Okay, Shoshanim, what better topic to discuss on a Monday morning than divorce.
Now divorce is a much more compounded phenomenon than we are led to believe. It is not straightforward. It encapsulates the entire history of the couple, the dyad, all the dynamics, all the heartbreak, all the disappointments, all the expectations which were frustrated, all the aggression.
And so divorce is a microcosm of the dynamics specific to a dyad, the dyadic dynamics.
And today I'm going to review 12 reasons to divorce your loved one or your previously loved one.
But before we go there I would like to make a few comments on divorce as a social psychological phenomenon.
Modern divorces reflect the rise in the sense of entitlement, an instant gratification, impulsivity, recklessness, the inability and the unwillingness to give it time to be patient, to try again.
So in many ways divorces or the rise of divorce as an exit strategy reflects the zeitgeist, the rising tide of narcissism which is engulfing us all.
Divorce is the outcome of unrealistic expectations. Today as opposed to the past we expect our intimate partner to be a panacea, a cure all, a perfect total solution to all our needs. Our intimate partner should be our best friend, our lover, our provider, our support and our therapist.
The intimate partner is burdened with unrealistic expectations to the point to the breaking point. The breaking point is known as divorce. A third point intimacy cloud.
Today younger generations, let's say Generation X onwards, these younger generations bring with them into the marriage previous lovers, male or female friends.
And so there is an intimacy cloud, a kind of repertory or stable of multiple options for intimacy.
If your husband doesn't provide you with enough intimacy there's always the X lover or the X or a friend you've just met on Facebook. Like intimacy is not grounded in a single individual but is a distributed option, it's a network option.
So I call this intimacy cloud.
Husbands and wives, girlfriends and boyfriends today compete with multiple other people within their relationship.
It's as if if you have a girlfriend, she has six X's and these six X's are as present in the relationship as you are. They are as willing to step in and provide intimacy, love and even sex if you are delinquent, if you don't fulfill your duties.
This is the intimacy cloud.
The last point I want to make is that all intimate relationships nowadays are transactional and they're transactional because people wait a long time before they commit to each other.
The average age of marriage is close to 30, that's 3-0 and that is 10 years later than previous generations.
So people get married or enter into committed relationships when they're much older, they're cynical, they're jaded, they are suspicious and paranoid, they're disappointed in life, they've been betrayed numerous times, they've been abused in multiple relationships, they come into the new relationship expecting the same.
So transactionalism in late onset marriages guarantees actually divorce. Marriages and committed relationships in general doesn't have to be a marriage. Committed relationships nowadays are founded much later in life and on an edifice of negative emotions, negative affectivity, disappointments, hurt, pain, fear, envy.
Consequently divorce has become the largest mechanism of wealth transfer, the transfer of wealth from typically men to women. It's a way for women to redistribute wealth. Gradually and increasingly and incrementally women are becoming the breadwinners and the main providers and within 50 years the picture is going to reverse and divorce would become a mechanism for wealth transfer from women to men.
But at any rate it's a way to transfer wealth, property, money from one of our partners to the other.
I want to read to you something from this book.
For small creatures such as we, this book has been written by Sasha Sagan, her father was the famous astronomer and so she's written this book, it's a magnificent book, I strongly recommend it.
It's about life and the meaning of life in the absence of a religious conviction.
At any rate here's what she writes about marriage and divorce.
A thousand miles off the eastern coast of Australia on the Pacific island of Vanuatu, boys approaching manhood climb to the top of wooden towers up to ten stories high.
In order to greet their friends and neighbors from above, take in the view, sing out, tie two vines to their ankles and jump off. The vines act as a kind of organic bungee cord and the young men are almost always fine.
In fact, Niv Vanuatu, that's the demon, Niv Vanuatu guys, continue land diving regularly over the course of their lives, reenacting an ancient myth about an escape from an abusive marriage.
So the rite of passage in Vanuatu is intimately connected to an ancient myth about escaping a man escaping an abusive marriage.
But the maiden voyage continues, Sasha Segen, the maiden voyage is special.
At the end of your first dive, your community rallies around you and your mother destroys your favorite childhood object.
Could there be a more perfect embodiment of puberty?
So for small creatures such as us, by Seisha Segen.
And so this was a humorous introduction to our topic and our topic is divorce.
Why do people divorce?
People give 12 reasons. These 12 reasons capture 90% of all divorces.
So if we were to review them, we would understand what makes people, what drives people away from each other, what makes them break apart and destroy a dream.
Divorce is about a dream, a dream that can no longer come true, a dream that is judged to be unrealistic.
It is a betrayal of a dream.
Divorce is very difficult.
In a very classical trauma scale, divorce is considered possibly the number two, the second most potent, most difficult trauma in life.
Now the reason for a divorce is often in the past, even during dating.
Elizabeth Cohen, who is a psychologist, says the following, sometimes people want to divorce for the same reason they might have had doubts about getting into the relationship in the first place.
Generally there are things that bothered her before. They just accumulated for so long that you know they are not going to change.
