Divorce up because women can afford to?

April 12, 2011

in Her Needs, Marriage Killer, The "D" word

End of marriage  © Photowitch | Dreamstime.com

The NYTimes story entitled Once Rare in Rural America, Divorce Is Changing the Face of Its Families, argues that a big part of the reason for more divorces in rural areas is that women in those places are better able to afford to live on their own. A similar claim has been made for the increase in the divorce rate that was seen in the second half of the last century. Sadly, I must agree that this is a major factor.

So women are getting divorced just because they can? No, that’s not what I mean. What I am suggesting is that we have not taken marriage as seriously as we should, and have not done nearly enough as husbands, families, communities, and churches to make marriages what they should be. I fear we traditionally considered a lack of divorce as proof that marriages were in good shape, while in reality the lack of divorce was more about the fact that women found staying in a bad, horrible, miserable, and even abusive marriage to be better than what they would have to deal with if they divorced.

Yes, I have harped on this a good deal recently (and will get off it for a while after this). I keep bringing it up because I don’t think we are getting it. I don’t think churches are getting it, and I fear many husband’s are not getting it. Marriage is a very good deal for the vast majority of men (including most who complain), but this is not the case for as many women. Just because women have put up with this for centuries (because they had no real choice) does not mean it is right, or good, or that they will continue to put up with it now that they have a choice. I am not “giving them an excuse” to divorce, rather I am trying to make men aware that women are tired of being second class citizens. It would also be nice if guys realised that how we have traditionally treated wives is WRONG even for those married to a woman who tolerates it.

Let’s raise the bar for how a wife should be treated; let’s raise that bar a great deal. Start with your bride, and love her the way God loves you.

Image credit: © Photowitch | Dreamstime.com

37 comments
Tony
Tony

Actually, ' I didn't say MOST WOMEN were monsters. I said most who are choosing to divorce their husbands don't have the biblical grounds. There is a big difference between saying most women and most women who are choosing to file for divorce... Most who choose to file don't have a dangerous marriage. Nor are they victims of abuse or betrayal. There certainly are issues. It's simply that the majority who are choosing to divorce are choosing an illegitimate means of addressing those issues if they also claim to follow Christ. You are right, we can't make others do what is right. But why are we still perpetuating myths and standing for a legal system that essentially rewards those who are not doing right with custody of children, or any marital assets. If these women want to go, one cannot keep them against their will. But why take the child away from her father just because mom no longer wants to be married to dad? If she wants to leave, then why not make the cost include not having primary custody of her children. Especially if she will not document any misconduct on his part? The converse of this is if he is misbehaving, and will not stop, then society needs to know. No fault divorce doesn't alert society that someone is a "relationship criminal." The easy way out is actually doing far more damage than making someone earn their way or, or proving that they are an unfit husband or wife. I understand one cannot keep someone against their will. But why do we allow the very same folks to take apart a family and pick the pieces he or she wants. If you want out of the marriage, that should mean you don't get any of the benefits of the marriage. No marital property, no child custody, no alimony or child support if you seek a no fault divorce. Make that the law and let's see how many suddenly decide that perhaps they can do the work needed to have a better relationship. But as long as someone can just say, "I'm not happy." Have an affair, file for divorce and the courts don't care about their affair, or anything other than they were the stay at home mom, so things should stay the same, then this scenario will play out time and time again. The victims are made to pay for the crimes of those who abandon or betray their spouses. So no you can't make others do what is right. But we can stop blaming the victims, even if it's tacit blame. We can stop sitting idly by while No Fault Divorce continues to destroy far more families than same-sex marriage will ever dream of harming. Personally, I think it's pretty monstrous to divorce your spouse because you are not happy, take his children, and ask that he pay you each month, not to mention forcing him out of his home, taking 1/2 of his retirement funds or pension. If that guy has not cheated on you, beaten you, verbally or emotionally abused you as judged by a trained, unbiased party, then leaving him for your own happiness is pretty monstrous. Ditto for the guys who are doing those sorts of things, or beating their spouses, or verbally abusing them, or emotionally abusing them. Divorce is a pretty monstrous act,. and I still believe most are filed due to the selfish desires of the one seeking the divorce. There are exceptions, but most are for this very root cause.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - I understand your pain and your frustration. I agree that you have described a real situation. However, I have also described a real situation. While few men are the horrible monsters you think I am accusing them of being, by the same standard few woman are the monsters you seem to be saying most women are. The majority of the time a divorce is a result of years of sins, slights, an unloving acts by both the husband and the wife. The event that ends things is often a matter of the straw that breaks the camel's back. That event was nothing, but added to the other hundreds of events, it was just too much. In these cases, either spouse could have saved the marriage had they been aware early enough. This is the situations I am addressing. If I can make men aware of the issues and the signs, that could save a marriage. As for adultery, it can an indication that one person has emotionally left the marriage. In that sense it does not cause the divorce as much as announce that the marriage is over. I wish I had some wisdom for your situation. The sad reality is we can't make others do what is right. There are some good ministries out there for those in your situation - search for "Stand For Your Marriage"

