Divorce settlements are another area where the experiences of the genders differ. Since men are expected to be the breadwinners of the family and usually earn more than women, it would be intuitive to believe that they would be satistfied with divorce settlements. But contrary to this commonly-held belief, “Women indicate greater satisfaction with custody, visitation, financial (excepting child support), and property settlements. Three explanations for these results are explored. The findings suggest that it is a perceived inequitable process, rather than a perceived inequitable outcome, that most contributes to dissatisfaction with a final divorce decree.” (Sheets & Braver, 1996, p.338)
Finally, a key area where gender responses to divorce differs is mortality. Studies indicate that men’s relative mortality ratio after divorce is significantly higher than women’s. Beyond the value of such a disparity within the academic, the phenomenon is a genuine cause for concern for psychologists and marriage cousellors. (Hemstrom, 1996, p.266) Several recent studies have identified a link between marriage dissolution and mortality.
“When socioeconomic status group, labor force status, and children in the household were added to the intensity regression, the excess mortality found among those groups that had experienced marriage dissolution decreased but did not disappear. Thus, part of this excess mortality rate is due to lower socioeconomic status, low labor force participation, and fewer children in the household among those who have experienced marriage dissolution. This applies especially to men.” (Hemstrom, 1996, p.266)
People who remarried (of both genders) had a higher rate of mortality compared to those who never experienced divorce. This suggests that divorce can make an individual vulnerable to chronic health problems (some of them even terminal illnesses).
“The fact that men often become involved in the divorce process at a later stage than women might lead to a stronger reaction immediately after divorce and may result in higher rates of sick leave, increased alcohol consumption, and negative health effects. Unskilled workers are the ones most likely to lose their jobs in such situations. Similarly, divorced women who do not participate in the labor force seem to experience stress or hardships that strongly affect their survival chances.” (Hemstrom, 1996, p.266)
In conclusion, both men and women face an array of issues and transition problems in the period after divorce. While women were previously believed to be the worser affected of the two parties, greater financial independence and political emancipation had alleviated some of their problems. That women have custody of children also helps them in moving on from the trauma. And contrary to popular beliefs, men are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of divorce, especially if they are from low socio-economic background. While men gain in terms of standard of living, they also exhibit higher mortality rates as a divorcee. This further strenghens the thesis that both genders face formidable challenges in their lives as divorcees.
Amato, Paul R. “The Impact of Divorce on Men and Women in India and the United States.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 25.2 (2004): 207+.
Hemstrom, Orjan. “Is Marriage Dissolution Linked to Differences in Mortality Risks for Men and Women?.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 58.2 (1996): 366+.
Lyons, Angela C., and Jonathan Fisher. “Gender Differences in Debt Repayment Problems after Divorce.” Journal of Consumer Affairs 40.2 (2006): 324+.
Sheets, Virgil L., and Sanford L. Braver. “Gender Differences in Satisfaction with Divorce Settlements.” Family Relations 45.3 (1996): 336+.