I once wrote an article about the over generalization of irreconcilable differences in the name of divorce. The gist of the article was that the legal term irreconcilable differences rarely scratches the surface of what really led to the divorce. Now, my view on this stemmed from ten years of relationship coaching and hundreds of inputs from clients, very few of whom are shy.
Here is the article: https://divorcedmoms.com/blogs/sounds-of-silence/irreconcilable-differences-nah-lets-call-it-what-it-really-is
When you have open discussions with impassioned people about heartbreak and disappointment, you learn things. I learned a lot about what spouse’s do and the negative impact it can have on their partner.
This week, I decided to go through notes from 100 past divorced clients and do a literal count of the biggest complaints that they made to me about their spouse. First, I looked at what divorced women said about their exes, next I looked at what divorced men said.
The below is a consolidated look at women’s five biggest complaints, binned by category. And while I kept the quoted statements intact, I did change the actual names to protect the innocent.
The “Right” One
“I remember when we were leaving a Sting concert and I said “I can’t believe he went three and a half hours”. Joel’s immediate reply was, “Actually, it was about 3 hours and 15 minutes”. This was a typical thing for him to do. He got off on correcting me.”
“What does it say about your relationship when your spouse must be right all of the time; even if it means embarrassing you around your friends? Is there a psychological disorder that encompasses this?”
“Can I just tell you that I do not nitpick but I found myself correcting every little thing that Brad said? I did this because he made it a point to correct every little thing I said, things that in the scheme of things were inconsequential.”
“I finally asked him one day, why do you feel the need to be right all of the time? He responded by stating that he would want to know if he was wrong about something. Otherwise, he would feel stupid saying things that were factually incorrect.”
The Father/Daughter Quandary
“I am not a child but I sure felt like someone’s child when I was married to Rick.”
“At first I thought it was just a communication issue. Dan always felt the need to repeat questions and statements to me as if I did not hear or process them the first time. Eventually it hit me; if I did not respond in a manner that he agreed with, he would assume that I did not understand. At one point he told me that I was oversensitive and that everyone should accept help and guidance. Of course, he was not appreciative when I tried to pay back the favors.”
“I cannot tell you how many times he would make decisions for me and insist that I had asked him to do it. This could not be further from the truth but as my therapist shared with me, controlling people will tell themselves stories that justify their controlling habits.”
“I distinctly remember him telling me that people need roles and that I should embrace the fact that I have a husband that can also be a father figure. My father was already dead and when I reminded him of this, he responded with “Exactly!””
Drink Till Their Hearts Content:
“My husband could not have a conversation with me unless he had some alcohol in him.”
“He was not an alcoholic, not even close. But dammit if I didn’t get tired of him needing liquor just to have a good time.”
“Anytime I solicited input into how we should spend our free time, I knew his response would be something that involved liquor. At one point I asked him if we could ever enjoy each other’s company without drinking. He was offended by the question and yet I cannot think of one situation that he did not introduce beer or whiskey into the equation. It became very noticeable to our neighbors.”
Lazy Like Sunday Morning
“We were on different schedules and Carl seemed to think that this justified me doing a lot more of the chores and errands. That’s okay. I walked with my feet after realizing his feet were on hibernation as soon as he walked into the house.”
“You want to talk about sex. We barely had it. Yeah, we were naked frequently and we did the motions but he had no energy, no real drive. We tried to get pregnant a few times. You can guess why it never happened.”
“We just didn’t go out and it wasn’t because of anything except laziness. He could talk your ear off and get animated about whatever thing some politician said but none of that energy or outgoing side showed up when it came to us.”
“We never worked on us. We barely worked on the kids. AJ always talked about how tired he was and constantly nagged me for not being appreciative. Screw that. It was nice that he was a provider but that does not mean that I was okay with a stagnant sex life or zero spontaneity. I can’t tell you the last time we took the kids to do something fun nor had a date night.”