A Married Man’s View of Divorce

Many men are conditioned to never give up, Uncle Woolfie writes, but when it comes to raising a family, that’s not always the best thing.

I have now been married for over 30 years. It has not always been happily, trust me on that; and I’m not talking about the occasional argument or tiff, but bone-wearying areas of contention and angst. My wife and I have suffered at each other’s hands at various times. You will understand of course, for both personal reasons and a desire to stay on the topic of what I’m writing, if I leave it at that. I’m here to talk about divorce.

First and foremost, I think it would be important to debunk one of the most useless versions of societal hand-wringing that divorce carries with it. That hand-wringing concerns the apparent fact that the divorce rate apparently is considered too high. This factoid is a favorite of the religious right, edged out perhaps only by porn and reproductive issues.

But it is not the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60’s where the external forces such as finances or job prospects forced men to stay because they couldn’t afford the obligatory alimony and child support, or that forced women to stay in a lousy or, even worse, abusive marriage because in many cases there was no safe harbor for her to escape to, nor opportunity to support herself once she did. With the possible exception of extreme cases that still exist, most of those forces are now gone or minimized. I believe this is a good thing for everyone most of the time.

However, in my view, this is where it also can get sticky as hell. The absence of those forces has promoted the dubious concept of what many men describe as a tendency of their exiting spouses to “move on” due to their dissatisfaction with their marriage. This is often referred to as “greener grass” syndrome. Euphemisms concerning “shopping around” also come to mind. Making matters worse, many men aren’t aware of how deeply their relationship is in trouble until the hammer drops as the separation papers are filed, instead of their soon-to-be ex-wife doing something daring (and decent) like attempting damage control versus jumping ship.

In short, it is time we all grow up concerning our views of divorce as a society. Part of that maturation process is an obligation both genders need to accept. The disappearance of the old forces that allowed all of us to fool ourselves over both marriage and divorce rates are either gone or in serious decline. It is well past time to start being grown-ups about this subject.

♦◊♦

There is a least enough validity in this concept of “greener grass” that it’s the major plot motivator of a movie entitled Crazy Stupid Love. I will admit I have not seen this movie. Although I can tell you that the trailers, commercials, and capsule synopsis for it piss me off to a degree usually reserved for the late Bill Bixby’s transformation into the Incredible Hulk on the old TV show. First, we have Hollywood’s new go-to guy for “hapless, victimized schlub who takes a journey of change and discovery that transforms him into a confident winner of an American male” in the form of Steve Carell. I am not begrudging him the success he’s enjoyed mining this rich vein; it was a vital part of what made his turn as Maxwell Smart so enjoyable for me.

His character is totally unaware of his wife’s dissatisfaction with their marriage until she announces in the car, on the way home from a dinner out, that not only has she cheated on him, but she’s divorcing him as well. To add even more insult to unjustified injury, this despicable news is delivered in tones of righteous indignation. Hell, even the foreign-accented Ricco Sauvé clone that agrees to help him adjust to his new situation—if not win back his cheating wife—berates him in classic “blame the victim” style with a variation of the stupid “manly-man” argument. Final judgment on this relationship comedy will be reserved for when I can afford to see it, but in the meantime, I have my doubts that this isn’t much more than a comedy that’s totally at the expense of married and divorced men everywhere. What I’ve seen so far tells me that, at the very least, this movie’s hook (if not central message) for men is “Get an Ophrah-level Seal of Approval as a sensitive, attentive married male, or risk not only your wife informing you that she justifiably cheated on you, but that she’s also dumping your sorry ass”.

I will tell you a dirty secret of long-married men that very few have the fortitude to admit. We have a fear of our marriage ending exactly that way. This fear is on a par with the fear felt by a turn-of-the-last-century London hooker who shivers against the idea that the very next shadow wearing a top hat belongs to Jack the Ripper. Married men have been exposed to more than enough horror stories (that label by the way, is not intended to question said stories’ veracity, or their number) concerning everything from child custody issues to what is now called spousal support, let alone fair asset division, to justify what I’m saying here. Yet here you are, facing what married men fear the most, ambushed with the end of your marriage, presided over by a system that claims to be equitable, but has not kept up with society’s changes to the point where it’s easy to assume that you as the divorcing husband are not only going get the short end of the stick, that stick will be liberally coated with a substance that has a disagreeable smell and has questionable promise for your personal hygiene.

As a bonus, this will be not merely at her hands alone, but with the full participation of the best divorce attorney your money can buy and who works for your soon-to-be ex, despite the nearly 40 years of stats that suggest your crumbling household was probably a two-paycheck family. I leave as an exercise for the reader how these observations play into the commonly accepted notion of who files for divorce first—and why.

We have now arrived at the common ground that both married and divorced men share. First, both groups of men know full well that in cases of “irreconcilable differences” leading to divorce, there is a way-better-than-even chance that you’re being dumped for either someone already waiting in the wings (whether your wife has actually cheated on you with him or not) or the knowledge that all men have in their collective gut that with the right weapons from the female arsenal (make-up, the best undergarment technology Victoria’s Secret has to offer topped off with stiletto heels and a strategically well-fitting dress) that can make even women considered to be rather homely desirable enough to new potential suitors that they’ll spend some time and a few drinks on them at the very least. Women know this as well, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to include it as a serious factor in “greener grass” syndrome. If this isn’t true, then somebody needs to explain to me why Mickey Gilley’s song “The Girls Always Look Prettier at Closing Time” is now considered a classic. As a male, you will not even have that small but sorely appreciated diversion from your troubles.

