Sadness top negative feeling, post-divorce

Fourteen years on, Belle still remembers the scene when she caught her then husband hugging another woman - and the exact date they last quarrelled before she called off the marriage. "I waited for him near the woman's house, and I saw her hugging my husband, and they went into the car.

"I interrogated him and he admitted (the affair) indifferently and shamelessly... He claimed he loved her," said Belle (not her real name) in an interview with counsellor Jessica Leong in 2011, as part of a study on divorce in Singapore.

"Then the next day - I remember it was Nov 1, 1997 - I said to him: 'Since you don't like to be tied down, and you don't like to look after your children, and you still like freedom and women, why don't you just leave? So he packed his things and he willingly left the house. I then filed for divorce."

Dr Leong interviewed Belle and 18 other respondents in 2011 and 2012. They were among 134 divorcees who took part in a study of divorce here, which found that sadness was the top negative feeling for both men and women, even more than half a year after the divorce. Other common negative feelings included worry, fear and restlessness.

Belle, who has a son and a daughter, is still sad about the end of her marriage of 10 years. She was 33 when it ended.

She was 47 and working part-time in sales in 2011 when she was interviewed for the survey. She told Dr Leong: "When I got married, I was a wife. And then (when I divorced), I realised I wasn't sure who I was...

"Each time I take my children to see their grandparents, I feel very sad and awkward when their cousins had both parents around them and my kids had to deal with the awkwardness... I (also) feel sad for my son who does not have a male role model."

Support from friends and family members have helped her adjust to life post-divorce. But the fact remains she spent 10 years married to a man who now loves another. "I feel sad and angry with myself. Basically, it is because I couldn't save my marriage. I wasted part of my life and nothing came out of it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2015, with the headline 'Sadness top negative feeling, post-divorce'. Print Edition | Subscribe