Take Two
Take Two

@Tony, I really feel for you on this. I've been through much of what you have, although not to the same extent. You seem to be doing all you can. I honestly have to say Tony, that it appears you have done all that you can in this situation, and it may be time to move on. I know this is a hard decision to make but I see no sign of repentence in your wife. Even if she were to come back, it is incredibly unlikely she would stay at this point. You need to protect yourself before you are destroyed. I really believe if you continue on this path you will only engage in idolatry, if you haven't already. There is a ton of bad teaching by church's out there, but they can't deny from the Bible that God gave us divorce to handle unfixable situations. Marriage is not an idol to be worshipped, but an institution that sometimes fails, like all other institions. You need to find a church that knows how to deal with this stuff and get advice. "Don't get divorced" is not advice, it is poor theology wrapped in a platitude. They need to advise you on what is best for you and not what is easiest for the Church. This marriage is clearly hurting you, the kids (if any), and your wife. I'll pray that you find hope in you situation, but remember to look at what the Bible says. God doesn't expect us to fix other people. That is someone only He can do, and we need to know where our responsibility ends.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

There has been an interesting series of Tweets about this issue today among some who I follow. It started when one pointed out that 2/3 of divorces are initiated by women. A family attorney who represents primarily Christians said most of the women who filed for divorce did not want to be divorced. They felt unsafe, or could not take the treatment any longer, or their husband abandoned them. Someone pointed out the well supported fact that most women have a significantly lower standard of living after a divorce. On the other hand very few men have a lower standard of living, and many end up with a higher standard of living. Also a lot of tweets about the fact that divorce hurts kids, even if the marriage was horrible. Short of literal safety, kids lose in a divorce. In the case of safety they still lose, but sometimes not as much as if the marriage continued.

Laurie
Laurie

From the perspective of a woman in a difficult marriage, here is my two cents. My husband has done many things that have caused me to consider divorce (something that I am currently praying and seeking God about). These DO include cheating in the form of pornography. Obviously this has caused an endless amount of pain and anger in my heart. I do believe he has to take responsibility for the 90% of why our relationship is failing. HOWEVER, I have also realized that I am not without blame in the situation. I don't think that it is all my fault, but I do know that I have been caustic, mean, and harsh with my husband. Despite the anger and pain I feel towards him, and despite what he has done to hurt me, he does NOT deserve my disrespect in that manner. Everyone has something they need to change within a marriage. It is easy to blame the other person for all of it and take no ownership. Believe me, it would be a lot easier for me to take no responsibility for my actions. But as a follower of Christ I believe that God calls me to own my sin and repent - change my actions. Yes, my husband has done severe damage to my heart. But I also have to own the damage I have done to his. It's not easy - hate is easy. Blame is easy. Choosing to take responsibility for your wrongs, however slight - that is hard. Especially when the other person really HAS done 90% of the damage. I do not mean to point fingers, I just wanted to offer my perspective.

ucornuta
ucornuta

This data should be a wakeup call to all husbands who value their marriage to DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to preserve, protect, and save it! This needs to happen long before she is ready to walk out the door. If she walks, yes, that is her choice. But a woman doesn't usually just walk out the door out of the blue - problems usually build up over time. As long as you are married, you need to work on making your marriage better, even if you think there are no problems, because these days women are likely to see divorce as an option.

Tony
Tony

@Paul, What I am saying is to help men. Men, if your wife walks out, it's her decision and you own ZERO blame for her choices. Don't buy the lies that you are not as adept relationally, that you cannot communicate, or that you don't listen. Both you and your bride speak different languages. One is not better than the other, and you are as difficult for her to understand as she is for you to understand. It's not a one way street, so don't fall into the trap of believing you are inferior when it comes to relationships and communication. Don't go to the other extreme either, where it's your way is best and if she doesn't tow the line... If she does leave, and your church tries to blame you, remind them that they've been telling women that men are the problem for the past 40 some years, and perhaps it's time they also take a look at the contributions by women that are destroying families and ask if the church has not helped fuel an entitlement mentality. But do not accept blame for the choice of others, and speak boldly against the lies that men don't care, don't relate, and are not committed to their families. The way you express you commitment is not inferior, it's different, but just as valid and valuable as the way your wife does. Understand what speaks commitment to her and make sure you are doing those things in addition. Make sure she knows what she can do to best show you that she loves you and is committed to you above all other people. But the best help I can offer is if she leaves, don't accept blame for her choice to break her vows, and don't allow others to blame you for the choice to divorce. Being divorced is not a sin. Choosing to divorce when there is no sexual betrayal is a sinful choice. You cannot force another to sin. They make that choice and bear the responsibility for that choice. The body of Christ should be ashamed of itself that it doesn't have enough grace to avoid blaming the victims of the sinful choice to divorce.

