The impact of health on the decision to divorce.

There are lots if stressors on marriages which lead to divorce – and declining health is certainly one of them.  According to a study funded by the National Institute on Aging, conducted by Iowa State University and reported in Medical News Today , the researchers found that for older couples, marriage is more likely to end in divorce when the wife is ill than when the husband is ill.  The researchers did not draw any conclusions from this except to point out that the onset of illness in the husband was not linked with raised chance of divorce, illness in the wife was linked to a 6% higher risk of being divorced before the end of the study period. The observation was also made that there is “an elevated risk for depression with illness and now you’re also at risk for divorce. People in poor health may have less access to beneficial social relationships, which in turn can compromise their health further.”  In an earlier study the same web source also reported that women provide caregiving much more than you might guess and this is often reported as a turning point in their relationship with their husbands.

The feeling of “having to do it all”

imageAnd let’s not be too narrow in our understanding of what might require an increase in “care-giving”.  Care-giving could also be defined as just taking care of things. It might be those small things that you notice your spouse doesn’t do any more; or their inability to keep things organized; or the inclination to get distracted or become disinterested in what is going on in the present moment. It may be increased procrastination; or gradually declining health that begins to take more and more of their attention. And their lack of attention on the small details of your life together may can an increasing burden on the other spouse to be the one who handles details and keeps both parties organized. It is a narrowing of the focus on one and the inability to handle multiple responsibilities at one time. And it might also be the increasing resistance to doing things outside of their daily routine, like socializing or travel. One spouse can often be left with the feeling of “having to do it all!”

Our happiness often depends on our health and the health of our spouse.

As was mentioned in the previous post Thank God I Finally Got Up the Courage to Leave the woman expressing this relief did so because he husband had given up.  Ill health was a large part of this giving up.  And he was unwilling to do anything to halt the deterioration of his lifestyle.  As we age, we are challenged to adapt to our changing abilities.  And part of that means shifting your mindset to embrace what you have instead of what you don’t have.

This is a very real situation for many spouses in long term marriages where one spouse decides they are on the glide path to an “old folks” retirement home while the other is coming into their own now that they have some freedom from earlier responsibilities and some wisdom to know what to do with it!

“Our autumn years are the ideal time to reexamine our lives and to explore the many opportunities this time of life presents: opportunities to stretch in our capacities, to face and conquer old demons, and to meet new challenges with greater resources than were available to us before.” 

From the book: Finding Meaning, Facing Fears: In the Autumn of Your Years (45-65)

As a Divorce Coach, you will see the impact of one or the other spouse giving up, being resigned, throwing in the towel; or believing that they have to do it all.  All of these are perspectives, sometimes known as mindsets, ways of thinking, and they all have a big impact on the other spouse – and on, well, a lot of other people connected to the situation. As a Personal Divorce Coach you want to be able to help your clients shift their mindset which is sometimes locked in by the current circumstances where it looks like there are no other options.  Often have to our clients imagine the situation from different perspectives:

  •         What have you done in the past?
  •         Looking back on this, how would you like to see yourself?
  •         What would you say to your best friend?

The most important element in all of this is that you can only coach your client specifically (not the person they are dealing with) and help them to change the way they perceive the situation and their options.

Join us for our next course which starts Monday May 11 for non-coaches and Thursday, May 14 for those trained as coaches. All classes are via webinar. For more information go to this page. And check out our free webinars if you are interested in exploring different aspects of divorce coaching – on our home page, the calendar on the right side shows you the next webinar. Move to the next month to see future webinars.

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