How many times have we read that women file for divorce more often than men? How many times do we dismiss the reality that most of the time, it takes two to make a marriage work and two for it to fall apart?
And I say most of the time, because there are certainly occasions when a third party may enter with the intention of breaking up the couple.
Some may say that if everything was going great between spouses, then no third party could screw that up.
I would argue that point, but moving on…
The issue of who files has nothing to do with “blame” for the breakup of a marriage, much less the many reasons that relationships deteriorate and self-destruct. Those who say “she filed so she must have wanted out” are more than naive; they’re clueless.
What if you’ve tolerated a prolonged pattern of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse? What if there were promises by your spouse to clean up his act when it comes to drinking, to other substance abuse, or to gambling – and he keeps sliding back, to the detriment of your family? What if for the sake of your own survival and a decent home for the kids, you can’t stand another minute?
Is the one who files to bear the brunt of blame and assumptions?
Then there’s infidelity. We all know the signs. When we find out, it can be devastating.
One instance of breaking the fidelity vow?
It may mean a slow climb back to trust, but I can imagine making that climb – especially when there’s a family unit that has been solid to date. None of us is perfect. But a pattern of persistent straying – if it isn’t a mutually acceptable “open” arrangement – is a whole other matter even for the most forgiving.
Just how many third parties does it take before a woman finally decides to file – or if the roles are reversed – a man?
We seem to have divorce studies for everything these days. Some of them may be instructive. Others offer little in the way of real information. But statistics that report on which sex files more frequently? Seriously? Can we use some common sense?
Here’s the bottom line as I see it.
Who files has little to do with what goes wrong in a marriage – whether or not you fight and how you fight, if sex (or its absence) is an unacceptable mismatch, if your spouse has an abuse problem – or you’ve both simply been trying forever and you agree that it’s time to say “enough.”
Statistics on filing are just that – statistics gathered on the sex of the person who initiates the paper work. To those who insist on making assumptions about filing, I say – stop!
Media preoccupation with which sex files more often is obfuscation, a smoke screen, a mechanism for pointless gender bashing. Statistics on women filing for divorce tell us nothing of what went wrong in the marriage, much less how much time or effort was spent trying to resolve the problems.