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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

If marriage involves integrating separate individuals into a single pair, divorce explicitly involves a return to separate entities; thus, it is a threat to individual identity. Informed by Erikson’s perspective on identity and the symbolic interactionist perspective, this chapter explores a number of important identity themes presented by divorce. It examines how divorce threatens identity coherence during separation,with unique attention paid to the individual who decides to leave versus the one who may seek to maintain the relationship. The chapter considers how separation threatens parenting identity and the differences between parents who spend more time with their children after divorce versus parents who see their children less often. We also explore how divorce threatens intimacy processes post-divorce. Because the overwhelming majority of research on divorce has focused on its impact on children, the limited research of divorce’s impact on child identity development is reviewed. Finally, we consider limitations of past research at the intersection of identity and divorce, focusing on suggestions for future investigation.

Keywords: divorce, identity, adult development, adjustment, marital dissolution, Erikson

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