Friday, May 15, 2009

Reasons for divorce: Some readers have implied that in a typical situation, a marriage comes to an end because the woman wants to trade up. Never mind that a couple of children is not a good plan if you want to attract another man. Here is the expert opinion of David Popenoe, a family researcher I trust at Rutgers:

[T]he higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be "badly behaved." Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.

Copyright 2002 by David Popenoe, the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.

He neglected to mention domestic violence--another common reason for divorce.

20 comments:

Jason said...

I was best man for a friend of mine who married a nice church-going lady. Mildest, kindest guy I know. Good earner, too. Told me outright he wanted the whole family & fellowship thing. Cynical old atheist me told him that was great, as long as he got what he wanted.

She kicks him out of the house about 4 months out of every year, and she's the one who filed for divorce. Of course, as soon as he was about to close on his own house, she wanted him back. They have no kids yet, but his other friends and I are placing bets on how long it will be. If she's reeling him in and out like a fish now, it's only a matter of time until she drives that emotional and legal harpoon through his ribcage. The better to jerk him around with.

I'm happily married myself, but I feel like a guy who won the lotto. Just because I got lucky doesn't make it a good investment strategy.

BGC said...

Interestingly, and against common belief, domestic violence is about as frequent from wives as from husbands: Archer J (2002). "Sex differences in physically aggressive acts between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review". Aggression and Violent Behavior 7 (4): 313–51.

Jason Malloy said...

Here is the expert opinion of David Popenoe, a family researcher I trust at Rutgers:... [T]he higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be "badly behaved". Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.


These are not the top reasons cited for initiating divorce. The top three reasons cited by females who initiate divorce are communication difficulties, incompatibility, and lack of love. Physical abuse is the least important reason cited, substance abuse is the third least, and infidelity is in the bottom third.

Remember, females are the choosy sex, and they don't stop being choosy after they've chosen. It's not just marriages-- females initiate 70% of non-marital break-ups as well.

When asked about the reasons for their divorce, women are more likely to report some version of losing their emotional bond, while men are more likely to have no clue what happened:

"With respect to perceived causes of divorce, women appear to be more likely than men to refer to relational or emotional issues, such as basic unhappiness and incompatibility (Cleek & Pearson, 1985), former spouses’ personalities (Kitson, 1992), and a general lack of love (Levinger, 1966)... Former husbands also are more likely to report that they do not know what caused the divorce (Kitson, 1992)"The above survey found that 0% of women, but 9.1% of men, did not understand why their marriage ended.

Consistent with the “Men behaving badly” theory, both women and men agree that men are more at fault for marital breakdowns. The above survey found that 40% of divorced women blamed the husband's behavior for causing the divorce, compared with 21% of the husbands who blamed the wife's behavior. Meanwhile 1.5% of wives blamed their own behavior, compared with 10% of husbands who blame their own behavior.

But that leaves 58.6% women who initiate divorce when "no one" is at fault (41% of total divorces), which still outnumbers all of the divorces initiated by men. Approximately removing the divorces where men and women assign blame, women are still twice as likely to initiate divorce.

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

"Never mind that a couple of children is not a good plan if you want to attract another man."

Who said that human beings recognize their own deficits? Go to most any bar on a Saturday night, and you'll see guys my age (I'm 51) hitting on women young enough to be their daughters. Why should women be considered any different in their ability to delude themselves?

Men are hard wired to be attracted to women who look fertile, i.e. shiny hair, symetrical face, large eyes, hourglass figure, smooth unblemished skin. In other words, a young woman. By the same token, women are more attracted to masculine looking men, especially those that give off signals of high status; this indicates to a woman that the man has resources that she and her offspring can gain access to. Just because a woman has had a couple of children doesn't mean that these base urges go away.

Ron Guhname said...

"Interestingly, and against common belief, domestic violence is about as frequent from wives as from husbands."

True, but men rarely initiate divorce becuase of it. The difference between men and women is that men do more injury.

Ron Guhname said...

"These are not the top reasons cited for initiating divorce. The top three reasons cited by females who initiate divorce are communication difficulties, incompatibility, and lack of love."

Your link deals with adjustment after separation, not the top reasons.

"When asked about the reasons for their divorce, women are more likely to report some version of losing their emotional bond, while men are more likely to have no clue what happened."

