Why do men get divorced

WOMEN MEN : It hurts to divorce

She could no longer bear this unworthy state: his affairs, his lies, her looking away. When Johanna's sons left the house, she packed the suitcases too. But it was only when her husband wanted a divorce that she buried the illusion that he would find his way back to her: “After moving out, I tried in vain to kill off the longing. My husband visited me a few more times. Once he opened his coat and hugged me. Then I knew: I'm far from finished with the breakup. "

Johanna's marriage is only one of 200,000 that are divorced each year in Germany. Until the separation, the wedded happiness lasted 14 years on average. Every fifth divorced couple ends their life covenant after their silver wedding anniversary. The farewell is almost never based on a spontaneous decision. The end of love is not a short process, but a drama in many acts.

More firmly anchored professionally, less networked in private life, men develop different strategies than women in order to cope with such a critical event. While men limit the rejection to their person, women perceive their partner's disengagement as an attack on their concept of life. In endless loops, they ponder the breakpoints, reinterpret the apostate's behavior and grit their teeth at his silence. Men miss real things, women envision the potential happiness that thwarts the breakup.

The shock after being abandoned is equally great for men and women. The desertion from marriage hits them like a club. Married partners in particular tend to underestimate each other's independence. Men like to ignore signals of dissatisfaction, whereas women do not trust their husbands to break out of the monotony of their marriage.

Although feelings do not follow any set of rules, well-known couples experts such as the Berlin psychiatrist Horst Petri and the Mannheim psychotherapist Doris Wolf divide the coping with abandonment into typical stages. After the dismay that the partner lets you down, the phase of not wanting to be true follows. Oscillating between the outcry “How can he / she do this to me?” And appeasements such as “He / she would never let me down” protect the abandoned against their powerlessness by trivializing the partner's move out as temporary.

The hope: soon he or she will regret the step. And so there are still two names on the doorbell on the door. Abandoned people sneak around the phone, check their e-mails every hour and call the escaped person under pretexts: out of longing for the familiar voice, to disturb him in his love nest or to force contact through an argument. Sometimes the impending loss incites seduction skills. It is not uncommon for newly divorced people to end up in bed with each other.

If that hope dies, the forsaken run by storm. They label the partner as a monster, go through the house and smash objects that belong to the other. Forsaken people imagine with relish how their former love has collapsed. They suppress mail, documents and irreplaceable memorabilia, block the account, make contact with children more difficult and let the ex fidget with important information.

At some point the strength to fight is exhausted. The outrage that the partner left without notice is relativized to the effect that warning signs have probably been trivialized. In this phase of desperation, the family of origin offers support, men often reactivate neglected contacts, and it is not uncommon for children or close friends to be employed as allies.

However, they are available to a limited extent as a suggestion box. At some point they can no longer hear the tirade of lament, especially when the abandoned settle in the role of victim and constantly demand proof of loyalty. And so, after a phase of black and white thinking, the chaos slowly clears.

Forsaken people now assess more realistically what is over and what remains. In mourning over what has been lost, they submit to the unchangeable. The acceptance clears the way for a new beginning. Women activate idle skills. Men take refuge in work and in the arms of a transition partner. It dampens the fear of falling into a deep. One year after the divorce, 80 percent of men are in a relationship again.

The belief that this is the way to overcome the crisis is deceptive. Repressed feelings can manifest as psychosomatic disorders. In the long term, men get along worse on their own, according to socio-medical studies and the performance statistics of the pension insurance institutions. They are less well cared for and emotionally less likely than women to be taken care of by friends, they exploit their health and, in extreme cases, take their own lives. After a breakup, men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.

If a partner leaves the marriage union, his or her reasons almost always begin with "I." Not because he or she is self-centered, but breaks out of an association in which much has been foregone. Women speak of stuntedness, indifference and emptiness, that argument , Power games and addictions undermined their marriage.

Men are emotionally starved in the same situation. After starting a family, they often felt they had been instrumentalized as the main breadwinner and like an insect sucked out by another. But men are mental craftsmen. You want to solve problems, not talk about them endlessly. Your patience ends when an alternative appears on the horizon. That can be a divorce. Unlike women, who find the silence in their own four walls oppressive, they often breathe a sigh of relief after such a decision. No more interference, no more adjustment!

It is alarmingly often that separated couples describe a chronic deficit in conversation: “We talked about everything, just not about our feelings.” If silence and alienation nestle up, lust for each other dies. Younger people also report that there is nothing but sleep in bed. The fact that most marriages fail after four to eight years, most often those of 40 to 45 year olds, is also due to the fact that communication deteriorates under stress and the libido slips away.

Experts emphasize that relationships fail not because of conflict, but because of the inability to negotiate them. Satisfied partners balance differences with gestures of belonging and allow ambivalences. Dissatisfied couples, on the other hand, have a reproachful debating style. With derogatory undertones and physical rejection, they undermine positive statements. Instead of “both and”, “either or” dominates.

“The separation process begins when couples stop investing in the relationship,” explains the Berlin psychotherapist Wolfgang Krüger, who has just published the partnership guide “Freiraum für die Liebe” at Kreuz Verlag. “Partners cut the inner wires, they downright shrink from closeness because they no longer want to surrender themselves to the other.” The familiar misery is less fearful than the departure into the unknown.

Even with mutual separation, the final rift for partners does not occur at the same time. They often have completely different views of their highs and lows. According to the motto “I broke the marriage, but the marriage broke me first”, the abandoner only perceives the dark side selectively, whereas the abandoned partner sorts the positive experiences.

When the differences no longer have to be leveled by compromises that require togetherness, gender characteristics emerge again. Women often come to the realization that they have mixed up “mine” and “yours” and shaped their partner according to an inner search image. For them, discussions end with the rejection of any chance of rescue: “I will stay as I am!” On the other hand, many men admit that by returning to themselves, they have thrown off the “ballast” of complicated emotional entanglements.

But even if a separation like the one with Johanna was a long time ago, the level of detail with which the ex-partners remember her reveals that the wound will still burn years later.

Our author recently published the book “The year after - When couples split up” in Links Verlag.

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