In heterosexual marriages, women begin the divorce process in greater numbers than men. Why? It seems counterintuitive since we have been bombarded with messages that women, in general, want long-term, stable relationships and marriages, while men, on the other hand, are more apt to abandon relationships and move-on quickly.
According to a recent study, women initiated 69 percent of divorces compared to just 31 percent of men. Interestingly, in non-marital relationships, both men and women initiated break-up in relatively similar numbers, and mutual break-ups were common. So what is unique about marriage that causes women to more than doubly initiate the end of the relationship? Here are some possible explanations for why women initiate divorce in greater numbers than men.
1. Married Women Expect Greater Satisfaction
According to the same study, in marital relationships, women are significantly less satisfied in the quality of the relationship than men, while in non-marital relationships, both genders are equally satisfied in the level of quality of the relationship. For women, it appears that they place greater important in being satisfied in their marriages and have less tolerance for a relationship that is not meeting their level of desired satisfaction.
2. Men Are Afraid of the Consequences
Historically, men are more likely to pay alimony and child support than women. Does this cause men to fear the consequences of divorce more than women? The data is inconclusive. Sure there is a certain logic to the explanation that because men, over the course of time, have had more to lose financially than women in divorce that it might explain why men are more reluctant to initiate a divorce. However, in modern history, the finances of men and women in the workplace has, on average, leveled-out. Today, there are many women who earn more than men and, consequently, are the ones who pay more child support and alimony. It doesn’t seems like fear of the financial implications is the likely reason behind the numbers.
3. Women Are Less Afraid of the Consequences
Today, modern women are powerful, independent and major wage earners in the marketplace. Quite frankly, they are not reliant on men for their financial resources as in the past. Consequently, women are realizing more than ever that if they are in an unhappy marriage, they have options. Where in the past an unsatisfying marriage may have been viewed as a life-sentence, today, women have a myriad of options at their disposal in terms of earning potential, employment opportunities and unrestricted access to dating potential mates. In essence, women now have the power to move on from an unhappy marriage with confidence.
Overall, men and women have varying reasons why they seek divorce.
For women, here are the top 5 reasons:
- Male Dominance – resulting from cultural, religious or societal reasons.
- Infidelity – it generally takes upwards of two years of work for a couple to survive infidelity. Often times, the couple gives up trying before they’ve completed the work required.
- Violation of Marital Duties – Sometimes, a husband may become financial unstable and irresponsible towards his family and/or children. He may also walk-out on his family, both literally and figuratively.
- Lost Love – At its core, marriage is about a commitment among two adults to share a life together, raise a family and be “in-love.” When a spouse falls out-of-love, the marriage loses its strength and foundation.
- Unrealized Expectations – Ever since we were children, boys and girls have fantasized about their wedding, the type of house they would live in, and the vision of their spouse. Sometimes, those fantastical expectations still remain with us when we date and choose a partner, and when “real-life” begins, the fantasies come into contact with reality. While many of us adjust our expectations to comport with our reality, others find that transition very difficult and cannot stop comparing their spouse of the “real-world” with their spouse of their “expectations” world.
For men, here are the top 5 reasons:
- Lack of Appreciation – when men feel under-appreciated or a lack of appreciation from their spouse of family, they tend to transform their love to resentment.
- Financial Issues – Financial disagreements over issues such as spending, expenses, income, vacations, etc. can be very stressful to most couples, and to men especially. Given their inherent desire to provide safety and security, a perceived challenge to that instinct from their spouse or other family members can cause anxiety, resentment and disillusionment.
- Infidelity – The only one of the five reasons listed that also matches a reason on the women’s list. That shows how great fidelity and honor means to both men and women, and how a breach of that security and trust is often an irreversible action that leads to divorce.
- Lack of Commonality – For men, having activities and goals and pursuits that their spouse shares with them and has in common is vitally important. It is often the case that when the couple first meets, dates and get married, common interests are shared and incorporated into their daily lives. However, as time goes on and complacency takes hold, those shared common interests wane, and each party can drift to their own individual activities and interests, making the other feel abandoned and alone.
- Sexual Dissatisfaction – For men, sexual performance and their perceived view of satisfying their spouse is key to their confidence and security not only as a husband, but as a man. When they perceive, accurately or inaccurately, that their partner is not satisfied with them as a sexual partner, their core perception of themselves can be shattered. However, rather then addressing the issue with their spouse, men are more likely to shut-down, hunker-down in their own reality, and act upon their insecurity by pulling-away or by running-away.
Regardless of the reasoning, when a man or a woman comes to the sad conclusion that their marriage must end, they have many options, none of which is inherently better or worse. However, a person must decide how they envision the process of divorce happening to them, their spouse and their family.
Do they picture it like “War of the Roses?” Do they picture worse? Hopefully, they picture it much, much better. In that case, a “Peaceful Split” divorce mediation may be the right choice for them,
As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator and attorney practicing law for over 20 years, and as a Graduate Student in Marriage and Family Therapy, I have the perceptive, maturity and respect for the entire systemic unit to understand that regardless of your desires, the entire family system will be affected by your divorce. My desire and goal is to guide and assist you through this process is as painless a way as possible Divorce will never be without pain, hurt and anger. That is a natural side-effect of the process. But with the right guidance and perspective, you and your family can emerge from a divorce without permanent damage and with an ability to go on as a family – even as you live separate lives in the future.
If you are ready to divorce and want to avoid the legal battle and obtain an economical “Peaceful Split,” then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you.