Men are shattered and blind sided by divorce far more than women are. Usually the woman you files for divorce has slowly been making up her mind to do it for some time with much consultation with her girl friends. Maybe because she cheated and thus dissolved her feels of bondedness when married women have good emotional sex with another man, but not when men do.
She has in mind the much rarer kind of divorce where the husband divorces his wife for a younger, hotter model.
Susan took issue with his comment, and replied specifically to Doug1′s first paragraph:
Provide stats for this or shut up. Men cheat more than women do. How do you account for that in divorces initiated by women? He breaks the contract, she files. Sounds fair to me. Yes, there are frivolous divorces, but I’d like to know what percentage of female-initiated divorces they are. I think this theme is exaggerated and overblown in the manosphere echo chamber.
Hard stats on male vs female infidelity rates are surprisingly difficult to come by. If Susan has stats to back up her own assertion, I’d love to see them. The consensus seems to be that men cheat slightly more often than women, but that when women cheat the implications to the marriage are more severe.
Women’s relationships today follow a very predictable pattern:
- They push men for commitment
- They get what they want
- They lose interest in sex
- They become attracted to someone else
- They start cheating
- They become angry and resentful
- They begin telling their partners that they need time apart
- They blame their partners for their behavior…and eventually, after making themselves and everyone around them miserable for an indefinite, but usually, long period of time, they end their relationships or marriages.
I don’t buy all that Langley is selling, but I think there is a kernel of truth to this. I’ve certainly seen the basic pattern. My issue with Langley is I think she has latched on to a sense of exaggerated biological determinism to absolve her own infidelity and divorce.
Devlin wrote the following about Langley’s book here:
The women sometimes responded with a kind of countermanipulation: “they thought if they were cold and treated their husbands terribly, the men would leave, or ask them to leave.” Sometimes this happens—which, incidentally, explains why divorce initiation statistics can be misleading. A significant portion of the roughly thirty percent of divorces which are formally male-initiated result from the wife deliberately maneuvering her husband into taking the step.
The issue of who really initiates a divorce is a difficult one. As Devlin and Langley point out, women are often the initiators of divorce even if the husband files, and sometimes even if he cheats. The woman from the Marie Claire article who married a man she didn’t love and then realized she didn’t love him after her children were born comes to mind:
Clark had dated a handsome businessman for four years before they got engaged, and although he didn’t make her heart race, she still loved him. “We were best friends, and I thought he’d make a great husband and father, even though I wasn’t ‘in love,’” she says. “I walked down the aisle thinking, What the hell? During my vows, I wasn’t making eye contact with my fiancé.”
Five years and two kids later, their sex life nonexistent, Clark wanted out. “I’d often wish he would cheat,” she says. Finally, her husband, sensing her unhappiness, ended it.
In the case of Clark, had her husband done as she hoped and cheated this still wouldn’t have fit Susan’s characterization that the reason women initiate divorce twice as often as men is due to the husband’s betrayal. She wanted out and was hoping to drive him to cheat as an excuse to divorce. While she wasn’t able to get him to do that, she was able to make him be the one to file.
As I’ve shared previously, Professors Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas W. Allen set out to understand why women file for divorce twice as often as men in their paper “These Boots Are Made for Walking”: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women:
Because of the financial and social hardship faced after divorce, most people assume that generally husbands have instigated divorce since the introduction of no-fault divorce. Yet women file for divorce and are often the instigators of separation, despite a deep attachment to their children and the evidence that many divorces harm children.
What they found is divorce theft and the legal incentive women perceive to divorce is the primary driver (emphasis mine):
Our results are consistent with our hypothesis that filing behavior is driven by self-interest at the time of divorce. Individuals file for divorce when there are marital assets that may be appropriated through divorce, as in the case of leaving when they have received the benefit of educational investments such as advanced degrees. However, individuals may also file when they are being exploited within the marriage, as when the other party commits a major violation of the marriage contract, such as cruelty. Interestingly, though, cruelty amounts to only 6% of all divorce filings in Virginia. We have found that who gets the children is by far the most important component in deciding who files for divorce, particularly when there is little quarrel about property, as when the separation is long.
I’ve elaborated on the topics of divorce theft and exploitation here, but in summary during marriage there are periods when each spouse benefits more from honoring the agreement than the other one does. In the early stages of the marriage when the wife is young men benefit more if the agreement is honored. Later in the marriage when the wife is older she benefits more if the agreement is honored. Because of this, women have the incentive to commit divorce theft and exploitation when they are younger, and men have the incentive to do so when their wives are older. The latter scenario is best described by the common tale of the husband who dumps an older wife for a younger woman after years of loyal marriage. Women’s window of opportunity for divorce theft and exploitation is primarily when they are young, although the biased legal system would seem to extend this somewhat.
Knowing when each spouse has an opportunity for divorce theft gives us an opportunity to corroborate the findings of Brinig and Allen. If divorces occur more frequently when wives are young, this would agree with their finding that women are initiating divorce in response to the incentive to commit divorce theft, or driving their husbands to file due to exploitation (see this post for an academic explanation of the terms). If divorces occur more when the wife is older, this would indicate that husbands are doing what conventional wisdom suggests and dumping their older wives for a younger model.
As I’ve shared previously the data shows divorce rates are highest when the wife is young and has the incentive to commit divorce theft, and lowest when the wife is older and the husband has the incentive to commit divorce theft. Divorce is actually least likely when conventional wisdom suggests it occurs most, when the wife is older and the husband has the opportunity to dump her for a younger woman. Here is the most recent data from the UK:
The data I have on infidelity driving divorce is less comprehensive, but certainly doesn’t fit with Susan’s characterization and it doesn’t refute what I’ve already shown. I’ve shared before the results from the AARP survey of men and women who primarily divorced in their 40s. There appears to be some rationalization going on with regard to the “both of us” answer from men and women, but women responded that they had initiated the divorce 66% of the time, which is in line with the historical pattern Brinig and Allen showed:
They also asked what were the primary and extenuating reasons for the divorce. At least for men and women divorcing primarily in their 40s (and with a much smaller part of the sample in their 50s and older at the time of divorce) infidelity was the third most frequently cited reason, named as the primary reason for divorce by 16% of respondents:
I also shared previously the results from the non scientific poll of women considering divorce at the website Should I Divorce Him. At the time of that post, 25% of the women who took the poll admitted to cheating on their husband one or more times. Only 19.4% of the women stated that their husband had cheated on them. Given the tendency of people to understate their own culpability and overstate the other party’s culpability, this is an astounding result.
My final observation contradicting Susan’s assertion that men are driving the divorce epidemic through infidelity is the full court press our media is giving to women encouraging them to divorce. Open nearly any Sunday paper and in one of the sections targeted to women there is almost guaranteed to be an article discussing how empowering divorce is to women. The same goes for women’s magazines and movies. The same isn’t true for men. Women are willing customers of divorce fantasies in a way that men simply aren’t. To suggest that women are unwillingly divorcing while simultaneously devouring divorce porn is quite simply ludicrous, especially given all of the other corroborating information.
This is what I had readily at hand regarding the question. I’d love to see Susan’s data backing up her claim that women’s 2-1 push for divorce is driven by men cheating in far greater numbers. In other words,
Provide stats for this or shut up.
Note: As I’ve stated previously, I respect Susan as a blogger. I think she is in error on this issue and I have backed my position up. This isn’t an invitation for commenters to attack Susan personally, or to engage in “Lets you and her fight”. Feel free however to disagree with either Susan’s or my own position and make your own case.