New study: 50 percent of divorced people wish they had never ended their marriage

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
If you are in a bad marriage then wait a little to divorce, it may get better

The study was reported in the UK Daily Mail.


The decision to divorce is always going to be difficult, and for many there can be good reason to end a marriage.

Yet, 50 per cent of divorcees have regrets about their break-up, a study revealed. Researchers found that after the dust settled, 54 per cent experienced second thoughts about whether they had made the right decision, with many realising they miss or still love their ex-partner.

For some, the regrets have been so severe that 42 per cent have had moments where they considered giving their relationship another go, with a large percentage actually making the effort to try again and 21 per cent of those still together now.

[…]A spokesman for the survey, who asked 2,000 UK men and women that have either divorced or called time on a long-term relationship of more than five years, says: ‘Getting divorced is a huge step for any relationship, and sometimes, the words ‘I want a divorce’ can be said in the heat of an argument.

But once you calm down and really think about things, many realise it’s the last thing they want, but by then, you can feel it’s too late to take it back.

And even if you don’t regret it immediately, dealing with the aftermath of a break-up can lead to more second thoughts. But it’s great to see some have managed to talk about their regrets and give things another go.’

The study found one in five said the regrets started straight away, with another 19 per cent having second thoughts within a week of saying the D-word.


  1. Missing an ex-partner 
  2. Feeling like a failure 
  3. Still being in love with an ex-partner
  4. Realising they were being unreasonable
  5. Feeling lonely
  6. Discovering the grass isn’t always greener
  7. An ex-partner finding someone new
  8. Realising they are not better off on their own
  9. Damaging the relationship with their children
  10. Children’s lives being affected  

But for some, it took longer with more than one in ten admitting it took a year or more for them to wish they hadn’t left their partner.

Others admitted they wished they could take things back when the divorce officially came through. Especially when they have worked to divide their assets or started telling people they were calling it quits.

This study fits together well with another study that I blogged about before.

The article is by Mona Charen, and the study is by the Institute for American Values. It’s an older article, but I was reading a book that mentioned the study, so I thought I would blog on it.


Now, the Institute for American Values ( has released a new study with some intriguing data about the effects of divorce on the unhappy couples themselves. It seems that another great myth is about to tumble – the myth that at least divorce makes unhappily married adults happier.

According to the survey, conducted by a team of family researchers, unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier five years after the divorce than were equally unhappy couples who remained together. And two-thirds of unhappily married people who remained married reported marriages that were happy five years later. Even among those who had rated their marriages as “very unhappy,” nearly 80 percent said they were happily married five years later. These were not bored or dissatisfied whiners. They had endured serious problems, including alcoholism, infidelity, verbal abuse, emotional neglect, depression, illness, and work and money troubles.

Even more surprising, unhappy spouses who divorced actually showed slightly more depressive symptoms five years later than those who didn’t. (They did, however, report more personal growth.) And – make of this what you will – the divorced sample reported a good deal more alcohol consumption than the married group.

[…]The data show that if a couple is unhappy, the chances of their being happily married five years hence are 64 percent if they stay together but only 19 percent if they divorce and remarry. (The authors acknowledge that five years is a relatively short period and many divorced people will eventually remarry, some happily.)

How did the unhappy couples turn their lives around? The study found three principal techniques. The first was endurance. Many couples do not so much solve their problems as transcend them. By taking one day at a time and pushing through their difficulties, many couples found that time itself often improved matters. Moreover, these couples maintained a negative view of the effects of divorce. “The grass is always greener,” explained one husband, “but it’s Astroturf.”

Others were more aggressive. Those the researchers labeled the “marital work ethic” types tackled their problems by arranging for more private time with one another, seeking counseling (from clergy or professionals), receiving help from in-laws or other relatives, or in some cases, threatening divorce or consulting a divorce lawyer.

In the third category were the “personal happiness seekers” who found other ways to improve their overall contentment even if they could not markedly improve their marital happiness.

Certainly the survey found some marriages that were impossible to save and some divorced couples who were happier than those who had remained married. That is as one would expect.

But the most telling aspect of this research is the light it sheds on the importance of the attitude toward marriage. Those who enter marriage with a dim (some might say accurate) view of divorce and a strong religious or other motivation for avoiding it are not only less likely to divorce; they are also less likely to be unhappy. That is the arresting news here. We’ve known that commitment was good for the children of such marriages. We’ve known that commitment was good for society. But until now, it was not clear that commitment actually made married couples themselves more likely to be happy.

I think the last point is a good point. Right now, a lot of young people are choosing mates based on superficial criteria (looks, money, popularity). The purpose of marriage is, in their opinion, to be happy. And their spouse’s job is to make them happy. That’s their view of marriage. But this ignores the realities of what marriage is about. Marriage is not a contract, it’s a covenant. People who marry ought to be getting into it because they want the responsibility of loving another sinner in close quarters. It’s not about feelings and life enhancement. The most important thing to look for in a spouse is their ability to love self-sacrificially and to make and sustain long-term commitments. Both of these capabilities are damaged the more a person goes through painful serial break-ups, because people become unable to trust and instead withhold love and commitment for their own safety.

3 thoughts on “New study: 50 percent of divorced people wish they had never ended their marriage”

  1. Good post! I’ve also noticed that, of the people I know who divorced because of abuse, 100% of them got into new relationships that had the same type of abuse going on, only worse. And they all pretend the new abuse isn’t all that bad, pretending their decision to divorce was a good one, when it really wasn’t. Staying and working on things makes one a stronger person.

  2. The survey would indicate that one of the biggest influences undermining marriage is the myth of unlimited choice. I can’t recall off the top of my head what the actual name is for the problem, but essentially if people are given too many choices they immediately regret any choice they make and wonder if they could have chosen better. This applies to almost anything, but especially marriage in a society where divorce is practically encouraged.

    Others in the Manosphere have written on this, but what happens is people marry, then at some point begin second-guessing their choice of spouse, usually aided by prompts in culture and media inferring that “you can do better.” Dalrock calls this “the whispers.” They finally decide to divorce, thinking they can find a better mate; the survey shows that instead it simply leads to them regretting that choice, a choice they made due to regretting the marriage in the first place.

    In short, it indicates the lack of contentment and/or decision-making abilities when it comes to marriage. I’m no expert on the subject, but it would seem prudent for people to learn to choose their spouse wisely and then be content in keeping with the Tenth Commandment rather than continually trying to find a better mate or wondering if they made the “right choice.”

    1. I think one way to see this is to realize that marriage is like a construction project. You won’t have the finished product on day one, it could take years and years to build. The couples I know who are really in love tell me that people don’t even know what love is until after 10 years of marriage. Not to mention the having and raising of kids, and then having grandkids. I guess my point is that if you have the view that marriage is what you make out of it, and that investing more into it makes it better and better, then leaving to start a different project makes no sense. In that case, I would say that you are looking for a spouse who wants the finished product, and not just immediate happiness. But then we are back to searching for people who have a record of finishing what they start, through thick and thin, not doing lots of different things to chase feelings.

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