Family lawyer Irene Levin says it is possible that the decision comes after years and years of contemplating and trying to make the marriage work.
Every marriage is unique but there are frequently cited reasons for divorce.
I'm going to review the 12 most common.
Number one by far is nope, not cheating, believe it or not.
Number one by far is communication, issues and problems.
Communication is critical for the success of a relationship, any kind of relationship, not only a romantic one.
In the absence of communication there is a problem to establish commitment to negotiate investment in the relationship including cathecism, emotional investment, to organize things, to accomplish goals together.
Communication is the glue together with sex and sex is a mode of communication. It's a form of communication.
Communication is the glue that holds relationships together. Mutual comprehension, understanding each other, prevent resentment and even hatred.
Elizabeth says your behavior may not match what your partner needs and so communication is critical to shore over, to smooth over these differences.
Number one, communication issues.
Number two, a lack of love, actually to be more precise, a lack of perceived love.
According to a study published by the Journal of Marital Therapy, half of recently divorced couples pointed a lack of love or intimacy as the reason for the separation.
Elizabeth says this overarching feeling of distance that happens over time.
Now here I must interject and say that our modern perception of love and our expectations from a loving relationship are highly fantastic and infantile. We mislabel many types of interactions as loving interactions when actually they're not.
One perfect example is dependency. Dependency is not love. Infatuation is not love. Loneliness is not love and yet we label all these as love. Sexual attraction is not love. Lust is not love and yet we mislabel all these as love and then we develop extremely childish and totally fable expectations which no loving relationship can ever meet.
We are setting up our relationships and our partners for failure.
The problem here is not a lack of love, not a lack of intimacy as we will see in a minute. That's not the problem. The problem is the misdefinition, the wrong definition of love.
We need to be re-educated and the concept of love needs to be refrained and reconceptualized.
The third complaint is a lack of intimacy, lack of sex, lack of physical contact. One over 10% of all couples are sexless. Asexual, I mean they have no sex.
So lack of physical contact, lack of emotional contact, a stagnant intimate life. These are reasons for divorce because they reify, they symbolize, the underlying emotional disconnect.
When you have no intimacy with your partner, when you have no sex, it alerts you, it wakes you up, it alerts you to the understanding that something is substantially and possibly irredeemably wrong.
So lack of intimacy.
Reason number four, there's no partnership.
Irene reports, they tell me here I am in a relationship and it feels like I'm alone.
Now a truly durable and resilient marriage maintains a private space and a public space. The members of the couple, husband and wife, spouses, boyfriend and girlfriend, they need their private time, private space. They need to have a life of their own not connected to the life of the couple or the dyadic life.
So it's healthy to have individuality in a relationship and but the two, the members of the couple must also connect. Connection is the antidote to loneliness and there is no loneliness more profound than in a dysfunctional relationship because this kind of loneliness is counterposed. There's a counterpoint to this kind of loneliness, the frustrated expectations.
So in a couple there's a fine line, there's a fine balance between private time and together time, joint time, joint space, joint activities. Planning things together, accomplishing goals together, these are critical.
Self-efficacy, couple efficacy is critical. The couple need to feel that they are efficacious, couple efficacious, that they are able to secure favorable outcomes from the environment via their joint efforts, planning, thinking, pooled resources. This cements to get this kind of togetherness, goal oriented togetherness cements the relationship and when it is absent, when everyone goes their own way and all like men going their own way, when everyone goes their own way, the couple falls apart because it's not there.
Reason number five to divorce is that you are not ready to get married.
Terry Vaknin, the author of books about relationships and a professor at Oakland University in the States says the similarity between two partners helps predict who stays together and who does not.
Yes, opposites attract is nonsense, very counterproductive and misleading nonsense. If you get married too early, says Vaknin, or if you cannot identify who you are and what is important to you, then you might not choose the best partner.
You're not fully acquainted with yourself, you're not fully attuned to yourself, you're not 100% sure when you said yes to the marriage proposition or committed relationship proposal. When you said yes, who was it who said yes? Were you fully aware of who you are? Did you know yourself sufficiently to be able to say yes?
And when there's a series of confrontations like different values, emotional baggage from past adventures, a lack of real trust, that's a recipe for a divorce because you enter the relationship tentatively, subject to later change in your identity. You grow apart, you're no longer the same people if you get married too early.
Reason number six is addictions.
Survey by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the NCBI, in 2013 in the United States showed that one-third of divorced people pointed to substance abuse as the reason for separation.
Ironically the problem is not the substance itself, not even the abuse, not even the outcomes of the abuse, but the substance is perceived as competition for love and intimacy. When your partner abuses substances, he is so much into these substances that he neglects you, he ignores you, he overrides you, he steals from you, you become secondary.
The substance, alcohol, coke, heroin, crack, whatever it may be, fentanyl, the substance becomes the prime mover and shaker in your partner's life. There's a competition between you and the substance and you're bound to lose.
So this is another reason to divorce.
