It's no secret that choosing to file for divorce is a serious decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. There are a myriad of factors to consider, including your children, your finances, and, of course, your happiness. It's also important to not just think about how you may feel in the present moment, but also how you might feel years or even decades down the line. While divorce can be the best option for some couples, others may experience divorce regret in the future.
According to a 2016 study conducted by Seddans, a law firm in the U.K., 22% of the more than 800 participants regretted getting a divorce. The Daily Mail also reports that a U.K. survey found that as much as 54 percent of participants experienced second thoughts after getting a divorce and that 42 percent considered giving the relationship another try. These statistics on divorce regret show that the aftermath of ending a relationship can be a complicated and emotional one. Although some divorces are necessary, others might not be.
If you're considering filing for a divorce, keep reading to discover a few common reasons why people feel regret after divorce.
Your Finances Change
The financial impact of divorce can be devastating. The reality of how much it costs to just get a divorce attorney can be a shock, and once the ball is rolling, it is hard to turn back. Even after the divorce is final and the legal fees have been paid, there's still the matter of figuring out how to support two households with the amount of money that was once used to support one. This might require you to find a new job in order to support yourself.
Your Children Are Affected
As resilient as children may be, divorce can affect them in a variety of ways, whether they are kids or young adults themselves. "Witnessing loss of love between parents, having parents break their marriage commitment, adjusting to going back and forth between two different households, and the daily absence of one parent while living with the other, all create a challenging new family circumstance in which to live," says Carl E Pickhardt, Ph.D.
For younger kids, divorce often means losing their childhood home, moving away from neighborhood friends, and even enrolling in a new school. They'll also have to adjust to splitting their time between their parents. If you're a stay-at-home parent, going back to work in order to support yourself will also be a big change for them. Essentially, divorce can also take an emotional toll on kids both young and fully grown.
Your Next Relationship Might Not Be Any Better
Some say it takes a few years to recover from a divorce, but others jump into new relationships right away. Although there's no right or wrong way to date or commit to a new person after a divorce, it's important to heal before you can move on to a new long-term relationship. It may be common for loneliness and financial strain to motivate some to begin looking for a new partner shortly after their divorce is final, but if you don’t take the time to emotionally recover and address your role in the demise of your last marriage, those same issues could trickle into your next relationship. If that's the case, you could end up finding yourself just as unhappy in your next marriage as you were in your last.
Many therapists advise clients to wait at least one year to begin dating after divorce.
"Dating is hard for anyone and can be especially hard if you have been in a marriage for the past decade or two," says Kristen Fuller, M.D. If you find yourself struggling with the process of dating and moving on post-divorce, you could end up regretting your decision.
Your Viewpoint May Change With Time
Distance really can make the heart grow fonder. The longer you are away from that spouse who once drove you crazy, the more attractive they may become, especially if you start comparing them to what’s available once you start dating again. "No matter how badly a person wants a divorce, there are usually feelings of remorse about the failed relationship—especially in cases where couples have been married for many years," says relationship therapist Michele Weiner-Davis.
Khoo I. Divorce Regret Is Real, So Consider These Questions Before Calling It Quits. Huffington Post. May 17, 2018.
Gillard J. Do YOU regret getting divorced? Astonishing 50 per cent of people wish they had never ended their marriage. DailyMail.com. August 18, 2014.
Miller T. How Much Does a Divorce Cost on Average? The Street. April 3, 2020.