A new study suggests many people contemplating divorce have a change of heart a year later. Photo by ADVOCATE news services

Many considering divorce change minds: study

EDMONTON — A new study suggests many people contemplating divorce have a change of heart a year later.

Researchers at the University of Alberta and Brigham Young University in Utah conducted an online survey of 3,000 Americans aged 25 to 50 who have been married at least a year. One out of four of the respondents said they had thought about divorce in the last six months.

The study suggests half of those considering divorce had a significant change in their feelings when they were asked again a year later.

“Marriage has its ebbs and flows,” said Adam Galovan, a family scientist in the University of Alberta’s Department of Human Ecology and co-author of the study.

“A lot of them just need some time.”

Of those who said they thought about divorce in the past, but not recently, about 90 per cent said they were glad they stuck it out with their spouses.

The researchers grouped those thinking about divorce into three categories — soft, serious and conflicted. The soft thinkers were generally more hopeful about improving their marriages than the serious thinkers.

A third group dubbed conflicted thinkers yielded some intriguing results, said Galovan.

That group was dealing with more intense issues such as adultery, addiction and abuse, and was the smallest at about five per cent.

While they were the most hopeful initially, they ended up having the highest rate of divorce of the three groups a year later.

“Part of that might be that they were also the most religious, so maybe they were hopeful initially because of their religious convictions that things would work out,” said Galovan.

While only Americans were surveyed in the National Divorce Decision Making Project, Galovan said he suspects similar trends would be reflected in Canada.

He said thoughts of divorce often end up bringing issues to light that couples can work through.

“It’s scary, but that initial scary thought can lead to improvement.”

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