Never saw it coming

May 18, 2011

in Series, The "D" word

Sudden divorce © Photowitch | Dreamstime.com

Why are so many men blind-sided by divorce? It seems everything is fine, maybe even better than it’s been in a long time, then without any warning, she leaves, or asks him to leave, or files for divorce and lets him know when she will be gone or when she expects him to move out. Does this happen because guys are clueless? I don’t think it’s that simple.

As I said yesterday, most divorces are a result of many, many things over months and years. No one thing is the breaking point, but the weight of many things eventually goes past what she is willing or able to deal with. At some point, she crossed a line, and from then on, she is set on ending the marriage. Thing is, she has probably been working to save the marriage, so moving to ending it is something she has to get her mind around. She also needs to figure out what to do, and when to do it. She has to have a plan for herself, and for the kids if there are any.

Therefore, it will be weeks, months or even years between when she sees no other way and where she lets him know she is done. Between those two points of time, she is just going through the motions while she makes her plan. Knowing it’s over, that she just has to walk it out, changes how she feels and reduces her stress level. This changes her mood, often for the better. It’s much like the seeming loss of depression, the sudden cheeriness and lack of care, some show between deciding to commit suicide and actually doing it.

What can a man do to avoid being blind-sided by a divorce? First and foremost understand what I am saying above. Realise that every person has their breaking point, a point beyond which they don’t care, a point where they won’t go on. Again, I am not talking about right and wrong here, I am talking about what happens because of human weakness and our sin nature. If you understand there is a breaking point, you can be on the lookout for signs that she is getting close to that point. If it’s always stressful when the two of you are together, you are in a dangerous place. If she has stopped replying, or stopped arguing her side of things, she may be very close to breaking. Some people try much harder as they reach the breaking point, while others pull back – either is a danger sign if it happens suddenly for no apparent reason.

If your bride passes the breaking point, there may be nothing you can do to change that in the short-term. Even if you changed everything she thinks is a problem, and even if she believed you had changed, she most likely would not care. If she has gone beyond caring, then nothing will affect her. If this is the case, I suggest a lot of prayer and giving her breathing room. Breathing room might not result in a change, but not giving her that will only prove to her that she is right, that you won’t change and she needs to leave. This is also not the time to push for counselling. From her viewpoint, this is like knocking a child off their bike then telling them they need training wheels.

Sometimes nothing is the best response. However, there are other times when nothing is the worst response. If you are faced with something like this, getting help and input from someone with experience and training can be a marriage saver.

Image Credit: © Photowitch | Dreamstime.com

5 comments
pfsmith881
pfsmith881

I didn't see it coming, and she said it had been months, years maybe, in the making. She is at the point of not caring - counseling, workshops, nothing helped. I did everything she asked, and changed the things she cited as the reasons for the way she felt. She has moved to her mothers but has not filed for divorce. I am prayerful and hopeful, but the reality of this has smacked me in the face time and time again. Almost 25 years.....This is an awful, miserable, terrible feeling and an awful, miserable and terrible place to be. Especially because I love her so much - and have loved her so much for all these years.


The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

@Jeff - Thanks for the link. I have only recently been reading Michele (found her via Twitter) and I have become a fan.

Jeff
Jeff

Michele Weiner-Davis (of Divorce Busting fame) also noted this pattern, and calls it the "Walkaway Wife" (http://www.divorcebusting.com/a_walkaway_wife.htm). In either case, both accurately describe a very common scenario. In my case there was no going back once the breaking point was reached. Divorce has been inevitable, but I think that outcome is totally specific to the individual(s) involved.

neilEthere
neilEthere

I was the one who left, not my (ex) wife. She didn't see it coming. One comment I read in a book not long after I left that has stuck with me was 'the leaving spouse mourns for two years before the end of the relationship, the left spouse for two years after.' just another way, I guess of saying some of what you said above.

TheGenerousHusband
TheGenerousHusband moderator

@pfsmith881 You have my prayers.

You cannot win back if she does not give you a chance, so that it the prayer battle. Don't push too hard,  but be sure she knows you want to make it work and are willing to do a lot to make that happen.

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