Today in unfair news: Women suffer more than men when their relationships deteriorate, according to new Gallup research. For the study, researchers interviewed 131,159 American adults who were single, in domestic partnerships, married, divorced, or separated, and assessed their well-being across a number of elements to derive a score between 1 (i.e., SOL) and 5 (i.e., amazeballs).
Marrieds scored the highest well-being scores overall, regardless of gender. (Not to knock single life, but if marriage didn’t generally make life better, who would bother?) Compared to men though, women had higher well-being scores in every relationship category but one: Separated women had lower well-being scores than separated men.
To understand why this transitional relationship status tends to suck more for women, the researchers compared participants’ daily reports of stress, which affects every facet of well-being, and use of drugs for relaxation, which can inflate well-being scores.
For what it’s worth, the women were more likely to take prescription pills or other kinds of medication to improve their moods, regardless of relationship statuses. Still, the difference in stress levels between married and separated women was 55 percent higher than the difference between married and separated men. The researchers think it’s because men typically earn more than women in the U.S., so separation could cause more financial stress on female divorcees who may have to downsize to support themselves on a single-income budget.
For obvious reasons, this doesn’t mean you should stick it out if you’re in an unhappy marriage or bank on an easy break if you earn more than your spouse. And for what it’s worth, there is a silver lining: Divorced women stress slightly less than separated and single women. In other words, if your marriage sucks, finalizing your divorce should put the worst behind you.