Take Two
Take Two

Thanks Tony and Will. I appreciate the honesty that you guys give, since most guys don’t talk about it, people assume all men are at fault. I agree that some men do bad things that cause divorce (duh!) but we can’t blame men in general for the actions of some. Men, in general, have actually given up much to try to strengthen marriages to the point of fault. I also don’t believe that any study presented has given “good” evidence of anything. The fact that married women don’t live longer than single women doesn’t mean anything to me. First, most people are married at some point in life. Some for a short time, some long, some at the beginning, some at the end, and many get divorced. Any of these things will have a bigger impact on the lifespan than the fact a person was married. Even if it is true women don’t live longer in marriage, there are many possible explanations for it besides despicable men. Besides, there is more basic fact that women generally outlive their husbands the majority of the time. This may be an explanation in itself, since the grieving spouse is often subject to ill health effects. The other big explanation may be child birth and raising children in general. Women who have children do take a huge toll physically, and that doesn’t even count raising the children. I have known many women who have had physical problems from one-too-many births and some stubbornness. Unmarried women rarely have this problem and there isn’t anything comparable. Some other explanations: single men often don’t take very good care of themselves. They also tend to take riskier work and hobbies. Men often “settle down” when they marry and take on many less risks, where it much less likely to happen for women. One other thing to think about. About 100 years ago and dating back to the beginning of history, if a woman was not married or under the care of her father, she was more than likely a slave, prostitute, or dead. Society now protects these women, mostly by men they never meet. Marriage no longer is a necessity to personal security, but that shouldn’t undermine the benefits of marriage, or belittle the sacrifice of unknown men that sacrifice to protect women. I still don’t think it’s fair to blame men for a small minorities’ actions, especially when so many abuses go on from women without a word. Making these broad assumptions are incredibly hurtful.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Ol'Will - I am hardly a women's libist! Neither do I see all women as victims. But I am also not blind to the wives who are abused and mistreated in may ways. I am speaking to men here. That being the case, I am trying to address the problems, and the wrongs, of men. I know there are women like those you and others have described, but my ranting about them helps no one here as it would not give any man something he could do to change. I am not blind to the things women do wrong, but I don't have a voice here to them. (MY bride on the other hand does, and she uses it.) Even if the problems in a marriage are 90% the woman, that leaves 10% that is the man. A guy can work on his 10%, or he can complain about his wife. The first may make the marriage better (for both of them) while the second will not. The bottom line for me is that some men are bad husbands, and that is WRONG. It seems to me that we, as men, have an obligation to "police our own".

Ol' Will
Ol' Will

"...women found staying in a bad, horrible, miserable, and even abusive marriage to be better than what they would have to deal with if they divorced." Please! I'm sick of men having to carry the blame for everything bad that happens in the "Battle of the Sexes". I used to work with a woman from England who said she preferred to live here because American men treat their women WAY better than they do in England. I know a man who gave up a thriving legal career as a lawyer to become an engineer because he got tired of being a facilitator for 45-year-old women who wanted to shed the hubby so they could pursue younger men. I know that's not a "study" but it's indicative. Proverbs says that it's better to live in the corner of the roof than in the house with a contentious woman. Lots of those self-centered, stiff-necked, irrational lovelies begin to believe their own BS and think they would be better off "free". So rather than becoming the wives they should be to their husbands ("If I treat him nice, then he wins and I lose!"), they take their self-centered, stiff-necked irrationality to another man and ruin a second life. And then they sit around commiserating with their self-centered, stiff-necked, irrational friends wondering why they are miserable. Of course, they blame it on their husbands, both ex and current. The victimology implied in the quote above (women are inherently oppressed by their male oppressors) won't fly here. That's mythology put forth by the women's lib movement to the point where it's never questioned today. Well I not only question it, I reject it. I treat my woman well. She is simply self-centered, stiff-necked, and irrational. No kindness is so kind that it cannot be suspected of some ulterior or evil motive. No fact is so obviously apparent that it cannot be dis-believed or at least argued over. No annoying habit is so destructive to the relationship that it cannot be continued ad infinitum (haven't been to church on time, but maybe twice, in 15 years as but one example). No household project can be completed to the level of perfection that it cannot be criticized for either result or method or both. Then she would deny that she's the problem. Any time I try to discuss anything with her, she tries to steer the topic into irrelevancy. It's amazing. Then when I clam up, she wonders why I "won't work on our problems." I could go on and on. But my message here today is the rejection of inherent female victimology. I refuse to be made into a woman to satisfy the mythology of the women's lib/victimology movement. I wish I could tell you how I really feel.

Tony
Tony

I tend to agree with the gentlemen above who are somewhat critical of the conclusions drawn. Early in Genesis, we are told that a woman will have desire for her husband. When you look at that word, it's not a desire that most husbands would want. Rather, it's the same kind of desire that Cain had for Able, which was envy. Therefore, what we are seeing, with women ending 2/3rds to 3/4s of all marriages, and in a small minority of those marriages is the man actually engaged in marital misconduct. So what you see is the result of our sinful nature. So today you have women destroying their homes, since they are the majority gender ending marriages, and men being blamed for the choice these women make. It's time to hold men accountable for their actions. If they know their wife is unhappy and do nothing, if they abuse, or betray, sure, hold them accountable. But on the same token, if the woman just gives up, tells her husband everything is fine when it's not, and keeps him in the dark, right up to the time where she has her affair and betrays her husband, it's time we hold that woman accountable. I do agree, churches don't get it. When my ex-wife had her affair, the first question the pastor asked was, "What did you do to force her to have an affair?" Follow that by the total refusal to reach out to her via the Matthew 18 process and you have set the stage for continued entitlement mentality. Perhaps it's time to teach what real love is. Real love is not what you see in the typical romance novel. Just as porn is not real intimacy, romance novels are not real love. The typical wife doesn't value the contribution her husband makes, going to work every day, coming home, putting his family first. Maybe he gave up the sports car so the family can have a nice home. Maybe he gave up a neat, modern apartment so he could have a home full of kids who are unable to pick up after themselves (and possibly a wife who does the same.) Maybe he gave up being able to save 20% of what he makes so his new wife can have some nice things in that home, and so on. I really don't see how women are getting such a bad deal in marriage. Men certainly have far more to lose, given they will likely not get custody in a divorce case, even if she is the one engaged in marital misconduct. Since men are the minority when it comes to ending marriages, I have to wonder if marriage, as it is practiced right now, is a good deal for men. As long as preachers, politicians and bloggers, are extolling the virtues of mothers, while blaming fathers for not being there when the stats are clear that it's not fathers in the majority of cases who are breaking up the family, it's clear that the folks talking about it the most are really in denial about the state of things in the family and what men are thinking and doing in America today. Until it's men ending marriages more frequently than women, you will not convince me that men are afraid of commitment and are abandoning their families. The fact that women seek 2/3rds to 3/4s of all divorces tells me that it may be women who do not value marriage or their husbands twice to three times as frequently as husbands not valuing their wives. How long will we keep our heads in the sand and ignore these facts?