There is no “Sadie Hawkins Night” in bars and nightclubs where women will buy you drinks because they find you handsome or entertaining. As you recover from divorce’s economic and emotional tolls, you can easily find yourself feeling fortunate to afford a cheap six pack of beer while home alone in an apartment that’s a serious downgrade from where you lived when you were married. None of this bodes well for your seriously battered self-esteem as a freshly divorced male. In a final fit of irony, you now need that self-esteem more than ever to survive not only the death of your marriage, but to help power the sometimes overwhelming new debts and obligations divorce has brought with it for the sake of yourself and your children.

♦◊♦

Men are trained from an early age to never give up, keep plugging away as if that alone guarantees success. We are exposed to this never-ending mantra to a degree that the opposite sex, whether they choose to admit it or not, rarely are until rather recently. Even if they are exposed to this concept by well-meaning male or female mentors, another irony is that the very compensatory efforts that have been installed by both male and female lawmakers to help provide deserved gender parity in both the workplace and academia can mean young women will be in danger of buying into this “never surrender, never give up no matter what” syndrome that never takes into account that there are times and places where a “strategic retreat” or trying something else might be a viable solution.

The punch-line here is that the very thing that so many men have been indoctrinated to believe—re: never giving up—also blindsides us as men to indicators that our marriage is in danger of collapsing. Men have also been trained to think of divorce as abandonment of their family rather than the painfully necessary step to end dysfunctional family environments that can be far worse than the pain of divorce in the first place.

—Photo slgckgc/Flickr

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About Uncle Woofie

Uncle Woofie has had a career in signs & graphics since the days when signs were made with a stick with a hank of hair on the end of it, and is a freehand airbrush artist. Not to mention a fan of figgerin' out this whole "good man" bi'ness.

Comments

  1. I am sure this is the situation for many — perhaps most — divorced men, but it was certainly not my ex’s situation. I did not leave him for another man. I left because the situation seemed untenable and I did not want to raise kids in a conflictual environment. He got almost all the property (including two houses) and now pays no child support. Zip. He does not work. I work full-time. He is supported by his parents and his new, wealthy wife. I’m sure he thinks the divorce is the best thing that ever happened to him.

    • Uncle Woofie says:

      Miss Pauline, first of all, let me thank you for being the first person to respond to the first article I have ever written for the Good Man Project.

      I can see how your miserable experiences could make what I wrote prompt you to comment. This is good because yesterday afternoon (Sunday, Dec. 11th), before the article I wrote posted, I got to wondering if I was inclusive enough about divorce in general, before moving on to the specifics of the divorce topic I chose.

      The obvious answer is, thanks to you, not quite inclusive enough. Also, your post was in keeping with this site’s “Prime Directive” of the comments being as, if not more important than, the article that inspired those comments.

      For now though, I will simply say thank you, as a way to acknowledge that you have invited my attention to my error.

  2. Sorry, but I hope this doesn’t come across as shallow…but I couldn’t help noticing the image for this article: the ring looks quite sad! And looks closer to a promise ring than an engagement ring – perhaps 0.15kt diamond and the shank size is thin as a tooth-pick. It’s something that you would buy for a a 12 year old daughter or for her sweet 16 birthday :)

    • muppetzinspace says:

      Ouch. That actually looks like the ring my dad bought my mom, he was 20 years old and she was 19. For some people that’s the best they can afford and there’s no reason to be ashamed of a gift that has so much symbolic emotion attached to it. I think the ring looks perfectly nice.

      • Okay, I think the image is a bit deceiving. There looks to be a second band to the ring, so a bit more substantial than I had first thought. At first glance though, it resembled this $100 dollar ring I bought myself ages ago, but had a value of $200.

      • wellokaythen says:

        The idea that the average woman’s wedding ring has to have a diamond in it is less than 100 years’ old. It’s largely because of a hugely successful marketing campaign by the De Beers diamond monopoly. It’s DeBeers that came up with the idea that the ring should cost two months’ salary. Don’t believe the hype.

        • mupptezinspace says:

          And now they’re trying to sell women the concept of “the right hand ring” that is a ring for single women, with lots of disposible income, who want the bling of an engagement ring but without being engaged to marry someone. Only in America… :P

    • It comes across as totally shallow. Only a prostitute would have any interest in the monetary value of an engagement ring.

      • Is there no way to downvote a post on this site? Because 1) I can think of perfectly valid reasons for being interested in the monetary value of an engagement ring and 2) wielding the word “prostitute” as an insult is an affront to sex workers.

        • Kaei:
          I will concede that Jim was tactless but he has a point.
          I think it’s funny how mercenary about the engagement ring. I thought it was supposed to be about love (not money)? Isn’t that what women asked to sign a prenup say?

          I guess it’s about love when women choose, and also about $$ when women choose. And we “wonder” why there are so few stay at home dads, lol.

        • In what way did I mean it as a an insult? I stated it as a matter of law – prostitution is the exchange of sex for material compensation. Deal with it, kaei. Maybe you need to check your own bigotries before you start projecting them onto other people and putting words in their mouths, kaei.

    • You’re right. That comment does come across as shallow. And selfish. And materialistic.

  3. Divorce is the #1 reason why so many men see no point in getting married in the first place. Why set yourself for a situation where you have no say in what happens to you and no recourse if you get screwed over? MGTOW. Marriage these days is simply a sucker’s game; there’s no upside to it for men.

    • It makes me sad that you feel this way. I think there’s a tremendous upside for men. If you go into it thinking you have no say, then you won’t. Not judging here, just saddened.

      • Julie,

        A lot of men are feeling this way. The question asked is it just an unbased opinion (in which case we can say there is something wrong with these men) or are they right and have factual evidence that they are likely to get screwed over.

