One of my most popular blog posts of all time is “Honey, I Want A Divorce: When A Woman Decides to Leave.” With over 200 men and women leaving their comments after reading it, the subject of a wife leaving her husband is clearly a topic of contention between the two genders.
I have read every comment on the post and what I find is that although each person’s thoughts are unique, they all have a similar theme: The men are basically saying “She Left Because She Is Selfish.” and the women are saying: “He Has No Clue How We Feel.”
To explain what I am talking about, I chose one comment I received from a man and one I received from a woman on this subject to serve as an example:
From a man:
Marriage is a commitment and unless there is abuse, addiction issues, or down serious problem… there should be a serious effort to reconnect… Especially if there are children. I have an unhappy wife, she had the affair, is surrounded by terrible friends and family… And is repeating the cycle of BS her abusive father and mother have perpetuated in their family… A group of arrogant people who refuse to get help… We used marriage counseling after her affair and she asked me to have another child… Now within a year of her abusive father dying, I am getting the unhappy blah blah blah…If you don’t invest in your marriage it can not get better..
If you fell in love with someone else… You clearly aren’t being a dedicated spouse with healthy boundaries…Falling in love is easy… Staying connected takes work…
We live in a non-committal society of quitters… And children are not livestock to move around…The best parents teach their children how to love their other parent…
I don’t feel happy or not in love anymore is a factor of lack of effort and failure to commit and prioritize the marriage. The name of this page alone is scary…
We can do better as a nation if people stopped being so selfish.
From a woman:
Guys should not be commenting on this board as they have NO CLUE that most of us who are even contemplating the thought of divorce aren’t entering into it lightly. It’s never as easy as “I fell out of love” or “I’m just not happy anymore”. I’ve tried to explain my feelings to my husband countless times but he always dismisses me. I’ve brought up going to counseling and he thinks it’s a waste of time. He repeatedly tells me he wants his “old wife” back, the girl who didn’t express her opinions or thoughts, the girl who just went with the flow to avoid conflict. He has a real problem with me voicing my opinion especially if it doesn’t agree with his. And the question I always get is “why”. Why don’t you want to drink every night with me anymore, why do you want to go to the gym, why are you trying to go back to school? Why why why? My feelings are wrong, his are right. Always. So yes I’m contemplating not being with someone who obviously would benefit from a relationship with someone else more subservient. I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend the rest of my life feeling this way. We only get one shot at this time spent on this rock spinning around the sun. Why spend it being miserable?
The other 200 + comments are in the same vein as these, with men being blind-sighted, shocked, upset, not wanting to break up the family, wanting things to work out for the kids, and wanting everything to be “like it was,” whereas the women almost always state that they have been unhappy for a long time, sometimes for years, trying to talk to their husbands about it, get him to go to counseling, and change, but he refuses.
There is a quote by British playwright, H.M. Harwood: “Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.”
I think his statement is right on, and I think that’s the frustration men feel when the woman chooses to leave. I also think that is the frustration women feel when they are in an unhappy marriage.
Obviously, since I am a woman, everyone expects me to understand the woman’s point of view more than the man’s, but I don’t. I will say, in the defense of women who leave their husbands, I truly don’t believe that any woman wants to be divorced. So, what I’m saying is, for a woman to ask her husband for a divorce, she has to be pretty darn unhappy and the unhappiness has to have been going on for quite a long time.
Now, are there women who are completely clueless, who leave because they think they will find someone better, only to realize later they made a huge mistake? Absolutely. And by the way, all these scenarios can be applied to men leaving their wives, too.
Every divorce is unique, but when it comes to the subject of the wife leaving, men and women really do seem to take on polar opposite views (as shown in the example above and all the other comments on my original blog post on the subject.)
My hope is that both men and women reading this will try to understand each gender’s perspective on this subject, and realize that no one knows what a marriage is really like except for the two people in it. In other words, both men and women need to stop judging one another. When a woman leaves, maybe she had a good reason, maybe she didn’t. When a man is devastated by his wife leaving, maybe he has a right to be, or maybe he really is clueless. No one knows but the couple who was in the marriage, and all we can hope for for those facing divorce–both men and women is that each person has the self-awareness to face what really happened—not what they CHOOSE to remember.
Like this article? Check out my post, “Why It’s So Infuriating When The Ex-husband Gets A New Girlfriend.”