Marriage and Divorce: A Rigged Game for Men, But Also Ultimately Bad for Women and Children

If you’re a man considering marriage, there are some statistics you should know before you go ring shopping.

Today, more than 50% of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.

What many people don’t know is that women initiate approximately 70% of all divorces. Interesting, since men as a gender are the ones who are typically shamed for being commitment phobic and not willing to settle down.

Why is this such a disproportionate figure? Is it because men are such ogres that women are leaving marriage in droves?

An article on a marriage support website states that women primarily file for divorce because they feel “neglected.” I believe this roughly translates as: “He’s not paying enough attention to meee. He’s not making meee feel spesh-shull.”

Although this article notes that perhaps, just perhaps, many women’s expectations for marriage and intimate relationships are unreasonable, it then goes on to instruct men on how to make their wives happy, by meeting their wives’ needs for attention and including their wives in every facet of their lives and every hobby they pursue.

Nowhere in the article does it address men’s expectations and needs in the marriage and what wives can do to meet their husbands’ needs and how to make their husbands happy, which leads me to wonder, is marriage all about women and what women want and women’s feeling and needs?

What about a man’s needs, feelings and happiness? Isn’t marriage supposed to be an equal partnership?

Author and researcher Deirdre Bair finds that women are generally the initiators of divorce worldwide, not just in the U.S.. Bair states, “All of a sudden, it’s women in record numbers all over the world. It’s an epidemic.” Bair finds the primary reason women give for divorcing is emotional distance. [Women] said, ‘We just didn’t have anything in common; he never showed me any affection, or a compliment or a birthday present.'”

Out of the 70% of divorces that are initiated by women, I wonder how many of these women strong armed, guilted, shamed and used other high pressure tactics to get their now ex-husbands to marry them?

What’s more immature and selfish, not wanting to get married because you have serious doubts about the woman who wants you to marry her or getting divorced because you’re bored or don’t feel you’re receiving enough attention from your spouse?

In my opinion, the primary reason women initiate divorces in 70% of divorces cases is because most women stand to gain far more than they have to lose if they choose to divorce.

Sorry, sweetie. I’m bored and you don’t meet my insatiable needs for attention and I’m not in love with you, in fact, I don’t know if I ever was in love with you, so it’s over. Except for supporting me with the money you work hard to earn. I still want access to that. And your retirement. What do you mean it’s ironic that I complained about how much time you spent at work while we were married to support our family because I refused to work, but still expect you to support me after the divorce with money from your job that I complained about incessantly? I sacrificed my career for you. True, I never wanted to work, but I would have had a career if you didn’t me marry me. Get it?”

Love that circular logic.

This figure would probably be closer to 50% if men were able to leave dissatisfying and/or abusive marriages without the threat of being destroyed by the family court system and losing their assets and children just as most women are able to do when they initiate divorce. Would women be filing for divorce as much if there were consequences? For instance, if custody was automatically 50/50 and spousal support lasted only as long as her state’s unemployment benefits? Probably not.

Even though women initiate approximately 70% of divorces, men are frequently ordered to pay their ex-wives legal costs. So, in addition to potentially losing their assets, their homes and their children, men are also expected to pay for the privilege of being emotionally and financially eviscerated by their ex-wives.

Not only do women initiate 70% of divorces, women are awarded primary custody in 82.6% of custody cases and this figure has remained largely unchanged since the 1994 U.S. Census. While U.S. Census statistics don’t provide information on how these women obtain custody, for example, the father fought for custody, but ran out of funds and/or was victimized by a benighted family court judge, we do know the following statistics about children who do not have an active father in their lives.

Did you know that:

  • 43% of U.S. children live without their father (U.S. Bureau of the Census).
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Bureau of the Census).
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (U.S. Bureau of the Census).
  • 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes (Center for Disease Control).
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26).
  • 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, March 26, 1999).
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools).
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Rainbows for All God’s Children).
  • 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988).
  • 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Department of Corrections, 1992).

What’s more, 61% of all child abuse is committed by biological mothers (Department of Health and Human Services Report on Nationwide Child Abuse). 

Can’t wrap your mind around that figure? Think about it. Women are awarded primary custody 84% of the time. Stay at home moms far outnumber stay at home dads. Who has the most access to children in order to perpetrate abuse? Their mothers.

Courts typically refuse to lower child support payments when a father’s income drops. The Bradley Amendment, which was passed in 1986, forbids any reduction in child support arrears, even if the father is disabled.

The amendment holds that inability to pay is no excuse and “that once a child-support obligation has been established, it can’t be retroactively reduced or forgiven by a judge.” This is why it is so very important for men to immediately file for child support adjustments as soon as you know your financial circumstances are going to change.