        While it is often discussed that the divorce rate in marriages is 50% it is rarely discussed that 70% of the time it is women who initiate divorce.

        In this 46,000 divorce 4-state study:
        ht tp://www.livestrong.com/article/146100-why-do-women-initiate-divorce/

        It is stated that women are 60% more likely to initiate divorce when kids are involved.
        In surveys of the women who initiate it is stated that infidelity and abuse only play a very small role in the number of divorces.

        The overwhelming majority of the women state very selfish reasons for divorcing.
        The issue is that child support isn’t JUST child support–it is also spousal support.

        Women have found a way (using family courts as bullies by proxy) to keep the same (or close to) earnings as a couple, but without the burden of actually living with the man and having to negotiate and argue decisions.
        Alimony should have a 15 month limit for the mother to go to school or retrain for a career, it shouldn’t be a lifetime entitlement. And child custody should be equally shared between mother and father, divorced fathers have a helluva lot more input than just $$$$$$.

        It is wrong in this day and age for the laws to be setup for women to use the fathers of their children as nothing more than an ATM.

        You may think copyleft’s opinion is “sad” but it is also VERY MUCH based in reality.

        • Exactly. Getting a marriage license is the same as selling yourself into indentured servitude.

          Sure, there’s an upside to a long–term relationship; but is there a benefit specific to MARRIAGE that men can’t get elsewhere–much less one that’s worth the cost and risk associated with marriage?

          • When you add in things like palimony suits (in which you can be sued for breaking off an engagement or non-married relationship) and it gets even more ridiculous.

            “I’ve become accustomed to being maintained in a certain lifestyle” or whatever the coined phrase is.

            I think it’s interesting that a man can have a judge order him to continue paying a woman he didn’t marry because “she has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle” but this could never be turned around so that the woman would be forced to come over to his house & give him hummers and cook steaks.

            A woman gets to terminate her responsibilities to a man upon termination of the relationship, but his responsibilities to her go ON AND ON.

            It seems that being a man in this matriarchal country means that if you take on ANY responsibility towards a woman you risk being ordered to maintain that responsibility because despite the “women are independent” garbage the law treats women like children incapable of supporting themselves.

            And people wonder why generation Y and younger males are dropping out of the marriage/family racket in record numbers. When every single responsibility you take on can be turned into a chain or noose, what did feminists expect to happen?

            It’s only going to get much much worse until the laws are changed to restore some sanity. Feminists have succeeded in destroying the american nuclear family.

            • mupptezinspace says:

              “Feminists have succeeded in destroying the american nuclear family.” Wow, and I thought this was a site that was feminist, or atleast open to feminist dialog from a male perspective. Before you condemn “radical feminists” for destroying America, Disney, Leave it to Beaver, and other fine American institutions please read up on what feminism actually IS. Feminism is not misandry and anyone (male or female) who states otherwise is not an actual feminist.

              “…despite the “women are independent” garbage the law treats women like children incapable of supporting themselves.” Women are capable of being independant economically, unless you are like my mother, who made the terrible choice to get married at 19 and have her first child at 23, whose husband told her he didn’t want her to work outside the home and she decided to listen to him. The result was she got divorce and had no work experience for the last 20 plus years of her life because she was the broad mare and sole child raiser of her family while my father was the typical sole income earner. The result of this arrangement had backlashed for both my mom and dad. My dad is stuck paying her alimony while my mom has a minimum wage job she hates and can barely support herself into retirement with. Moral of the story is – men, encourage your wife to work outside of the home, or at the very least, let her cultivate job skills so she can have an escape from being the sole childcare provider and it the worst happens she can atleast supporter herself to not require alimony payments if you get divorced.

            • Muppetz:
              “Before you condemn “radical feminists” for destroying America, Disney, Leave it to Beaver, and other fine American institutions please read up on what feminism actually IS. Feminism is not misandry and anyone (male or female) who states otherwise is not an actual feminist.”

              Muppetz.
              I have heard this phrase many many times. More often than not, when somebody uses this phrase and I detail the many political actions that feminists are under-taken to rob men of equal parental, health, educations, employment rights it turns out I was actually the better educated on what feminists actually DO (versus the what they SAY).

              I don’t have time to rebut this yet again.

              For more information look to my comments on the thread from the article in March titled roughly “Feminisms and Fathers: finding common ground”.

              In that article I lay out a detailed analysis in the many ways in which feminists actively and persistently lie and fight to rob men of their parental rights.

            • muppetzinspace says:

              It’s always interesting (and annoying) to me how people who object to feminism because they see it as a zero sum argument. In order for women to gain rights, men must loose them. Here’s a wonderful online exhibit that perfectly explains why all movements that have sought to advance the civil rights of women and racial minorities are based on the opinion that we all benefit from a society that allows everyone to compete and live on equal merit. http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/war-on-women-waged-in-postcards-memes-from-the-suffragist-era/?fb_action_ids=784719563801&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

            • Muppetz says:
              “The result of this arrangement had backlashed for both my mom and dad. My dad is stuck paying her alimony while my mom has a minimum wage job she hates and can barely support herself into retirement with. Moral of the story is – men, encourage your wife to work outside of the home, or at the very least, let her cultivate job skills so she can have an escape from being the sole childcare provider and it the worst happens she can atleast supporter herself to not require alimony payments if you get divorced.”
              ——–
              Muppetz, Why should men be obligated to make sure things are equal in the marriage, but women shouldn’t be obligated to make sure things are equal after a divorce?

              Actually there is no reason your mom couldn’t have pursued a career, re-training, or schooling after the divorce. Alimony should not be a lifetime arrangement. It should only go on for a set number of years in order for the lesser earner to get on their feet and support themselves.

