For some, divorce has a constructive impression on their work, in keeping with a examine
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Divorce is often viewed as one of the most stressful events in life. But for some people, the breakup could have an unintended positive outcome: an increase in their work output.
In a study of people going through the divorce process, online ahead of publication in the academic journal Personalpsychologie, nearly 39% of respondents said that being separated from their spouse has had a positive impact on their work. Around 44% of respondents said the divorce had a negative impact on their careers.
The fact that more than a third of people who divorced resulted in them doing their jobs better surprised study co-author Connie Wanberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota who compared the people’s experiences researched at work.
“There’s a societal assumption that divorce is always negative,” Wanberg said. But, she said, “Some of these individuals had very dysfunctional relationships, and breaking up with those relationships gave them a new perspective on life. Some people decided to get back to work and focus on progress.”
In 2021, there were nearly 690,000 divorces or annulments in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than a third of Americans between the ages of 25 and 65 are divorced or in the process of divorce, according to the study by Wanberg and her co-authors.
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In particular, those respondents who reported positive impacts at work indicated that after making their own path from their partner, they were more engaged in their work and more satisfied with their own performance.
One person in the study said, “Before the divorce, I was spending a lot of time and energy maintaining and repairing the relationship, and that was keeping me from work.”
“Because of the pressure that’s gone from the degrading relationship, I’ve been able to have a clear head for work,” said another interviewee.
Carolyn McClanahan, board-certified financial planner and founder of Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Fla., said she was not surprised by the study’s findings. She had clients who were much better off after a divorce.
“People in unhealthy relationships often have unhealthy behaviors that help them cope with relationship problems,” said McClanahan, who is also a member of CNBC’s Advisory Board. “Workplace performance could definitely suffer.”
Divorce is associated with many unpleasant experiences and stressful steps, said Wanberg.
“They have to move or control the division of belongings,” she said. “You need to tell friends and family. You need to see a lawyer, sometimes multiple times. All of these can affect how you feel at work.”
But for some people, Wanberg said, these difficulties are “outweighed by the benefits of getting out of a bad relationship.”