What’s more, the Bradley amendment ensures that even if a man can prove he is the victim of paternity fraud, that he cannot be absolved from paying child support to a child that is not his biological offspring, which brings us to another disturbing statistic.

Approximately 30% of paternity tests submitted come back negative. That’s nearly one-third of challenged paternity cases proving the woman lied.

The New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men (2006) concluded that, “paternity fraud is a growing concern for men and children everywhere. It can spawn considerable grief for the men who may or may not be emotionally attached to a child they later discover was fathered by another; and possibly unsettling for children who may discover the false nature of their paternity.”

What about brave men who marry a second time? Men can have their new spouses’ income held against them and used to extort more child and spousal support to their ex-wives. For instance, in Massachusetts, judges frequently include a second spouse’s income as part of “total household income” and use that figure to determine whether the payor, usually a man, has enough income to keep paying spousal support.

This is nothing more than a “backhanded way of tapping into a second spouse’s income” to pay for the ex who believes she shouldn’t have to work because she was once married to her ex once upon a time or wants to maintain that magical and totally unrealistic “marital standard of living.”

However, if the ex-wife remarries, her new spouse is under no legal obligation to financially support his stepchildren. The court’s rationale? Hey, they’re not his children and, therefore, not his responsibility. Yet, it is the new wife’s responsibility to give a portion of her salary to her husband’s ex-wife and children. Can someone please explain to the logic of this to me?

I gotta tell you, as a woman, the fact that a potential husband’s ex could come after me for a portion of my salary or that I would have to support another adult and her offspring and fund their health insurance and vacations sours me on marriage.

No freaking way.

These women are adults, most of whom are capable of supporting themselves. If they don’t want to work, let them suffer the consequences. Federal and state governments have a time limit on unemployment benefits, but many ex-husbands are legally forced to pay alimony or ex-wife unemployment benefits forever.

In many states, long after a divorce has been settled, ex-wives can come after their ex-husbands to shake down their retirement plans — even after they received a portion of the man’s retirement during the divorce settlement! In factoring a man’s ability to pay spousal support after retirement, judges can count the income from retirement accounts, including those already divided in half during the original divorce proceedings. This essentially allows some ex-wives to “double dip” into their exes’ retirement savings.

Here’s another statistic: Divorced and separated men are two and a half times more likely to commit suicide than married men. Divorce, however, doesn’t seem to lead more women to commit suicide. Separated and divorced male suicides outnumber their female counterparts by 4 to 1.

The rigged nature of marriage, divorce and custody isn’t only harmful to men, it’s also harmful to children and women. It’s harmful to children for the reasons listed above. And it’s harmful for women who do want to get married.

Marriage rates are on the decline in the U.S. and worldwide as many men are deciding to opt out of marriage due to the extremely unfair nature of divorce and custody “awards” and the extremely entitled attitudes of many women (MGTOW and the Herbivores) and I can’t say as I blame them.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting Services:

Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.

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  1. Mark says

    An article on a marriage support website states that women primarily file for divorce because they feel “neglected.” I believe this roughly translates as: “He’s not paying enough attention to meee. He’s not making meee feel spesh-shull.”

    So taking care of kids, working, fixing this and that, organizing the finances, etc. (the list is long) is just not enough attention , support and love?
    I have to constantly give you affection in the face of your often crazy making behavior or face the pouty, bitchy, wrathful crap?

    I can’t point out any of the bad behaviors you do by simply saying, “Stop. What you are doing is bad / wrong / f**ked up.” Instead I have to say, “What you are doing is making me “feel” bad.” Or “I am making up that you are angry in some way.”

    Oh, and I’m not sensitive enough and don’t show my emotions the way you (insert name of wife here) want me to?

    Sorry folks just finished THIS counseling session about three hours ago and got stuck at the, “He’s not paying enough attention to meee. He’s not making meee feel spesh-shull.”, part of the article.

    I am not without emotions and feelings. I am being made to think and feel that if I don’t express them (emotions and feelings) to the satisfaction of my spouse and the counselor I’m going to get divorced. Am I off line with this chain of thought or are there others that have been through this?

    Get a pre nup. If she won’t even consider the idea stay single. At the first sign of crazy, if you do get married, leave without comment or warning. Made the mistake of staying long after crazy started and am now paying for it.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      Sorry you’re going through this, Mark.

      So taking care of kids, working, fixing this and that, organizing the finances, etc. (the list is long) is just not enough attention , support and love?

      This should be enough and would be enough for an un-entitled, non-abusive, emotionally stable and mature woman.

      I have to constantly give you affection in the face of your often crazy making behavior or face the pouty, bitchy, wrathful crap?

      No, you do not. That would be rewarding bad behavior. What’s more, the more loving and kind you are to this kind of person, the worse they treat you.