              Women working before marriage is not insurance of anything as after marriage (or childbirth) many women quit their jobs and the husband is burdened with picking up the slack.

              It’s hard for either parent to be blind-sided and have the situation drastically change (whether you’re talking about the wife quitting a job in marriage–especially a high earning job, or a husband springing a surprise divorce), but that’s no reason to cut a whole bunch of excuses and copping out.

              I was raised by my mother. My dad came back from vietnam with ptsd and strung out on drugs. She left him and never looked back when I was 5 and my sister was 6months old. She got her liberal arts degree and got a fairly high earning mid-management job and supported me & my sister. It’s not impossible.

              There’s a difference between TALKING about female independence and DOING.

              You’re window dressing women’s reliance upon entitlements as the fault of men.

              Try and think outside the box a little bit, and what kind of world you want your sons (or daugthers) to grow up in.

      • As a 36 year old man that has never been married and has lived outside the US and seen how things are in other cultures first hand, I ask you.

        What upside is there for a man to marry an American woman in the US?

        Can you name 1 thing that is positive about marriage for a man? And can you honestly say assuming you can think of 1 truly positive thing about marriage for a man that it is worth the risk of not only loosing half of everything you own as well as your children and a large portion of your pay but also any future assets?

        A man is expected to provide a woman an expensive engagement ring, wedding rings, help pay for an excessive wedding, and pay for an expensive exotic honeymoon.

        What does a man get for all of his time, money, effort, and risk? Sex? No, women in the US are not expected to sleep with their husbands and a man can be convicted of rape if he tries to hard to have sex with his wife. Cook? I know more men in this country that know how to cook than women and many women will get very offended if you ask them to cook. Raise the children? No, she wants to work and have a career and she wants you to work too or you are just a lazy loser so your children are raised by strangers. Clean? Only if she absolutely has to and then she will complain you aren’t doing your share and she isn’t your servant.

        There is no benefit to marriage for a man. At best you get a short time of companionship, occasional sex, and children you may hardly get to see if she leaves you. I refuse to be a walking ATM.

        No thanks. If I marry it will not be to an American woman and if need be I would rather live in another country than marry a woman here.

    • muppetzinspace says:

      The exact same sentiment is shared among many women. I think the sentiment that couples need to “act like adults” rings so true in this area. If two people are mature enough to even consider getting married in the first place, one would hope for their ability to not think selfishly about “getting away with the least possible damage”. Marriage is supposed to be a lifetime committment, despite the fact that it often is not. Both parties need to consider why they are getting married to the other person and how they think they can have a sustainable relationship with that person for 20, 30, 40, 50, however many years. A “failed marriage” should be considered a stigmatizing character flaw, it’s very difficult to hold another person’s needs and desires on the same level as your own for so long. I still respect the institution of marriage and don’t think it’s a “joke”, I think most people aren’t ready or able to committ on that level and, tragically, might not be aware of it until it’s five years in and there’s one or two kids in the mix.

  4. muppetzinspace says:

    This article was very helpful in understanding the traditional male perspective of divorce. I say tradition meaning, the spouse who makes the family income being male. Divorce is a pervasive factor in my family but because most of the divorce women are my relatives and most of the males “take off” (i.e. don’t maintain contact with any of their in-laws, or even their own children because it means they might actually have to talk with their ex-wives in order to schedule visitation) I’ve only heard the woman’s side of the story (which is depressing enough in and of itself). That’s why I don’t think my current relationship will ever amount to marriage because my BF is also from divorce parents and he’s seen how much it affected his dad’s finances and personal life (even though his parents fairly amicable divorce after less than 10 years of marriage makes my parent’s highly uncivil seperation after 30 years look like an absolute horror show). We’ve both expressed a desire to one day get married and have children (though not always with each other) but I don’t see how that’s possible when both of us are on our guard all the time and find it very hard to even try to have an adult conversation about divorce without bursting into tears.

    • Muppets,

      There is also a lot of visitation interference that happens from custodial mothers. A study done in Ireland found that 1/3 of divorced children (who’s mothers had sole physical custody) permanently lost contact with their fathers within 5 years.

      A large part of the problem is the divorce industry. The divorce industry and radical feminists “shopped” no-fault divorce laws to 49 states in the 70’s. Divorce went from single digits to 60% of marriages.

      The second largest problem is the primary custody model. Physical custody should be split equally between both parents as much as possible. Many fathers don’t leave but are forced out of their children’s lives by the mother. A cop will not enforce your visitation order if you are a divorced father.

      If you go to court with evidence that the mother is interfering in visitation, the litigation can cost a lot. And often the judge will do little but admonish the mother to make the kids accessible.

      If this goes on for a long time, the judge may say the mother & father engage in too much conflict and suspend visitation. In other words, if the mother wants the dad out of the children’s lives all she has to do is be contentious and she will get her wish.

      You may not want to take one side of the story when it comes to your female family members. If you ask the men, you may find that they have been trying in courts to get their visitation.

      • mupptezinspace says:

        “You may not want to take one side of the story when it comes to your female family members. If you ask the men, you may find that they have been trying in courts to get their visitation.” That’s exactly what I said, I don’t have the full story because I only have the female version. My father moved over 500 miles away after he and my mother divorced. I lived with my mother but she was open to me visiting my dad whenever I wanted which was hard because I had to fly to see him, and a 15 year old can’t exactly afford a plane ticket very easily on their own. Needless to say my father and I grew apart but I wasn’t because my mother deprived him of the chance to see his child. He choose to live far away, he choose not to visit. It was his choice but he still blames me for not visiting him enough, even though he travels enough for work and can afford to visit me once it a while. He’s only done that twice in eleven years.

