Divorce can be an easy way out for many couples who live in unhappy marriages. But when this decision is taken lightly, it may bring more harm than good.
Different research shows that a certain proportion of couples end up regretting their divorce. How many? And why do some of them subsequently consider their marriage dissolution a mistake?
Let’s look into detailed regret divorce statistics below to find out the answer.
How Many Ex-Spouses Regret the Divorce Decision?
On average, a third of divorced couples regret their decision to end their marriage. In a 2016 survey by Avvo.com, researchers interviewed 254 women and 206 men and asked how they felt about their divorce.
They found out that 27% of women and 32% of men found themselves regretting divorce.
The survey also found that most participants attached a great value to personal happiness in marriage.
And if it did not bring any positive feelings, 75% of women and 58% of men would prefer to be alone than in an unhappy relationship.
However, the statistics above are somewhat limited. It involves only couples who became incompatible over time.
The survey does not reflect other reasons, such as domestic violence, adultery, or alcoholism.
Second thoughts after divorce also depend on who left first. Various data suggest that the spouse who decided to call it quits regrets divorce more often than the other party.
Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, a family therapist and author of ‘Life After Divorce: Create a New Beginning,’ believes that “leavers often feel that they should have tried harder, been willing to change more, and been willing to stay, even if they were perpetually unhappy.”
Thus, the reasons for marriage dissolution play a significant part in whether people regret getting divorced.
Do Ex-Spouses Regret Getting a Divorce After Infidelity?
Infidelity is a common reason many American families fall apart. Unfortunately, it can occur even in happy marriages.
The results of multiple studies show that 25% of men and 20% of women have extra-marital affairs during their marriages.
Interestingly, men are not always the ones who cheat more often.
The Institute for Family Studies has researched the demographics of infidelity in the U.S. and found out that the incidence of adultery among men and women differs depending on age.
Women cheat in 11% of marriages at the age of 18-29. Men in the same age group are guilty of infidelity in 10% of cases. Affairs for spouses in their middle age (40 to 60 years old) grow to 18% for women and 31% for men.
The infidelity rate goes down for women in their 70s while staying high for men even after 80 (24%).
How Many Unfaithful Spouses End Up Regretting Divorce After an Affair?
Kate Cohen-Posey, a mental health counselor, says that “80% of those who part due to infidelity regret their divorce – both the betrayer and the betrayed.”
She believes that it’s because “people who divorce due to cheating have greater post-divorce distress than from other types of marital ruptures, and remain emotionally connected to their spouses.”
The answer to the question “Will my husband regret divorce after infidelity?” also depends on why he cheated. In his post for Psychology Today, a relationship expert Robert Weiss, Ph.D., says that his patients name the need for sex as the primary reason for cheating.
A 2017 study published in ‘Archives of Sexual Behavior’ supports this statement. It demonstrated that sexual dissatisfaction in current relationships makes people look for better options outside their marriage.
If a person believes that the affair was nothing but an impulse for one-time sex, they usually regret it later.
How Successful are the Cheaters in Their Subsequent Relationships?
David H. Taylor, the author of ‘Affaircare: Caring for Your Marriage After an Affair’ says that “less than 10% of unfaithful spouses actually marry their affair partner and most of these marriages (75%) end in divorce.”
Many of those who cheated in their first marriage repeat the same behavior in subsequent relationships. A 2017 research about serial infidelity studied 484 participants.
They were asked about their extra-marital sexual involvement in the first and second marriages. It turned out that 45% of people who cheated in the first relationship also cheated in the second one.
And only 18% said they were having an affair in their second marriages for the first time.
Why Do Some Couples Wish They Hadn’t Got Divorced?
Among the reasons that most often make spouses regret their decision to divorce are:
- feelings of loneliness;
- renewed love;
- the negative impact on children;
- financial problems, etc.
The reasons for men and women differ.
Women regret divorce primarily because of children and insecurity. Men regret divorce mainly because they still love their ex-wife or because their following relationships keep failing.
Let’s thoroughly inspect some of those reasons below.
Because of Children
Children suffer as much from divorce as their parents do. They might experience adverse mental and physical health effects, such as:
- lower grades at school;
- communication issues, etc.
