Divorce and Remarriage in Adulthood

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  • 0:01 Marriage
  • 0:53 Divorce
  • 3:38 Remarriage
  • 5:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

When people fall in love, they often want to get married. But what happens when 'happily ever after' turns out to not last 'ever after?' In this lesson, we'll look at some psychological aspects of divorce and remarriage.


Alex and Ginny are having problems. They've been married for almost 20 years, since they were in their mid-20s, but lately things just haven't been working. They argue a lot, and even their kids know something's not right.

On top of it all, Alex recently met someone else. She's the opposite of Ginny in almost every way: where Ginny is serious and organized, Theresa (the new girl) is fun and spontaneous. Alex figures that, since his marriage with Ginny didn't work out, Theresa is the right person for him.

Marriage, or the legal and sometimes religious union of two people, is a complex institution that can lead to great happiness or a lot of pain and anger. Let's look closer at what happens when a marriage falls apart and what happens when someone wants to marry again.


Alex and Ginny are fighting a lot and haven't been happy for many years. Alex thinks that it might be time for them to go their separate ways. Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. When a couple goes through a divorce, they are legally no longer married.

Alex wonders if he should have seen the signs coming. They've been fighting for some time now, but back when they were first together, before they were married, could he have anticipated that they'd end up divorcing?

There's probably no way for Alex to have known that they'd end up divorced, but some studies have found that the number one predictor of divorce is contempt. When one partner feels or expresses that the other partner is not as good as they are, it is a big hint that the marriage might not work out.

For example, Alex always felt like he was better than Ginny because he was the life of the party, whereas she was the nagging wife who always wanted the trash taken out or the checkbook balanced. His contempt for her should have been a sign to both of them that they weren't ideally suited.

Contempt or not, Alex and Ginny are going through a divorce. They worry about their kids because they've heard that divorce can be difficult on children. Alex has even wondered if it's worth it to stay in the marriage for the kids.

Almost always, it's better for an unhappy couple to divorce than to stay together for the children. Kids watch and learn from their parents, and there are three messages that children of an unhappy union can learn:

1. How to be in a bad marriage.

If Alex and Ginny stay together, their children will continue to see them fighting, and they will learn how to be in a bad marriage but not how to be in a good one. This could have a negative impact on their future relationships.

2. How to go through a bitter divorce.

Realizing that staying together isn't the best option, Alex and Ginny can demonstrate for the kids how to be angry and bitter and strike out at each other during divorce. Again, this could have a negative impact on the kids' future relationships.

3. How to go through a healthy divorce.

This is the ideal lesson for the kids to learn. If Alex and Ginny can demonstrate how to respectfully and peacefully dissolve their marriage, the kids are much more likely to be happy and well adjusted.

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