        • I’m sorry that your father didn’t pursue a relationship with you muppetz.

        • Muppets,
          My dad’s first wife would move every time my dad found her to keep him from seeing the kids. He didn’t see his kids until the oldest 1 was 20 and contacted him through family.

          I know of very few women that cooperate with there exes. Most of the time men are lucky to talk to their children on the phone and only hear from their exes when they want money.

          I worked with a man that was very active with the children from his first marriage. His ex-wife had a net income higher than his gross income and every time she could legally file for an increase in child support she did so. When he asked her in front of her new boyfriend why she was doing that she said, “I’d be a fool not to take free money.”

          This is why men hate getting married. Women always think men don’t want to marry because they are afraid to commit, but it is fear of divorce and the never ending problems that go with it that keep men from getting married.

          If divorces were only granted in cases of abuse and infidelity and if the guilty party was the one that had to pay court cost, lawyer fees, child support, and give up custody than there would be far fewer divorces. Then people would be forced to actually work through their marriages. Then you would find many more men willing to marry. The facts are very few divorces are from abuse or cheating, but rather she decided he needs to go.

          • Uncle Woofie says:

            “I worked with a man that was very active with the children from his first marriage. His ex-wife had a net income higher than his gross income and every time she could legally file for an increase in child support she did so. When he asked her in front of her new boyfriend why she was doing that she said, “I’d be a fool not to take free money.” ”

            Now I’m sure you know this (and I have a feeling your ex co-worker does too), but I’ll point it out all the same. Your ex co-worker can take at least some solace in the fact this predatory harpy was foolishly arrogant enough to betray her predatory streak in front of a current boyfriend.

            Guess what’s gonna go through the boyfriend’s mind the next time this woman shows her ass? Or what happens as this guy who witnessed this monetary act of a predatory nature, weighs the pros and cons of taking his relationship with her to the next level?

            The fangs, as well as talons, of karma are long as well as sharp; the bitter venom of loneliness they will inject no doubt will mean this woman will need that court-approved extorted cash for extensive therapy.

            …or pet food for the house full of cats she’ll also spend her extra money on in her golden years as each sucessive suitor between the time this incident occurred and old age discovers her toxic nature and makes her the leading “Cat Lady” in her nieghborhood.

            • The boyfriend was a divorced man too. So hopefully he was smart enough to not even consider marrying her before she said it.

              Divorce is simply too easy to obtain and it is too easy for a woman to profit from it. Women get everything they wanted from a man (children, house, money) and then discard the man. Also what few people seem to mention is that as long as she doesn’t remarry she is entitled to receive social security benefits from her ex and can often get a portion of his other retirement money as well.

  5. To the author: I empathize, truly. Your situation is one version of divorce that happens to a lot of men. But there are so many versions of divorce. Your story could not be more different than my own. I don’t want to share the details here, but suffice it to say that one day I was blindsided in the biggest way imaginable, the the destruction of my marriage and my entire life was very, very undeserved.

    I think that divorce is an incredibly painful life event that harms so many people, including children. It simply can’t be generalized in any way in terms of what divorce is like for men, or what it is like for women. The circumstances are so varied, and there are times where the “fault” is shared, and times where it is owned by one partner or the other. There is no universal gender-based experience.

    • muppetzinspace says:

      “I think that divorce is an incredibly painful life event that harms so many people, including children. It simply can’t be generalized in any way in terms of what divorce is like for men, or what it is like for women.”
      Totally true. And sure the “system” might be currently be biased in favor of women, most of the women in my family couldn’t afford good divorce lawyers that will enforce when their spouse doesn’t pay her child support for months on end, and thus got royally screwed themselves. It can come back to bite either party.

    • That is so true, for every woman I know who got screwed Ina divorce, I know a man who was equally screwed in his divorce. And visa versa. I have a good friend who found out her husband had multiple affairs, she forgave him, they got marriage counseling, then he suddenly announced he was leaving her for a new woman. She was so demoralized by the situation, she caved in on virtually everything. He kept the house, which was the one thing he seemed to love above everything else, she kept the kids (he didn’t want them) and had to move into a tiny 2 bedroom condo with 3 teenagers. He’s never paid spousal support. The divorce is the best thing that ever happened to him, actually. The value of the house increased significantly in the 5 years after their divorce due to the real estate bubble and he sold it for a huge profit.

      • “She was so demoralized by the situation, she caved in on virtually everything.’

        This is key. Your whole coment is good, but this is the key part. This is why people crumple and don’t assert their rights during divorces half the time. They are just emotionally immobilized during a critical period.

        “He’s never paid spousal support. ‘

        “Spousal support” is however not a right anyone has any right to assert. It retroactivley turns the marriage into prostitution.

        • Should have clarified, she didn’t need spousal support, because she had a full time job, and she didn’t ask for spousal support. It is not a “given” that men always have to pay spousal support/alimony (at least not in California)

      • Jill says:
        “That is so true, for every woman I know who got screwed Ina divorce, I know a man who was equally screwed in his divorce.”

        Jill, the main victim in divorce is children. Seen from their vantage point it is not a 50/50 proposition as you seem to be stating. Mothers win sole custody 80% versus fathers 6%. One third of children who have mothers with primary physical custody lose permanent contact with fathers within 5 years. The vast majority of this is due to visitation interference by mothers. The father-child bond weighs SO WEAKLY in society that cops and courts won’t even enforce it (except in rare cases).

