Going Through a Divorce Can Make You More Productive At Work, New Study Says

One-third of people who split from their partners experienced positive effects in their careers.

I remember my mom telling me “it’s the most stressful thing you’ll ever have to go through.” And that, it was.

Ten years in, when my first marriage imploded, the writing was on the wall. We had a five-year-old child, a home in the suburbs, and bank accounts and assets to split. Add in attorneys and legal mumbo jumbo you don’t understand, and divorce is a recipe for stress.

Even in the rare cases when a divorce is amicable, it still comes with its fair share of challenges. Knowing this full well, as my mom had warned me, I threw myself into my work.

Now, a new study in the journal Personnel Psychology is showing that may be just the thing to do if you’re going through a divorce—especially if splitting up means escaping a toxic relationship. The study reviewed two previous experiments on divorce in order to come to its conclusions.

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In the U.S., over 40% of first marriages result in divorce, affecting some 1.5 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The divorce rate in this country is among the highest.

The studies looked specifically at people who are in the process of ending their marriages. It showed that nearly 39 percent reported that divorce actually had a positive impact on their job, work, or career simply because it freed up time and energy and made them more motivated for work.

It’s important to note that 44% still said it had a negative impact on their work or careers — but the fact that over one-third reported positive impacts is new and surprising.

“There is a societal assumption that divorce is always negative,” the study’s co-author Connie Wanberg tells CNBC. “Some of these individuals had been in very dysfunctional relationships, and getting away from that relationship allowed them to have a new outlook on life. Some people decided to renew their focus on work and focus on advancement.”

The respondents who reported positive implications at work also said being away from their significant other allowed them to be both more engaged and satisfied in their work environments.

“Prior to the divorce, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to maintain and fix the relationship and that took away from work,” shared one respondent. Another said the pressure was off the relationship, which helped them have a clearer mind overall.

Even with all the difficulties and challenges divorce brings, Wanberg and the other study authors concluded they are often outweighed by the benefits of getting away from a bad relationship.

Jené Luciani Sena
Jené Luciani Sena is an accredited journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author, regularly seen on national TV outlets such as Access Daily, Today and Dr Oz. Touted as one of Woman’s World Magazine’s “Ultimate Experts,” she’s a TEDTalk speaker and a busy Mom of 4. Read more
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