      • B Experienced says

        Hi Mark:
        I see a major RED FLAG of BAD therapy. If you think that you have to perform for your therapist, get out. My guess is that it is a female therapist. Most men don’t run around expressing themselves, nor do you “have” to. This is not abnormal. Your difference isn’t being respected. It sounds to me like you are being set up to be trained like a seal, and the therapist has sided with her. Another RED FLAG.

        Your wife is focusing everything on you to fill one of her bottomless pit of needs that she can’t fill. These women have expectations so grandiose that nobody normal or abnormal for that matter could fill them. Think of her as a 2-4 year old. Kids this age behave as though they are going to die if they don’t buy the candy store out. A normal kid grows up and learns limits. These kind of women or men remain the same on some level and way for the most part.

        These women and men behave badly and expect love. They are constantly seeking for unconditional love because they “say” they didn’t get it from their parents. They seldom learn that love is not abuse, and they very rarely see that continuous abuse and bad behaviours does not make them lovable. They can’t balance not liking themselves while still loving themselves because of how underdeveloped they are. That is her problem not yours.

        • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

          Hi B Experienced,

          You make some very good points.

          Although, and this is purely anecdotal, many of my clients worst experiences with the kind of therapist Mark describes have been male therapists. Unfortunately, many psychology/social work/MFT/etc. programs teach the women = good, man = potential abuser perverted form of psychology/therapy.

          • Marshall Stack says

            I initially thought our counselor was starting to see my wife’s craziness until last week. While hashing out our communication problems, the counselor was telling us that both of us have to change our styles a bit to meet in the middle. This, despite me pointing out that I have to walk on eggshells in order not to say things that make her mad, and her getting upset when I then have nothing to say.

            I know that typical couples’ therapy involves both parties taking partial blame for the breakdown of the relationship, so I should have seen this coming, but I’m still pissed of that the therapist didn’t pick up on the imbalance of power.

          • B Experienced says

            Hi Dr. T:
            Thanks for the insight. I am going to have to pay particular attention to male Social Workers or others in the field for that matter.
            I do, however, believe that any shrink who believes that staying in a BPD relationship or any other Cluster B combo pack is poorly educated, trained and frankly delusional. It is true that in order to survive that you have to learn when to keep your mouth shut, etc, but that doesn’t mean the Cluster B changed their psychopathology and that is what most therapists believe is change. The Cluster B feels better that you changed because they were “heard” and “believed” so they do nothing to change their thinking and are the time bombs and mean machines they always were and can still detonate.

      • Mark says

        Thank you all for your stories and support. Some follow up is in order to show how much this forum helps.

        I was yelling at myself while driving. Glad it was dark or other motorists would have called the Police for me as I was having one of those very therapeutic rants that others should probably not hear. I had time to digest the last therapy session and realize that this is all about her (my wife). Checked the responses (to this post) on the way home from training (no yelling this time) called a friend and was able to jar some memories of the wife’s previous behavior and start of the first round of counseling almost 10 years ago.

        She left to go get Chinese take out, for what should have been a twenty minute trip. Three hours later still not home. I call. No answer. Arrives home a bit later. Finally get out of her that, “I am not coming to her emotional rescue.”

        So a decade later I’m trying to move forward, raise kids, work, have a life beyond crazy and all the rest and she is still stuck on me meeting her emotional needs.
        Not my job to meet her emotional neediness.
        Thanks Dr. T and the support of those who took the time to share their stories and experiences.

        • TheGirlInside says

          “Glad it was dark or other motorists would have called the Police for me as I was having one of those very therapeutic rants that others should probably not hear.”

          You too, huh? I thought it was just me~! LOL

    • woodythesingingcowboy says

      Mark, all I can say is wow and I am sorry that you are in this ultimatum situation.

      I remember many counseling sessions like that where she, my now EX, was completely allowed to feel and express her emotions as she saw fit because she was not responsible for how she expressed herself, she was a woman after all and woman will be emotional sometimes and well you as the husband and a man must learn to understand and to help her to see how you feel and that you are validating her feelings about whatever it is she is emotional about.

      I always loved the part where I had to bend over backwards and twist myself into a fricking pretzel in order to meet whatever requirement was being placed on me that specific week in counseling. Of course when we got to the point in the session where I would fight to point out something she needed to work on to understand me, it was always shutdown and something we would work on later after I had helped her first.

      Our counselor went down this path for the first 5 months until I finally lost it one session and laid it all out there and the counselor decided I had some very valid points, so then the counselor started to try and address them and suddenly after just a few sessions the Ex suddenly didn’t want to continue counseling and the counselor was not very good.