landschooner
landschooner

I guess in my experience Paul, it certainly doesn't seem like: "Marriage is a very good deal for the vast majority of men (including most who complain), but this is not the case for many women." I just don't see that marriage is a better deal for guys. Most guys I know didn't dream about being stuck in a go-nowhere job that they cant get out of because they have to support their family, no adventure because there IS NO TIME, and a grumbling wife who rejects them in the bedroom. That's a drag. And the wives don't dream about a non romantic husband, dishes and laundry that never quits, and no time without demands...... I agree that we as husbands need to love our wives as God loves us, and that should be our focus as husbands, but I don't see that wives are getting the worse end of the deal. Just my thoughts.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Take Two - Thing is I have given some very good studies that back up what I am saying. Certainly there are plenty of women who are happily married and better off than if they were single. HOWEVER there is no shortage of women who are not happy in their marriage, and plenty of women who are worse off than they would be if they had not married. And for me that is wrong. It needs to be pointed out, and we need to work to change it. If you are one of the many great husbands who is loving, serving, sacrificing, and making your wife's life better, then I applaud you and encourage you to help other men do likewise. For those who are not doing what they should - CHANGE.

Take Two
Take Two

Please stop telling women they get a raw deal in marriage, because you are causing a horrible problem. Contrary to soap operas and magazines, men actually make their lives better. Just because you don't live up to your expectations doesn't mean we all don't.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - Little argument from me on what you said, although changing the law is unlikely. I totally agree with your last three paragraphs, and will leave it at that.

Tony
Tony

Take Two, Oh the divorce is long over, say 6+ years ago now. However, when I read stuff that even hints of, "guys you need to do __________" or women are not be frivolous when they are divorcing... it just opens old wounds. Like the one from my former pastor who literally asked me what I did to force my ex-wife to have an affair. It hurts to think that for the past 8 years, she's been the primary custodian of our child, and it's her morals and ethics that are the primary example to her, and there is nothing I can do about the amount of time spent with her because the courts basically are about preserving the status quo. So a stay at home mom ends up being the primary custodian and if she has an affair, the courts really don't care, it's "best" not to drastically alter the child's parenting. I do what I can. We are going to a baseball game tonight to spend some daddy daughter time together. I treasure my time with her and if I have to miss a night, I try to re-schedule rather than have that time slip away. But the memories from 2003 are still like they happened today. When I read about all the "help" available, I still wonder where it was when I was looking and could find no effective help. So the best I can hope for is if some guy faces today what I faced 8 years ago, he'll actually get some hands on, truly effective help and not just platitudes and condemnation from his church. I hope that the next time you see a divorced guy in your church odds are that 2/3rds to 3/4s of divorced guys were divorced against their will, and not the relationship criminals that we've been lead to believe by both popular culture and even from the pulpit from time to time. So show a little grace and mercy when it comes to the next divorced guy you met. Odds are greater that he was a guy like me who loves God, loved his wife, loves his kids, but found himself on the outside anyway. Chances of meeting that divorced guy are far greater than meeting the stereotypical unfaithful or abusive ex-husbands. Those are the really rare ones. But we've been sold a bill of goods that most ex-husbands are the bad ones. That's simply not true.

