Our interview this week was with Dr. Lydia Hughes-Evan, Ed.D., a child of parental separation; not quite a divorce, but with the same arrangement as a divorce. She lived in a one-parent household with her mother, and had visitation time with her father. Her parents didn’t speak to one another. Lydia’s parents never divorced because of their religion.
How does divorce, or parental separation, effect children when they become adults, looking for love in intimate relationships? It makes it harder. We learn from our parents, consciously or unconsciously. If we don’t have coping skills from our parents for arguments, differences of opinions, and the art of compromise; or see how positive love expresses itself in marriage, we learn the old-fashion way, through our own rocky experiences. That may mean one or two divorces, and some therapy, before we get in touch with good decision-making through a better assessment of our own perfect mates.
Trust in relationships is low for children of divorce, but the desire for relationships is high. People in general are prone to want to connect. Children of divorce may have trust issues but they also still want to connect. It’s who they connect with that is at issue.
Sometimes women choose much older men to replace what they didn’t receive from their fathers. This doesn’t mean that their relationships won’t work, but they do have to be aware that a big age difference can be indicative of trying to get back the attention and acceptance that a father provides to his daughter.
Male children of divorce don’t necessarily choose older women, but they can choose women who exhibit the personality traits of their mothers, good or bad. The National Survey of Families and Households found that “…boys who feel close to their fathers, regardless of biological status, have better attitudes about intimacy and the prospect of their own married lives than boys who do not feel close to their fathers.”
There may be a hesitancy toward marriage with a strong bias towards cohabitation. Cohabitation allows for an easier way out of the relationship than does a marriage.
A study was done by the General Social Surveys that revealed that 28% of children from non-intact families got divorced, while 18% of children from intact families experienced divorce.
While the landscape of marriage is changing with millennials and Gen-Zers, the family unit is still the origin of where our belief system is developed for intimacy, trust, and the bonds created through marriage.