chapter  14
16 Pages

Divorce: How Spouses Seek Social Support

WithNancy A. Burrell

An obvious outcome of a broken relationship is divorce, which causes major distress in a family. Both children and parents are directly affected by the seriousness of a divorce:

The decision to divorce is almost universally accepted as an unfortunate yet regrettable necessity, regardless of the potential for both community and societal disapproval, as evidenced by the relative ease of obtaining a divorce (Kitson & Raschke, 1981). The decision to divorce “represents merely a practical concession to the frailty of mankind, caught in a web of social relationships and cultural expectations that often impose intolerable pressure on the individual personality” (Murdock, 1950, p. 201). Rather than focusing on the systemic needs of the family, divorcing spouses center on their in-dividual needs (e.g., self-esteem, health, and well-being). Moreover, research increasingly focuses on the process of divorce. Many scholars argue that developing new relationships and cultivating interpersonal resources are pivotal to the process of divorce (McKenry & Price, 1991; Pett, 1982; Spanier & Casto, 1979). The

purpose of this chapter is to review some of the issues related to social support for divorcing spouses as they attempt to re-create balance in their lives through workplace, family, social, and other interpersonal relationships. The central question for this chapter and meta-analysis, do spouses draw on social support networks differently, focuses on potential gender differences during the process of divorce.