      I am relating my tale of woe hoping this isn’t the path you are on with your counseling. It sucked. The really funny thing is when I went back to the counselor without her and we talked for the whole hour with me just dumping everything I hadn’t been allowed to bring up, the counselor listened and then it was like a lightning strike that the counselor started to see all of the many bits and pieces the Ex had left out of the story in order to manipulate the counselor. It was at this point that I got the first very basic diagnosis that my Ex was a Borderline PD person. And then I found Shrink4Men and began my learning.

      • thistooshallpass says

        exact same thing happened to me. once i had an individual session w/ the couples therapist, she actually apologized to me for not having an individual session w each of us in the beginning.

        i was finally able to tell her about all the crazy (without inciting rage in my ex if she were in the room and having her storm out for ‘exposing’ her or holding her accountable for anything). and the therapist basically said my Ex had a personality/character disorder that her ‘issues were VERY deep…and would take years to fix…and that it seemed a gamble she would even do that’. she basically told me to get away from her.

        but it took talking to her one on one for her to see it! otherwise my ex came across as a seemingly normal long as we were talking about all of ‘my problems’…ie, me not paying enough attn to her :)

        oh, and my ex is a therapist too. talk about double the trouble of trying to manipulate another therapist! it worked until it didn’t. charm can only go so far. once the cracks show, women like her end therapy in a hot second…saying that the therapist sucks or whatever, and that she is ‘never going back.’

        you cant work on a relationship with someone like this. they dont want to look at themselves. only you. not all women are like this.

        • woodythesingingcowboy says

          That sure would suck to have her also be a therapist, sort of like knowing the inside game. I can imagine it is like being had coming and going. I agree that you can’t work on a relationship with someone so screwed up.

          That is something the counselor said to me that finally woke me up to the fact that things were never going to change. The counselor looked at me during what turned out to be the last session and said “well we know what you are dealing with, she has a dysfunction and what you have to do is to decide whether you can continue to live within that dysfunction or do you need to get out, it would be much healthier for you to get out”.

          Hearing that made sense considering for how many years I had tried so many different things to make it work. Upon hearing this I realized that I was talking to this counselor at first to simply look for something new to try to make this dysfunction work. The counselor was dead on in saying it would be healthier and all I wish is that I had done it years earlier. It is nice to have myself back and to not be living to adapt to someone else and their selfish nasty self.

          The good thing for me is that I know many women who are as different from my Ex as day is from night, so I know for sure that not all women are like my sick Ex.

        • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

          There’s a pattern here and I’ve heard it over and over.

          For those of you who are still in marriages/relationships with your HCP/APDI and you’re about to embark upon couple’s work or are in couple’s work and feel like you’re being railroaded, insist on individual sessions as well as joint. Tell the therapist about your concerns about your wife using therapy to twist things and manipulate you. Don’t use DSM labels as many therapists will get all “What makes you qualified to blahbittyblah” on you. Instead, describe your partner’s behaviors and the effects, emotional, physical, financial and social, that they’re having upon you.

          Frankly, I think doing couple’s therapy with someone who is actively abusing you is unsafe. If you are afraid to speak up and say what’s really going on, then the time and money you’re spending in therapy is meaningless and potentially damaging to you.

  2. Mellaril says

    Talk about timing…I got an email today from a guy I worked pretty closely with. It said he was leaving the agency next week. It came as a surprise to a lot of us who worked with him. I gave him a call to wish him well and say goodbye. He said he didn’t want to leave but felt he had to. He said he’d been in divorce proceedings with his STBX for over 2 years. She was on her third attorney, all of whom advised her to settle. She was living with another guy. He said he had to quit his job or he’d be essentially working solely to support her. She was already going to get half his military retirement but if he stayed working, she’d continue to be able to tap into his new retirement plan. He didn’t tell me where he was going or what he was doing but it sounded like he had it covered.

  3. jward21us says

    I was the one who filed for divorce from my wife. She moved out because she was feeling old, fat and ugly and had to go find herself. (She was only 33 at the time.)As it turned out she was having yet another affair. She moved into an apartment with my kids and brought in her boyfriend…not the one she was having the affair with but a new one. A few months later she got herself another boyfriend and moved him in. (A few years later after he moved out, he was convicted and sentenced to 17 years for raping and sodomizing a couple of 8 year old girls.)

    When she moved him in I said to myself, “Well, there’s my answer.” It was then that I filed for divorce. The day she was served she came by the house. She was crying. I asked here, “What? You weren’t expecting it?” She replied, “Yes, but you didn’t even ask me to come back” … and cried even louder. I was going to unleash on her but managed to keep my mouth shut.

    A couple years later when her child support was going to be reduced she petitioned to have it recalculated. The State reduced it anyways. She appealed. The judge not only affirmed the original decision but lowered the child support even more! In the end, I was paying only $44 per month for three children.

