Sunday 28 April 2019

Divorce: a curious observation

Two years ago, a fellow blogger and Facebook friend, asked me to look at something, interested in my opinion. She pointed me to a Facebook posting and this is what I read.

A woman described being a relationship for some time, a D/s, dominant/submissive arrangement. — This wasn't marriage, but I still felt the concept of divorce was applicable. — She said that a couple of months prior to this, her partner’s behaviour had changed: He had become quiet and withdrawn. Her needs were no longer being met, and she sought people’s input as she was considering leaving him. I read through the comments and found a number of people saying that he obviously no longer loved her, and she would be wise to get out now rather than prolonging the agony. Some suggested he may have found somebody else.

I mulled this other for a day or two then wrote the following response. This is a paraphrase as I can’t find the original posting.

Your man has become quiet and withdrawn. You have no idea why. You’re contemplating doing something as drastic as ending your relationship, but you don’t know what’s going on. You owe it to yourself, to your man, and to your relationship to fully inform yourself about the circumstances before making any decision. Being informed is prudent in any situation, not just about relationships.

This abrupt change in behaviour tells me something dramatic has happened in your partner’s life. Now, it could very well be that he’s fallen out of love with you and possibly found somebody else, but I would like you to consider other reasons. You may find it disconcerting that he has not spoken to you about whatever the issue is, but I would ask if this issue is so personal, it has rocked him to his core. Is he embarrassed or even humiliated to the point of being unable to talk about it?

Has your man suffered a financial loss? Money and financial stability are important to all of us, and financial matters are considered the number one problem in any relationship. I had a business acquaintance confess to me that during the 2008 financial crisis, he had six hundred thousand dollars in investments wiped out practically overnight. He said he thought about jumping out the window.

Ten years later, I’m pleased to say this gentleman has survived his catastrophe and is back thriving in his business. But let’s face it, having a downturn isn’t the same as suffering a loss of major proportions.

Has your man suffered an employment problem? Has he been threatened with termination at his job? Has he already lost his job but hasn’t told you? Discussing such a thing may seem easy or self-evident to you, but once again, this could be something which has knocked him to the ground. He may be gobsmacked into inaction.

Has your man suffered a health problem? Has his doctor just told him he’s suffering from the big C (cancer)? Is this connected to his prostate? Is he suffering from erection dysfunction, or is he under threat to be suffering from it? Once again, his silence about this could be an inability to process the magnitude of the issue.

I point you to the author Laura Munson and her book “This Is Not The Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness”. In her story, her husband comes home one day and says he no longer loves her and wants a divorce. She didn’t buy it. With time and patience, it comes out: Her husband had suffered a financial crisis and thought he was going to lose everything including their family home. He found his way out and was afterward contrite. They survived, and today they thrive.

You don’t know what’s going on with your partner. You need to find out, and then make a decision.

A year later, I asked my fellow blogger if she had heard anything. She said she hadn’t, adding that she didn’t know the woman who originally posted.

It’s now been several years, and I still think about this from time to time. How many people in a relation have acted impulsively, emotionally, without taking the time to reflect in a logical manner? I discovered that critics of Laura Munson called her a doormat. Their assessment involved kicking her husband immediately to the curb. If Ms. Munson had followed their advice, she would be divorced today, not still married.

Either partner in a relationship will face personal crises in their lifetime. I say personal because it’s a crisis for the individual: employment, financial, or health. Will the relationship survive the crisis? Will one partner ride out the storm, the other person’s crisis, or will they bail?

Final Word
In reference to men and women, I promote our equality as human beings, but I admit there are differences between us, not just physically, but in the roles we play based on societal traditions, religious upbringing, and peer group pressure. We can question those roles and their validity, but we have to admit they exist and deal with such as they are. Men are under pressure to succeed, but usually defined as the lone hero who makes it all on his own, never asking for help. I’m not saying that’s the best idea; I’m merely saying that how things have been traditionally. According to my reading of the statistics, males are three to four times more likely to commit suicide than females in western culture. We are taught to succeed at all costs, to fight, and to never cry. We are sometimes faced with insurmountable obstacles and the possibility of failure can be not just embarrassing but humiliating. As I said, I’m not debating the validity of any of this, I’m just saying that’s ofttimes how things are. The old joke may be funny about how a man is too proud to ask for help, but the results of his failure are anything but funny: divorce, suicide, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want anybody to claim I’m justifying any of this. An explanation is not a justification. However, if I stand back and look at this from the big picture, collectively we are our own worst enemy. Our traditional patriarchy has promoted the idea of men as the lone hero succeeding against all odds. The reality is that the success rate is higher if we work together.

I’m curious what the woman did in the end. Did she bail? Did she find out what was going on with her partner and then bail? Or did she stay? We guys are our own worst enemy. We can be tight-lipped about personal matters and invariably make things worse, not only for ourselves but for those around us, especially our partners. It’s unfortunate.

I’m sure anyone reading this will have their own take on the situation: stay or leave. Whatever the case, an “informed” decision seems like the best idea. Way, way back in the beginning of my career of socializing at parties, I was hesitant in a group of strangers to start a conversation. I slowly discovered others were as equally shy and seemed to breath a sigh of relief when I made the first overture. I’ve managed to develop some skill in coaxing people out of their shell.

While one would hope that within the context of a relationship, all parties would be open and honest, the ability of getting someone to open up may sometimes need to be used with one’s own partner. We can be embarrassed, even humiliated with our better half. I know it sounds like an odd thing to say, but even with our own partner, the person with whom we are supposedly the most intimate in the entire world, we can still be hesitant, reticent, holding back out of fear of judgment, a fear that comes not from the partner, but from a lifetime of dealing with life: religion, society, and peer group pressure. The rate of divorce is somewhere between 40% and 50%. Nuff said.

Your mileage may vary. After I finished this article but before I published it, it occurred to me, some will disagree. While I still think an informed decision is the best option, some may be faced with a partner that refuses to talk under any circumstances. One has to make a decision without all the necessary information because not making a decision is a worse option. Life doesn't always work out and at the end of the day, we have to do what's best for ourselves. Sometimes divorce is about self-preservation. Good luck.


my blog – May 24/2011
Laura Munson: Save a marriage by doing nothing
Laura Munson is a writer or was an unpublished writer. Over the years, she had suffered rejection notice after rejection notice and ended up with over a dozen unpublished books. Nevertheless, she had a happy marriage, two kids, and a farmhouse on 20 acres of land in Montana. Then out of the blue, her husband announces he no longer loves her and wants to move out. Her response? Do nothing.

Wikipedia: Gender differences in suicide
In the western world, males die by suicide three to four times more often than do females. This greater male frequency is increased in those over the age of 65.

my blog – Jan 9/2014
Boys Will Be Boys (or However We Make Them)
From the 2014 documentary “The Mask You Live In”:
* Compared to a girl the same age, a boy in late adolescence is 7 times more likely to die by his own hand.
* Boys under 17 drink more heavily than any other population group.
* Boys in the U.S. are 30% more likely than girls to flunk or drop-out of school.


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