Posts Tagged ‘Men and Divorce’

Are men more committed?

The Marriage Foundation has published some research today which has been written about in the Daily Mail.  They have quoted some statistics showing that divorce rates are going down and that fewer women than in the past apply for a divorce especially in the first three years of marriage.  The assumption they make based on these results is that men are more committed than they used to be and therefore are giving less reasons for their wives to issue divorce proceedings.  That may be the case, but I think that what is odd is the quantum leap from the research statistics to their hypothesis.  It is hardly scientific, and has no link, as far as I can see with the Marriage Foundation’s assumptions.  How do we know it is not because people can’t afford to divorce now, or because women know how tough it is out there for them if they divorce.  How do we know that this study has a significant enough research base for it to provide any meaning.  No-one would disagree that commitment is better than no commitment, that fidelity is better than infidelity, but please, if we are going to have some research, let’s make the leap from the statistics to the conclusion meaningful not random.

Our new Divorce Workshop

Our next divorce workshop is on Saturday November 3rd in Holborn Central London.  There is more information at www.divorcesupportgroup.co.uk/workshop.  Let us know if you would like to join it.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

 Everyone loves a happy story.  So willing were we to invest in the happy ever after fairy-tale of Tom and Katie, that the press fused this couple into ‘TomKat’.   How lovely they looked together.  She had the man she had always had a crush on from the silver screen and he had fallen in love again.  Ahh, how sweet.  As a nation we shelved the pain of Tom leaving Nicole, the pain of Nicole being surplus to requirements and instead we took up another ‘love conquers all’ narrative and ‘this time it’s for real.’  There are two points here really.  Why do we anaesthetise ourselves in this way?  Is our collective memory of Tom and Nicole so short?  Do we really believe that there was some fundamental flaw in that relationship that would not be carried into the next one.  Why do we suspend disbelief on the altar of some fiction of wishful thinking?

These are all interesting questions. Divorce and separation is so painful.  We can only know what we read about celebrity divorce, but if we are to believe any of it, we know that Nicole took many years to get over the callous way that Tom had ‘abandoned’ her. 

Tom’s marriage to Katie was a metaphor for what happens in homes across the land.  One person in the marriage moves on, finds another love and pays no heed, regard and fails to look back over the shoulder to the person left.  The family, the community, the friends then say, how nice, X has found someone else.  No thought is given to how not nice for the person still reeling, still trying to catch up and still trying to make sense of being left.  Nicole now seems to have moved on, married again and has a child.  Life does indeed go on, but do we really think that history doesn’t repeat itself.  Without the processing of what happened, what went wrong, why love flew out of the window to the extent that all has to be thrown away, then that repetition will pretty surely surface again.  Vengeful thoughts go – he has got his comeuppance.  What goes around comes around. He left Nicole. Katie left him.  The order of things has been restored. Isn’t it more than that though?  Katie knew about his scientology interest when she met him.  It is as though in love is blind mode, nothing else matters.  Perhaps we should all learn a lesson from this.  If something bothers you, explore it and see if you can really live with it before you hold your nose and jump in at the deep end.  Love changes and being in love dissolves. Then what is left is the being together.  That is where the hard part starts. 

We have all come to know in our personal lives about divorce and separation. It is mirrored in the celebrities whose lives we follow.  Yet, it is no less painful for its numbers.  It is no less bewildering because our film stars do it.  We need to learn something fundamental here about the nature of relationships.  We need to think about our huge expectations and idealisations of the forever after syndrome.  We all want to love someone and be loved. We all want to stay in a loving relationship for a lifetime and not be hurt or abandoned.  If those are our wishes, perhaps we need to become a little more real about what our needs are and whether we can meet our partner’s needs or they can meet ours, right from the beginning.  If we don’t, then we will continue blind folded to the pain of divorce and the euphoria of love within a new relationship.  Tom and a successful fourth marriage? Not a chance.

Men seeking support during separation

Since I started Divorce Support Group, many more women than men have contacted me either for individual counseling and support or to join a support group, that is, until now.  Now I have as many men as women so that the groups are more balanced in terms of numbers.  It is really useful to hear the other side of things.  As a husband who has perhaps been left, it is useful to hear from a woman in the group who has done the leaving and vice versa.  It is so much easier to hear things from people who have come together solely to share experiences than from well intentioned friends, who may have their own agendas.  I don’t know why more men are now seeking help and are happy to talk about their loss, but it is good both for them of course, but also for women who can hear now the male perspective.

The effect of divorce on men

Much is written about the effect of divorce on women, but much less about men.  Men who have been left feel depressed and isolated.  Generally men feel that they have no one to talk to, see much less of their children than they did before and have to find money that they worry that they haven’t got.  Women seem more able to engage the help of friends, family and professional support.  The men who seek professional support do much better than those who carry on with a public face that belies how terrible they feel inside.  It is easy to marginalise how men feel and imagine that they are doing fine when in fact, much of the time they are not.