        And yet all I ever hear in news is “women, glass ceiling, women, pay gap, women”. This is a very blatant example of sexism against men that has stood for 40 some odd years with no comment from feminists and FEW from women.

        The answer is shared parenting. Parental rights of mothers and fathers to be in their children’s lives shouldn’t end with divorce.

        Anybody concerned about the plight of divorce and the harm to children should join in the email & letter campaigns of fathersandfamilies.org

        When others simply TALK about equality, they actually put their money where there mouth is.

    • Lori,
      What you say is factual. However, a missing component of the conversation is family courts reactions.
      At least a wronged women/mother who is cheated upon or forcibly has a unilateral divorce acted upon by the husband for selfish reasons can rest safe in the knowledge that the courts will choose her side. She will get her redemption in front of the judge as she will get the lion’s share (in MOST cases) of what the couple spent their lives building.

      The complete opposite is true for men. IN addition to being cheated upon or having a unilateral divorced inflicted upon him for selfish reasons by the wife, he will likely lose almost everything he has spent his single or married life building. To add insult to injury, his parental rights with the children will be determined by the mothers whims.

      It must be painful indeed to ask “pretty please may I see the kids” to the women who cheated on you, and claimed it was your fault.

      The solution is shared parenting. This is one of the reasons I support fathersandfamilies.org

      They fight for the parental rights of mothers and fathers to spend frequent time with their kids post-divorce.

      This would remove the primary incentive for the main person in marriages who divorce (the woman). That incentive is $$$$$$

      In a shared parenting scenario a fathers child support would go waaaayyy down. If the kids are spending 50% (or close to it) with the dad, then the living standards of BOTH homes become important in the money/asset split.

      This might seem like a slight to women, but is it UNFAIR? We constantly talk about the “independence of women”. In a shared custody scenario, mothers would be saddled with much less child-minding time and would have more time to get a job (or invest more heavily in a job if already employed to get a promotion), volunteer, train for a career, go back to school.

      In this world we need to do MORE than TALK about female independence and equality. We need to actual DO those things, not just talk about them.

      The primary winner of course is the children who get to not lose 1 parent post-divorce. Isn’t that worth a little hard work?

      • John, you make a very valid point. I don’t believe that all dads *want* custody (my child’s didn’t) but for those who do, they should have just as much right to it, and it should be shared when both parents are good parents. The only thing that there seems to be no good way to address is the best interests of the children. In one sense, it is in their best interests to have both parents in their lives equally if they are proper parents. BUT, I know of so many situations where the parents get 50/50 custody, but the kids are miserable. Some do ok, but many HATE having two homes and going back and forth every week or every other week. I think that as adults we try to rationalize that kids are resilient and will be ok when, sometimes, that just isn’t true, and they will fare better with ONE home and a sense of greater calm and stability. Is this fair to the parent who has less custody (such as every other weekend…or less than that)? No, it isn’t! But how do we as a society make laws that treat everyone fairly? Also, in my experience, the kids are often used as pawns. Sometimes parents battle over them like they are property, and lose sight of their best interests, and in the heat of the moment, don’t even take them into account. I don’t have any answers! I just know that 50/50 custody often works for the parents but not the kids, and that isn’t right either…

        • You make some great points. Obviously, there are many bad fathers too. Additionally, many are not ready, willing or able to assume 50% custody (but that should be his right to give away, not usurped. Parental rights should NOT be terminated or run through the whims of the other parent just because of a divorce).

          My point isn’t (well mainly) to plant blame for divorce on women, but to stress that family courts shouldn’t be taking SIDES (by gender or any other criteria) in divorces.

          I have read studies that show that post-divorce shared parenting is the best style that minimizes harm and parental animosity, and gives children the best chance of functional upbringing and is the (post divorce) strategy that comes closest to intact 2parent families for raising children.

          It isn’t about the mothers, it’s about THE LAWS. They obviously need changing.

          Quite frankly the fact that such a huge legalized discrimination has allowed to exist for so long against men (to the great detriment of children) throw mud in the eye of patriarchy theory.

          It seems like family court is all about using “best interests of the kids” as subterfuge for “what mom wants mom gets.”

          As far as you question:
          “But how do we as a society make laws that treat everyone fairly?”
          The way I do this is by supporting F&F. Rebuttable presumption of shared parenting should be the law of the land. The sole custody model is wrong and minimizes the rights of one parent (more often the father, but the genders do get reversed). They add disharmony by creating a “winner takes all” sentiment that breeds resentment and anger.

          If shared parenting is not possible for logistical reasons, then both parents should AGREE to a parenting schedule. If the parents can’t agree, then (in a perfect world) they should go before a moderator or judge BOTH knowing they will not be favored.

          That is not done today. This long-standing blight to children and non-custodial dads (and mothers) is begging for change from brave people.

          • I meant to say:

            “I have read studies that show that post-divorce shared parenting is the best style that minimizes harm and parental animosity, and gives children the best chance of functional upbringing and is the (post divorce) strategy that comes closest to intact 2parent families for raising children FOR CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND WELL-BEING AND RAISING THEM TO BECOME WELL-ADJUSTED ADULTS.

  6. Uncle Woofie says:

    One of the things I was most lookin’ forward to in writing something here is the comments from all of you that would follow.

    God bless alla ya, you didn’t let me down.

    The very first comment posted reminded me of how often I myself have been moved to post a comment based on my bitterness over one thing or another in my life that a “titled” posting has triggered. To top it all off that reminiscence came at the hands of a woman moved by the very same forces that has now led me to this posting under these circumstances of being the instigator of her need to post, thanks to my article.

