Whether it’s the woman leaving the man or the man leaving the woman, the deciding-to-get-divorced process happens over months, years, or even decades. We’re all human and we all largely process the world using the same basic societal patterns. This means that, while there are certainly many exceptions, most breakups are entirely predictable.
Even with things becoming more equal, societal forces are still powerful, so both genders have their own dominant patterns that each stem from the common source of ego. For example, at present, many men try to reinforce their egos with achievements or success or other external markers of their advancement relative to other men.
The ego believes everything is about it, so the men can get so focused on their personal, financial, business, or career success that they will sacrifice the success of their relationships without even noticing. If men have a common marriage failure, it is neglect.
Women on the other hand are often seeking greater connection, sharing and support. So they’ll get focused on their needs and the needs of the family and they will often forget that their partner can also have legitimate emotional needs that also need addressing.
It is genuinely difficult for women to prioritize those needs in a world that often favours men. In addition, even in many modern liberated families there are invisible social influences that still often leave women largely alone in facing family issues, and there’s no reason for any man to think that won’t create resentments.
Feeling isolated and unsupported, it’s understandable that unsupported wives would scold any behaviour they view as not being in alignment with their goals for the family, relationship or household. The men will often argue for an equal say, but there is no guarantee they will have earned it with their dedication. Paying bills counts no matter who does it, but it’s not the entirety of parenting.
Recapping those tendencies (from my experience): men are often left because they’re not active enough, or others get left because they’re too busy worrying about building businesses, or advancing careers, or paying off houses. Either way, their selfish focus causes them to fail to notice that they might be leaving too much of the household management to their spouse.
The second major mistake men often make is that they forget to approach their partner as an attractive woman with physical needs. Even when men do engage they must be wary that it is not only as a fixer, or to treat a woman’s body as though it has a target. Men are better off being reasonable listeners and supporters. It’s good for both parties.
The tendency I see most often for the current generations of adult women relate to expectations. Many of the women get left because they’ve pre-imagined the relationship in such a way where anything the partner does that’s outside the confines of that invisible plan is genuinely seen as misbehaving.
Due to that misbehaving, they are subsequently scolded in much the same way children are, and they eventually leave over being belittled out of the relationship.
Of course there are many, many exceptions. There’s also violence and addictions and differing life directions etc. etc., but despite all of those other influences, the fact remains that a large percentage of the people that come to see me to save their marriages arrive as either Neglecters or Scolders.
So how is this information useful to us? It’s because neither of those primary reasons to split are really reasons to split.
If there’s violence or addictions or other serious challenges –or even just a clear indication that you’re going in two different directions– then those are perfectly good reasons to divorce and reorient our lives. But if we just aren’t paying enough attention to our actions, then that’s divorce by lack of awareness, not a divorce caused by incompatible people.
If we want to avoid the pain and expense and the huge and somewhat complex start-over that divorce entails, then every married person needs to stop telling their spouse how to improve their life or the relationship, and we advice-givers had better start focusing on becoming more self-aware.
Once we’re self-aware then we are able to meaningfully contribute to a relationship by improving ourselves, rather than just itemizing how our partner could improve themselves. Two people repeatedly passing the similar self-improvement to-do lists back and forth is hardly a recipe for a happy relationship.
But should we become more aware just to save the relationship? No. The ‘relationship’ only exists in our head. It’s just an idea. But love is love, so we should do things because we genuinely feel those loving feelings for our partner. Far from feeling obligated, those feelings of appreciation naturally make us want to help make our partner’s lives better.
When it comes to those we care about, be nice to them, note their qualities, and compliment them. It’s not hard. It’s what we all want. And rather than asking them to do likewise, we need to stop asking for it with words and start asking for it with loving deeds.
Maybe that’s helping out with something we know they find difficult. Maybe it’s excusing some behaviour we might otherwise negatively comment on. Bottom line, we don’t create great relationships by changing our partners into someone great, we realize a great relationship by simply noting that, on a day to day basis, our partner already is great.
If our relationship is truly dangerous or unhealthy then we should end it as soon as possible or make firm and safe arrangements to do so. And if it isn’t bad enough to end, then it’s good enough for you to invest yourself in sincerely. So rather than asking for love, give some instead. Because it doesn’t matter who puts the love in, both parties benefit equally.
Here’s to a great life. Enjoy.
peace and hugs. s
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.
3 thoughts on “The Slow-Motion Divorce”
What a great post Scott! I’m going through something like this now, and I’m fighting to change myself to be a better, more understanding, loving person. I know changes don’t happen overnight, but I feel like I’m getting there, slowly. Thank you for this. <3