Tony
Tony

So what you are saying is the choice to divorce is often a selfish and short sighted decision. After all, feeling unsafe is not the same as actually being unsafe. Just as you know many can feel unloved, yet they are loved. How many have said to you, "I don't feel like God loves me?" Now that's the same form of statement as someone who says I don't feel my husband loves me, cares for me, values me, or I don't feel safe. Now in the latter cases it may be the case her husband doesn't love her, or is unsafe. But then it may "only" (not trying to minimize) her feelings and there is now credible basis for those feelings external to her. Just as there is no credible basis for the feeling that God doesn't love you, but what doubts come from inside you. If that's the case, then the choice to continue down the path based on nothing more than your feelings, putting yourself and your children in a more difficult and hurtful circumstance is the ultimate in selfish behavior. Where are the unbiased parties who are looking at the situations to see if they are really unsafe, or hurtful and saying yep, you are in danger, or no, you are safe and it's your expectations, your internal filters, or whatever that is driving the train here? The best thing to do is to address the problems in the marriage. But how do you do that when the unhappy wife is given an express path to get out of the marriage and the abandoned husband is blocked at every turn from both stopping the divorce and winning his wife back. I've yet to see anyone offer solutions to that and I've asked time and time again, what is being done to help the guys who find themselves in this situation. So where is the effective help? Places I looked and did not find it. 1. I got on my knees and prayed for my entire family. I prayed for my wayward wife, I prayed for the man with whom she had her affair. I prayed for his family, and I prayed that God would show me what I needed to do to stop the divorce, address my behavior, and have a marriage that would bring glory and honor to him. 2. I went to my church seeking help winning my wayward ex-wife back. I asked for a mentor to show me what I should do and for someone to approach her and attempt to convince her to actually work on the marriage. Neither of those happened. 3. I worked with Steve Harley at Marriage Builders until I ran out of cash because I had to respond to the divorce my ex-wife filed, so no more money for coaching me or trying to reach her. 4. I approached the Smalley Marriage Institute. They were having then not having then having intensives for only one spouse for cases like mine. Of course, they would not contact her. 5. I approached Focus on the Family, again asking for help, how do I effectively reach my ex-wife. Again, we'll pray for you, but no actual steps taken to reach her. 6. I contacted her family. That was actually pretty early in the process, but they enabled the affair, acting having the other man in their home for holidays while she was still my wife. 7. I contacted Joe Beam. He is all about interventions and asked for help in reaching her. He said he would help and I never heard from him again. So does the church really care about marriage, or is it just some campaign? I'm sure I'm leaving some folks out, but time and time again, I asked those who've stated their ministry or mission is about the Godly family and every time I came away with little or no help. So if my results are so atypical, why do others get help and get results when I did my best old woman before the unjust judge and tried again and again to get satisfaction, only to come away empty. I tried my best Hosea, praying a hedge of protection over Gomer, only to get no protection. Given the number of divorces that happen today, even in churches, I really doubt my situation and outcome is rare. I think it's the typical outcome. I think it's a very typical case with a very typical outcome. One cannot approach the number of resources I did and get no where and even remotely believe that everyone else was getting assistance I was unable to get.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@ucornuta – Thanks, you said what I’ve been trying to say very succinctly.

Tony
Tony

ucornuta, Women do walk out the door without warning. When was the first time my ex-wife said she was unhappy with her marriage? When she was already in the affair. Ask other men who've experienced the walk-away wife and they will tell you the same story I do, almost word for word. These are not guys who are failing to plug in to their families. They were there, everyday, trying to engage their wives, often being told when they asked their wives how they were or how things were going that it was all "fine." Then one day, she's looking for an apartment, skipping family events to be with her lover, and trying to find a divorce attorney. So while the advice is good, how does one proactively do what you suggest when you have no clue? The cluelessness is not due to putting your head in the sand, but simply getting a message time and time again that does not square with how she's really thinking and feeling. Don't just give vague, high level advice. Tell guys how to get the emotional truth from their wives. How can a guy get his wife to be honest and say, "I'm thinking about leaving" or "There is a guy I find attractive" or simply "I'm not happy." I have yet to meet a guy who has experienced a walk-away wife who has received such clear messages BEFORE she left. And again, it's not because the guys are not trying to be connected to their wives. So now what?

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - I both agree and disagree with you. I have certainly seen far too many cases of blaming the wrong person. However, divorce is (almost) never all one person's fault. Even if it is, that does not mean that the spouse could not have done things to avoid it. It's kind of like not avoiding an auto accident that is not your fault, but that you could have avoided. I think "He had the right of way" on my headstone would be a bad thing, and likewise I don't have any desire to see "He was innocent" said about some guy who get's divorced; I'd much rather teach guys ways to avoid being divorced.

Ol' Will
Ol' Will

Thanks for not deleting my rant. Peace

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - I think the fact that women initiate most divorces, actually supports my point. You don't end something that is working for you, you do end something that is horrible for you. Sure there are times when someone ends a marriage out of selfishness or wanting to be with someone else, but a great deal of the time the person who ends the marriage is the one who just can't take it any more. BTW, on that desire thing - the word is used three times in the OT Hebrew - with the third being in SofS where it is clearly a sexual desire.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@landschooner - As I see it, most marriages are far from what they should be, with both husband and wife not getting what they need and want. When I talk to women, I focus on what they can do to change that, which means telling them what their husband wants and needs (and sex is usually at the top of that list) and how to make that happen. You know that I have often called sexual refusal sin on the TMB boards - I have no problem telling a woman that her actions are wrong, unloving, sinful, or just rude.

Ol' Will
Ol' Will

It looks like Paul struck a nerve with this one. I would submit that there probably are warnings that the husband doesn't understand or doesn't want to believe what's happening to his marriage. My brother had a "sudden" heart attack that nearly took his life. But he had been suffering exercise-induced angina for months that he just blew off as "heartburn" even though the pain came with exercise and subsided with rest. It wasn't associated with eating. He either didn't understand the symptom or didn't want to think it could be happening to him. I suspect many/most husbands are the same regarding their failing marriages. My wife is still with me, but I have observed several "wife abandonment" situations over the years. Here are a few of the signs I've observed that were probably ignored by the husbands or that they didn't understand: She quits talking about losing weight and actually does it. She starts spending time at the gym or the jogging track or both. She gets a more attractive or easier to manage hairdo. She begins to use more attractive makeup. She upgrades her wardrobe. If the husband works in a trade, she gets a job in an office. (Sorry, guys, it's just what I've observed.) Or she may simply get a job so she can pay for all the other improvements to her bait and to save money for a lawyer. By the time this starts happening, it's already probably "all about her self-discovery/self-realization/self-fulfillment" and there is probably little that the husband can do to turn the situation around. Whatever he tries to do will be seen as "pathetic".

