The interesting thing about so much of what we discuss in the manosphere is that while it is very often diametrically opposed to conventional wisdom, the data to back up our positions is typically relatively easy to locate and share. Our problem generally isn’t that we lack the data or the logic to win the debate, but that we are challenging fallacious beliefs which are deeply held by very large portions of the population.
While everyone knows that divorce is driven by men dumping older wives for a younger model, the data shows it is quite the opposite. While everyone knows that divorcées become the life of the dating party after they dump their loser husbands who were holding them back, the data shows something much more bleak. Even the “true life” divorce empowerment stories of Eat Pray Love and How Stella Got Her Groove Back are based on experiences which tend to disprove this common fallacy. Elizabeth Gilbert’s studly latin romeo turns out to be just shy of 20 years her senior, and according to her follow on book he married her for a visa. By my estimate Gilbert is 43 years old now, while her second husband should be celebrating his 60th birthday very soon if he hasn’t already. By all accounts Stella lost her groove when she found out her Jamaican adonis is gay, and (coincidentally) married her for a visa. One might even suspect that divorce didn’t really make Lorraine Berry sexy, despite her breathless tale of how divorce empowered her.
The pathology is highest when the question is about women divorcing frivolously. We can make an extremely strong circumstantial case that frivolous divorce is indeed quite common. We have the motive, in the form of divorce theft and (while unfounded) the commonly held expectation that divorcées experience magically better dating and marriage options than they experienced when they were younger and more attractive. We have the means, in the form of an incredibly biased family court structure. We also have the opportunity, in the form of no fault divorce and a church which looks the other way. We also have a society cheer-leading women on to divorce. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about her own frivolous divorce and became a hero for women everywhere. Women even thought it was appropriate to see EPL as a sort of date with their husbands. This extremely strong circumstantial case is confirmed by the expert witnesses.
But the level of denial is profound. While it is absurd to argue that women aren’t routinely engaging in frivolous divorce and divorce theft given the explosion in wife initiated divorce concurrent with the introduction of incentives for them to divorce and the removal of disincentives, we are inexplicably expected to prove the much more plausible case beyond a reasonable doubt. Those who make passionate excuses for frivolous divorcées tell us we need to listen to the excuses, and of course there is always an excuse.
What we need is a confession. Not just any confession either. We learned from the good Christian women that a woman calling out the frivolous divorcée anthem “I’m not haaaaapy!” isn’t really frivolous:
…it can feel quite soul-destroying to stay, stay, stay. I believe in commitment and working for the marriage in the face of all kinds of adversity, BUT i think there needs to be more love and grace offered to those IN or even LEAVING unhappy marriages. “I’m unhappy” may sounds trivial on the surface, but that feeling is generally just the result of something more seriously wrong.
This level of confession isn’t enough. No case of wife initiated divorce (with the attendant collection of cash and prizes) is morally suspect unless the divorcée herself flat out tells us it was frivolous. I’m not sure, but I suspect the confession also needs to be witnessed and notarized, or at least made by the divorcée herself in a national publication.
We may be in luck here. Commenter TM shared a link to the Huffington Post article Is It Easier To Deal With Divorce When You Made The Choice To Leave? Click the link for the full article, where newly minted divorcée Jennifer Nagy tells us:
Although I was the one who decided to leave, I still found myself completely devastated and filled with regret — my entire world turned upside-down.
…I had the perfect life and the perfect relationship. I lived in a condo on the beach, had a great career and a kind and patient husband. I had friends, money to spend and security. The only thing that I didn’t have was happiness.
She also makes what is a surprisingly common comment by frivolous divorcées, that she wishes she could have shifted the blame for her own frivolity onto her husband:
I often wished that I could have been the one who was left by my husband. Of course, I acknowledge that being left isn’t any more fun, but I longed to be able to avoid taking responsibility for the choice that made me feel so unhinged. By being left, I could have retained the belief that I had done everything possible to save our marriage. When times were particularly tough, I could have gotten angry and blamed him. Instead, I had to deal with the loneliness, sadness and emptiness of divorce, while also experiencing crippling self-doubt and regret.
Lets review the evidence for the charge of frivolity:
- I’m not haaaapy! Check.
- Admission that she instigated the divorce for no valid reason. Check.
- Written by her own hand in a national publication. Check.
This might be it. We might have just found the one frivolous divorcée we can actually call frivolous. While the hordes of frivolous divorce enthusiasts and apologists will still of course claim that frivolous divorce in general is overstated, at least in this one case we can convince the deniers!
There is nothing left to do but cross our fingers and take it to the judges. First up is fellow divorcée mamacat:
…I know that in my case it took over two years before I stopped cringing about what I had done – institute a divorce.
However, I have never before heard someone claim that they divorced themselves out of the perfect marriage. That is a contradiction in terms, to my way of thinking. I do not see enough clues in the article to come to any kind of idea as to what, exactly, motivated the author to get our of her marriage, but whatever it was, it was something, not nothing, and therefor what she had was not a perfect marriage. If the only way for the author to save herself was to leave, then it was far from a perfect marriage.
Clearly mamacat didn’t feel like Ms. Nagy made a strong enough case for her own guilt. Sure she claims she divorced frivolously, but you simply can’t take her word on it. But this might just be a fluke. Surely others are willing to take Ms. Nagy’s heartfelt confession at face value. Lets see what Huffpo commenter StuntHunt had to say:
It wasn’t the perfect relationship. It just looked that way on paper. There’s a yin and yang to every “successful” relationship. You can’t fake that.
Next up is mamacat again with some follow up thoughts. While she is certain the marriage wasn’t salvageable, she hopes that in the future this marriage might be salvageable:
Perhaps, with a really good therapist, it would someday be possible for them to reunite. I assume that at some point they felt mutual respect, admiration, and love.
Next up are the thoughts of Imhappy. No word on whether she is buying Ms. Nagy’s suspect confession or not, but she helpfully reminds us never to judge those who divorce even if they tell us they didn’t have a good reason:
Everyone has been so harsh on Jennifer. It’s impossible to judge her heart unless one has walked in her shoes. Marriage is such a convoluted matter that it is really such an injustice to cast a stone at Jennifer for having decided the way she did.
However LeeRose reminds us that non-judgementalism only goes so far. She passes judgment on those who frown upon frivolous divorce and stands proudly in solidarity with Ms. Nagy and her decision to end her perfectly good marriage:
Reading the bitter comments the group of immature men who hang around this section just to bash women, I consider you to be lucky
Sorry for the false alarm. If I ever run into a case of frivolous divorce which is compelling enough to convince the deniers, I’ll let you know. Just in case, are any of you a notary?