How will your relationships with friends and family change after divorce?
So far research by Geoffery Greif showed that friendships can be strengthened by divorce and only one in 8 reported losing touch with these friends.
Gaelle Abbey, a fellow researcher at the Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives (University of Manchester) is currently conducting a study on the recomposition of personal networks after an intimate relationship breakdown and separation rituals in England and Switzerland.
She became interested after hearing that the number of people who will experience at least one significant and intimate relationship breakdown has become more likely to happen at least once over the life course of most individuals.
This research aims to understand the consequences and new meanings of separation and especially on their personal networks of friends and family, as couples tend to share the same network. How do personal networks change after a separation? On whom can you truly count? As individuals want to move on with their lives, many may feel the need to mark the end of the relationship by inviting supportive friends for an intimate dinner, throwing a post-divorce party, doing a personal ritual, starting a new hobby, organizing a housewarming party in their new home, etc. What do people do to mark their separation and make sense of it?
Her preliminary findings show that divorcing acts as an ordeal for friendship with mutual friends being lost in the process. However, early results also support the earlier research that divorce is also a new opportunities to reconnect to old friends or, especially when moving to a new place, meet new people.
Early findings also show that marking the end of the relationship is a multi-stage process involving doing activities for oneself, disposing of the wedding ring or other symbolical objects.
Dr Isabelle Hung is a co-founder of divorceclub.com and clinical psychologist. Having got through her own divorce just three years ago, she is now remarried and happy to report that divorce really is an opportunity for growth and positive change.