Tony
Tony

Actually, in marriage lacking marital misconduct, the divorce is the fault of the one who gave up and filed for divorce. The state of the marriage is owned by both. But the choice and the responsibility for the divorce is owned 100% by the one who chose to divorce someone who had neither betrayed them, nor abused them. So you would rather heap more guilt on a victim than actually look at the problem in an honest fashion? The person who is divorced against his/her will is not guilty of the divorce, but a victim of the divorce. I doubt you would blame an abuse victim for their part in the abuse. So why use that repugnant line of thinking on someone divorced against his/her will? Divorce is a destructive and emotionally abusive choice by a spouse who is saying, since you are not dead, I want you out of my life. Much like the Prodigal son was saying he wishes his father was dead when he asked for his inheritance, the person seeking to divorce a faithful spouse is saying the same thing, "I wish you were dead so you would be out of my life." If that's not abuse, I don't know what is. How can you blame the victim for any part of that? Paul, you may have some really great ideas about marriage. But you don't demonstrate the same understanding when it comes to dealing with situations such as the one I present. Not only do you think it's rare, you blame the victim when it does happen. I don't know how else to explain it to you. If you haven't lived it, you may never get it. I pray that you'll never live it. But I pray that you'll embrace the experiences of those who have and stop minimizing, rejecting and blaming those who have.

Tony
Tony

I simply ask that you do that without even tacit blame of the betrayed husband. I simply ask that you do that and still accept that what happened to me is not as rare as you think it is. The truth I present does underscore the importance of what you are trying to do. But don't damage your ministry by minimizing what is really going on. Don't reject the truth that what happened to me is not a rare case. It's the typical case. I'm not saying I'm innocent. In hindsight, there are things I could have done better. But hindsight is useless to those who've already been abandoned and betrayed. Why not offer something that will actually provide those who were where I was 8 years ago with a plan that will have a great chance in restoring their marriage. Provide them with something that will beat the 1 in 7 odds they will restore their marriage. Because those are the odds when only the betrayed or abandoned husband wants to work on the marriage. Besides, even if my case was rare, wouldn't you want to do something to improve those odds? I don't see that. I didn't see it 8 years ago, and I still don't see it. As long as we keep saying men are the problem, especially from the pulpit, it will continue to fuel the current entitlement mentality. There is nothing the betrayed husband can do to combat that entitlement mentality. It must be attacked by someone other than the betrayed husband because the entitled walk-away wife is not listening to her husband already. But as long as we keep blaming men and saying if he had only done _________, that sense of entitlement is reinforced, making that 1 in 7 chance even less likely for the betrayed husband.

Tony
Tony

How does the guy work on his 10% when his wife has walked out and closed the door. I don't know how much you've looked at this issue. I did since I had an unfaithful, walk-away wife. Once she's left, it's almost impossible for a man to reach her since she's closed the emotional door on her husband, and perhaps opened it to another man. In my case, I asked, years before she left and every time I checked in, I was told my my unfaithful ex-wife that things were fine. Right up to the point where she was in an affair, looking for an apartment and walking out the door. So tell me, how does the guy deal with whatever percentage if he can't get clear, honest information from his bride? We have all these stereotypes that women are better communicators, and better at relationships. I simply don't buy it. If they were such great communicators, how do you explain the numbers of husbands, ones who really love(d) their wives who have no idea what's going on in her head and heart? Perhaps it's time we stop with the silly, useless, and generally false stereotypes. Men are not better, nor worse than women. Men are emotional, they are relational, they care about their families. They may focus on different aspects of what that means,but in no way does it mean that men don't care, don't love, don't express emotions, or are not committed to their families and marriage. They are, and it's time we reject the lies that tell us men are not committed, don't love and don't care. You have men telling you they do care and their care was rejected, devalued and ultimately worthless in the eyes of their brides. Why argue against the experiences of the God fearing men who have taken the time to respond. The men who are pouring out their hearts and minds on this topic. Stop telling us our experience is not real. We've been married and we've found that all the love we've given was rejected and our stories are not unique. In fact, it appears they are normal in todays world.

Tony
Tony

Paul, Is it that it's not working for them, or not working as well as they would like it to work? Besides, how is it going to work better if you abandon your partner and leave him? I don't deny that things may need to get better. I simply reject that women are actually doing the work needed to make it better. The idea that they are leaving only proves that they are not committed to making their marriage work. There is no evidence that their husband have or have not tried. Almost universally, abandoned husbands say they didn't know their wives felt that way. Combine that with the indirectly language used and you have the recipe for disaster. Since most guys I know try to win their wives back, I'd have to say that the men are willing to do what it takes. But almost universally don't know what to do. I believe both have elements of truth. The women cannot take it, I don't doubt. But the men are not uncaring and unwilling either. So why are we giving the women the benefit of the doubt, making excuses for why they end their marriages and putting all the blame on the guys who probably do love their wives, but can't seem to deliver that message in a fashion that trips her trigger. After all, the majority of the guys getting served with divorce papers are not abusive, nor adulterous according to Dr Willard Harley. In fact, he says he is unable to convince such women to actually divorce their husbands. He finds working with thousands of these cases that the men are merely clueless. The wives feel neglected. I don't doubt that. But it's not because their husbands are not doing anything. It's because either they are doing the wrong things, or their wives don't value what they are doing. As I've said, if we believe men are being distorted by porn, then why do we not believe women are equally distorted with the romance novels and "romantic" movies. How many romantic movies involve one or both parties betraying their spouse because they choose the wrong person? I could probably name more romantic movies that have that element than movies that don't have at least one romantic lead betraying his/her spouse. Regarding the word, given the context and how we see society today, I tend to believe that the word used in that context was envy, not sexual desire. Since sex isn't a curse, and that passage was about the curse, I tend to believe that the word in context means envy.

