Couples who put off making inevitable decisions experience prolonged stress and worry

Divorce rates are increasing year on year and with the majority of these occurring within the first 10 years of marriage, it might make you wonder what is causing more people to get divorced? A new survey has revealed that one factor could be the emotional and physical stress we put on ourselves when it comes to making (or avoiding) major decisions – be it a new job, ending a relationship or managing our finances.

The impact of stress

A new survey of 1016 married individuals conducted in September 2018 by Brookman International Family Lawyers, showed that 83% of those questioned had postponed an important and inevitable decision, with almost half saying that they put off their decision for more than 6 months. More alarmingly, 79% found putting off the decision extremely stressful. This resulted in extended periods of emotional and physical strain on the body. This pressure was only eased after they had taken the plunge. 74% stated that the impact of stress was relieved once the decision had been made.

The survey also indicated that important decisions regarding jobs and relationships were the most common dilemmas, at 31% and 14% respectively. In addition, 64% had put off a decision because they felt it was ’not the right time’ to deal with it. A third had put off making a decision out of fear of upsetting their partner.

The results also indicated that procrastinating over an inevitable decision could potentially have long term effects too. Three quarters of those surveyed admitted that they regret not going through with a decision in the past.

The impact of stress

Ongoing stress affects the body is a variety of ways. It can wear you down emotionally and could lead to depression, anxiety or irritability as stated on the NHS website ‘Symptoms of stress.’ There are also physical effects that are caused by chronic stress; insomnia, headaches and nausea for example. Both physical and mental effects work hand in hand and neither should be ignored. However, it can often be harder to identify and tackle the emotional issues.

A fear of saying NO

The issue of prolonging an inevitable decision is worsened by the fact that many people are afraid to say the word NO. In many cases, the weight of a big decision originally comes from an external factor. For instance an employer’s demands or relationship commitments. The fear of saying no pushes the decision to the bottom of the pile.

“Avoiding saying no doesn’t have to mean the person does nothing. It may simply be that some time needs to be taken to seek professional help or counselling to better understand the issue that’s causing them stress and angst,” explains family and divorce lawyer, Henry Brookman. “What this survey has highlighted is that when we are talking about major, inevitable decisions, doing nothing is not the answer. Delaying a decision whilst also not knowing where they stand makes the stress even greater. Typically, more information, in the form of professional advice or counselling, then makes the main decision much easier to make.”

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