Are You in Danger of Divorce, and Have no Idea?

January 21, 2013

in Links to good stuff, Survey Says ..., The "D" word

I regularly hear from men who “suddenly and without warning” receive either divorce papers, or a warning their wife is going to file. Often these men are honestly caught completely unaware – they had no idea their wife was unhappy in their marriage. Never mind anyone looking on would have seen it, they really were oblivious. 

Wife who has given up © Michal Marcol |

Usually the wife made noise about being unhappy in the past; sometimes a great deal of noise. Either her husband ignored her, or he made half-hearted efforts with no sustentative, long-term changes. Eventually she decided he was unwilling to change, so she either had to learn to live with things as they are or get out. Some start planning leaving then, while most make an effort to live with it. Given selfish people generally become more selfish with time, what she has to live with gets worse and worse, and eventually many of the “live with it” women also start to plan to leave. The thing is, once a woman decides her husband is not going to change, she stops complaining. All too often men take this as an indication everything is fine now, which is why they’re so shocked when their wife files for divorce months or years later.

In our recent poll on the chance of divorce in the next 18 months, women answered a question about how likely it was they would divorce, and then gave anything their husband could do to decrease the chances they would file for divorce. Of those who felt it possible they would file for a divorce in the next year and a half, the likelihood broke down as follows:

  • 15% It’s only a matter of time, it will happen.      
  • 23% Very likely
  • 23% Fifty- fifty
  • 23% Somewhat likely
  • 15% Unlikely but possible

I would bet most of those ladies husbands are clueless – which is scary. If your wife “used to be upset” about your marriage, and stopped being upset without much change, you may have a problem. Do not take her silence as evidence it’s all good, because it may not be.

As to what their husbands could do, if anything, to change their mind (less than half answered this section):

  • Work on himself personally and with others, work on his relationship with his wife, work on his relationship with his children, show that he’s stable, safe and dependable and willing to love through the pain. Divorce is always hiding, yet it’s because two people have decided NOT to work on it and be ALL in.
  • Nope
  • gGrow a heart and a conscience
  • Yes, stop with the Fox News 24/7 and turn off the computer and tweets and email! I love my husband but I can’t compete. He would rather spend time with Shannon Breen (Fox) and Facebook than with me.
  • Do a better job of making amends and regaining my trust.
  • Stop cheating on me and “show up” even though he is away for his job.
  • If he repents and changes in his behavior and enters intense therapy and accountability then there’s a chance of reconciliation.
  • Yes, spend more time with his family.
  • Yes, if he could open his eyes and listen to me, work with me and defeat the demon. Thus we can accomplish our marriage back
  • Do what he USED to do.
  • Stop lying to me. Stop porn usage completely. (He says he has stopped, but he’s lied so many times before.)
  • Continue with his relapse prevention (porn and drug addictions). Have sex with me more (I’m tired of begging and being told no). Stay faithful (recent infidelity with female co-worker while high). Be honest (even if he slipped in his relapse prevention…we could work past it if he didn’t lie to me about it). At this point, I only stay for the kids. And I am MISERABLE.
  • No
  • No. People don’t change. After the first 16 months of marriage being a complete communication breakdown and sexless, my feelings have completely changed for my husband, and I don’t think there’s any bouncing back.
  • Turn to God/
  • I don’t know. He’s never been passionate towards me and I’m growing weary. At this point, even when he tries, it seems like an act.

Notice the three there who said there was nothing he could do? They have given up; it is over as far as they are concerned. I suspect many who did not answer this section also felt it was hopeless.

If you have good reason to think she has given up, I suggest you read the ten part series starting here. I can also recommend, on the recommendation of friends I trust who did it, the Save My Marriage crisis intervention intense couples workshop. They have a  75% success rate, defined as a couple being together five years after participating. It is going to cost you $1,500 to $2,000 with travel and lodging, but if your marriage is hanging in the balance I’d call it money well spent – and it’s a whole lot cheaper than a divorce!

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Paul, Page 33 states in the conclusion that who gets custody is most likely to file. It also mentions that only 6% of the case in VA cited cruelty, but acknowledged that may be under reported. It also explained on page 20 that men were more likely than women to file for divorce in long duration marriages. The bottom line iis in general, the one who thinks they can appropriate a better deal is the one more likely to file. The paper indicates that relatively few filings are due to the exploitation scenario where one perceives being exploited by the other.


Clueless. I know I was told a million times what I needed to do. But I thought as long as the sex was great, everything was great. Great sex does not make a great marriage. Divorce papers from proved that. A great relationship is what makes a great marriage. I wish now that I had not just listened to her with my ears, but listened with my heart as well.


It's important to note that fewer than 1/2 answered the question about what husbands could do to avoid divorce. It could be for a number of reasons, so I don't think it's totally fair to say that it's because men were clueless. One could make the argument that the lack of specifics by over 1/2 the wives indicates they may be as clueless as we are suggesting husbands are. I only have my case. I was a husband who was blindsided by an unfaithful wife who ultimately filed for divorce. She flat out told me, when I asked, that "everything is fine." How many husbands are getting THAT message when they ask, or check in? Then we suggest they are clueless? I'm not saying that men are without blame in this tragedy. I am saying that it is just as likely that their bride is either clueless, misleading and/or unwilling to change as well. After all, if over 50% have already made up their mind and are unwilling or unable to suggest what needs to change, then that points to a large number of wives as resistant to change as we are suggesting husbands are. I simply don't buy the men are clueless, women are better at relationships mantra. I don't think that's Paul's thesis. Yet sometimes these articles come close to saying that and it gets tiresome to read over and over again.

J (Hot, Holy & Humorous)
J (Hot, Holy & Humorous)

The good news is that my marriage was probably in the "very likely to divorce" category at one point, but we are quite happily married now. We did change--both of us. We each let go of unrealistic expectations and then learned to meet the others' reasonable needs and desires. We let God change us. For those who feel it is helpless, if you are both in it (even if one of you less so than the other) you may indeed to be able to go from unhappy to happy marriage. Great post, Paul!


I can attest to the wonderful work Family Dynamics does. Although we did not take 'Save My Marriage,' but the 8 week course, it changed our lives! Great recommendation, Paul!


I tend to think what Paul means by "caught completely unaware" is that many men have heard the pleas of their wives but have taken no action on those please and have, as a result, let things simmer just the way they are. It's kinda like setting a pot to simmer on the stove then walking away from it for days on end. You come back to it and it is splashed over and you're wondering what happened. What happened was you chose to look the other way while things got out of control then one day, you look back and BAM, things just got real. Please know in this example, the "you" is not you personally but many men, myself included, that have been caught "unaware" simply because we didn't honor what our wives had been trying to tell us over many, many years.


Really? And the wife has never once asked her husband to go to counselling with her? She has never once said, "Hey, we're in trouble, we need to talk some things out." I think I would say that unless the man is a complete moron, the wife has some responsibility here. You can't just serve divorce papers without making an attempt to let your husband know you aren't happy and make things better. I would venture to say that if he honestly has no idea, then his wife checked out a long time ago and has no speck of desire to make the marriage work. But if that is the case, then he has been just as apathetic about the marriage as she. A happy wife doesn't wake up one day and decide to divorce her husband. I'm baffled at how this would come about, really.


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