landschooner
landschooner

Its a good point Paul. Your audience here is men so you are suggesting ways that men can be better husbands. When you speak to women you suggest what they can do to be better wives. I think it was the part about marriage being a raw deal for women and not for men so much - I still don't see that - but maybe its just my ignorance and I don't mean that sarcastically. Anyway, I think this hit a nerve because in our society, and even in our churches, that it seems so pervasive that men get blamed for everything. That women are the relationship experts and men are dumb clods who don't give a darn about anything except sex and football. But how does that make any sense when these same guys work 60 - 80 hrs a week for 40 years doing jobs they hate to support their families. Maybe wives don't see it as love but that's often what it is. Anyway, there's no doubt that I certainly need to learn to be a better husband for my wife. Thanks Paul!

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Ol' Will - I agree - the signs are there for those who have eyes to see them. My goal is to make guys look for signs, and teach them what to look for. Not signs of impending divorce, but signs that things are not as they should be.

Tony
Tony

So what does it take for you to understand? How can I better communicate so that you understand my perspective and point of view. I get yours, husbands, be Christlike and this is not likely to happen to you. If it does happen to you, you are a rare case. Is that the jist of what you are saying? If so, then I understand clearly. So if there is any communication problem, it's that you are unwilling or unable to understand what I'm saying. What can I do to help you better understand? So that you can offer real help to those who will face the same things I've already faced. So you can address it without coming across as blaming the victim, or sounding like if only ________ would do more.... I understand you don't mean to come across this way. Understand that sometimes you do. It's like when you step on someone's toe. You don't mean to hurt them. But telling them you didn't mean to do it, or that you were trying to do something else does nothing to deal with the pain caused by stepping on their toe. Sometimes you just have to say, I'm sorry I hurt you, I'll try to never do that to you again.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - As you keep arguing things I have not said, and do not think, it is clear that we are not communicating. I will end it with this - you said "Actually, in marriage lacking marital misconduct, the divorce is the fault of the one who gave up and filed for divorce." I agree with that 100%.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - I am not denying what anyone has said does happen - but I do know it's not the only way it happens. That one wife was bad and walked away does not mean every wife is that way. Yes, some guys are killing themselves to try and fix a marriage their wife seems to have no interest in - it happens, I have seen it. I also see the exact opposite, with the wife trying and a man not caring. I also see men and women who claim or even think they are trying hard, but what they are doing is not helping. As I have said several times, if you are doing what is right, that's great - now help some guy who is not.

Tony
Tony

By telling me my situation isn't the norm and suggesting I had a moral obligation to prevent an affair I didn't even know was being planned, you are indeed blaming me. You are saying if only I would have done what others are doing... You sir are indeed blaming me for something I both did not know was happening, and did not have a say in it happening. I tend to take the word of Dr Harley who will tell you over and over again that the women leaving are not women who are abused, or betrayed. That's the norm. He can't convince those women who are actually abused or betrayed to leave. The ones leaving are the ones who want to "find themselves" the ones who are not happy, but in most cases have never sat down with their husband and said, "I'm not happy." At least not until they are already in their affair, or whatever means they are using to move out. Paul, I've spent the past 8 years researching this since my ex-wife had her affair. What I've found is my experience is pretty typical. Not exceptional, not rare. It's the typical result when a man is served divorce papers. So please, don't tell me that men can prevent most divorces or that they are morally responsible for stopping something they have no clue about. You still have not answered my questions on: 1. How does a man stop it? 2. If his wife is the typical indirect speaker who withholds difficult truths, how does he know something is wrong? 3. Why churches are not holding the initiators of these divorces that lack biblical grounds accountable for their choice to abandon their husband and betray their vows made before God. I'll add another. Why do husbands like me, who prayed for understanding and the ability to demonstrate that Christ-like love to their wives, find that their prayers go unanswered, or that such love is largely ineffective in winning back a walk-away wife? How many men, Godly men, are able to win back their wives? Most are not. So are you going to tell me that God is so ineffective in working with men willing to follow Him that he cannot change them into men that their wives would love to have as a husband? I say no. I say these women, the ones who walk away are telling us with their actions they don't want a Godly man. Because if they did, they wouldn't be abandoning men whose ultimate goal was to be a Godly husband. That was my goal. It wasn't enough. Again, my story is not rare, it's repeated almost verbatim by every Christian husband I've met who has been abandoned and/or betrayed by his wife. You keep telling me my situation is the not the norm. OK prove it. Show me where the majority of husbands who are betrayed and/or abandoned by their wives ultimately win their wives back. Show me where the majority of men who approach their church for help with such situations get help that restores their marriage to one that would be a textbook Biblical marriage. You keep saying it's not a normal situation. But the divorce rate and the rate of reconciliation of women initiated divorces where there is no marital misconduct on the part of the abandoned or betrayed husband is on the order of 15%. Again, citing Dr Willard Harley, only about 15% are restored when the woman initiates the divorce. That means the majority, a figure approximately 6 times larger end up divorced. Therefore, for every case like mine, there are 5 others than end the same way, in divorce. Only one is successfully reconciled. So I respectfully suggest you rethink your thinking that my case is rare. Oh, and out of the 66-75% of divorces filed by women, only about 6% of those are for misconduct by her husband. That means that 60-69% of all divorces filed are filed by women and women who are neither abused, nor betrayed. That sir is a majority, not a rare case as you suggest. So yes you were blaming me if you were suggesting that what happened to me was rare and if only I would have ______, maybe it wouldn't have happened.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - You said "But don’t buy into the lie that men are the causes of most relationship issues." I will say that men could prevent most divorces. That does not make it their fault, necessarily, but it does in my mind give them a moral obligation. It is my contention, and a lot of folks who deal with marriage will agree, that more marriages can be saved by the unilateral efforts of the husband than the unilateral efforts of the wife. The world will tell you this is because women are more relational, and are thus more likely to respond. This is no surprise to me, as the Bible tells me that God made women to respond to their husband. As for your situation, I have not blamed you - so you need not defend yourself. But don't assume your situation is the norm, because frankly it is not.