This reference lists the top three reasons as infidelity, imcompatability (who knows what that is really about), and drinking or drug use.

"With respect to perceived causes of divorce, women appear to be more likely than men to refer to relational or emotional issues, such as basic unhappiness and incompatibility (Cleek & Pearson, 1985), former spouses’ personalities (Kitson, 1992), and a general lack of love (Levinger, 1966)... Former husbands also are more likely to report that they do not know what caused the divorce (Kitson, 1992)."

I see no mention of, "I want a richer man."

Anonymous said...

Ron,

Since I know you are talking about me......let me count up all the guys whose wives have divorced them that Ive worked with right here.....

RF, MD, MD (same initials), S, PD, SB, LH, RB, FO, FB, JE, GR, R, R's son, JW, JB, MD again (he's been hit twice), there are probably more, I just cant think of them right now.


In most of the instances above, the wife was cheating. In four of the instances above, the wife literally left the husband for another man. In two of those intsances, she got the house and gets child support despite joint custody (Damn just thought of one other guy whose name escapes me---he came home from work unexpectedly and found his wife in bed with TWO men of uh........how do we put this gingerly, another race). He is now divorced also.


I ought to post for you little-three-or-four-paragraph details of these divorces for their outrageous comedy. Its insane what the women did, and still got everything they wanted in court.


Aw hell..............lemme tell you one.

SB was happily married. He had two kids. He worked a regular job, and worked a second job at his father-in-law's business (he eventually bought that business and took it over, making very good money). He put his wife through college while doing this. He worked about 70 hours a week for about 7 or 8 years. Guess what? After she graduated she left him for a older man down the street (an older couple who were friends with SB and his wife.............the older woman had just beaten cancer, chemo, everything) SB and his wife would stop by and help them out, generally be supportive, etc. Well SB's wife "fell in love" with this guy old enough to be her father (I dont believe it, I think she was just looking to get out of the first marriage because she was using SB from the day they married).
She got joint custody, the house, and child support, and half SB's 401K despite ALL of this. She got the furniture too. She is a psychologist that works for the state.

Three of the other stories of the initials above are more extraneous than that. More outrageous, but longer. Thats a short one. A friend of mine and myself decided that SB's wife (who is pretty hot) never really loved him even at the start. He made pretty good money, was a way for her to go to college and get a couple of kids, and she could go chase other men later. Thats exactly what she did.




Evil laws make evil people Ron. If you made shoplifting just one item a non-prosecutorial offense, and just made the person "put it back" if caught because "its cruel to give someone a criminal record and harm their life over just one small thing", what do you think would happen? Heretofore non-stealing people (mostly women), would start shoplifting as more and more people tried to leave every store with one filched item. It would become rampant. This is what is happening with no-fault divorce and child support. More and more women (of the secular variety becuase of lack of religious mores against it), are cashing out of these marriages figuring affairs and chasing dream guys will be "more fun". They frame themselves as the victims no matter what.


I can tell you some more entertaining stories of some of the initials above if you would like involving massive credit card fraud, pre-cleaning out of bank accounts, cleaning out of 401K's, threats of destruction of property and petty blackmail, (Damn, just thought of one other guy), etc.


They are so outrageous, that they exceed fiction I assure you. Miles

roissy said...

I have written a lot about this. the reason women initiate divorce at a greater rate than men isn't because they necessarily want to trade up, but because their husbands have turned beta. and when a woman falls out of love she wants to get as far away as possible from what she sees as the source of her misery -- the beta hubbie. those precious eggs must be protected at all costs. but when a man falls out of love with his wife (e.g. she gets fat, old or disfigured) he's more likely to stick it out from a misguided sense of manly duty and desire for the comfortable predictability of a well-worn relationship and steady, albeit unexciting, sex.

no-fault divorce, along with a host of other cultural changes, have given women greater leeway to act on their impulses.

Ron Guhname said...

Roissy: It's a coherent theory, but we're data people here.

roissy said...

