During my tenure as an unofficial Divorce Doula, friends & acquaintances who have sought me out for advice or comfort – whether serendipitously or strategically -all seem to share a similar story: partners who were working too much, playing too hard, not paying enough attention to their needs, to the needs of the family. Emotional distance. Physical indifference. Predictable routines. Nearly incestuous familiarity. A quid pro quo sex life. An overwhelming feeling that there has to be…more. More often than not, those seeking advice are female.
Statistics show that women are the initiator of divorce more than 60% of the time (some US statistics have actually said it’s much higher – between 66 – 90%).Statistics in the UK & Wales are showing that the highest number of divorces are initiated among men and women aged 40-44.
This has long been a topic I wanted to address, and an article entitled “5 Ways That Women Sabotage Their Marriage” on the Huffington Post Divorce site prompted this post. I vehemently disagree with “intimacy expert” Ms. Doyle, but she sure did open up a can of worms with this one. I have been thinking a lot about whether many of us are going through a kind of female midlife crisis, maybe we could call it a “mid-wife crisis.” I posted a message on my personal Facebook page & on my Divorce Doula page asking for some perspectives on this or whether anyone agrees with my opinion (completely unscientific) that 40 something women have become the 50 something men of a generation ago.
So, do women really sabotage their marriages? Are we having a “mid-wife” crisis? Or do we just want…more?
But enough playing sociology major here. This is my personal blog & I can only speak with any authority about my own experience. It was my choice to end my marriage. I will not go into the details here, as that story belongs to my ex & me. What I did discover during our separation is that I did indeed expect more than I received, but that I didn’t have the tools to communicate with my then-husband. As a professional communicator, I can assure you that the irony is not lost here.
Was it a midlife crisis? Maybe. When I look back, I certainly exhibited some very “textbook” behaviour, minus the sports car & the comb over. In fact, we both regressed a bit. As my intelligent, gorgeous & astute friend JSG says “a man’s midlife crisis is stereotypically the result of him wanting to relieve some aspects of his youth. For a woman, a “midlife crisis” is the opposite – a desire to never again do the things that we did in our youth. It is about coming into our own and using the wisdom that comes with age to make sure we “stop putting up with other people’s crap” (as per EC) and start putting ourselves first!” During the course of our separation, my ex & I both did some pretty stupid shit to get back at one another – he used my skis to build a platform for “ski shots” at a party with his buddies in Whistler. My own behavioural misdemeanors are too numerous, shameful & potentially hurtful to list here.
Every day, I reflect on my marriage – the good days, the bad days, its demise & its finality. Sometimes it is a fleeting, fond memory, sometimes a quick burst of irritation over a miscommunication, a wincing reminder of bad behaviour. Often it is deeper and more poignant. During a Restorative Yoga class today, which resembled nap time at daycare; sleepy toddlers replaced by stressed-out blonde housewives, I dedicated my practice to exploration, forgiveness & acceptance. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be someone’s wife, or maybe I just wasn’t meant to be his wife forever. Maybe I am meant to be a Maverick Mom with my village of friends & family. Maybe I’ll marry again. I do know that, should I become someone’s wife, I will not make the same mistakes that I made in my first marriage, and that there are some things that I will not accept in a partner. I also now know when to forgive & when to forget.
Maybe I’m just meant to be a doula, not a wife. I do know that I’ll be the best mom I can be to my two boys, regardless of my marital status.
Authored by Pamela Smith . . . founder and doula at the Divorce Doula