This evening I stumbled across a piece of research conducted by Kingston University which found that happiness levels increase after divorce.
Over the course of two decades, researchers regularly questioned 10,000 U.K. citizens between the ages of 16 and 60 about their happiness levels before and after major life milestones. The research showed that women are significantly more content, and men slightly happier, after divorce.
Now, those of you who pay attention to the finer details of my blog, will know that I am not actually a divorcee. I broke off the engagement four months before the big day. I never walked down the aisle in a big white dress. Being staunchly secular I would never have walked down the aisle anyway, and a big white dress is hardly my scene either (give me a little black dress any day) but you catch my drift.
I called off the wedding, but I did however have a really posh afternoon tea just with my close family to celebrate my ‘narrow escape’. On the weekend that I was due to be married I spent two days with my close family. We stayed in a lovely London hotel and had champagne afternoon tea at sketch. It was a great weekend and I am so glad that I came to my senses and called the whole thing off.
So, although I am not officially a divorcee it sure as hell felt like I went through a divorce. A child together, a cat, a jointly owned house and mortgage and a six year relationship feel like a marriage to me. We just never had the fancy photos and nice cake.
The Kingston University research finding that happiness levels increase after divorce really struck me because it is so absolutely true.
Following my…I don’t really know what to call it…my almost-a-divorce, I feel liberated. I feel empowered. I feel in control of my future. I feel in control of my time (not that I do have much of my own time but that which I do have I sure as hell like to control).
There is no atmosphere in the flat. There is none of his mess for me to clean up. I don’t have be dragged down by his tales of woe (“the washer on the kitchen tap needs replacing”, “my joints ache”, “my blood sugar is low”, “we can’t afford to live in this house”). My ex was the archetypal glass half empty type. How ever big or small the issue, he would feel the need to wallow in it … and I found it exhausting.
Now, I can hang my pictures where I want them. I can buy fresh flowers without his scorn. I can stay up late or go to bed early. I don’t have to watch documentaries about the first world war. We don’t have to have a cupboard to house three sets of golf clubs all for an annual golfing weekend.
More importantly though (because flowers, documentaries and golf clubs are hardly grounds for divorce), I don’t have to see his look of contempt and disappointment when I don’t cook a meal the way his mother cooked it, or when I am quieter than he thinks I should be at a party, or when I need my hair done and my roots are showing or I am still carrying my post pregnancy weight. I don’t have to suffer his loving and charming façade in public and his disdain and disappointment in private.
We are co-parenting, so I still have to see him a few times a week, and co-parenting with my ex is nothing if not a challenge, but I don’t have to live with him and we are not married, and for that I am thankful, and immensely proud of myself every single day.
Do you want to know the best thing about the Kingston University study which found that happiness levels increase after divorce? Well, let me tell you. The study found that women (not men…) are significantly more content than usual for up to five years following the end of their marriages, even more so than their average or baseline level of happiness throughout their lives.
Happiness levels increase after divorce, I am having the time of my life, and (hehee, big grin) according to Kingston University I will continue to do so for about another three and a half years.