By Vanessa Copeland
For the men who clicked on this article to get some insight and helpful tips, I’m just going to go ahead and burst your bubble now. The Big “D” I’m referring to is divorce. Not to say that women in their 30s don’t also want the other “D,” but like my mom always advised: “Only take on one ‘D’ at a time.” So back to the “D” in… er… uh, I mean at hand. Studies have shown that close to 70% of all divorces are initiated by women and that the average age of divorced Americans is 30-years-old. A Huffington Post article cites marriage therapists and the reasons why women leave their marriages. Below are the top six reasons.
Reason #1: Women feel taken for granted and overly responsible for the relationship.
Marriage has been a little slow on the uptake when it comes to expectations for gender equality. Women still practice the antiquated tradition of taking their husband’s surnames and husbands still expect their wives to be responsible for the majority of the housework and for raising the children. Society still puts a huge emphasis on women getting married and having children as their main goal in life. Someone like me, who has never been married, gets referred to as an old maid, while my male counterpart is simply a perpetual bachelor. Society also criticizes women who want both children and a career, as if it can only be one or the other. Men do not have the same constraints. Society sees no reason why a man cannot have a career and a family. Couple these gender role pressures along with the fact that most women feel they are expected to be more emotionally responsible for marriages and you have yourself a good recipe for divorce.
Reason #2: They keep having the same argument with their spouse.
Poor communication is almost always a relationship killer. Communication can be particularly difficult between men and women. This has a lot to do with widely differing societal expectations of each gender’s behavior. It has been shown that confident individuals are better at communicating their wants and needs; while insecure individuals have a difficult time communicating theirs. In an article I contributed to Julie previously, “Something Needs to Change,” I discussed the fact that it takes most women until mid-life to achieve the same level of confidence that most teen boys already have. When women feel as if they’re unable to communicate their wants and needs to their partners, or that their wants and needs are not being heard, they eventually give up and begin looking for a way out.
Reason #3: They’re not satisfied with their sex lives.
Girls are taught from an early age that sex “means something,” that you must only give yourself to someone physically if you love them or have very strong feelings for them. Boys are taught that sex is a base instinct. Because of this, women tend to attach feelings of affection and validation to the act itself. When sexually frustrated, they also feel emotionally starved. This is why sexual droughts can have a much deeper and lasting effect on women than men. It is also why women in general are less likely to cheat than men. When sexual intimacy becomes an issue most relationships will suffer.
Reason #4: They don’t talk and emotionally connect with their husband like they used to.
Reason #4 can easily be tied into all of the other reasons and is believed by many to be the leading cause of divorce. When women feel as if they bear the entire emotional responsibility of the relationship and they are not getting the same effort in return they look for a way out. Women can also feel jaded and resentful when her husband holds her responsible for his happiness. She can get exhausted from feeling as if she must keep the relationship in a state of “new and exciting.”
Reason #5: They’ve outgrown their partners.
Because of the societal pressures put on girls from a very early age, it is much harder for women to find their “true selves” and self discovery typically comes at a later age. While men tend to figure out who they are much earlier, it takes women into their 30s to actually begin to develop a sense of self. Many times, this transition can drive a wedge between a man and women. You’ve heard the old adage, “Women marry men thinking they will change, and men marry women thinking they won’t.” There is a lot of truth to this. Women many times do not actually figure out what they want from themselves, their spouses and their lives until their 30s. Much to the dismay of many husbands, this no longer includes them when there is no growth for the man. When women do not feel supported or emotionally connected to their partners, they no longer want to be in the relationship.
Reason #6: They get to the point where divorce is the only way to put themselves first again.
Circling back to all of the things discussed so far, they all can boil down to one thing: women are expected to put themselves last, even by themselves. Women who want a career and children are harshly criticized, because “children should always be the most important things in their lives.” Heaven help the woman who wants a career instead of children. Women putting themselves last is also why it takes them much longer to find themselves. They spend a significant amount of time trying to be who their husbands/children need them to be rather than figuring out who they want to be. After years of always putting themselves last, a transition to putting themselves first can easily cause discontent with a partner who has been happy with the status quo.
In general, marriage is hard. Being a woman is hard. Sometimes women chose to control the hard they can control. To my female readers: wait to get married. Start trying to figure out who you are and what you want now. Stop putting yourself last. Tell your partner what you expect from the beginning. To my male readers: Show up. You are just as responsible for your relationship as your partner. Do not place the responsibility of your happiness in the hands of your partner. And don’t forget the importance of the “D.” (The other “D”).