    It may be for different reasons, but I know how Miss Pauline feels. I was glad she got the same opportunity I’ve had at other times via using my article as a platform for venting about how divorce treated her. I hope my answer gave her some kind of comfort at least.

    Hell, this very article about divorce is due in large part to a bad intellectual taste in my mouth left by the Huff Post’s Divorce section & its apparent editorial policies as a male…a MARRIED male.

    Other postings critiquing the stock photo of a slightly cheesy lookin’ engagement ring at the top of this article made me laugh, and then become fascinated by the comments the sad, cheap lookin’ ring prompted. That tickled the hell outta me, frankly. Only here at the Good Men Project could a comment about a cheap-lookin’ engagement ring could wind up in a quick discussion of the proper and improper ways to use the word “prostitute”, or if you should be allowed its use at all.

    I look forward to ALL comments on this article, and swear to you I’m gonna read ‘em all, no matter how many comments are racked up or how deep down the “pile” they are.

  7. How low fathers have sunk in this society.

    ht tp://www.fathersandfamilies.org/?p=22157

    Father denied custody three times, mother shoots 2 of the 3 kids and herself.

    Children deserve better.

    • mupptezinspace says:

      To be fair – I think it’s more accuate to say man decisions from family law courts are screwed up in general rather than saying it’s totally biased against men/women because there are examples of both happening. One example of a mother committing parental abuse should not be considered endemic of a society as a whole any more than if I cited an example of a father killing his children and/or his ex-wife, which there are several stories from all over the world.

      http://newyork.cbslocal.com/video/6555335-father-murders-ex-wife-takes-children-kills-self/

      http://www.news.saanj.net/britain-crime-news-father-kills-children-to-hurt-his-ex-wife

      http://www.emirates247.com/crime/region/man-kills-and-buries-ex-wife-in-his-bedroom-2011-12-14-1.432716

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30049132/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/police-dad-killed-kids-because-wife-was-leaving/

      http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/news/man-kills-ex-wife-forces-children-to-watch/nD7m5/

      • That’s true muppet.

        But what is indicative of bias is the fact that fathers get sole physical custody 6% of the time to mothers 80%.

        Many feminists will say that the vast majority of these custody outcomes were uncontested by the father. But, this simple fact of reality is that many fathers will have been advised by their lawyers that any father (unless we’re talking cases where the mother has clearly been a poor parent and the father has proof) could potentially spend ten’s of thousands of dollars (on top of the already high payments of alimony & child support) and still may wind up with the same parenting schedule he could have agreed to.

        Or, the by fighting vociferously for custody he could actually lose it and receive less visitation as the ex will not interfere with visitation (i.e. being resentful of the father trying to get custody).

        • One other tidbit. According to the 2006 Child maltreatment study from the department of human services, mothers account for 70% of child abuse and neglect.

          And yet, most public service announcements or other government handouts or services will often depict fathers as being the more harmful parent.

        • muppetzinspace says:

          “But what is indicative of bias is the fact that fathers get sole physical custody 6% of the time to mothers 80%.” I don’t know what study you’re citing, but have you considered A) Most of the time one parent isn’t granted sole custody, and B) Perhaps most fathers don’t want sole custody?

      • Another tidbit muppetz:
        My main point was that for fathers (in the eyes of family courts) in order for family courts to allow fathers to parent their own children the thresh-hold seems to be very very high.

        However, for mothers the bar seems to be much lowered. In fact, family courts seem to be willing to look the other way when it comes to abusive mothers.

        My point was that (in the linked article) family courts denied the father parental custody three times despite the possibly determinable fact (if family courts had bothered looking or listening to the father) of the mothers poor mental state.

        In other words, family courts chose POORLY by siding with their instinctual bias that mothers are always the better parent.

        In your linked story number 1: the mother had custody (i.e. the courts chose wisely)
        #2: The mother had custody (i.e. the courts chose wisely)
        #3: this story takes place in Egypt, which really doesn’t apply. Egypt doesn’t have the kind of mother-centric family courts that are the case in the west. In fact, you may have my point playing out in reverse. If egypt’s family courts is father-biased, then you will see more fathers with custody harming their children.

        Stories 4 and 5 have to do with still married couples and so family court wouldn’t have been involved.

        If an 80% vs 6% split and a very customary stance of family courts looking the other way when mothers abuse is not proof of mother-centric bias, then I don’t know what would convince you.

  8. I congratulate you on your longevity. Such should be the rule rather than the exception, in my opinion – based on the fact that most people vow to do stick together until death.

    I realize that divorce is a necessity in some circumstances but I personally don’t believe in it, and married someone who shared that view. Nor do I believe in accepting living in misery, or the behaviors that usually lead to divorce. I intentionally married someone who shares those views. We covered all of that long before deciding to get married.

    But, we’ve had ups and downs, like most people. I can imagine, a good number of couples would have divorced. We’ve had rough days, weeks, and even months. But, divorce was never an option. And, IMO, working through tough times makes your relationship better and stronger in the long run, not the mention the positive impact on the children. They know when things aren’t perfect but also know when they improve. Seeing that is, IMO, a life lesson in working through problems rather than giving up, and that cherished relationships are worth fighting for.

    • I think you have a good view of marriage and commitment.

      At the risk of sounding like a jerk, I would say that it’s not *literally* true that divorce was never an option. (A figure of speech, I assume?) It sounds to me like you made a choice to take the divorce option off the menu. It is technically still an option, theoretically, if you changed your mind. I think this fact actually strengthens your point. Getting divorced or not is a choice that people make and continue to make. Staying together means continuing to choose each other.

      • “Staying together means continuing to choose each other.”

        I see your point. I like it.

