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Divorce after long-term marriage : psychological well-being and parent-adult child relationships Jacoby, Carole Diane


The purpose of this study was to answer the following questions: what are the effects of recent divorce after long-term marriage on the psychological well-being of parents and on parent-adult child relationships, and what are the effects of parent-adult child relationships on the psychological well-being of recently divorced parents? Analyses used prospective longitudinal data from two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households. The sample for the study consists of 1584 respondents who were married and living with their spouse at Time One; married at least nineteen years at time of final separation or mean time of final separation; were either continuously married at Times One and Two (the comparison group) or married at Time One and separated or divorced at Time Two; and who had at least one child nineteen years or older at the time of final separation or mean time of separation. Study results show that divorce after long-term marriage had negative effects on self-reports of happiness, depression and parent-adult child contact; but reported levels of contact, support given and support received did not moderate the negative effects of divorce on parent's psychological well-being. A major finding of the study is that the effects of divorce on psychological well-being and parent-adult child relationships, and the effects of these relationships on postdivorce psychological well-being, were not significantly different for divorced mothers or divorced fathers. The results of the study were interpreted within the framework of identity theory, and implications of the research and suggestions for future research are also discussed.

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