Chump Lady recently got into an exchange of comments with a fellow “Zalkreb” on Huffington Post. (Should we trust the opinion anyone who sounds like a Klingon extra on Star Trek? To be fair, I self refer as “chump” lady… anyway…)
He was very polite, but essentially said that there just aren’t that many divorces that result because of cheating.
No, people divorce because they “grew apart.” Studies say so!
But come on, Zalkreb — do you think most people are going to cop to affairs ending their marriage? “Oh yes, Carla and I divorced because I would not stop fucking people I met on Craigslist.”
No, Zalkreb, when people ask, they’re going to say something banal and a bit poor sausage-ish like “We grew apart.”
As if their spouse was a helium balloon that became untethered and floated away.
I’m saying that infidelity is a minor cause of divorce. Many
if not most people say and perhaps believe that male infidelity is the major
cause of divorce. It’s not. The major cause of divorce is female feelings of
lack of emotional fulfillment, i.e., feeling unappreciated, lacking a feeling
of closeness, lacking adequate communication. This is not my opinion, my
theory, my personal experience, the experience of my friends or something I
read about in Cosmo or a blog. It’s the consistent finding of many research
studies involving surveys and interviews with divorcing couples. Here is an
excerpt from the summary of the most recent study on the topic I’ve seen:
“A sample of 886 individual divorcing parents in Hennepin
County, Minnesota, in 2008 responded to a brief survey after mandated parenting
classes. The two most common reasons given for seeking a divorce were “growing
apart” (55%) and “not able to talk together” (53%). ”
Reasons for Divorce and Openness to Marital Reconciliation,
Alan J. Hawkins, Brian J. Willoughby & William J. Doherty, Journal of
Divorce & Remarriage, August 2012.
There are many more, going back decades, published in
peer-reviewed academic journals and consistently reporting the same thing. You
can take a look at them by checking www.scholar.google.com or going down to
your local library. I’m sure the librarian would be happy to help. And who
knows? You might come up with good material for your next blog.
Thank you Zalkreb for the blog fodder! I’m far from home right now, and so I couldn’t make it to my local library to ask for help. (“Can you please show me the card catalog section on Stupid Cheater Euphemisms? Thank you.”) But I’m going to take your word for it — that when social scientists ask, people give “we grew apart” as their stock divorce answer.
IMO, as research goes, it’s not very deep. If someone were to tell me “We grew apart” I would ask WHY did you grow apart?
Cheating? Addiction? Mental Illness? Gambling? Dirty socks on the floor?
Nowhere do I argue that the majority of divorces result from infidelity — maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Who knows? There sure appear to be a hell of a lot of cheaters, however. And there must be some good money to be made at infidelity or fuckbuddy sites like Ashley Madison wouldn’t exist. Or Craigslist hookups. Or whatever the latest skank.com is these days. Not that you need a dating profile to cheat. There’s Facebook high school flames. Coworkers. Neighbors.
All that seems very COMMON, but according to research, you say, it doesn’t lead to DIVORCE.
Which makes me think, Zalkreb, that I really need to be trying harder. “Leave a cheater, gain a life” is the motto here after all. If all that fucking around is happening and people are NOT divorcing over it? We have a problem.
But what I suspect is people divorce every day and either give euphemisms, or thought they “grew apart” but were unaware that the other party was cheating.
I also believe, of course, that many honorable people do actually divorce for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with infidelity.
But divorce is fucking painful. And costly. And I do not know a single person that has ever gone into it lightly for reasons as sugar spun as “lack of appreciation.” Humans are wired to BOND, and those bonds do not break easily IMO unless there are serious breaking points, in which it is more painful to stay than it is to go.
I truly despise all this crap from conservatives that people divorce willy nilly. Because they get a wild hair and don’t feel appreciated, and so they harrumph off to their lawyer’s office and draw up papers. Ye-AH. All these single mothers just WANTED it like that. They’re sitting around feeling very liberated and self actualized, neglecting their children as they selfishly paint their toenails in preparation for another night out at the disco.
And if anyone asks, as she tipples another high ball at the bar, “Where’s your husband?” She can reply “Oh, we grew apart.”