According to USA Today, Colorado has the highest divorce rate in the nation. Divorce courts are busier than wedding halls. Lawyers out number therapists 10 to 1. How is it that divorce has become more common than marriage? We have to ask ourselves why.
Never before in history has romantic love been associated with marriage. Today people want it, expect it and demand it. Many couples divorce because of a lack of romance and connection with their spouse. Today doing your “job” in the relationship is just not enough. It is the connection with our partner we want so much that seems to fade as we settle into our everyday lives.
Today we are faced with the unique challenges of blending family and children, work, and if there is any energy left, a love-relationship. Our society has few role models for these multiple challenges. Relationship skills from the past, just don’t work today. Our mothers and fathers lived in a world where needs, desires and expectations were well defined. Men were valued for their ability to protect and provide. Women today can provide for their families and know how to protect themselves on their own. What women want now is emotional protection. Add to that, a large number of men and women are raising their children alone and are put in the role of being both mom and dad. We need new relationship skills to communicate successfully in 2023.
How can we bridge our differences and meet the new expectations for relationships today? The first step is to understand our differences as men and women. It’s as if we were from different planets speaking different languages.
Let’s look at how differently men and women deal with stress. What do men do to relieve stress and solve their problems? What do women do to relieve stress and understand their problems? Men tend to relieve stress and solve their problems by going to their “cave”. Women generally relieve stress by talking and many times come up with a solution to their problems by talking about it with someone they trust.
What do men value in their relationships and what do women value? Men value being appreciated, accepted and trusted to get the job done. While women want these same things, they place more value on being heard, understood and respected. The knowledge of this alone provides a valuable insight.
For instance, one of the most common mistakes a man will make in a relationship is when a woman is talking to her partner and he is trying to solve her problems, as he perceives them, by offering solutions rather than listening with empathy. At work, we get paid for solving problems so a man thinks if he solves a problem at home, he’ll get paid in the form of appreciation. Much to his dismay, his solutions are not welcomed and he wonders, if it works in the workplace, why doesn’t it work at home? In this situation, the women wants to be listened to rather than fixed.
One of the common mistakes a woman will make is trying to improve her man with unsolicited advice. What she thinks is a loving, positive suggestion, he hears as criticism from his partner. He feels capable of getting the job done and feels she doesn’t trust his ability. This lowers his self-esteem and can cause him to withdraw.
When we are under stress this becomes even more apparent. Men will tend to withdraw to forget about their problems or work on them alone. When a woman is feeling the stress of the day, often talking about a problem helps her to relax and let go. Contrary to what she’s feeling when she is talking, he is waiting for her to get to the point.
These differences can lead to divorce and can continue to “fuel the fight” after the divorce, sometimes for years to come. With the knowledge that as men and women, we think, feel and react to situations differently, gives men and women tools they can use in divorce and in the years that follow.
If children are involved, this can be a real lifesaver. The children can see that Mommy and Daddy can still get along even if when the family no longer lives together. Being a positive role model for children, they learn how to communicate with the opposite sex, giving them a great start in life. Today’s children can be raised with the tools and skills needed to successfully communicate with the opposite sex. A win-win for everyone.