    So, sometimes men do come out OK in these cases.

    But over the course of 8 years she had at least six different shack-ups. I know that her behavior took a big psychological toll on my sons. They suffer with all kinds of things. Thinking about it still puts knots in my stomach.


    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      She moved a man in who is a sex offender?! No words.

      Jim, how are you and your boys doing now? I’m assuming (I hope, I hope) that you have full custody and that the boys have limited and supervised contact with their mother.

      Are they in counseling? Have you talked to them about their mother? How have you handled it?

      • jward21us says

        Just to clarify, he wasn’t convicted of the sex offense until long after he moved out of my wife’s house. But it does illustrate the kind of men she brought into the house. Most of her bf’s were raging alcoholics and had other problems.

        My sons are grown young men now. But when they were young I had 50% custody. They stayed with me frequently and even more when things weren’t good at her house.

        Like I said, all the boys suffered but I think my youngest suffered the worst. He worked hard trying to “save” his mother but of course he couldn’t. He has abused drugs, was sexually promiscuous and was on the verge of suicide. However, he did seek counseling and is doing a WHOLE lot better now…much to my relief.

        My middle son has had a lot of difficulties too and was recently arrested for a DUI. (He was only .005 over the limit but it was enough to arrest him). I think that was a bit of a wake up call for him because he seems to be genuinely working toward making his life better.

        My eldest is doing quite well and is married to the sweetest and most loving young lady I’ve ever met. When I watch them interact I can see the look of admiration and respect in her eyes…and he likewise. I think that having a good wife such as she has been all the therapy he’s needed.

        As a sidebar, my ex recently got a job at the same state agency I work for. I have to see her nearly everyday. She could have worked anywhere else but she chose to work at the place I work. I can’t hardly stand it. She’s like a bad disease that can’t be cured. I’m stuck with her for the rest of my life.

  4. woodythesingingcowboy says

    Wow, those stats are seriously eye-opening and definitely made me feel fortunate for what I have fought for an won so far in my battle with my Ex.

    Custody is 50/50 and it took a long fight to win that, but it was more than worth it. The money and property were secondary, but now I am working on those, but the stats don’t make me feel as confident about winning those battles, but you still have to try.

    One thing I would love to see is the Family Courts actually uphold their own fricking Orders and even the Laws themselves when it comes to women. In my case if the fricking law were simply enforced she would have already lost and be sitting in jail, but no not in this case because she is female and the mother so she deserves the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t really mean to break the law.

    Funny thing is that a man has to be perfect with every “I” dotted and “T” crossed just to break even in a case in family court while a woman can kidnap, steal, commit Tax fraud, ignore court orders she doesn’t like, and do just about anything else and still walk away with everything she wants.

    The day the laws are enforced equally in family court is the day the women’s prison will be overflowing.

    Just my 2 cents, so as always I could be wrong. But in this case I am NOT 😉

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      One thing I would love to see is the Family Courts actually uphold their own fricking Orders and even the Laws themselves when it comes to women. In my case if the fricking law were simply enforced she would have already lost and be sitting in jail, but no not in this case because she is female and the mother so she deserves the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t really mean to break the law.


      Funny thing is that a man has to be perfect with every “I” dotted and “T” crossed just to break even in a case in family court while a woman can kidnap, steal, commit Tax fraud, ignore court orders she doesn’t like, and do just about anything else and still walk away with everything she wants.

      This is so very true. Guys, this is why you must be above reproach in all matters pertaining to your ex and the kids and be very, very careful not to fall for any of her traps to engage you in anger or bait you in any way to get you to lose your cool or do anything against your best interests.

      Oftentimes, women can get away with being d-bags in family court; men cannot.

  5. SSG says

    Interesting statistics, DrT. My husband’s kids blame him for these things. Everything that goes wrong in their household is blamed on no father being around. Odd: My husband was thrown out and then his ex manipulated visitation and practiced parental alienation syndrome. But in usual manipulative fashion, it all becomes the man’s fault.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      Ain’t it the truth, SSG. I want to know the stories of the 84% of fathers who don’t have primary custody or equal custody. In many cases, I’m sure it isn’t because they didn’t want it.

      • thatguy says

        I’ve always wanted equal custody, but every lawyer I talked to say it would cost minimum $20k and I probably wouldn’t get it so why not save that money and spend it on my child.

        I even have one lawyer who told me, “why do it? It’ll just make her angry, which is bad for your child.” I looked at him and said, “she’s already angry, she’s been angry for years, she’ll _always_ be angry at me for who knows what.” My lawyer didn’t have a response beside a look of shock as he has never thought about that? WTF?