        However, for us, divorce is a legal possibility but not one that we would consider. Think of something that you can do but would never even consider.

  9. Elizabethan Girl says:

    Oh poor men. What about the 1 in 5 women who experience domestic violence? Where is your evidence that women have a man ‘waiting in the wings’. There is so much wrong with this article I don’t even know where to start …

    Big thumbs down.

    • Uncle Woofie says:

      Well Miss Eliza,

      I once again appear to be caught up in not invoking enough inclusiveness. A large part of the reason why, is this was an article about divorce itself from the view & fears of a married man, not a catalog of everyone’s grievances about whether every issue got its due.

      Check paragraph three in the article, where I talk about attitudes over divorce. I specifically mention abusive marriages there as a hazard women face even today. Except in previous decades, social pressure as well as all the other factors kept women from taking advantage of divorce to save themselves.

      Your thumbs down (my FIRST…!!) and the reasons why are noted.

      • Uncle Woofie says:

        …and I thank you, Miss Eliza…expressions of agreement and approval boost our egos, but comments of displeasure are what makes us think…..

    • PursuitAce says:

      Yes, men have it made. And if they don’t, who cares. They can take it.

    • E-Girl is right; how DARE you write about something you want to discuss (divorce) instead of what E-Girl wants to talk about (domestic violence)?

      For shame! You’re just an awful, awful MAN, Woofie. Giving a male perspective on a men’s-issues forum is the height of arrogance and privilege. How can you live with yourself?

      • Uncle Woofie says:

        Well, Copyleft, I have been known to tell a racy (if not down right dirty) joke in mixed company, endured occasional female eye-rollin’ over it, (Note use of the word “occasional”…other delightful women who appreciate a raunchy joke from time to time, laugh their asses off like their SUPPOSED to) and explain it away thusly:

        I’ma BAD MAN… (Cue mischievous grin)

        Meanwhile, I’ll tell you some honest truth…I do not mind quite as much as you might think when this happens. The pressures on people these days are a mighty and terrible thing. Their experiences, bad as well as good, move them to respond…especially in the realms discussed here at the GMP. I know, because I’ve done it here, and elsewhere. So when someone else feels the need, I do try to be accommodating about it.

        I don’t think I’d get much argument over the statement that’s it’s a rough world out there; whaddaya say we cut each other some slack….? Besides, part of the purpose of this joint is to do what we’re all doing right now…talkin’ about it all.

        If all I do for someone regardless of gender, is show them an author of an article or essay is listening (okay, it’s actually reading) to their posted grievance inspired by something I wrote, they may come away feelin’ a lil’ better. However, I will reserve the right to defend myself as well.

        Thanks for the assist….!

  10. I was one of those guys who thought you never give up. we never even spoke the word divorce. I was devastated because I thought of her not only as my wife and partner, but family. I guess she didnt feel the same way. To the men who married women who would only consider divorce for serious things like abuse, addictions etc. you hit the lottery, the odds nowadays are the same…

    • The good thing is that you (presumably) did the right thing. You stuck to your “until death do you part” commitment. She cheated, in essence, you out of what she committed to doing. You can hold your head up, knowing that you kept your word.

  11. PixieSticks says:

    While I’m sure this is true for some divorces, I have to say my personal experience was the opposite.

    Then again, my husband has both “given up” multiple times, betrayed me in many ways with family, friends, and honestly I don’t want to know what else – and I felt guilty for “giving up”: to the point of not filing the papers when I should have. Six months after the point when I should have filed I am in a much lower place because I believed in marriage and that we could fix it. Too bad my husband did not try – because ultimately he cheated on me then broke up with me over a text message. So I know not all men are like my husband, and I do actually know that there is someone out there who will be quantifiably better – I am still the one who was screwed.
    My husband will convince everyone he did nothing wrong. My husband will continually deny his responsibility – his parents will help him do it since his mom is as we speak justifying his cheating on me with an idea of “marital rights” that a man gets to have sex with his wife at least once a week. (Haha if she only knew how many times her son outright rejected my advances…) I know I probably sound bitter, and I probably am, but I’m just saying: That movie really pisses me off because dude needs to take responsibility for his part – which he pretty much doesn’t. Men in general, need to take responsibility for doing their part of making a relationship work.

    I did probably blindside my ex, and he probably still hates me: and I do feel bad, but then again – we were not married. He proposed but we never got around to actually tying the knot, I believe if we had, that we’d still be together, happier, and stronger today.

  12. Virtually every divorce is painful, no matter what the reasons are for the split or how the split happens. I’m not sure if it’s worse to be left for someone else or to be left for no one else. You’ve been dumped so your spouse can be with another person, or you’re dumped just for being you. Both are disheartening. There are a few not-so-bad ways to say you want a divorce and really bad ones, but no good ones, just like any other split up.

    Ultimately, you will never really control whether your partner leaves you, because it is ultimately that person’s choice. You can do things to make it more likely or less likely, but you can’t actually make someone stay any more than you can actually drive them away. It’s his or her choice in the end. (Assuming you want to stay together. You can ask for divorce and make the split happen yourself.) I’ve become somewhat fatalistic about it. I do what I can to make my relationship healthy and rewarding for both of us, but ultimately if she would totally prefer to be with someone else, she should be.

    I wonder if anyone has found consolation in the idea that you’re better off without someone who doesn’t want to be with you. If that person was willing to leave you, then you are better off with someone else. If someone who makes your life hell walks out of your life, you’re left better off than you were before. (Maybe not financially better off….)

    When horrible people exit your life, they’re doing you a favor.

  13. Thank you for another great post. The place else could anyone get that type of information in such an ideal way of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the look for such information.

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