DIVORCE: we discuss some of the “whys” behind women leaving their marriages and tips on how to go from dividing to thriving.

The divorce rate in the US is around 50% and has been for what seems like forever. But, did you know that over two thirds of divorces initiated are actually done so by women?

Let’s get started by walking through what current data is revealing and some tips on how to make our marriages thrive instead of divide.

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I considered myself a strong woman: independent, educated, ambitious, etc. There are lots of “me’s” around. You’re probably one of them. Because of this, women are outpacing men in careers, earnings growth, leadership roles, even down to hedge fund management. History holds an ugly picture of an entire group of society that was once discounted and devalued. Since, great achievement has been won on behalf of women, continuing into current day.

But, this post isn’t about the past. This is about the ‘now’. It’s about the reality. And the reality is, it’s women who are contributing to the end of the family unit.

We are slowly breaking down the very thing that God placed in our care.

Before we get into speculation, let’s look at the facts. 

The divorce rate in the US is around 50% and has been for what seems like forever. But, did you know that over two thirds of divorces initiated are actually done so by women? The Good Men Project, which focuses on enlightened masculinity in the 21st century, compiled studies around this and highlights the top 5 reasons women initiate divorce:

  • Men’s behavior
  • Lack of intellectual and emotional intimacy
  • Thinking they “picked” wrong
  • Not feeling they have an equal partner
  • The marriage isn’t meeting their expectations

Although these reasons are broad (which makes sense, given the massive figures associated), let’s pause on this and see if we can relate to what these women are feeling. Then, we’ll look at 3 Strong Woman tips that will help us thrive within our marriages and families versus divide.

Before we move on, I thought a disclaimer was necessary. **grabbing megaphone** This post is not saying that you should stay in an unhealthy or unsafe situation. Please refer to the Emergency Contact Page or other appropriate resources needed in order to keep you and your family safe.

Back to your regularly scheduled program!

Here’s the truth, we (I, for sure) tend to be worn down by the expectations that we put on ourselves. Out of survival, we adapt to a drill sergeant mentality. We do this in order to balance commute times, career moves, pickups/drop offs, after school activities, household duties, volunteer work, etc. The thing is, it’s really hard to turn this off when it comes to our marriage.

With less and less energy available and life’s daily obstacle course, frustration is quick to set in on both ends. After so long, one can easily start doubting their partner’s compatibility, capability, and capacity. When we don’t address this, with ourselves and our spouse, the small voices start becoming louder and louder…

“This isn’t working anymore.”

“This is not what I thought it was going to be.”

“Maybe we just weren’t meant to be.”

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Can you relate? Have you had these thoughts before?

Most likely, the answer is yes. So, we can totally understand where these women are coming from. Divorce is one of those sneaky thoughts, that builds and builds, until it becomes a viable option that you actually start considering. Maybe it’s a fleeting thought at first but, as frustration builds, so can the thought. I’s not difficult to understand the desire for an equal partner, wanting a fulfilling marriage, wanting mental and emotional engagement, etc. Of course we want these things! But we have to pause.

We have to let go of the control that we desire over all aspects of our lives. Our marriage and our spouse cannot and will not fit into our nicely organized box, labeled as “marriage”.

Strong Woman Tip #1:

Sometimes our plans are irrelevant to the universe. Things are just not going to be what we want all of the time. And this isn’t a bad thing! You’ve probably experienced trials or hardships in your life that, in the end, made you stronger, smarter and more evolved afterwards. Life doesn’t always look the way we want it to. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not purpose or growth that can be realized in every moment.

The best piece of marriage advice I’ve ever heard was from Rick Warren, in his 5 Biblical Purposes of Marriage. He says, “marriage isn’t to make you happy, it’s to make you holy.” Once you get this, it really takes the unnecessary emotion out of things. You’re no longer seeking to “win”.

If you want more information on this, check out the full sit down with Pastor Rick and his wife.

For instance, one of my personal examples of this is that I always envisioned my future husband and I spending time in a hammock, reading to each other and having thought-provoking discussions (think intellectual and emotional engagement).

Now….ask me if that has EVER happened – ha! My husband and I actually joke about this often. The point being that sometimes what we think a marriage should or will be is FAR from what it actually is on a day to day basis.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing or that we’re missing out on something.

No, my husband and I have NEVER laid in a hammock discussing books. But, what we have done is stood side by side with each other through seasons of life that were meant to break us. I’ll take that over hammock lounging ANYTIME!

Keep your mind open that, even if things aren’t what you expected, there may be great nuggets of learning available on the journey! Plus, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t given a manual on ‘being a wife’. I know I’ve had to learn just as much as my husband. We’re in this together. Neither of us are finished products.

Next, in this newly created environment, where everything is on demand and customized, we seem to forget that people don’t come that way!! Therefore, you will NOT find your perfect partner because that doesn’t exist. Sorry for the spoiler alert! This is a huge misperception when it comes to marriage and one of the biggest disappointments that can lead to divorce.

Let’s go through this exercise, together. Take a second and picture your best self. What does “she” look like? Fit, flawless appearance, happy, at peace, successful, organized, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, travels, insightful, perfectly kept home, has time to read books, etc. We all know that this list could go on. Now, compare that to who you are today…are there differences? Of course there are!! Because none of us have arrived at our “best selves”.

The point is, you’ve just created a version of YOUR “perfect self” AND YOU CAN’T EVEN BE THAT!!! So, how in the world can you expect someone else to fit your “perfect version” of them???

Strong Woman Tip #2:

Do not hold your spouse to standards that you cannot achieve yourself, because we all fall short of what we know we could be. Therefore, know that you and your spouse are both on separate journeys of self-development.