Many parents (women in particular) experience regrets after their marriage breakdown because they couldn’t maintain a nuclear family for their children’s sake.
The subsequent relationships that newly single parents form might not be strong enough compared to the first marriage where the spouses possibly had children together.
In his article for Psychology Today, Mark Banschick M.D. explains that “not having shared responsibility for kids means it’s easier to leave when you are going through a rough patch.”
Conflicts may also arise when a child from a previous relationship lives with one of the parents and their new partner. The National Survey of Family Growth by CDC.gov reveals that the marriages where one of the spouses had children from the previous marriage have a 37% likelihood of lasting longer than 20 years.
The second marriage has more chances to survive the 20-year threshold for childless couples - almost 54%.
The choice between the children’s needs and the new spouse could become a real problem. In these situations, no matter when the last marriage ended, a year or several years later, people could regret divorce from a person who was the natural parent to their children.
Because of Economic Hardships
When spouses live together, they both contribute to the financial well-being of the family. But when the marriage ends, each person has to deal with economic issues independently.
Divorced women usually face more difficulties than men. They often quit their jobs to raise children and strengthen their families, consequently losing their employment value on the labor market. For older women, marriage dissolution could even mean poverty.
A 2020 study by R. Kelly Raley and Megan M. Sweeney published in the Journal of Marriage and Family mentions that 27% of women who ended their marriage after age 50 (and did not remarry) face poverty.
In comparison, only 12% of men in the same situation experience financial hardships.
For this reason, if a wife decides to be the first to walk away from marriage, she could regret it later.
And although more women are now employed without interruptions except for maternity leave, their income is still lower than their husbands.
Therefore, to stay afloat, many women have to remarry to access their new husband’s income and social security benefits in the long run.
Because New Relationships Don’t Work Out
Some family therapists believe that it takes about one year to recover after divorce and move forward.
Kristen Fuller, M.D., writes in her 2019 article that “taking a year allows you to re-adjust to a new life, mourn the loss of your divorce, and become confident in your independence.”
However, most people are looking for a new partner and even get married too soon.
Edward M. Tauber, the author of ‘Finding the Right One After Divorce,’ says that “the answer why most subsequent marriages fail is that divorce creates circumstances that cloud our judgment and may lead us to remarry before we are ready, and we may do so for the wrong reasons.”
One of those wrong reasons a person wants to remarry is to escape from their problems and hope that the emotional baggage won’t follow them into the new life.
Unfortunately, second and third marriages fall apart even more often than the first ones. Statistical research shows that 60% of second marriages end in divorce.
For third and fourth marriages, this figure is even higher – 65%. People tend to repeat the same mistakes with a new partner, which causes conflicts and destabilizes the new relationships.
How Many Spouses Regret “Gray Divorce”?
Divorce in mid-life is a growing trend in the U.S. The gray divorce rate increased from 4.9 in 1990 to 10.3 in 2017.
It can be partly explained by improved living conditions and the consequent longer life span for many Americans. People simply do not wish to tolerate unhappy relationships. They believe they have plenty of time to form stronger bonds with someone else.
The 2021 U.S. Census Bureau report on marriages and divorces revealed the following number of divorced people after 55 years old:
- 18.5% of men and 20.2 % of women aged 55-64 years old;
- 14% of men and 19% of women aged 65-74.
The economic consequences are the main reason people don’t want to end their marriage in their mid-age. Often, women experience a more severe decline in their finances than men.
For example, Bowling Green State University’s research on life after gray divorce showed that the living conditions deteriorated for 45% of women after divorce compared to 21% of men.
Therefore, an average ex-wife regrets divorce in mid-life primarily because of a decline in the living standard.
Another purely feminine reason that affects the marriage is hormonal changes that come with age.
Hasty decisions to call it quits made under the influence of mood swings during menopause are often followed by divorce regrets.
Statistical data suggests that at least one-third of people regret their marriage dissolution.
That number can rise to 80% for ex-spouses who chose the wrong reasons to get divorced and feel that it could have been prevented if both parties had put forth more effort.
Thus, we should remember that every serious decision concerning family can have long-lasting consequences and should be made with a considerable amount of thought.