Surviving a Divorce in Your 20s: What You Should Know

Getting a DivorceHeidi and Seal. Katy and Russell. Zooey and Ben. Yup, it’s definitely breakup season. And here at Life2PointOh, we’re mourning the ends of some of our favorite celebrity couples. But it’s not just something in the water causing all these splits. January is the most popular month to file for divorce (buh-bye, Jan!). According to Divorce Statistics, the divorce rate for first-time marriages still lingers between 45 and 50 percent, with the majority of these marriages ending before the couple’s eighth anniversary. At this point in our 20-something life, most of us are picturing growing old with someone. But the truth is that some of us might end up walking down the aisle more than once. So what does it mean to be a 20-something divorcee? We talked to Andra Brosh, Ph.D. and Allison Pescosolido, M.A., co-founders of Divorce Detox™, to find out.


Age is a common reason for divorce
When a relationship ends, hindsight is always 20/20 when analyzing what went wrong. “One of the common reasons for divorce in 20-somethings is age,” Brosh explains to us. “A person’s twenties are a time of self-discovery. People are still developing their sense of self. Our brains are not even fully developed until 25, so managing a serious and committed institute like marriage will inevitably be problematic. Most people who divorce in their twenties will say they were just too young and that they didn’t really know or understand the true meaning of marriage.” Additionally, 20-something adults haven’t fully developed the skills necessary to sustain a healthy, productive marriage (i.e. problem solving, good communication and personal responsibility). “This can lead to a breakdown in the relationship and an inability to resolve issues,” she says.


Divorce doesn’t always have a ripple effect
While it seems like divorce would most likely have a negative effect on the other areas of your life, it is possible to thrive if you handle the pain and disappointment of a failed marriage in a healthy way, Pescosolido says. The effects of divorce will depend on the individual, but it is important to face your emotions head-on. “Most clients we see who divorce in their twenties are the first of their friends to get divorced,” she says. “The news of the divorce hits their social circles when wedding celebrations are the norm. Short term, common emotions are typically devastation and shame. Most people in their twenties are still establishing themselves financially, so divorce can be very disruptive when money is tight.” A person’s future love life, finances, and career can flourish as long as he/she heals the wounds and gains understanding of their responsibility in the marriage.


Is a healthy divorce even possible?
Just as communication is key to a healthy relationship, it’s also necessary for a drama-free divorce. “Poor communication and/or resolution skills tend to be absent for many 20-somethings, and that can lead to an unhealthy divorce,” Pescosolido says. “We see 20-somethings that do not pay enough attention to the important, practical aspects of the divorce, such as knowing their legal rights and strategizing for the best settlement with the least amount of emotional damage.” As if mending a broken heart had to become anymore difficult, the legal process is not an easy one and can easily get messy.


Dealing with reactions from family, friends
Getting the words “We’re divorcing,” out of your mouth can be nearly impossible until you’ve successful completed the stages of grief. “Just the thought of telling family and friends about divorce can be overwhelming,” Pescosolido says. “People at that age tend to have a lot of fear about being judged by others.” But despite the fear of caring what other people think, there’s no way to come out the other side than with your family and (real) friends being there for you. “Friends and family can be especially supportive during this time, say if the marriage was unhealthy,” Brosh adds. “A large part of the reaction will also be in response to how the information is presented. Getting coached on the best way to ‘break the news’ can be extremely helpful.”


Know that you tried to have a successful marriage
“The length of a marriage is in no way a determiner of its value,” Brosh says. Knowing you tried everything you could to strengthen your marriage will put your mind and heart at ease while you inevitably reflect and question if you could have done anything different. “Walking away from a marriage that you have invested your heart in can lead to regret and a feeling of ‘throwing in the towel.’ Even if the relationship ends, many couples can get to a place where they can have a more amicable divorce because they have a deeper understanding of the whys and hows of the marriage not working,” she tells us.


Don’t repeat the same mistakes
Since the divorce rate for remarriage is around 60 percent, this means people aren’t always learning from their previous relationships. “This is partly caused by people bringing their old baggage and bad relationship habits into new relationships only to repeat the same patterns that don’t work,” Brosh tells us. “Seeking help and gaining clarity with a divorce professional reduces the risk of contaminating future relationships.”


Continue to believe in love
Just because this love didn’t last doesn’t mean you will immediately become an unhappy spinster. “We like to look at the facts – there are plenty of examples of happiness after divorce,” Pescosolido says. “A Divorce Detox is an opportunity to get closure from the marriage, heal the pain from the past so a person doesn’t repeat the same mistakes, and gain the wisdom to build a foundation for a secure future, even better than the past.”


Celebrities who got divorced in their 20s
Avril Lavigne – Married Deryck Whibley at age 21, divorced at 24.
Kim Kardashian – Married music producer Damon Thomas at 20, divorced at 24. Second divorce pending now.
Scarlett Johansson – Married Ryan Reynolds at age 23, divorced at 26.
Katy Perry – Married Russell Brand at age 25, divorcing pending.
Jessica Simpson – Married Nick Lachey at age 22, divorced at 25.
Ashlee Simpson – Married Pete Wentz at age 23, divorce pending.
Britney Spears – Married to childhood friend Jason Alexander for 55 hours at age 22; Married Kevin Federline later that same year, divorced at 24.
Angelina Jolie – Married Hackers costar Jonny Lee Miller at age 20, split two years later; Marries Billy Bob Thornton at age 24, divorced at 27.
Drew Barrymore – Married and divorced at 19; Married Tom Green for six months at age 25.
Kate Winslet – Married at 23, divorced at 26.
Julia Roberts – Married Lyle Lovett at age 25, divorced at 27.
Jennifer Lopez – Married to first husband at age 28, divorced at 29.
Kate Hudson – Married rocker Chris Robinson at age 21, divorced at 28.


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Photo Credit: katerha via Flickr

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