Tony
Tony

@Paul, Less connection or different connection? I think that's the complaint here. Men and women want different types of connection. So I don't believe it's a less connection, less intimate issue. Rather it's an issue of women want one type of connection, men want another. The woman will not feel connected if he doesn't engage in her flavor of connection. Likewise the man will not feel connected if she fails to engage in his. But again, how does any connection occur if the woman (or the man, but remember 2 to 3 times as many women are doing the ultimate disconnect with their divorces compared to the number of men choosing that variety of disconnect) decides she will not either engage or allow her husband to connect with her? You have not answered that question. How do you build a more intimate, connected marriage when you walk out? It doesn't even take decades. Women are walking out EARLY in marriages. If a woman walks, it's likely in the first seven years of marriage. So it's not like they are enduring decades of neglect. It's more likely months. Where men walk out is in the decades old marriages. So using your argument, who is it that is really feeling disconnected, men or women? Who is it really suffering from decades of neglect and being disconnected? That's what we've been trying to tell you. Not that any of these divorces are right. But don't buy into the lie that men are the causes of most relationship issues. If someone walks out, they have given up, period. Now you can examine the factors. But the bottom line is the responsibility for the choice to walk out in cases where there is no abuse or adultery on the part of the abandoned spouse is 100% on the party walking out. So for the wives leaving in the first seven years, unless her husband is beating her, or cheating on her, she owns the fact that she quit, she broke her vows. As a betrayed husband, I'm sick and tired (thinking of Bill Cosby now and his comedy sketch from the 70's) of hearing how if a marriage falls apart it is the man's fault, how men are not as relational, not as committed, not whatever. It's all lies. It is the devaluation of the commitment demonstrated and lived everyday by these men. Women did not write THE book on relationships, God did. No where did God say for men to be women. It does say we are to live with our wives in an understanding fashion. It also says that wives are to respect their husbands. So is that happening. Are wives respecting their husbands? If they are walking out, I'd shout NO! Can guys do better at living with them in an understanding fashion? I'd shout YES! But it's impossible to do with a wife who walks away. And you can see from the stats, especially early in marriages, it's the wife walking away. It's time to STOP blaming men for the choices women are making. If someone chooses to leave, especially in the absence of marital misconduct, there is only one party responsible for the sinful choice to break the vows, the one choosing to leave. So what does one do when their spouse leaves and they've done their dead level best to live with their wife in an understanding way, to love her as Christ loves the church, when the church asks you what you did to force her to have an affair? What does the abandoned or betrayed husband do when his wife is the one making the sinful choice and everyone from her to your church is asking you what you did to force her to sin and blaming you for her sinful choices? Isn't it time the church do more than just blame the victims, the men who have been abandoned or betrayed. Isn't it time to confront those making the choice to leave, and not just automatically think of single/divorced mothers as victims and divorced dads as some sort of relationship criminal? Because that's the mindset in the church today. If you are a single/divorced mom, you are not asked if you did this to yourself. You are granted victim status, worthy of whatever help the church offers. If you are a divorced man, you are asked like I was, what did you do wrong? What did you do to your wife and kids? Don't you think we haven't beaten ourselves up enough already? We suffered at the hands of an unfaithful wife, and now we suffer and the hands and the pens of those who claim the cause of Christ. So when I see this sort of blame, I'm going to ask why we are blaming the victims? Why not ask the one who perpetrated the crime on the victim why she did it? Until we do, there will remain the sense of entitlement that is fueling these choices to divorce faithful, non-abusive, but perhaps clueless husbands.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Tony - Yes, abandoned guys say they did not have a clue - and usually they are telling the truth. But that does not mean the wife has not tried. I've seen women do everything short of putting a gun in their husband's face, and he still does not get it. I've seen situations where virtually everyone that knows the couple knows there is a problem, and the guy is clueless. And that is my whole point here - guys can be clueless, and it can hurt us. We need to be more aware, and we need to help each other. We need to realise that what we saw from our parents, and what we have seen around us, may fall well short of what should be. We need to realise that men seem to be willing to put up with less connection and intimacy than most women - and we need to understand that a couple of decades of that can leave a woman unwilling to try any more. As to the curse, it says "AND YET her desire shall be for you." One can read that as "Child birth will hurt, but she will want you." I don't know if that's what it should be, but given the language it seems a logical possibility.

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