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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Research says... Divorce AND Marriage are a Big Deal!


The caption below the picture is a link to an interesting article about a research project from some economists at the University of Florida.   These economists decided to research, of all things, how getting a divorce affected productivity of individuals who work as hedge fund managers.   They then compared it to how much their productivity was affected when a hedge fund manager got married.  

Somehow, that is a question  I have never even thought to ask.

Have you ever wondered what in the world causes people to decide to research something as peculiar as that?  It probably has to do with government grants, or the need to fill space in a publication. 

However, it is actually interesting that somebody asked whether the divorce or the marriage had more impact on the lives of individuals.  

The long and short of it, in my summary of it, is that marriage generally causes greater impact, but that is primarily true of middle aged individuals.  For younger individuals, divorce created more upheaval.   

Kind of interesting, huh?  Is that what you would have expected?  It raises some interesting questions.  The biggest thing it raises is the notion that there are a lot more questions to be asked to fully understand what is happening.  

Bear with me for a moment as I offer some reflections of my own, totally unverified and unresearched, just thoughts that have come to me as I read it.

First, the fact that marriage has less of a disruptive impact on younger traders than does divorce makes one wonder why.  For instance, is it because when they got married, they assumed it wouldn't change anything in their lives, and so keep on working dawn to dusk, and keep their marriage tied into a tiny little time segment of their lives and dedicate only limited energy to it?  Or could it be just the opposite, that now that they are married, they especially feel the responsibility to bring in a good income and so pour themselves into their work?  And maybe when those younger people experience divorce, it hits them harder because with a divorce they are losing a lifetime of dreams, facing the fact that they have invested way too much of themselves and their time in their work and not nearly enough in the most important relationship of their lives?

For those who are older, the marriage has more disruption than a divorce.  What would you speculate about that?  I kind of wonder if it has to do with the fact that when somebody gets to be an old codger like me, you realize that making a commitment to a marriage is a major undertaking and is going to require real arranging of priorities and schedules to make the marriage what it ought to be.  Maybe divorce does not have as much impact on job performance at that older age because after being around for a few decades, one experiences enough struggles and heartaches in life to develop some skills in knowing how to face them effectively.  

Or…..maybe it is just that when you reach a certain age, productivity has already dropped because you are slowing down, and so the divorce isn’t going to have the same impact because you are already moving more slowly anyway!  Trust me, I feel some of that every day!

Okay, regardless of what the economists from the University of Florida pointed out in the whole matter (if there is one), I think there is an important point to be observed in the discussion.  Marriage is a major life change event that will also require significant lifestyle changes away from the worldview of singleness into a world in which there is one earthly relationship that is more important than any other earthly involvement.  That commitment must be honored, protected and nurtured if the marriage is going to be successful. 

At the same time, many people realize how much their life changed after they married, but fail to realize that divorce has a similarly powerful impact on every area of one’s life.  Viewing the change in the context of comparison to the life change of marriage is probably not a bad context to use---it IS a big deal.  

I remember a time when I was so discouraged because I felt like I was progressing through the emotions and recovery of divorce way too slowly.  In that time, a wise friend said to me: “Maybe you just need to give yourself permission to NOT get over it quickly, to recognize that it really is a big deal and that it is going to take time to recover from it.”  

Turned out she uttered some pretty wise words that day.

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