Couples who are proactive with their finances in marriage are less likely to go through a stressful divorce, new data shows. According to a recent report by Fidelity Investments, which examines the emotional and financial wellbeing of divorced Americans, up to 80% of divorcees who weren’t involved in their daily finances when married regret not being more involved.
Researchers polled 1,107 Americans between the ages of 25 and 75 who have gone through a divorce between six months to 10 years ago.
The results of the report found that divorcees who weren’t involved in their daily finances took longer to recover from the financial stress of divorce. Approximately 40% said they have yet to recover from the financial stress, which Reuters reports can take at least five years.
Another major regret of divorcees is not being involved in long-term planning and retirement investments. This was especially a major concern for women. While 82% of men report being involved in long-term planning, only 60% of women were involved.
“It’s a learning opportunity,” said Meredith Stoddard, the lead of life events experience at Fidelity. “People don’t make the same mistake twice.”
Fidelity’s report shows just how difficult it is to recover financially if you let yourself be a financial bystander during your marriage. You have more financial advantages the more you’re engaged with your finances before, during, and after a marriage.
Fidelity’s report also shined a light on divorcees’ struggles with emotional wellbeing. About 46% said they were surprised by how hard the divorce process was emotionally.
For those with children, the emotional distress was slightly higher (47%). If children are 12 or older, they can speak with the judge privately about their living situation preferences. The custodial parent typically receives child support, which is payable until the child reaches 21 years old, at an average of $287 per month to help with food shelter, clothing, education, extracurriculars, and medical costs.
Divorce’s impact on a divorcee’s financial and emotional wellbeing also consequently impacts their health. According to Health.com, the stress and anxiety caused by a marital breakup can take a serious toll on your heart. One 2015 study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that women were 24% more likely to have a heart attack after going through one divorce and 77% more likely after going through a second.
The cause isn’t the divorce itself but the stress related to it. Stress increases blood pressure, impacts the immune system’s inflammatory response, and makes it difficult to eat healthily.
“When you’re stressed, you’re not reaching for a fresh garden salad,” said Chicago-based psychologist and physical therapist Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo. “The wine bottle is calling for you in the kitchen. You’re skipping sleep, and you may gain or lose weight.”
Migraines are also common, but 90% of people who experience them have a family member with the same condition. Still, Lombardo says, it’s important not to ignore symptoms of health problems or to skip your appointments with doctors.
Waiting to see a doctor can cost you both financially and physically. Americans already spend $3 billion every year on doctors’ visits alone.
To help combat stress-induced health issues, make sure you’re eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercising for 30 minutes each day, and getting at least seven hours of sleep every night. Reach out to a mental health professional if stress, depression, or anxiety begin to impact your everyday life.
Elayna Fernandez of The Positive MOM says, “An important trend today is understanding that the best kind of self-care involves a gratitude practice, a pursuit of self-awareness, and a journey of constant self-forgiveness.”
Give your body time to decompress even when things feel out of control during your divorce process. Periodically making an effort to relieve stress helps to keep you on more even footing both in terms of health and finances.