Des Moines, IA- Separation and divorce is difficult on both spouses, but a Gallup Healthways Index survey suggests that the stress associated with divorce has a more profound effect on women and can lead to substance abuse.

For the survey, 131, 159 Americans were asked about their well-being. Overall women reported greater well-being than men regardless of their marital status, but separation had the greatest effect on the respondents.

Those who were married expressed the greatest overall satisfaction with their lives compared to individuals who were separated. Men and women who are separated had the most dissatisfaction with their well-being, more so than divorced respondents.

Researchers believe couples who are married have the greatest well-being because marriage gives a person a “sense of purpose.” Married couples have spouse that will help them make better choices and hold them accountable if they make questionable lifestyle choices.

When asked about their level of stress, 38 percent of survey respondents said they felt stress for a good bit of the day, but that shot up to 51 percent when the respondent was separated. While the well-being metrics are similar for separated men and women, stress levels for separated women were much higher for women than men.

Researcher Megan Bearce told the Deseret News she believes women feel more stress during separation because there is uncertainty about what is going to happen and they worry about their children’s welfare and their financial future.

Not surprisingly, researchers found that stress levels were worse for women if they had children. The guilt and frustration of failing to give their children the stable home life they had hoped for leads to greater levels of depression for women as they go through a separation or divorce. Those feelings lead to more stress for women going through a separation.

The elevated stress levels for separated women often leads them to use alcohol and drugs, the study found. Only about 17 percent of married couples sought out drugs or alcohol to relieve their stress; in contrast 30 percent of separated men and women look to drugs or alcohol as a means to reduce their stress.

No one can wave a magic wand and make the pain of separation or divorce go away, but a divorce attorney can offer their expertise and help eliminate some of stress a divorcing couple encounters. Child custody consistently proves to the most contentious issue a divorcing couple faces. It can be difficult for a couple to put aside their differences and devise a child custody arrangement which focuses on what’s best for the child or children.

Since child custody is a highly contentious issue, a divorcing couple needs to consult with a divorce attorney, who understands the pain and stress they are experiencing, and will take the steps to ease some of your pain. Their advice will help an estranged couple understand the rights they have in regards to child custody and asset division and help them make sound decisions about the welfare of themselves and their children.