"Roissy: It's a coherent theory, but we're data people here."

as malloy wrote above:

"These are not the top reasons cited for initiating divorce. The top three reasons cited by females who initiate divorce are communication difficulties, incompatibility, and lack of love."

you've gotta read between the lines, ron. when women complain about incompatibility and lack of love what they mean is "my husband doesn't hit enough of those alpha male buttons anymore that get me so aroused." btw, game goes a long way toward addressing these marital issues.

right now, the science is not advanced enough (or politically incorrect enough) to accurately measure the types of male behavior that truly turns on women. we see hints of this with that study from a few months ago which demonstrated that women's conscious awareness of what arouses them is severed to a large extent from their biological arousal response. (i'm not gonna dig up the link. too lazy.)

in the same vein, studies which purport to show what women find attractive in men (good looks topping the list, usually) suffer from the problem of... asking women what they like in men! anyone who has spent a day in his life around women knows that the first rule regarding female mate preference is never listen to what a woman says, watch what she does. until those studies begin to measure women's actual vaginal responses in the field to men hitting on them with and without the use of game, i would take most of them with a flat of salt.

Jason Malloy said...

Your link deals with adjustment after separation, not the top reasons.

Not true, see Table 2. It explicitly asked divorce initiators to rate how much grievances against their spouse contributed to the decision. (1= not a factor, 4= one of the most important factors)

This reference lists the top three reasons as infidelity, imcompatability (who knows what that is really about), and drinking or drug use.

These aren't ranked in order of importance, but in frequency cited. Also they don't specify who did what. But this is not very important: Taking substance abuse and infidelity together (unnecessary, since the problems can overlap) we get 40%-- the exact same number of husbands that women blamed for ruining the marriage.

That still leaves 60% of marriages where the women explicitly did not blame the husbands for behaving badly. This refutes Popenoe. Women are twice as likely to end marriages without fault. It comes down to "reasons of the heart" like "incompatibility". (As the paper also notes religious people are less likely to divorce for these kinds of reasons, because they are not allowed to.)

I see no mention of, "I want a richer man".

That's bad form. I said nothing about "richer men". I was the one who showed women were happier in marriages with more income equality.

What I said was that women were more likely to lose their emotional bond and terminate relationships (because they are the biologically "choosy" sex. Money often plays a role in this de-bonding," but so do a lot of variables).

This is equally true for marital and non-marital relationships.

Jason Malloy said...

"in the same vein, studies which purport to show what women find attractive in men (good looks topping the list, usually) suffer from the problem of... asking women what they like in men"

Roissy, here is a study which shows a strong revealed preference for physically attractive males, by tracking email responsiveness on a large online dating network.

Men above the 95 percentile in looks had a "superstar effect," provoking almost twice as much female contact as men at the 91-95th percentile (!):

"Outcomes are strongly increasing in measured looks. In fact, the looks ratings variable has the largest impact on outcomes among all variables used in the Poisson regression analysis. Men and women in the lowest decile receive only about half as many e-mails as members whose rating is in the fourth decile, while the users in the top decile are contacted about twice as often. Overall, the relationship between outcomes and looks is similar for men and women. However, there is a surprising “superstar” effect for men. Those men in the top five percent of ratings receive almost twice as many first contacts as the next five percent; for women, on the other hand, the difference in outcomes is much smaller."

Jason said...

"True, but men rarely initiate divorce because of it."

So you're telling us a significant number of guys in your still-married "benefit" column are actually in abusive relationships.

What a bargain!

Anonymous said...

"Roissy, here is a study which shows a strong revealed preference for physically attractive males, by tracking email responsiveness on a large online dating network."

Well, yes, they respond to looks in an online dating content, 'cos looks are practically all they have to go (given that whatever the men say about themselves may be lies).

In a more data-rich environment, it may be different.

Ron Guhname said...

"That's bad form. I said nothing about 'richer men'."

I wasn't answering you, I was responding to the claim described in the post; that married women initiate divorce to get a higher status man.

Ron Guhname said...

It seems to me that beta-ness is not situational. You are it, or you are not. I doubt that there is a tendency for alphas to become fundamentally different people after marriage. And most women marry men who are already betas, so they can't get disappointed by a change.

The magic disappears for women because of things like routine; conflicts that gradually cause hard feelings to develop which overwhelm and replace good feelings; learning you actually have little in common; the-grass-is-greener syndrome; with time, men get comfortable and stop making the effort to charm the woman; they get absorbed in their own masculine interests and hobbies the woman doesn't share (sounds pretty alpha to me); women feel neglected and don't feel special anymore. I can go on and on, but, myself, I have seen very little, "He's turned into such a pussy." I watch women too, and I can't recall seeing this except for perhaps in the movies. You might be right, but I haven't seen it.

