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Why Does Divorce Hurt So Much?

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Almost everyone has been affected by a divorce, whether our own or that of someone we know. Ending a marriage is a difficult and life-changing decision, and it often has a “ripple effect” that extends beyond the divorced couple. In the United States, one out of every two marriages ends in divorce (1), so it’s not uncommon. If that is the case, then why does divorce hurt so much when it happens?

Today we will be talking about:

  1. Why Does Divorce Hurt So Much?
  2. Why is Divorce So Painful?
  3. Emotional Damage of Divorce
  4. How Much Does Divorce Cost?
  5. Financial and Legal Damage of Divorce
  6. Types of Divorce
  7. I’m Overwhelmed – How to Get Over Divorce
  8. How to Overcome Loneliness and Find Meaning In Your Life.

Why is Divorce So Painful?

 Divorce happens for a multitude of reasons, but every divorced couple once lived life together. Couples who spend multiple years in marriage come to rely upon one another in multiple ways. They are each other’s source of emotional support and often share an intimate friendship. They provide a degree of stability for each other by the amount of time spent together, even though many couples are in abusive or neglectful situations. Future plans and expectations disappear with the loss of a spouse. Divorces often cause individuals to lose their emotional support, intimate friendship, stability, and dreams for the future. These are very important things for our well-being as humans, so losing them is naturally a painful process. Why does divorce hurt so much when it happens?

The loss of such resources is described as “clean pain” by Dr. Steven Hayes, whereas other cognitive sources of pain are termed “dirty pain” (2). Dirty pain is not so easy to assess, for it is a collection of emotions and thoughts that result from the divorce. Many of these thoughts may not be true, but they are no less damaging to an individual’s psyche. Examples could be: guilt that stems from initiating the divorce; shame inflicted by the ex-spouse; or the idea that one is not worthy of a sustained marriage.

Emotional Damage of Divorce

More emotional damage can stem from the loss of a social network, especially if the divorcing couple shares children. This alone can be the worst part, considering the developmental damage that children suffer from a divorce (3). The relationship between divorced parents and their children fundamentally changes, even for a spouse that maintains full custody. Additionally, friendships that couples had while married can grow distant following a divorce. Friends often feel as though they have to “pick a side,” so this is another type of relationship that changes.

How Much Does Divorce Cost? – Financial and Legal Damage 

The average cost of a United States divorce is $20,000 USD (4). The process of divorcing can take anywhere from a few months to several years (5). Many couples begin the process only to realize that divorce is expensive and complicated. Legally splitting up with a spouse is not an easy task. On top of all the emotional strain listed above, the financial and legal aspects of divorce take a heavy toll on individuals. It is not nearly as simple as many wish it was. There are many reasons why does divorce hurt so much when it happens.

Types of Divorce

 Simply deciding what type of divorce to pursue can bring additional trouble.

  • An uncontested divorce is the ideal option, but this is only possible if partners can agree on the financial and legal terms of the divorce without involving legal counsel. Otherwise, the couple must seek another type of divorce.
  • Summary divorces, which only exist in some states, are typically most effective when the couple shares few joint debts, no children, and little property to be divided. As you can imagine, even this type of divorce requires each spouse to be cooperative and communicate, which is often the very challenge that inspired the divorce process. Once lawyers get involved, it only gets more complicated – and more expensive.
  • The other types of divorce – default, collaborative, and contested – involve attorneys and, in some cases, courtroom trials (6).

Divorce can also indirectly impact one’s credit score. Abruptly losing one of two household incomes can lead to missed payments on credit cards, loans, and monthly bills. Joint accounts are also problematic because each person on the account is legally responsible for it. When two people who jointly own an account split up, they often split up their joint account, which leads to a reduction in credit scores. The same thing can happen with jointly owned debts.

I’m Overwhelmed – How to Get Over Divorce

 Divorce is, for many couples, the most painful thing they ever experience. It often requires a grieving process that one would experience with any kind of major loss. Losing a spouse is difficult because, no matter what leads to a divorce, the couple was at one time deeply united in friendship and in their life pursuits. The Bible says in Genesis 2:24 that when couples are married, “they become one flesh” (7). Losing a spouse can make you feel as though you’ve lost part of yourself.

Why does divorce hurt so much when it happens?

If you are currently experiencing the pain of a divorce, in any of the ways mentioned above, the best first step is to give yourself space to feel and heal. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that this loss is bringing on, even if they seem overwhelming. Then work toward healing, understanding that it’s not a short or easy journey, but a very important one. You were designed with a purpose and that purpose has not gone away, even though your spouse has.

For more encouragement, read about How to Overcome Loneliness and Find Meaning In Your Life.

If you would like to find the true meaning and purpose for you life, we invite you to watch the GREAT NEWS FOR YOU video on this page. May God bless you and keep you.


  1. Divorce rates: https://worldpopulationreview.com/state-rankings/divorce-rate-by-state
  2. http://marleneandbob.com/Pain.pdf
  3. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Surviving_The_Breakup/Wz8fSe2Vo2wC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=children+divorce&pg=PR1&printsec=frontcover
  4. https://mint.intuit.com/blog/planning/the-financial-impact-of-divorce-062012/
  5. https://www.findlaw.com/family/divorce/a-divorce-timeline.html
  6. https://www.rocketlawyer.com/article/what-are-the-types-of-divorce-cb.rl
  7. https://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/divorce-bible-verses/

We invite you to watch the “Great News” video on this page and find out more about God’s love for you and how you can receive forgiveness and eternal life – today!

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