When it comes to divorce, does sex matter? That is, are there differences between men and women?
Research and experience both say yes. Men, for example, tend to file for divorce less often than women. “From my own case load, I’d say roughly 60 percent of women initiate the process, whereas 40 percent of men initiate the process,” says Tony Zorich of the Seattle area family law practice McKinley Irvin.
Men also have somewhat different reasons for divorcing, according to research from Pennsylvania State University. Here are top reasons men seek divorce.
5. Growing apart
Nearly 1 in 10 men, or 9.6 percent, cited growing apart from their spouse as their primary reason for wanting a divorce. This reason is common among men who married young and feel that they—and their spouse—have since grown into different people. Growing apart can also be the result of spending less time together due to the demands of work and parenthood or due to what Zorich describes as “lack of acknowledgment by their spouse for their role in the marriage,” which can ultimately lead to a loss of interest in the relationship.
“Marriage is a team effort in every sense of the phrase, and each team member has various roles. When the performance of tasks associated with those roles is not acknowledged in a positive way, the man can feel disenfranchised.”
4. Drinking or drug use
Men have been known to have very passionate love affairs with the bottle, but it seems women are no slouches in that department either: Substance abuse and addiction was listed as a reason for divorce for more than 1 in 10 men, or 10.6 percent of those studied. Apparently having similar attitudes about drugs and alcohol use is helpful in keeping marriages together. Addictions to other things, like pornography, can also be a factor in divorce.
3. Lack of communication
This issue might be better called “lack of good communication.” Couples typically have lots of logistics to manage (particularly if there are kids involved), a situation which requires tact, understanding, and patience. But stressed couples communicate by fighting, most often about sex and money. As you might suspect, this was a problem for quite a few men (13 percent) in the study.
Men may have some flexibility when it comes to open relationships, but many of them still view cheating as a stone-cold deal breaker. It may be the case, as it is often said, that cheating is merely a symptom of deeper problems in the relationship. But with 15.6 percent of men citing it as a reason to leave, those kinds of distinctions might not matter much in the grand scheme of what drives guys to consider having papers drawn up.
This catchall phrase indicates general unhappiness in marriage and was reported by nearly 1 in 5 men, or 19.5 percent of those surveyed, as the main reason for divorce. “Personal dissatisfaction in the relationship has generally been the number one reason in my practice for a number of years,” says David Starks, an attorney who also works at the McKinley Irvin firm. “Domestic violence and sleeping around sound more interesting and, frankly, more excusable, but really just giving up the fight to stay in love or at least mutual admiration is really what both sexes do most to end up in divorce.”
How are women and divorce different?
Unsurprisingly, women seek divorce for many of the same reasons men do. Notable differences include a higher incidence of divorce over infidelity—25.2 percent of women cited unfaithfulness as cause for separation compared with 15.6 percent of men—plus reports of physical and emotional abuse and problems with the husband’s personality, immaturity, and untrustworthiness.
What else is different? “There are, speaking very broadly, some typical differences in how men and women handle the divorce process, mainly driven by what roles they played in the relationship,” says Starks. For instance, women are more likely to ask for financial help post-divorce, which he believes is due to the homemaker role women are more likely to assume in the couple.
When it comes down to it, however, it’s impossible to paint a portrait of divorce in broad strokes. “Every divorce is different for many, many reasons,” says Zorich. He recommends that men going through a divorce get emotional and legal support. “Divorce is a process that can take a significant emotional toll on even the ‘toughest’ of men. Support, whether it be from friends or family, is very important, but a man’s greatest ally in a divorce can be the advice of a competent attorney to represent him. Men should not be afraid of the courthouse or the law, and a good attorney can keep a man grounded in that reality.”
Learn more about the divorce process by speaking to a top-rated divorce attorney in your area.
Related articles on AvvoStories: