When significant problems in a marital relationship arise, some couples decide to divorce, or to legally terminate their marriage. About 50 percent of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, with the average duration of these marriages being about 7 years.
Both the process and aftermath of divorce are very stressful on both partners. Divorce can lead to increased risk of experiencing financial hardship, developing medical conditions (ulcers, for example) and mental problems (such as anxiety or depression), having a serious accident, attempting suicide, or dying prematurely. The couple's children and the extended families also suffer during a divorce, especially when disagreements occur over custody of the children. Most divorcees and their children and families eventually cope, and about 75 percent of divorcees remarry.
Friends play an important role in the lives of young adults. Most human relationships, including casual acquaintances, are nonloving in that they do not involve true passion, commitment, or intimacy. According to Sternberg, friendships are loving relationships characterized by intimacy, but not by passion or commitment. In other words, closeness and warmth are present without feelings of passionate arousal and permanence. Friends normally come from similar backgrounds, share the same interests, and enjoy each other's company.
While many young adults experience the time constraints of going to school, working, and starting a family, they usually manage to maintain at least some friendships, though perhaps with difficulty. That is, as life responsibilities increase, time for socializing with others may diminish.
Adult friendships tend to be same‐sex, nonromantic relationships. Adults often characterize their friendships as involving respect, trust, understanding, and acceptance—typically the same features of romantic relationships, although without the passion and intense commitment. Friendships also differ according to gender. Females tend to be more relational in their interactions, confiding their problems and feelings with other females. Males, on the other hand, often hesitate to share their problems and feelings, instead, seeking out common‐interest activities with other males.
Friends provide a healthy alternative to family members and acquaintances. They can offer emotional and social support, a different perspective, and a change of pace from daily routines.