        My X has 3 kids (including my daughter) all on different schedules (standard with me, her step son 50/50, and her new baby full time). She approached me about getting our daughter and her step son on the same “every other weekend” schedule. I said GREAT! Then you want to discuss 50/50. Her response to that months later (she didn’t respond to my original email unless you consider a law suit a response) was “I’ll never agree to 50/50!” Basically punishing me and her daughter for her asking and my response. Insane right?

  6. Mellaril says

    From today’s blogs:

    “Why Divorced Men Are Quick To Marry Again” –

    It has a lot of the same information as Dr T’s blog.

    From the personal statistics dept:

    – My father was awarded sole custody of me in the early 1960s. If it’s rare today, it was rarer then.

    – My twice divorced father committed suicide at age 52, ~14 years after the second divorce.

      • Mellaril says

        I don’t think the divorces had a direct influence on his decision. My mother died 5 yrs before he did and I never heard a word about my ex-stepmother after we moved. My father had physiological medical issues that affected his mental health. My belief is when he learned what those were, he really didn’t have anyone to share that burden with and given his track record, he believed he never would. He died within a week after receiving the diagnosis.

  7. tenquilts says

    Wow. So much of this is so subjective and as a woman I can see it both ways. I initiated the divorce from my ex-husband, yes, because I “wasn’t getting enough attention.” I would go for days in which he would refuse to speak to me from some infraction I committed and wouldn’t have realized. I tried to maintain girlfriends to meet some of my social needs but he would hang up on them if they called and start the silent treatment if I spoke about seeing them. In ten years of marriage we never once took a vacation together (we had while dating), and I wasn’t “allowed” to take any alone except with my parents. Yes, he did his share in taking care of the house and child but the intermittent silent treatment and rages when he finally burst took a toll on me. I couldn’t live like that. But I refused to take any of his money; in fact I came into the marriage with more (he said later it was why he married me) and I pay HIM money today. But I still feel the luckier one of us.

    But this does seem to ring true for my boyfriend’s ex. He felt put through the wringer at trying to make her happy (she blamed him for her affair because he didn’t make her happy enough, and he accepted it and begged for her back!), and she refuses to work even now. When he finally had enough and left, she blamed him for breaking up the family because she would have “done anything” to keep them together (although she did nothing in 17 years of marriage) and she was perfectly happy at changing the rules of their relationship and having no repercussions. Now I see their daughters growing up with that same unfortunate mindset that it is someone else’s job to make them happy and keep them happy … the entitlement to a lifestyle, to someone else’s money, to someone else’s efforts, whereas they need to make NO effort to even be gracious. And it makes me all the angrier because as I see my father react to some of the BS that my boyfriend’s kids put him through, I know deep down that, had my parents divorced, my mother would have been just as horrible as my boyfriend’s ex, but my dad would have been convinced by her that we kids would have been better off without him and left us, sick of her emotional manipulations. I get so worked up watching my BF try to create a new, sane sense of “normal” for his kids and everyone fight him on it when he is trying SO hard to do the right thing and no longer accept his ex’s abuse and manipulation.

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      Hi tenquilts,

      In your case, I would call that emotional isolation and the withholding of affection, which appears to be very different from what your husband experienced in his first marriage.

  8. Jason says

    I screw of the statistics; my ex-wife asked for the divorce, I filed since I didn’t trust her to do it right. As for custody of our two youngest teenagers, we decided it was best for her to have physical custody due to their personalities, but gave them the choice. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if my youngest asks to move in with me when she turns 17.

    Just before leaving our townhouse, I told my STBX that if she ever challenged our divorce decree in any manner, I would bury her legally and if the court came down on her side, even if it was for a trivial amount, I would leave the country and she’d never see another dime from me. I wasn’t kidding. (My ex now claims she deserved much more alimony, but was too noble to pursue it. In reality, I voluntarily gave her $50 a month more than she asked for–maybe foolish legally, but it makes my conscience clean and our oldest has but to remind her of that to shut her up.)

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      Sometimes, setting very clear boundaries with even clearer consequences for violating those boundaries works. Good on you, Jason. Once it sinks in that you’re not going to be their doormat and that their will be repercussions for any of their typical stunts, some will back down, that is, if their smarts exceed their entitlement issues.

  9. The Brazilian says

    Hello Dr. Tara.

