For those of you who are just joining us for the first time, this article isn’t actually about CBS’s Survivor, although we do love the show! The point behind this series was that we wanted to take something that is widely loved by fans of the show, namely the concept of a blindside, and apply to it to divorce, which is an area we deal with on a daily basis. Suddenly it’s not so well loved.
In the previous introductory article, we talked about the fact that more ‘blindside’ divorces are filed by women than by men. Which raises the question, “Why are so many women bailing on their marriages with no notice?” The answer to that, according to Donna Ferber, a psychotherapist and author, is “They’re not!”
According to Ferber, it’s not that so many women want to get divorced, it’s that they feel that they no longer have a choice in the matter. “They simply have surrendered the hope that the marital relationship can change. It is only after years of feeling ignored, devalued, invisible and unheard, do women finally pull the plug and file for divorce.”
But how can there be so many women who are unhappy enough to want to get a divorce, with spouses that have no idea anything is even wrong with the relationship to begin with? Is that even possible? Ferber seems to think it is. It is a widely accepted idea that men and women often have very different perspectives on relationships and how they should function.
Women, it seems, are more likely to monitor the emotional status of the marriage and attempt to fix areas that are struggling or suffering.
This, claims Farber, is often interpreted as nagging by their husbands. When the requests for change have gone on for long enough, and the husband has done nothing to make any of the requested changes, the wife will eventually stop asking. But while her husband may interpret this silence as marital happiness (after all, she’s not complaining anymore!) the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
While years of attempting to solve problems and change difficult situations without success will likely result in silence, it isn’t the silence of marital bliss. It is not uncommon for the silence of emotional shut down to be interpreted as contentment. However, it is more often than not a common precursor to divorce.
“The struggle and ambivalence women experience about leaving their marriage cannot be overstated. And often they struggle for a really long time. When I ask women “how long have you been unhappy?” I find that most respond with a time line that represents roughly half the life of the marriage. In other words, a woman who is married for 20 years will often say she has been unhappy for 10 years. Again, there is nothing sudden about these decisions. Women don’t leave on a whim. On the contrary, many of them stay too long.” explains Farber.
So what could a husband do to ensure that he doesn’t get blindsided by divorce? Join us next time, when we will be looking at some of the most important things a husband can do to ensure that his marriage is actually blissful (not just quiet). Don’t think you need the information? Think your marriage is nothing but contentment? Don’t rush off just yet. After all, the entire point here is the blindside – you’ll never see it coming!