Saturday, July 7, 2012

Why the TomKat Divorce is So Typical

Beyond the fact that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are famous, and that they are extremely wealthy, and they're both involved in a cultish religion called Scientology, their divorce is actually extremely typical. It was Katie who filed and it was Tom who said he was blindsided. The vast majority of divorces are filed by women. One study says that with college educated couples, women file for divorce 90% of the time. Men usually say they didn't see it coming, they were blindsided, and they are devastated.

All of which is a bit ironic, considering that men are generally seen as the reluctant parties to enter into marriage. But what these studies never seem to get into is WHY it is women filing for divorce. I'm sure the reasons are all over the map, but Kate Figes' book "Couples" has an interesting explanation. When a marriage is in trouble, generally it's the wives who voice their concerns. Women are, on the whole, the more communicative sex. But a woman can tell a man -- over and over and over -- that she's unhappy, miserable, and the marriage isn't what she wants and the man just ... doesn't hear her. Or doesn't acknowledge it. Or doesn't take it seriously. Or something.

On the one hand, you can see the man's side of it. Women complain about their friends -- but continue to be friends with them. Women complain about how bad their favorite TV shows are, but continue to watch them. A man on the receiving end of various complaints probably thinks, "Yeah, she hates me, but she also hates her mother, her sister, her best friend, the neighbor, and her boss. And I notice she isn't doing anything about them either." Then he opens another beer and turns on the game.

But when the papers are filed, he's suddenly shocked and devastated and had no idea things were so bad. In Figes' book, one man taken aback by his wife's divorce filing said, "She'd been saying for years she was miserable but I didn't think she really meant it."

If men and women are hoping to save their marriage before it gets to this point of no return, a couple of changes might help. Women can couch their unhappiness is less broad, vague terms, ie "I'm so miserable," and instead say something like, "If we don't work on improving this marriage, we should see a divorce lawyer within X amount of time." And men, of course, might want to sit up and take those groans of complaint seriously. They DO mean something.


  1. When doing research for my book, He's History You're Not; I came across an AARP study of who filed for divorce among older couples, and, of course, it was mainly women and they gave alcoholism abuse and infidelity as reasons. Men who filed complained that they "fell out of love." Interesting.

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  4. You seem to ignore the fact that it is financially more beneficial for the woman to divorce her husband. Everyone divorced couple I know, the mom always gets the kids and child support. The man suffers financially until the kids are grown. Also, the friends of women often advise them to divorce their husbands and tell women they are stupid not to divorce them. The friends of men, on the other hand, advise the men to keep their women in line, and they warn husbands never to divorce their wives unless they want to go broke. I think these reasons are much more valid than the idea that men are too dense and stupid to know if their wives are unhappy.

  5. I got your point, Kiri. I think the most common reason why miscommunication is somewhat a fad is that both parties don't know how to express what they really feel with each other. I think that is what couples are missing nowadays.

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  6. We can't avoid misunderstandings, but we can do something about it. Listen to each other’s complaints. Talk about it. Compromise. I know we can’t get married if we're not ready to understand your better half. Sometimes, counseling can help you in avoiding the possibility of divorce.

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