    As it is obvious from my nick name, I am a brazilian man. I am in a four year relationship with a totaly crazy woman. We aren´t formaly married, but we have a three years old son and we live togheter since he was born. I felt bad almost all the time I stay by her side. She demands attention, she is jealous beyond belife and she is verbally abusive. Once she argued with me four days in a row !!! She doesn’t assault me fisically because I´ma much bigger than her, but if she was the man and me the woman, I´m quite sure I would be already in hospital. Just to you to know, I NEVER laid a hand in her or any other woman. I believe that i´m in a abusive relationship, but I don´t have much to do. My country is patriarcal one and men are supose to be “machos”. Yes, the brazilian women study and work (thanks God when she is at work and I can relax a bit in my own home) and our president is a woman (Dilma Rousseff), but in Brazil men must be strong and protective. Admite that my woman mistreated me would be very humiliating. I don´t have the courage to discuss my constant arguments with my “dear wife” even with my mother or my best friend. Thanks for listening (or reading :-))and sorry for the bad English

    • TheGirlInside says

      If Dr. Tara doesn’t mind my butting in.

      Brazilian, I moderate another abuse recovery website –, based in Canada.

      Within that site, click on Heart 2 Heart Interactive to get to the forums pages. Once there, scroll to the Men’s Biblioteque. The top post is labeled, “Worldwide Websites, Helplines and Safe Havens.”

      Go to the Post titled “HELP: Every Country – Every Shelter – Every Tongue” Click on the hot peach pages link, and click your area and country.

      Hopefully, you can find some support there. Remember, it is for both men and women, so you may have to peruse a little to find something specific to men (I think it’s in Portugese, so I can’t read it!).

      Best of luck,

  10. Curtman41 says

    THANK YOU SOO MUCH FOR THIS ARTICLE!!! I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels for someone to express in intimate detail what so many of us have gone through…MYSELF included. My wife divorced me 10 years ago for similar reasons including my “failure” to adequately provide for her and our 3 children. I lost my business and basically had to start over. In the last 10 years I have built a very successful career only to hand over 30+% of my income to her. I can only afford a small, cheap upper apartment and drive older less reliable vehicles. I have only been able to see my kids every other weekend. Of course she has done a masterful job of parental alienation resulting in severally damaging any chance of a normal relationship with my kids. I am absolutely powerless and basically stuck where I am until my kids turn 18. Dating has been very difficult because most woman look at me as financially unstable etc. I can fully understand men in my place becoming very depressed. I have had my moments as well. I have always felt like no one understands and I had to suffer in silence. Thank you for taking the time putting these truths out there! God bless you!!

    • cuatezon says

      Curtman you took the words right out of my mouth…it never ceases to amaze me each time I come onto this website, read new posts/stories/comments, how eerily similar they are to my situation.

      I’m starting to wonder if Sociopathy/BPD/HCP is contagious? Like a freaking Norovirus or Ebola rampantly spreading around infecting (mostly) women. Again the society’s attitudes towards these types of people were ‘You’re a man, suck it up and take it like a man’. Alas, we continue to suffer and become depressed.

  11. pissing in the wind says

    Married for 12 years. My wife doesn’t work. Kids are in school. House is a mess. I have a very high paying sales job. She drives the Mercedes and I drive the old pickup because she “hates it”. Unfortunately I can’t afford another payment right now. I used to buy her flowers once a week until she complained that changing the water was too much work. I asked her lately what she does to show that she loves me. Her response was that she does my laundry and looks after our kids. She has co slept with both of our children (our youngest is 7). Even though I have begged her to stop. I have to talk her into having sex. Three weeks ago after being up all night sick I called her on the phone (she was downstairs) and told her that I needed help to get out of bed and get to a hospital. She came into my room and started yelling at me for bringing home the flu. She cried all the way to the hospital out of her fear of getting sick. Zero compassion for me. I let her spend freely, I have not suggested that she get a job unless she would find it fulfilling. I asked her to go to the DMV for me this week and she said she didn’t feel like it even though I have been working 80 hour weeks and literally didn’t have time. She spent the day watching tv. Today when I tried to calmly tell her that I was frustrated she went ballistic. After yelling at me and not letting me explain my point at all she locked herself in my bedroom with the kids and started bad mouthing me to them. I kicked in the door so naturally she called the police. I had just come back from brining supplies to the church to help tornado victims. She gets mad when I “waste money”. ( I’m the sole bread winner and give her carte blanche but she questions my spending. I also handle all the bills and finances. She calls me an abusive husband because when she pushes me to the edge I might call her a bitch or worse. Today she pointed out that I’m fat and hairy and that no woman would find me attractive. She went on to claim that I’m a redneck just like my loser family (my brothers have integrity, good jobs and compassion). Thank you for letting me get this out. I have stayed for my children. I know that the courts will grant her custody because I travel which means my wife will be the primary example for my daughters. I feel stuck, but the cops came today. Enough is enough. Help me find the strength to get away from this sucubus!!!!!

    • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

      Hello PiW,

      Welcome to S4M. Unfortunately, kicking in the door has now given your wife a tremendous amount of leverage over you. The police and courts do not care about her abusive behavior that provoked you into it. When you lose control with a woman like your wife you lose. Did the police press charges?

