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Trajectories of Psychological Adaptation to Marital Breakup after a Long-Term Marriage.
Gerontology. 2016; 62(5):541-52.G

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Marital dissolution is known to be among the most stressful life events with long-reaching negative consequences on individuals' lives. A limitation in research to date is that most studies have focused on the impact of marital disruption on well-being outcomes in younger adults. Furthermore, although population-based studies on divorce document a broad range of negative effects, more fine-grained analyses reveal a large heterogeneity in people's adjustment, which is still not well understood.

OBJECTIVE

The aim was to explore trajectories of psychological adaptation to marital breakup after a long-term marriage, and to examine variables accounting for recovery or chronicity in terms of intrapersonal resources (personality, trait resilience, and personal growth), relationship variables (satisfaction with ex-relationship, length of marriage, and time since divorce), and sociodemographic variables (age, gender, and financial situation).

METHODS

Latent transition analysis is used to examine the course of psychological adaptation (i.e., depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, hopelessness, mourning, and subjective health) to divorce over 2 years among 5 profiles of 308 divorcees (mean age: 55.6 years; average duration of former marriage: 23.62 years). We present two larger groups of individuals, one of which adapted very well ('resilients', 29%) and the other quite well ('average copers', 49%), as well as three groups with major difficulties ('vulnerables', 6%; 'malcontents', 12%, and 'resigned', 4%). In a second step, the differences between transition patterns were explored on the basis of the distal variables (i.e., intrapersonal resources, relationship variables, and sociodemographics).

RESULTS

Although the probability of upward changes was higher for those individuals with lower adaptation at time point 1, only a small number of individuals made an upward change from the maladapted to the well-adapted groups throughout the 2 years. The groups of copers and resilients remained stable in their psychological adaptation. The most consistent results related to upward changes were intrapersonal resources, namely the NEO personality traits and trait resilience.

CONCLUSION

The majority of individuals divorcing after a long-term marriage adapt successfully over time. Adaptation trajectories depend primarily on intrapersonal resources. However, a minority of divorcees exhibit enduring difficulties. Knowledge about the diversity of these trajectories of vulnerability could be of great help for designing psychological interventions to better tackle this critical life event.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.No affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

27071043

Citation

Knöpfli, Bina, et al. "Trajectories of Psychological Adaptation to Marital Breakup After a Long-Term Marriage." Gerontology, vol. 62, no. 5, 2016, pp. 541-52.
Knöpfli B, Morselli D, Perrig-Chiello P. Trajectories of Psychological Adaptation to Marital Breakup after a Long-Term Marriage. Gerontology. 2016;62(5):541-52.
Knöpfli, B., Morselli, D., & Perrig-Chiello, P. (2016). Trajectories of Psychological Adaptation to Marital Breakup after a Long-Term Marriage. Gerontology, 62(5), 541-52. https://doi.org/10.1159/000445056
Knöpfli B, Morselli D, Perrig-Chiello P. Trajectories of Psychological Adaptation to Marital Breakup After a Long-Term Marriage. Gerontology. 2016;62(5):541-52. PubMed PMID: 27071043.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Trajectories of Psychological Adaptation to Marital Breakup after a Long-Term Marriage. AU - Knöpfli,Bina, AU - Morselli,Davide, AU - Perrig-Chiello,Pasqualina, Y1 - 2016/04/13/ PY - 2015/10/04/received PY - 2016/02/26/accepted PY - 2016/4/13/entrez PY - 2016/4/14/pubmed PY - 2018/1/10/medline SP - 541 EP - 52 JF - Gerontology JO - Gerontology VL - 62 IS - 5 N2 - BACKGROUND: Marital dissolution is known to be among the most stressful life events with long-reaching negative consequences on individuals' lives. A limitation in research to date is that most studies have focused on the impact of marital disruption on well-being outcomes in younger adults. Furthermore, although population-based studies on divorce document a broad range of negative effects, more fine-grained analyses reveal a large heterogeneity in people's adjustment, which is still not well understood. OBJECTIVE: The aim was to explore trajectories of psychological adaptation to marital breakup after a long-term marriage, and to examine variables accounting for recovery or chronicity in terms of intrapersonal resources (personality, trait resilience, and personal growth), relationship variables (satisfaction with ex-relationship, length of marriage, and time since divorce), and sociodemographic variables (age, gender, and financial situation). METHODS: Latent transition analysis is used to examine the course of psychological adaptation (i.e., depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, hopelessness, mourning, and subjective health) to divorce over 2 years among 5 profiles of 308 divorcees (mean age: 55.6 years; average duration of former marriage: 23.62 years). We present two larger groups of individuals, one of which adapted very well ('resilients', 29%) and the other quite well ('average copers', 49%), as well as three groups with major difficulties ('vulnerables', 6%; 'malcontents', 12%, and 'resigned', 4%). In a second step, the differences between transition patterns were explored on the basis of the distal variables (i.e., intrapersonal resources, relationship variables, and sociodemographics). RESULTS: Although the probability of upward changes was higher for those individuals with lower adaptation at time point 1, only a small number of individuals made an upward change from the maladapted to the well-adapted groups throughout the 2 years. The groups of copers and resilients remained stable in their psychological adaptation. The most consistent results related to upward changes were intrapersonal resources, namely the NEO personality traits and trait resilience. CONCLUSION: The majority of individuals divorcing after a long-term marriage adapt successfully over time. Adaptation trajectories depend primarily on intrapersonal resources. However, a minority of divorcees exhibit enduring difficulties. Knowledge about the diversity of these trajectories of vulnerability could be of great help for designing psychological interventions to better tackle this critical life event. SN - 1423-0003 UR - https://neuro.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/27071043/Trajectories_of_Psychological_Adaptation_to_Marital_Breakup_after_a_Long_Term_Marriage_ L2 - https://www.karger.com?DOI=10.1159/000445056 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -