The first time that men find out their marriage is in trouble is usually out of the blue, and without warning.
It’s usually, ‘she doesn’t love me anymore’, and then the woman seems to explain that there is no connection…and there probably never was.
The man’s whole life seems turned upside-down, and frankly, doesn’t know what to do.
Like most men in his situation, there’s probably been a vague awareness of a bad atmosphere at home, but had simply put it down to a ‘rough patch’ that would pass.
Divorce statistics suggest 68 per cent of petitions are initiated by women and just 4 per cent by men
January the 3rd has been nicknamed ‘divorce day’ by lawyers, as it’s the most common day for couples who have been struggling to hold it together over the festive period to finally snap and contact their lawyers for a divorce.
Through people that I’ve met over the years, it seems that men aren’t only reluctant to call it a day, but rarely even recognise there’s a problem.
That’s not to say that any woman takes the decision to ask for a divorce lightly. Even after years of unhappiness, it’s always the last resort.
So, when they do finally pluck up the courage to say ‘I don’t love you’, they don’t expect it to come as a surprise.
But it almost always does. By then, a husband’s desperate pleas and attempts to fix things is often too little, too late.
But the warning signs are nearly always there if you look for them. The wife can sometimes do what she thinks her husband wants, and then buries her feelings and opinions to keep all parties happy. But this suppression causes problems.
In shutting off negative emotions such as anger or upset, you end up switching off all feelings…even positive ones, like love.
After opening up about her unhappiness, the woman needs to express herself. This can make the relationship improve.
Of course, it’s better to avoid getting to the ‘therapy point’ in the first place. That means dispensing with the male belief that relationships are women’s work.
Men may be conditioned to buy flowers, chocolates or an expensive dinner occasionally, but they often fail to keep an eye on the health of their marriage.
They think that if there was a real problem, their wives would tell them and they would fix it. So the unhappiness goes unchecked.
By the time the alarm is raised, she’s not saying ‘You’re taking me for granted’ or ‘We should go out more’ but: ‘I want a divorce’.
Men are emotionally ill-equipped to deal with this, because the one person they always turn to for advice…their wife…is unavailable.
And while women have close friends to talk things through with, men have mates who go out of their way to avoid such personal conversations.
I know you men think you listen, but sometimes, you really do need to listen.
This is harder than it sounds because men are programmed to search for an instant solution. They want to feel better immediately.
But this sticking plaster approach makes women feel their pain is not being taken seriously..
The wife can help things along, too. The time to broach your issues is when you’re getting on well, as it’s when he’ll be most receptive.
Calmly, explain that you’re exhausted and running out of hope that things can change.
The words ‘I don’t love you any more,’ may be harsh, but they are ones he will, at least, understand. If the situation is not quite so bleak, say: ‘I love you, but I’m not in love with you.’
This will give your husband a final chance to shoulder his share of the responsibility for saving your marriage. It’s much better than joining the queue of women outside the solicitor’s office today filing for divorce.
by Susan Floyd