Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Ki Teitze 74 - Why do women initiate divorce more than men?

This blog post is in 2 parts .

 1. Why do women initiate divorce more than men?
2.CPS- collaborative problem solving between spouses.

 In the USA and UK 66% of divorces are initiated by women, (in 1975 it was 72%).In Israel   70% of divorces were filed by women, 3 times as much as men.

Marriage therapist and author  Laura Doyle   says that one of the reasons for these figures is that 'women are initiating divorces when the problems are not insurmountable.  One  might think that's because men do things to make marriage untenable -- like cheat, hit or abuse them -- but I hear about women divorcing because he didn't help with the baby, he was emotionally unavailable, or because they grew apart. Countless women tell me they divorced because their husbands weren't capable of meeting their needs. When the women I work with learn intimacy skills, it changes the way they see a previous marriage. Some women tell me that they realize they were married to a good guy, but divorced because they lacked the skills to have a happy relationship. Sometimes it causes them enormous grief.'

An Israeli Dayan , judge in a rabbinical Court = Beis Din said that in his personal experience it was the women who were initiating divorces and some often in a hasty and impulsive way  and sometimes for the most trivial reasons like my husband leaves the home without saying good bye.

Laura Doyle's and the Dayan's observations about women being the ones who are initiating divorces hint that this could be part of the explanation why the Torah gave men more say about divorce than women.

The Dayan also said that  ' Cohanim ' , men of priestly descent tended to get angry quickly and then sue for divorce. This explains why Cohanim are restricted to whom they can marry. They can't remarry their wives or divorcees. This is intended to slow them down and think of other solutions than divorce. Divorce is only one of the solutions for solving marriage problems.

Men are happier in their marriages and maybe it is because they have fewer expectations than women. Men also get a lot of their intellectual and social needs met outside the home -at work and when they participate in communal prayer and study. It is reported that they are happier with their intimate lives than women. Divorce for men means a new financial burden, taking on responsibilities and tasks previously done by women and not being with his children. They often are willing to sleep in another room or have a trial separation in the hope that his wife will reconsider.

Teresa Atkin, a relationship coach says that women need to learn communication skills needed in a marriage.

'All too often, women think that talking to our husbands is the way to make them see how their behavior affects us. If the behavior doesn't change when we first bring it up, we want to talk more, longer, or louder because we think maybe they didn't get it the first time. One of the biggest pet peeves for men is that feeling of being nagged or badgered, especially if they don't know what the problem really is. Also, the rules of polite, kind, nice conversation that women try to follow often come off as indirect, manipulative and mysterious to men. Women often conclude that their husbands don't care because they haven't changed after a particular conversation. '

Women also tend to give instructions to men as they would to their maids or other help. This really has the opposite effect. Instead of giving instructions women should explain what they need and want, thus giving men the space to respond in an autonomous way.

Why do Laura Doyle and Tersa Atkin focus on women alone and why doesn't Laura Doyle  advocate joint therapy sessions?

Because women are initiating divorce and want change, they are the ones who  should and can bring about the change. Instead of waiting for husbands to change and be responsible for their wives' happiness, women should learn intimacy and communication skills and become responsible for their own happiness. This will bring about a change in men. Women have the power to make changes in  their homes as the verse in Proverbs 14:1 says –' The wisdom of women builds her home.'

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