Did you know that women file for divorce twice as often as men?
Statistically, women buy more marriage books, visit more counselors, and are far more vocal about the problems they might be experiencing.
The most common reasons, however, are not what you might expect – it’s not because men are more likely to cheat, or because of major problems with money or family.
Instead, the cause is a vast disparity in expectation, and the root of it lies in some major differences in the way many men and women think about marriages.
To put it simply, women are leaving their marriages because of what they perceive as emotional neglect.
Now, it’s true that some couples do in fact neglect one another emotionally, but for our purposes here today, we’re focusing on the chasm between expectation and reality.
Without falling too hard into stereotypes, women are far more likely to see their husbands as aloof, as not fully caring about emotional needs, as spending too much time away from home, as “ignoring” their wives when they spend time together, as being self absorbed, and so on…
This illuminates a giant problem with communication – because from the typical male perspective, so many of those complaints (or the attitude/mental space that brings them about) make men feel like:
- their wives have unrealistic expectations
- that they can’t be themselves
- that they can’t put time and effort into their own interests or spend a day alone without being nagged…
Where women might think their husbands are intentionally ignoring them, or have complaints that their husbands never call to check up on them, never apologize when feelings are hurt, etc. – their husbands may hold a very opposite view, and not even be aware that their wives feel that way!
It comes down to the differences in the way most men and women operate.
Women, typically more emotionally oriented, are looking for emotional support and contact that their husbands aren’t aware that they aren’t providing.
Men may have the view that they are supposed to be breadwinners, handymen, fathers, sexual partners, and plenty of other things…
But they may not very often consider themselves to be the emotional support their wives expect them to be – or even know how to because of their own emotional nature.
Because of this disparity, it can feel (for husbands) as though the efforts they do put forth are totally overlooked, that their contributions to the household are taken for granted, and that their wives are too needy.
When wives are complaining about their husbands’ lack of emotional investment, it can feel like they are asking their husbands to work harder, to do more…
It can feel like they’re being told that they aren’t good enough, and this blow to the ego can make them withdraw even further.
So, with all of this confusion between what women expect and how men tend to behave, it’s no wonder that an emotional gap is at the heart of so many women’s marital complaints.
Resolving this issue, however, is MUCH easier than it might seem!
Realigning expectations is the name of the game here. For women, understand that your husband might not be aware of how you feel, and that even telling him directly might not fully change the way he behaves.
For men, understand that your wife has different emotional needs than you do, and that part of being a loving husband is doing your best to meet those needs.
Now, this is the part that takes compromise and shifting expectations:
Wives can’t expect their husbands to transform into their emotional mirrors, who think and feel in the same way they do, or even approach emotional connections in the same way.
Husbands can’t expect their wives to just bury their own emotional needs and “think like a man” either – where communication is matter of fact, affection is generally sexual, and to be perfectly frank, personal identity is usually formed outside of the context of spousehood.
Some of this male/female dynamic is just the way we’re hardwired, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t all work toward better understanding and a happy middle ground.
If this perceived emotional neglect (even if it isn’t intentional) is the main reason women want to leave marriages, it’s definitely a large enough issue to address – even if it hasn’t yet become a problem in your own relationship.
Just talk to your spouse, recognize that you won’t always have the same emotional needs or thought patterns, and do everything you can to give each other the benefit of the doubt.
You may never be on the exact same page emotionally, but understanding where your spouse is coming from can make all the difference.