The closest case I can think of was a woman after twelve years of marriage and four kids was so tired of her rich husband being gone all the time and neglecting her when he was home, she started having an affair with a studly but crazy fireman. They got divorced, and she married a $100K-plus geeky childhood friend she felt no passion for.

This dynamic might be more common among elites like a lot of white folks in DC. Most of my contacts are more working- and middle-class.

The most recent case I'm familiar with is a young, beautiful woman with three kids. She married a charismatic guy who sells drugs and who now has a drug problem himself. He's basically a dick and has a violence problem. They fight constantly, and she occasionally gets beaten up. She finally got fed up and after a year of drama is getting the divorced finalized. From what I can tell, she can find guys who want to have fun, but who wants to get involved in that mess with those three little kids?

Another recent one is an immigrant woman who met a guy, got married, and gradually discovered how controlling the guy is--a real alpha. He always wanted to run the show which is fine if the woman is passive, but this is a tough Russian woman. It was a constant tug of war, she finally got fed up and left. He was able to get custody of their little girl because mom was an illegal. She's thin and attractive (for her age) but is close to 40, and she can't find a man. She certainly never left him because there was a line of guys waiting for her.

Jason Malloy said...

"I wasn't answering you, I was responding to the claim described in the post"

Ron, fair enough, but I don't know who you were shadow boxing with. Quoting from my comment implies you are arguing with me, instead of an unseen other.

"Well, yes, they respond to looks in an online dating content, 'cos looks are practically all they have to go".

Yeah, I mean it is obvious that attractiveness would carry more weight here (as a seemingly more "honest signal"), but it also does in speed dating experiments, which also include interpersonal interaction.

For young women, and those looking for flings and short-term relationships looks are very important whether you ask or observe.

RE: roissy. Perhaps there is another important variable men could be rated on a 1-10 scale by judges, as well, such as social skills, flirtatiousness, or charm, that would outweigh attractiveness. Perhaps."women's conscious awareness of what arouses them is severed to a large extent from their biological arousal response... [so] until those studies begin to measure women's actual vaginal responses in the field"What this means is that stuff like un-sexy discussion of sex, or videos of chimps having sex evokes a genital response in women even though they have no psychological arousal. But this doesn't mean women are chimposexual. It means vaginal response seems to be fairly automatic to overt cues of sex (which would make it a bad diagnostic for field work).

What you are interpreting this to mean is that women's psychological arousal is severed from their conscious awareness. And that may be true, but vaginal response does not show this.

Jason Malloy said...

Still wrestling with that formatting bug. I'm re-posting that last part:


RE: roissy. Perhaps there is another important variable men could be rated on a 1-10 scale by judges, as well, such as social skills, flirtatiousness, or charm, that would outweigh attractiveness. Perhaps.

"women's conscious awareness of what arouses them is severed to a large extent from their biological arousal response... [so] until those studies begin to measure women's actual vaginal responses in the field".

What this means is that stuff like un-sexy discussion of sex, or videos of chimps having sex evokes a genital response in women even though they have no psychological arousal. But this doesn't mean women are chimposexual. It means vaginal response seems to be fairly automatic to overt cues of sex (which would make it a bad diagnostic for field work).

What you are interpreting this to mean is that women's psychological arousal is severed from their conscious awareness. And that may be true, but vaginal response does not show this.

Jewish Atheist said...

I've actually witness the opposite of what Roissy describes.

The divorced couples I know were mostly less-beta men. Tall, cocky, outgoing, charming, flirty with other women. Sometimes they cheat. Sometimes the woman just gets fed up being treated like a maid. These men tend to do well with other women afterwards, but they don't seem particularly happy.

The ones who stay happily married are more what Roissy would describe as beta. They're not necessarily making dinner, but they'll help with the dishes and the kids. They don't flirt with other women. They're a little nerdy or introverted. And they're happy.

Your Mother's Brother's Father said...

~Still wrestling with that formatting bug~

An other way to work around it it to put a character outside the end-tag.(A tilde in this example, but it could be anything else.)