Also, ladies, take note that men don’t always express their thought process so they may really be thinking or working through something that you might not even know. If you want more info on the differences between the man and woman, check out Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerich.

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Lastly, we have to address the elephant in the room and that is why we should avoid divorce and stop the cycle of women pursuing divorce (again, safely and in a healthy way).

We have to understand that even though this society normalizes divorce, it causes havoc in your family, your children and society. The statistics of children who grow up in fatherless homes are heartbreaking. Yes, a child will survive. But will that child thrive? The data says no and we can’t ignore that.

Fathers.com is an organization that educates families and society on the importance of the intact family. Here is an excerpt from an article called The Extent of Fatherlessness:

“More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father…  If it were classified as a disease, fatherlessness would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.”

What comes with divorce? Statistically speaking, there is notably more:

  • lack of education
  • Teen pregnancy (thus lending to a higher abortion rate, further hurting the vulnerable in the womb)
  • Mental and behavioral disorders
  • Homelessness and runaway
  • Suicides
  • Increased crime
  • Poverty
  • More likely to experience physical abuse, neglect and sexual abuse
  • Substance and alcohol abuse

Read the full article on The Consequences of Fatherlessness here.

Now, I’ve heard the argument, “you shouldn’t stay in an unhappy marriage just for the kids.”

I hear that. I get it.

But, I’ve also heard from people, who have been married for decades, that even though their marriage had some rough patches and rough YEARS, IT DIDN’T MAKE THE WHOLE MARRIAGE BAD. Yes, there were times that were unhappy. But that’s to be expcted in any relationship.

And just like you, you may have bad days, weeks, or even years. But, it doesn’t mean that your whole life has been bad.

Strong Woman Tip #3:

Be realistic with your marriage’s cycles of ups and downs. Remember, you’re in a marathon, not a sprint. Being in an unhappy marriage sucks. For everyone. But, if you’re in that situation, I would encourage you to read the 3 Marriage Game Changers. Even if you’re smooth sailing right now, this is a great read and has some powerful resources that are handy to keep in your marriage tool kit. Marriage is hard. But, there are so many great resources for you and your partner. Divorce isn’t the only option. So stay encouraged!!!

As a side note,

please know that I am not excusing men of their poor behavior because I can understand the defeated feelings that come with bad behavior, disrespect, etc. But, I also know what I can actually control and that is me, myself and I. When I quit dictating all of the things that were wrong within my marriage and spouse, took a step back, educated myself, and did some serious self-reflection, my marriage changed for the better. Not because all of our problems went away, but because I was prepared for the growing pains that a strong marriage requires.

Also, ladies, we HAVE to give credit where credit is due. Just like us, men have their own set of struggles. Something I’ve found SO incredibly helpful is this book by TD Jakes, “He-Motions”. Holy moly!!! I’m telling you, THIS is what made me look at my husband as the human he is versus this project that I desperately wanted to change. TD Jakes has made it a known mission of his to address the men of this nation. But, we have to do our part as well and be educated on what our men are going through. Some quick points he makes:

  • Few men have examples of what it means to be a husband, a father and a leader
  • Men process life’s stressors completely different than women. For example, women like to “talk it out”, where as men go introverted.
  • There is spiritual warfare, regarding our men. Satan knows he can bind women when he steals, kills and destroys the men in our lives.
  • So. Much. More. I can’t say enough.

You will walk away from this book CHANGED!!

If you need anymore convincing, check out this overview by TD Jakes. Maybe this could be something you AND your partner read?! Buy your copy today. You will be so thankful!

Another fantastic book I’d like to refer to you is Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. Whenever I refer to anything “marriage”, this book MUST be referenced.

I’ve had countless conversations with other women about the “short comings” of our men. They’re not as considerate as we’d like, they can be hard to talk to about certain things and sometimes it just seems like they stream roll us emotionally. Here’s the problem with that line of thinking (please know I’m guilty of this too), WE ARE DIFFERENT. Men and women are completely different! Maybe we hold the same core values, and that’s why we connect in the first place, but in every other sense we are different – how we process things, communicate, think, etc. Emerson outlines this is such an easy to understand way. I’m telling you, THIS was HUGE in my marriage. It really helped me know when I needed “get off of my husbands air hose” <– read the book and you’ll understand, ha!

That’s my two cents. I love both of these books and authors. If a hard copy is just not realistic for you then try out Audible. I LIVE by my Audible. I’m so busy that if it were up to me reading material, I would never consume anything! But, with my Audible, I’m able to take advantage of my commute time and listen to my favorite authors. Both of these books can be found on Audible. Happy reading (or listening)!

Wrap Up

When you have time, seriously, take a look at the resources outlined within this post. I PROMISE your marriage will change for the better. Not overnight, but when you start understanding that your marriage as a living and evolving entity, then you can look at it from a more objective place and start to appreciate the bumps along the way.

Of course, as a reminder, give your marriage back to God. Let him do the work. Let him do the healing because he cares deeply for you and your spouse and your family. For more information on the easiest and most important thing you should be doing for your marriage, check out this post.

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I hope this was encouraging. What was your biggest take away? Comment below your biggest “ah-ha” and let’s start encouraging each others to take a step back and embrace our marriages!

Also, if you found this encouraging, please share with other ladies in your life who need to hear this message. We’re on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram!

Take care and, remember, YOU are a lady well-loved.

Photo credits to Unsplash: Julie Johnson@thirdwheelphoto, Fred Mouniguet@fwed, Clem Onojeghuo@clemono2

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