By Dr. Kristin Davin, Psy.D. for YourTango.com.
Not everyone who goes through a divorce has been blindsided or shocked to discover that their spouse wants out, but there are many that fall into this category. And by many, I mean predominantly men. This is commonly referred to as “Sudden Divorce Syndrome.”
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As Donna Ferber, an psychotherapist in Ohio stated in her article, Sudden Divorce Syndrome: Reality or Myth? “A man may be shocked by the news that his wife wants ‘out’ but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t given plenty of warning. It usually means he wasn’t listening. ‘Sudden Divorce Syndrome’ assumes impulsive behavior on the part of the woman. Nothing is further from the truth. Perhaps a better term would be ‘Shocked Divorce Syndrome.’ That certainly is an accurate description of these men who find themselves blindsided.”
Nationwide, women file for divorce 66 percent of the time. Some reports have the figure closer to 75 percent — Wow! What’s going on? Despite the time and effort made by women and their relentless and numerous attempts to engage in conversations, which by the way have become circular in nature and morphed into chronic arguments, it’s not enough to save the marriage. Her attempts have proven futile. And exhausting. Feeling disconnected, frustrated, and disillusioned, women are done. Like, “stick a fork in me” done.
But, let’s be clear. A woman’s decision to divorce didn’t come easy. Nor was their decision “sudden.” Many women do not necessarily want a divorce. They just feel they no longer have a choice. Their decision, though difficult, was due to several reasons. Reasons that have been percolating for a long time. A very long time.
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Triggers that Ignite Dissolution
The infamous “nagging”— Although nagging is a stereotypical complaint cited by men, there is often (not always) a legitimate reason for her nagging. Ask yourself, “Have you promised to do something for her?” “Did you follow through or say ‘you will get to it?’” “Has she tried to have a conversation with you about recurring problems?” She is trying to reach you. “Have you said that you will take care of something, but didn’t?” Her frustration leads to a marked decrease in conversation, requests and “nagging.” However, the nagging comes to an end because she has given up and has decided this is the end of the line. She turns her discontent and frustration into silence. A wife’s silence has been interpreted by men as a blissful marriage. Quite the contrary. A woman has already emotionally checked out.
The message in the behavior — It’s very common that what is most bothersome to people is not the actual behavior (though trust me, behaviors do bother people), but the message that emanates from the behavior. What’s the message? Despite years of monitoring the marriage, making ongoing requests for a conversation for changes to be made, to be listened to, feel understood, take problems seriously (even if you don’t think they are problems), and eventually resolve problems are demonstrated as an unwillingness by men to take the time to talk and resolve the issues (the behavior). Their unwillingness gets interpreted as “this marriage isn’t important enough for me to listen and make changes.”
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A point of no return— Once a woman has become tired of the situation, seldom do they turn around. At this stage, the marriage is rarely, if ever, salvageable. Her resolve and strength to work on the marriage have dissipated and have been replaced by feelings of sadness. Ask her what’s wrong with the marriage? She will answer “everything” indicating a level of unrecognizable frustration.
Men soon find themselves in therapy, desperately trying to save the marriage, which by most accounts, is no longer salvageable.
Sometimes it’s just too late.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: When Is A Marriage Past The Point Of No Return?.