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When Men Say That Women’s “Feelings” Shouldn’t Lead To Divorce

Hoca

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I have an article that many men have told me has been very helpful to them, and speaks to the issues in their marriages. It is When Women Consider Physical Touch To Be A Less Real Or Important Love Language. Recently, comments below one of my videos on social media inspired me to write a parallel article about when men look down on emotions in much the same way as the women in that post look down on physical touch and sex*… And specifically when they say that “feelings shouldn’t lead to divorce.” Here is the video:


This video is about women who are experiencing what I call the “elephant in the room” phenomenon. In that post, I write:

Here are examples of “elephants in the room” that people in this situation try to ignore because admitting they exist would mean the relationship may not work out:


It is also applicable to the many preoccupied attachment women who are the pursuer partner and eventually realize that their avoidant husband is not capable of being in a reciprocal, loving relationship, or is unwilling to try to change so that he can be more emotionally present. Here are some posts about this dynamic and here is a podcast about avoidant husbands. Avoidant partners of either gender are very frustrating, and in my clinical experience, avoidant women change less frequently than avoidant men, for reasons discussed here.

When a woman with preoccupied attachment works on herself in therapy or her confidence levels increase because she has more life experience, she tends to grow less satisfied with the status quo of a distant husband who dismisses her desire for emotional closeness, as discussed here. In today’s day and age, couples counseling is often the next step. However, if the man refuses counseling, says the problems are all hers, or engages in counseling in a shallow or defensive way, the woman often has an “aha” moment that her husband will never change. As discussed in the video, she then does one of three things: throws herself more into the kids/career/friends/hobbies, closes down her romantic/sexual side so as to avoid further hurt and frustration, or leaves. The last option is often after the kids are out of the house, at which point she cannot think of a reason to stay.

Remember, when a man looks down on feelings, it is the same as when women look down on sexual intimacy. Nowadays, people do not marry for survival or to join family dynasties. They marry for love, connection, and to raise a family. Men still propose to women more often than the inverse, and do so for love, which completely negates the idea that “feelings” shouldn’t matter in a marriage. Further, men who say that feelings wouldn’t be a good reason to leave a marriage tend to think that sexlessness would be a valid reason. If nothing matters except responsibility to the kids and ensuring the household stays intact, then there should be no need for romantic closeness at all. For a partner who needs emotional closeness, this is as necessary as sex is to the partner who has a higher libido. The absence of either one indicates profound issues with the marriage, and both are equally valid reasons to get into therapy.

Some men say that women divorce for “shallow” reasons. I have not met any people who divorce after anything else than years of issues, including addiction, angry fighting, lack of love or lack of sexual intimacy. People who divorce more quickly only tend to do so if an affair is discovered… and usually, there were issues predating the discovery of the affair. In today’s child-centered culture, people tend to work on their marriages in therapy more than ever before, because they both feel so guilty about potentially hurting the kids. I have written a whole book about how to talk to your kids about your divorce, because this topic was so popular that a publisher reached out to me to write it. That was about ten years ago, and divorce rates have dropped even in that time, as they continue to do every year. Divorce is a last resort for people after they have tried everything else.

Keep in mind that just because women file for divorce more often, this doesn’t mean they are unilaterally up and leaving a man who is committed and loving. Men have higher rates of infidelity, which is a major reason that women leave marriages. (Incidentally, this is an interesting study citing reasons for divorce.) One under-discussed pragmatic reason that women file more often, from what I see in my practice, is that the woman is literally the person who does the paperwork and moves more quickly on household related matters. The couple has agreed that there is no future for the marriage, and are both discussing separation and even coming in to session to discuss how to tell their children and come up with living arrangements, but the woman moves forward in the same way that she moves forward with other household administrative matters, as women are more frequently the ones who do this work in the home (although, men are catching up, at least at the higher income and education levels… I predict this will soon yield more equal rates in who files). Men are also more frequently working outside the home, leaving women with more time to file. (Men spend more time at work and on leisure activities, which usually means the woman is at home more and doing more household matters; read this, which I will discuss more below.)

Men are also higher earners, and are more scared about the impact of divorce on their finances, given that they will need to pay child support and, sometimes, alimony. However, in 45% of marriages, women’s earnings are equal to or surpass their husbands’. As discussed in this 2023 Pew Research article,

In 29% of marriages today, both spouses earn about the same amount of money. Just over half (55%) of marriages today have a husband who is the primary or sole breadwinner and 16% have a breadwinner wife.

If this trajectory continues, more women will be outearning their male partners, and at this time, I would predict that men would start filing more frequently, as they will be less scared of having to pay alimony or child support to their partners. In my practice, I see many men and women with 50-50 child custody schedules and relatively equal incomes, which means there is no alimony and child expenses are split down the middle. In these cases, men seem a lot less scared of divorce, which makes sense.



Men who look down on women’s need for emotional closeness within marriage, or say that marriages shouldn’t be based on feelings are usually forgetting the intense feelings of love that led them to get married in the first place. In the honeymoon stage, avoidant men are much more emotional (discussed in depth here), because feelings of sexual desire and love are biologically heightened. When these men move out of this early stage, they revert to prior levels of cynicism and detachment about emotional closeness, the same way low libido women revert to a sex negative stance after the honeymoon stage. The drunk-on-new-love feelings have worn off, and their partner is left mourning a lack of romantic or sexual closeness. Certainly, healthy relationships change after the honeymoon stage, as discussed here and here. But when one partner is avoidant, the levels of closeness drop off a cliff, which makes the preoccupied attachment partner act out, and the cycle worsens and worsen. This is described in my post Mr. Perfect And His Crazy Wife.

Men who feel that women’s emotions change like the wind and should never lead to divorce need to recognize that emotions change in both partners. I have worked with many, many preoccupied attachment men whose wives feel that their moodiness and unpredictable volatility is incredibly difficult. A lack of emotionality makes all relationships difficult. Ironically, many men whose wives are dissatisfied with their emotional capabilities also struggle with their kids or on the job. Everything from human bonding to sports performance to the stock market is influenced by emotion; emotions are real, whether you downplay them or not. Often, after therapy, men realize that their long-standing belief that they are personally not affected by emotions is dead wrong… they have just been trained not to recognize those emotions.

Love is primarily a feeling, the same feeling that got you into the marriage in the first place. Certainly, it waxes and wanes, but people know when it is there and when it hasn’t been in many years. And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Thankfully, Couples Counseling Has Been Shown To Be Very Helpful… So Reach Out!

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* Always remember that internet comments are only from a subset of the population. More men in the world are avoidant attachment than preoccupied attachment, although on the internet, the men who are anxious about their relationships are the only ones who are visible, as they are the ones posting in relationship forums. By definition, a man with avoidant attachment downplays the importance of relationships and therefore wouldn’t watch or post about relationship content. Angry comments are usually written by the men who struggle with fearful avoidant attachment. These are the men who are very upset at women for their relationships not having worked out. Their feelings of low self-esteem and anger are palpable, and sadly, come from a history of mistreatment in early life. Fearful avoidant attachment is discussed in depth here. After childhood trauma, it is very difficult to know how to maintain healthy relationships or attract loving partners, so these men end up in difficult relationships which amplify their existing trust issues and make them hate and fear women even more, which comes out in angry internet comments. There are just as many hurt women who grew up in traumatic situations and blame all men for their issues in internet comments as well. This is a post about the men and the women who are very angry about the opposite gender.
 
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