Marriage takes work, lots of work, especially if you want it to last, and these days women are getting divorced not because of infidelity, but because of boredom.
In the article, “Women and Divorce: Goodbye darling, you’re just too dull…” it seems that women are questioning if there isn’t “something more” to life and end up walking out even with a decent husband. Why is that?
- Are women becoming more selfish?
- Can we blame books like Eat, Pray, Love?
- Are women going through a new kind of mid-life crisis?
- Have women become narcissistic ignoring their vows, “Until death us do part”?
Apparently 7 out of 10 divorces are initiated by women, and the numbers are soaring among the over-45s, with break-ups in that age bracket increasing by 30 per cent in a decade. Writer Fay Weldon recently said:
“Women in their fifties instigate divorce because they are bored and want to be free and single again, not because they want the emotional and sexual excitement of another man.” They’re encouraged by a recent vogue of ‘finding-yourself” literature, headed by the international best-seller Eat, Pray, Love, which recounted author Elizabeth Gilbert’s decision to divorce her husband and embark on a round-the-world odyssey of– depending on your view – inspirational self-discovery or nauseating navel-gazing.”
Julia Llewellyn Smith, gives the example of Lucy Valantine who, as she approached her 40th birthday, decided to leave her husband after a short five-year marriage.
“On the surface, life was perfect,” she says. “We had a gorgeous Victorian house in the Home Counties, I had a great job with a blue-chip company, and my husband was a lovely chap. He was kind and gentle and my friends all loved him. There was nothing wrong with him, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to change my life.”
Her husband was devastated when she left him, and in what sounds like a mid-life crisis, or perhaps a rebellious phase, she decided to:
- Get a tattoo
- Buy a Harley-Davidson motorbike
- Ride across Australia and New Zealand
- Teach English in Costa Rica and China
- Work in a Zambian orphanage
- Travel through Siberia and Mongolia.
Now, six years later, Valantine divides her life between the UK and Spain, where she runs a travel agency. Her ex-husband is happily remarried with a baby.
Just like Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about spending nights sobbing on her bathroom floor in her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, Valantine did the same though for opposite reasons. While Gilbert questioned whether she still loved her husband, Valantine questioned whether she did the right thing in leaving her husband.
Julia Llewellyn Smith, author of “Women and Divorce: Goodbye darling, you’re just too dull…” states,
“Fifty years ago, a woman such as Valantine would have been rare indeed. Divorce was taboo and few women had the guts, let alone the financial means, to brave the social stigma of walking out on a decent husband simply because she felt there must be “something more”. Until recently, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, the most commonly cited reason was infidelity.”
This desire for women to do what they want, to live a more fulfilled and exciting life is something I myself am experiencing today. Just like Valantine, I have a strong desire to teach English abroad, perhaps in Laos or Vietnam, to travel to Australia and New Zealand, to help children in Africa. You can keep the tattoos and Harley Davidson though. The good news is I’m not leaving my husband. He knows I’m always dreaming of new ways for us to do exciting things in life, and I know we shall within the next five to ten years.
What I find interesting is the new trend among baby boomers who are retired to go in different directions. This doesn’t mean they divorce, but simply that they allow one another to pursue their dreams. ABC shows this new trend in a video, “Together but Apart.” My friend Bob Lowry from Satisfying Retirement has a different opinion on this matter in his post “This Can’t be the Answer.”
So I believe that all relationships, however good, go through bad patches. There will be times when you drift apart and you need to find a way to reconnect. The difference is those who stick it out, who manage to live their passions together, and who don’t stop their spouse from experiencing a new opportunity just because, “they’re not interested,” will survive.
As with anything, marriage is about give and take and also about being flexible. It should not feel like letting go of your dreams just because your spouse has no interest. Who wants to feel imprisoned?
Do you think women are changing? If so how and why?