Reason number seven, the classic domestic violence, but it's only the seventh believe it or not. And one reason it is so low in the hierarchy of reasons to divorce is because many, many people, many partners refrain the domestic violence, lie to themselves, self-deceive.
They say for example, yeah he beats me up but he beats me up or he batters me or he's physically violent because he loves me. That's his way of showing love. He is overly jealous and I made him jealous. I provoked the outburst.
There's a lot of self-deserving narratives going on. Domestic violence involves not only physical damage, injuries to the body, but also injuries to the soul. There's emotional manipulation involved. There's intermittent reinforcement. I love you, I hate you, I adore you, I'm placing you in a hospital. You know, it's difficult to reconcile this and it creates trauma bonding.
To end this cycle of aggression, sometimes the only way is to divorce.
Terry says that abuse and especially domestic violence differ from other causes of divorce because I'm quoting it is not a relationship problem. It is something that is inside your partner.
And in the same NCBI study, about a quarter of respondents said that domestic violence led to divorce.
And here we come to the perennial reason for divorce, infidelity.
Infidelity is not a problem. The sex itself is not a problem. Even an emotional affair is not a problem. It's not a major problem. It's a problem, of course. There's a sense of betrayal. There's a lot of pain and hurt.
But there is recuperation and recovery with time. What often that never recovers is trust.
The problem with infidelity is the deception, the component of deception and the loss of trust. To rebuild trust is sometimes an onerous and impossible task.
Infidelity is the biggest break of trust. It's possible to recover it but it's a common reason for divorce.
In the absence of trust, how can you live with someone? How can you work with someone? How can you collaborate with someone? And how can you set goals with someone? And how can you trust with someone not to hurt you again?
So seminally, so to the quick.
You see, infidelity implies hatred, in effect. If you are disloyal to that extent, there is an element of hatred here. The rejection is so total that it involves some kind of hatred.
How do you recover from this? Most people don't actually.
Reason number nine, a lack of emotional support.
Irene says the failure in communication often leads people to feel desperate. So they criticize, they get angry or make demands. Nobody wants to be around that kind of negative energy.
Elizabeth agrees. She says that she talks to many divorced women who feel harmed, disrespected, not a priority in the marriage.
Empathy and compassion are gone and then it's very hard to get back together, says Elizabeth.
Lack of emotional support could be passive, indifference, avoidance, silent treatment, being ignored, being neglected. This is passive lack of emotional support.
But the lack of emotional support could be also active.
Rejection, lack of empathy, lack of attentiveness, lack of compassion, lack of affection, treating each other as mere functions, service providers. This is all destructive to an intimate, committed relationship.
Reason number 10 is pretty amazing and counterintuitive.
Fatigue, getting tired.
Irene reports that people who choose to end a long-standing marriage have tried to save it for years without success and they're simply tired.
If you strive but your partner doesn't seem to have the same interest, doesn't place the same priority on saving the marriage, doesn't care, a hoot, you lose the will to be together and you become depleted and exhausted and you walk away.
We are depleted and exhausted when there's no hope, expectation of a better outcome. People are willing to invest in ordinary amounts of time and effort and money and everything, you name it. If they are led to believe that ultimately it could work, somehow it could save the relationship.
But if they are strong and repeated indications that nothing is going to work, they give up.
Number 11 is financial problems. Money issues trigger tension. Tensions multiple in marriages and in committed relations. Disagreeing about finances complicates things, as Elizabeth says, especially when they disrupt teamwork.
Over time, these kinds of tensions build up to the point, to the break, to the snapping point.
Money is a lubricant. In the absence of money, very few couples survive.
Money problems, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, lack of employment prospects, failure to gain employment and so on and so forth. They grate on your nerves. They create uncertainty and indeterminacy, fear of the future, inability to plan and of course you are not able, if you have children, to give them what they need, which is a heart-rending condition.
So financial problems drive many couples to dissolution.
And finally, the 12th reason is a loss of the sense of self. People grow, people evolve, people change, people transform, people learn things, people meet new people, new people, people befriend other people, people travel, they witness things, they gain experience at work and in studies and so on. People change all the time. Change management in relationships is crucial. If you change and your partner refuses to change or if you change and your partner refuses to accommodate the change or if you change and your partner does not recognize the change, rejects the change, gets angry at the change, reacts negatively to the change, then this drives a wedge between you and your partner and finally drives you apart.
Elizabeth says often in relationships one partner sacrifices what they want and what they need in order to keep the marriage together and that's of course a major mistake.
Self-sacrifice breeds resentment, frustration and aggression, period.
Never mind how saintly you consider yourself to be, you're going to be angry.
And anger possibly is reason zero, the "V" reason for the disintegration of intimate relationships.
Being angry at each other, being angry at each other for having failed to be what you have expected, for having failed to conform to expectations, to fulfill your roles and your tasks, for having abrogated your duties, for having absconded with common property or anger.
Anger drives people to say goodbye, to divorce and these are the 12 reasons people give for divorce.
So to find yourself in any of these 12, reconsider your intimate relationship.