Here’s a story that explains why a woman is more likely than a man to end a marriage.
A husband goes to a doctor and says, “Every time my wife and I get into a fight, she gets historical.”
“Don’t you mean hysterical?” asked the doctor.
“No, “ he replied. “I prefer hysterical. That’s momentary. She gets historical. Reminds me of everything I ever did.”
For women, marital annoyances do pile up, which may explain why the National Marriage Project at Rutgers (http://marriage.rutgers.edu ) found that two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. As the director of Blended Families of America and a divorce coach, I’ve noticed that most over-40 divorced women realize they may not remarry. And guess what? They don’t care!
1) As we age, women are winding up while men are winding down.
Women have spent a lifetime asking everyone else — kids, husband, bosses — what they want. And now they are asking themselves the same question. So whether it’s going back to school, ditching the suburban life for city living, or taking a trek to the Himalayas, divorced women are using their new-found freedom to do what they want, especially if the kids have left home. The empty nest isn’t a syndrome any longer; it’s an opportunity to take flight—literally. Women are less concerned with new companionship than they are in feeling fulfilled spiritually and emotionally. According to a British study from the Yorkshire Building Society, the majority of women reported feeling liberated, relieved, and happy after their divorce and looked forward to a fresh start.
2) Living Apart Can Be Better Than Living Together
It’s fun being a girlfriend. A wife? Not so much. Cooking, housework, juggling multiple schedules is exhausting — and many women feel they were doing it as a solo act giving 90 percent to someone else’s 10 percent. That’s why LAT (Living Apart Together) relationships are so popular. As I explained in a New York Times article, that’s commitment without living together.
There are several benefits to this arrangement: If you’re a divorced mother of young children, you are less likely to be torn between pleasing your new spouse and your kids. Plus, your partners’ kids from other marriages won’t see you as a threat to their inheritance.
In fact, the biggest reason for second marriage break-ups, according to the Stepfamily Foundation (www.stepfamilyfoundation.com ), is because of the kids’ not getting along with their parent’s new love interest and their children—think Chris Evert and Greg Norman.
When you are together with your boyfriend, it is far more romantic and fun. There is date behavior and marital behavior. And given the choice, most of us would prefer the former. Sometimes, real life gets a little too real.
3) As Mae West said, I used to be Snow White and then I drifted. Instead of one relationship, post-divorce dating may include many.
In short, women may prefer to date rather than remarry. Dr. Barbara Bartlik, a sex therapist and psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian hospital sees a growing trend of financially secure women preferring to “stay single and date.” They enjoy having their own schedules without having to report to anyone. They embrace the freedom to create environments that reflect their interests and tastes. Nor does this cramp a social life. In fact, 75% of women in their 50s in the AARP study report a serious relationship within two years after their divorces. Just because you don’t marry, doesn’t mean you’re not finding companionship. OK. The relationships may not be worthy of storybook romances but they can be interesting novellas.
4) You look better than ever and have more options
If you take care of yourself, the options increase exponentially. A trim body in either gender is always attractive. Years ago, divorced or widowed women in their 40s, 50s or 60s usually had to date up — to the geriatric ward, where men were often self-centered and bloated; think Danny DeVito on a bad day.
Now fast-forward. Women look so good, it’s hard to know their age. Science not only gives us nifty gadgets like iPhone and Tivo, it delivers long-term beauty. Now, younger men want to be with older women.
If you look up the definition of “cougar,” adjectives like sleek, smart and strong appear. And independent. Cougars pursue a variety of prey. Variety is always good especially when you’ve lived a life being loyal to one person who then either dumps you or disappoints you. In fact, this cat has the greatest range of any wild terrestrial mammal in the Western hemisphere—even wider than the wolf. It’s solitary and doesn’t need to stick around like those herding animals. Nor does a cougar want to stick around, which makes them more appealing. So don’t cringe at the term. Embrace it. Be a cougar. Test the waters. As the men soon discover, experience is its own reward.
5) You’ve matured
Your personality has changed and you are not the kid who was dating way back when. As Dr. Mark Banschick, who runs “The Intelligent Divorce” program in Katonah, New York, says, “If you were awkward, you are less so. If you liked "bad boys" you may pick a different sort today. If you were super conservative, you may choose fun over boredom.” Many of us married resumes or what we thought we should marry. But knowing thyself can be a good thing. We are more self assured, self reliant and conscious of our sexual and spiritual needs.
The key to enjoying this special stage in life is to remember that you carry many roles now as an adult. As Dr. Banschick cautions, “While you may be dating a variety of interesting men, remember to set your ‘second adolescence’ aside when needed.” Your kids still need an adult mother and your job still requires an adult sense of timeliness and responsibility.
6) Divorced women get time off from their kids – a true luxury
Divorced women share a secret. Unlike married couples who have kids 24/7 and can be exhausted from all the domestic responsibilities, divorced women by law must share their kids with their spouse. This allows women to pursue their interests as well as work projects without interruption or guilt. You can stay in bed and read all day, visit friends, shop or spend the night at a boyfriend’s or college pal’s house. Kid-free weekends allow you to experiment and have fun, and make you feel young again.
7) You may not want sex all the time
There are only two four-letter words that are offensive to most men – “don’t” and “stop”—unless they’re used together. After enough sex to last a lifetime, some women are happy to put that self-imposed obligation behind them. Occasional sex—vs. the required two times a week—actually can be more heated and satisfying. Absence can make the heart grow fonder of many things. You now can have sex when you want it, whenever that is.
8) You don’t have to discuss your relationship ad nauseam
How exhausting is it to ask where the relationship is going, or whether your partner cares about the relationship, and then get a grunt or a shrug or a disappointing response. Now you don’t have to ask the question because you aren’t married or interested in getting remarried. Your companion doesn’t have to be Mr. Right; he can be Mr. Right Now.
9) You’re a realist.
Divorced women know the lay of the land. They are savvy to relationship pitfalls and work hard to avoid them. True, they may not have the same financial security, but freedom is priceless. As my divorced friend Debbie says, having the freedom to do whatever, with whomever, whenever is worth every penny of living alone.