Nobody Gets Divorced At The Right Time

louis ck

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A standup routine by the comedian Louis C.K. observes that nobody gets divorced at the right time:”When you get divorced, you don’t get divorced right on time. Nobody says … ‘It just went bad just now. Let’s stop!’ That’s not what happens. You get divorced after just being in a s— marriage for several years and you’re only aware of it for one.”

It’s funny because it’s true.

A 2008 study in The Economic Journal measured happiness before and after major life events. Four years before a divorce, a guy is relatively unhappy. Three years before a divorce, he is even less happy. Two years before a divorce, it gets worse. One year before a divorce, he is miserable.

These conclusions were drawn from 20 years of survey data in Germany.

Check out a chart of male happiness going into a divorce:

divorce happiness

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In an ideal world, the guy would have gotten divorced in one, two, three, or four years earlier. By the time the actual divorce comes rolling around, however, he’s feeling pretty happy with his life.

Women exhibit their own strange emotional pattern, in which unhappiness peaks two years before the divorce and improves in the following year. This trend may reflect the fact that most divorces are initiated by the woman, according to the study. 

Check out the chart for women:

women happiness divorce

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Although divorces tend to make people happier, that happiness may not last. The study concluded that people psychologically adjust to almost all major life events and return to a personal emotional baseline within years.