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Divorce Rates are Higher Amongst Happy Teens, but what does this tell us?

In February of this year, Cambridge University released a study that contained an unexpected finding: the happier a child was during their formative years, the more likely they were to divorce in later life.

The study utilised information gathered during a cohort study conducted in 1946 within which teachers of children between the ages of 13 and 15 were asked to evaluate the children’s perceived levels of happiness, popularity and energy levels. Generally, the happier children benefited in later life and were more likely to be socially active and enjoy greater life satisfaction. Unusually, though, happier children were also 4 per cent more likely to divorce in their adult years.

To most casual observers, any increased likelihood for divorce would no doubt be perceived as negative but as the authors of the study have pointed out, this may not be the case. In fact, the individuals that compiled the report argued that happy individuals are likely to be far more confident and are therefore likely to possess the support mechanisms required in order to escape an unhappy marriage. It was also posited that happy children are likely to have grown up in happy households and are therefore more likely to recognise an unhappy relationship.

Perhaps the key finding here is that unhappiness in early life breeds unhappiness in later life. That an unhappy child is unlikely to be aware of the fact that their marriage is making them unhappy and unaware of the fact that a divorce may be their best option. Happy people are more likely to divorce because they want to preserve their happiness – further proof that divorce can be a force for good.

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