if it does it won’t be a happy one. Been there done that. Twice! Good job *Tipsylife

  10. 12 steve
    July 29, 2009 at 16:16

    I would advice everyone here to take a family law course, and read about divorce. It’s very depressing. Seeing the divorce settlements is frightening. Seeing how much these people hate each other is scary.

  11. 13 Jennifer
    July 29, 2009 at 16:25

    The toll taken by staying in a bad marriage vs. divorce is about the same.

    These days marriage is a sham. No longer do people stay married for the good times and bad. They see divorce as a solution to dealing with issues instead of working through them.Many relationships fizzle out and there is no substance to them or willingness to invest in those things that would make a marriage long lasting.

    I am amazed then I see people that have been married 60+ years. You can’t tell me they never had problems to work out but they worked through them if they got to where they are! That’s what marriage is about. Sadly, many these days don’t understand that.

  12. 14 Tom K in Mpls
    July 29, 2009 at 17:00

    Each case is different and there is no way to guess. Even in hindsight you would be trying to guess ‘what if’. Kind of a silly topic for debate.

  13. July 29, 2009 at 22:27

    what if someone does the impossible to save an already desastrous mariage; what if that effort lasts years and years …wouldn’t this be even more unhealthy than a divorce ?…I don’t think that the concept of “Life Long mariage” is still appropriate nowadays.People live longer, and move around the globe, change jobs, change religion, lifestyle: In this century, There isn’t only 1 life, but 1000000 lives in one life, so let’s enjoy everyone of them: who cares whether we are divorced or married or re re remaried , the important is to be happy (of course when there are kids, it becomes another debate).In today’s society, Who can spend 50 or 70 years with the same person ?! I personally can’t (am single), and neither expect my future husbannd to do so :)!!!

  14. 16 Jennifer
    July 30, 2009 at 16:27

    Re: Vanessa’s post

    In today’s society, Who can spend 50 or 70 years with the same person ?! I personally can’t (am single), and neither expect my future husbannd to do so

    Isn’t that kind of the point of marriage? It creates a foundation which effects and encompasses all parts of a person’s life. By that I mean; when you are married; you will work together toward common goals such as buying a home, whatever goals you have. Marriage relationships provides a model for children in which emphasis is placed on family connections.

    What is marriage if it not having someone who is truly your best friend? Who you can count on to be there for you no matter what; mutual care and concern, sharing goals; good times and bad times.The thing is when I look around: where are these other people who feel the same way.

    An example:
    My cousin is 19 years old. She is much more invested in her friends than in her family. Don’t get me wrong; she loves her family but she is not loyal to her family in the same way that she is to her friends. Her friends have replaced the family in her eyes. It’s not from lack of concern or love from us; it’s just that is not of the mindset that family is important. I am 24; not much older; but you can see the difference between us and our obligations. Friends replacing the family is undermining the importance of the family. That is scary because the family is the core component of our society.

    • 17 Granny
      October 19, 2009 at 22:53

      Jennifer, your comments sound extremely idealistic. I agree with everything you say, in theory, but in reality … it just isn’t that simple.

      Anyway, I’m curious. Are YOU married?

  15. 18 scmehta
    July 31, 2009 at 07:08

    Divorce is like medicine to get rid of the disease of bad-marriage; but, that is only in the cases where the cause of the disease has been rightly diagnosed and it has been declared to be incurable.

    • 19 Gar - Sudan
      July 31, 2009 at 11:03

      you are very much right, marriage is suppose to be of happiness rather than stress or so much of the spouse. The better the marriage or divorce to cure the painful. We have a say in Dinka ‘Jal tiek acin acuoth’ meaning the spouse left you, you can not mourn the departure.

  16. August 1, 2009 at 12:55

    As long as people’s relationships include a legal element marriage-divorce, you will always have suffering as a possibility. People should be able to split from one another at the drop of a hat and have all the necessary support facilities to ensure a smooth transition to their new chosen status. Divorce/ separation should be that simple the fact that it isn’t shows how woefully primitive worldwide our civilization’s understanding of a loving relationship’s needs.

  17. 21 Dinka Aliap Chawul-Kampala
    August 1, 2009 at 15:00

    Bad health and a bad marriage,these are all bad choices that no an individual would ever bother to choose one .I dont have any choice in both than rejecting them simultaneously once and for all.

  18. August 2, 2009 at 08:34

    Divorce is good for your health if you a leaving a miserable marriage with an abusive, controlling spouse.
    I believe, it’s not divorce, or widowhood that affects your health. It should rather be aging.

  19. 23 Dennis Junior
    August 12, 2009 at 18:15

    A DIVORCE ….Since, you will often have the reduction of the stress of *getting* rid of the partner thru legal recourse….

    =Dennis Junior=

  20. 24 Ali sigia
    August 19, 2009 at 13:07


    i am in a terribly bad marriage. mother in law tries to control everything. my wife reprts to her mother all that i do and say, future plans, my finances etc.

    i’ve been in this marriage for two and half years.

    i want out. i suffer from very high stress that has taken me to type 2 diabetes condition.

    any suggestions?


    ali sigia

  21. October 31, 2009 at 22:42

    Sometimes you just can’t solve something. I think it’s our nature to think there are answers to situations where there may not be. Then it becomes a matter of choice. “Do I really want to continue to live like this?” A bad marriage will kill you, because it never ends – it’s with you 24/7. A divorce is painful, but the grief cycle kicks in and you begin to recover and the road to a new life begins to open up. I am a firm believer, however, in giving marriage every opportunity to succeed before pulling down the curtain, especially when children are involved.

  22. January 3, 2010 at 23:35

    Communication is the key to marriage. If you are not communicating then why stay married? I left my marriage and my health problems certainly subsided. We drifted apart because we stopped talking to each other. The stress of the divorce process and the effect on my kids was terrible. Would I marry again? – probably. Would I put my kids through the mess of a divorce again? No.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: