Why it’s men who now find it difficult to cope with divorce
By Bunmi Sofola
THE belief that the average woman would hang on to her marriage no matter how bad it is, is gradually being eroded by the increasing number of women who walk away all the time. What’s more, they get over the trauma of divorce more quickly than their exes. This is because, generally women don’t see themselves as defined by being a wife any more. They’re less likely to be financially dependent on a husband and marriage is no longer the be-all and end-all. Men, meanwhile, still see themselves as the family provider, so when this framework flounders, they often fall apart.
Six years ago, Alaba, a fairly successful accountant, married for 17 years, suddenly discovered his marriage was on its last leg. “The same old excuse,” he recalled sadly, “my wife was having an affair. A mother of three, carrying on behind my back like a criminal. She prepared meals for her lover in our home and took them to his place. A married bachelor, Joseph, her lover, had sworn off living with women after three ‘baby mamas’. He’d never been legally married and had a lot of money to support his lifestyle.
“I should have seen the break-up of my marriage coming. Susan, my wife and I ran into Joseph at a mutual friend’s party. Days later, she kept talking about him but I thought nothing of it until we ran into him at another party. As she talked with him, she kept on giggling like a school girl as he plied her with attention. When I protested on the way home, she insisted there was nothing going on, but my trust in my wife and the chemistry we shared somehow faded. It was like the beginning of the end … “
Unsurprisingly, Susan’s account of the demise of their marriage differs. She denies cheating on her husband and claims he was the unfaithful one. “Joseph has always been a ladies’ man,” she said, “and I’d often over-looked his indiscretion. After three kids, all in their teens, what mother wants to up and leave her marriage? Unfortunately, Joseph took our marriage for granted. He put me down a lot – when we first met he often made fun of my nose which he said was big and my thick assent which made me sound like a bush woman trying to speak English! My confidence was being constantly knocked. He wasn’t horrible, but he lived in a fantasy world that could be really draining. I warned him constantly that if things didn’t change we’d split up. But I knew they wouldn’t. From time to time, he’d remind me of some of our friends whose marriage had crashed and emphasised how difficult it was for the ex-wives to move on.
“Things came to a head when Alaba saw my phone vibrating on the dressing table on his way to the toilet. He said he was curious as to who would be contacting his wife so late that he read the message I’d just received. It was from Joseph. Alaba then discovered some other texts between us dating back months and suggesting a romance. I had no choice but to admit the affair which served as a catalyst to end a marriage that was already doomed. Alaba wanted us to stay together but we would have split up anyway. Of course I regret fhe upset it caused, but I wasn’t really happy living with him. We were more or less like lodgers … “
Alaba was devastated by the end of his marriage. “I’d given her almost 18 years of my life, and for what? The children stayed with their mother in her rented flat. She has a good job and Mr. money-bags must have chipped in too. My agony was compounded by reports from the children when they came over for the weekend, that their mum was enjoying raucous nights out with friends… Divor e is easier for woman as they talk about their emotions more. When my male friends tried to persuade me to tell them how I really felt about my divorce, I’d change the subjects, embarrassed.
“My ex-wife might have quickly swept aside the years we shared together, but I find it difficult to jump into another relationship. Finding love again is more difficult for divorced men. I felt unattractive and didn’t understand why any woman would want to be with me, a reject. The few dates I’d been on were nothing to write home about as I bored my dates with the experience my wife made me go through. 1 went into marriage because my parents were happily married. They were together for over 40 years before they died. Unlike Susan’s parents – who divorced when she was a child. My parents stuck together through thick and thin, and I wanted the same sort of partnership. Sadly, I didn’t get it … “
According to research, increasingly, it is men, rather than women, who struggle to come to terms with divorce. Divorced men are more likely to become depressed than their married counterpart, are more prone to deep depression and more likely to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Even the quality of their sleep is more likely to decline, whereas the opposite is the case for newly single women, who are more likely to see divorce as a liberating, if painful, new start.
“Society is still a lot more sympathetic towards divorced women,” says Dr. EIle Boag, a society psychologist. “They are still typically seen as the ‘victim’, while men, often forced away from their children since the ex wife continues to nurture the kids, typically find it harder to express emotions and admit they need help.”
Eight years ago, Dapo and his new bride Rele, were full of hopes for the children that would soon arrive to make them a family. “I wanted the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world,” said Dapo, “and Rele wanted the same thing. We were devastated whenever the pregnancy tests came back negative. Perhaps we were naive, but we expected it to happen straight away.
“Two years later and several fertily tests that showed we were both fit to be parents, the spark started wearing off our marriage. My mother kept on asking why my wife wasn’t pregnant yet and Rele became aggressive towards my family. In the end she just tore into me, said she was fed up of being pointed out as the barren one and then started an affair. When I confronted her, she said she knew my ‘people’ were encouraging me to have affairs that was why she did it … “
Whatever the truth, the couple broke up shortly after and Rele found it easier to move on than Dapo. She remarried a couple of years ago and is now the proud mother of a baby. “I felt devastated- I wasn’t the father of her baby,” said Dapo. “My confidence was destroyed and I felt betrayed by her. I had invested all my emotions in my marriage. I burst into tears whenever I tried to explain how I felt to friends, so I stopped socialising. I was absolutely devastated. I really loved her. I would have given anything to get her back. .. “
Women Outdo Men When It Comes To Working Hard …
IT’s a suggestion that’s likely to ruffle some rather outdated stereotypes about the fairer sex but when it comes to office environments, women emerge as more hard-working than men, a study has found.
Contrary to old cliches about women being gossipy and unable to focus on the job at hand, it found they are more likely to stay at their desks and finish a task than their male colleagues are.
Women were also found to work for longer and were less likely to wander off.
Men by contrast got easily distracted, suggesting they did not have their minds on the job. The study on behalf of technology film 3M observed 274 workers – 53 per cent female and 47 per cent male – across US offices in a range of industries.
During a ten-minute trial, women worked for 4.9 minutes versus men’s 4.3 minutes. When given the opportunity to walk off, 38 per cent of women did so – compared with 52 per cent of men.
Interestingly, the men were also found to work less when women were around.
If the researcher and subject were female, the average time was four minutes. If the researcher and subject were both male, it was 3.6. But when the researcher was female and the subject male, the time was 2.8 minutes.
Relationships writer Jean Hannah Edelstein said: ‘Perhaps women work harder because we suffer more from “imposter syndrome;” society bombards us with messages that we’re not as valuable as our male colleagues, so perhaps we feel we have to be more diligent to prove ourselves. Some men may feel a sense of entitlement to professional success, as a result of living in a society where men are more valued than women in some work places.
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