Repairing Relationships

Building intimacy and joy into your relationships

Who Is More Likely To Initiate A Split?

Which sex is acting on their choices?

Dr. Peggy Drexler reported this week in the Huffington Post of a  study on married couples conducted by AARP which confirmed previous research  dating back two decades that in two out of every three marriages that last over twenty years, the wife is more likely to initiate the divorce than the husband by a resounding two to one margin.

The question is, why do married women wait so long to abandon the sinking ship? The usual reason is that the poor quality of today's mirage marriages may be hidden from view for years as the couple distracts themselves with the hustle and bustle of raising a family on two incomes. The cheerleader and Little League practices, AYSO soccer Saturdays, Scouting and Indian Guides, PTA meetings, carpooling and the general pandomonium of children underfoot can mask a basic disconnect for years. When the kids finally leave home and retirement nears, the long-standing problems of a couple who based their relationship on physical attraction, charm and approval-seeking may become too much to ignore. Wendy Crisp, spokeswoman for the National Association of Female Executives, describes this Day of Reckoning:

"If you never really liked each other or have nothing to share, you have to basically reach agreement that a significant portion of your time will be spent doing separate things...Separate things could mean separate bedrooms."

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When a marriage based on a mirage reaches the crisis phase, this it the ironic scenario. The husband initially deceived the wife years ago into love and marriage to get sex and companionship. Over the years, the couple discovers they don't like each other and have nothing to share. The final act of the husbands life may feature him living in a romantic Siberia, whiling away his Golden Years exiled from the marriage bed, oftentimes voluntarily. He and his wife live together like Al and Peggy Bundy of TV's Married With Children, with little in common besides children, scrapbooks of good times gone by and  a long-simmering mutual resentment of one another.

Even if the husband remains faithful to the marriage, the emotional withdrawl eventually leads many older women to take the initiative and file for divorce after years of trying to make the marriage work. The sad reality is that today in America, wives are fling for divorce twice as often as husbands and the usual reason is they have been emotionally abandoned.

 

J.R. Bruns, M.D., is co-author of The Tiger Woods Syndrome, a book about repairing relationships.

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