      Yes, your daughters will have her for a role model if you leave, on the other hand, she’s their role model now, and by staying, you’re telling them it’s okay to treat others the way your wife treats you. If you leave, you just might teach them that when you abuse and exploit others, they won’t want to be anywhere near you. I am sorry you are in this position. It’s the classic rock and a hard place.

  12. MrWombat says

    “What’s more, 61% of all child abuse is committed by biological mothers”
    And even this statistic covers up the real story: how much child abuse is committed by the dirtbag she shacked up with after ditching hubby.

  13. TigerLily says

    The gross unfairness of a noncustodial father’s second wife being held indirectly responsible for the support of his children by his ex, whereas a stepfather is not held similarly responsible, is the subject of my petition on Here is the link to the petition;

  14. TigerLily says

    Consider this: Couple divorces. Ex-wife has custody of their two boys, an expense account, a good-paying job, plus an award of child support and alimony. Ex-husband is remarried with two additional boys. He is on time and responsible with child support and alimony payments to his ex. The older brothers adore their younger siblings. He works 50-60 hours per week, and his new wife works full time. First family lives in a three-bedroom house with maid service; second family is crowded into a two-bedroom apartment. Man’s kids by his ex-wife wear expensive designer clothes; his younger kids have to make do with hand-me-downs. The older boys take two expensive vacations each year; the new family is lucky to afford gas in the car tank. Despite both spouses working their butts off, they are barely getting by.
    Dad receives a letter in the mail stating that his ex-wife is seeking a threefold increase in support payments. He is told that his new wife’s income will be considered, yet the needs of his very young, helpless, dependent babies will not. He is told “First families first! You have to support your older children in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. Can’t afford it? Too bad- start paddling faster.”
    What??? So the ex-wife can continue extorting money out of an NCD (non-custodial dad) and leave him no resources to reasonably support a second family? She is entitled to live in luxury at his expense while he struggles to support a second household? God forbid. Shouldn’t a man’s children be given EQUAL support and protection, regardless of when or to whom they were born?

    • cuatezon says

      TigerLily, sounds like another day in modern America. Yet this scenario keeps judges, lawyers, child support collection agencies, psychologists and other ‘helper’ professionals fully employed. This system kills two birds with one stone: helping the economy keeping people employed, and, marginalizing men/fathers for the benefit of women.

  15. cuatezon says

    True Story. A brief and non-exaggerated account.

    Began dating a woman I met at the gym last summer. She was separated w 2 kids and going through divorce. Pretty, athletic, good job. Right away she started acting weird, sending texts that she is a princess and should get everything she wants. Told me her mom wants her to date an Asian man (she is Asian), and her aunt wants her to date a Black man. I told her to go for it. Later, I cancelled a hiking date we had, so she went out and had sex with some old friend of hers. That was 4 days after we had sex. She told me about it 2 weeks later when we were in bed. Nice. I broke up with her a couple times but she kept coming back very strong. Started buying me clothes. I think she was ‘grooming’ me much like a pedophile grooms their young prey. Felt weird. She would always demand sex and if I was too tired or not in the mood, she would complain & whine like a little girl…and often pressure me extremely hard to have sex. She’d strip off her clothes and/or grab my hand and put it on her private parts and whine for sex. It was so unbecoming & unromantic. Yuck.

    Fast forward 9 months of similar bullshit. We spent last weekend together. Nice night out dinner & music Friday. Sunday morning she wanted sex. I hadn’t been able to sleep well until 4am and so I pulled away and said no. She ran out, threw on some sexy underwear, and came back in and was throwing herself onto me, pressing into me and almost raping me. I pushed her away and went downstairs. She complained & whined all day, said she felt like I was just waiting until something better comes along. Lots of FOG. She became unpleasant and said a lot of mean things. So, I quit communicating with her on Monday and its been No Contact since. I’m sure she’s out having sex with another guy by now…and I hope so…so that I don’t have to deal with her anymore. Am accepting the fact will probably be alone rest of my life, which at this rate, seems like a great idea.

    • cuatezon says

      P.S. She told me early on in the relationship she had only been intimate with Asian men and they all have small penises (both her young sons are Asian as is her entire family). I deemed this not a red flag, but a red banner.

      • Dr Tara J. Palmatier says

        Yet you dated her despite despite all the warning signs from the get go for going on 9 months now, cuatezon. Even though you seem to know better, you’re still in it, so some of that is on you. Once you know Crazy is crazy and continue the relationship, you’re not a victim, you’re a willing participant.

        • cuatezon says

          Pondered your response and want to clarify. My comment wasn’t intended to solicit empathy. It was meant to be an anecdote on how bad how many women are (which most of us know). I was bemoaning there are no good women out there and thus, I’ll probably be alone remark. You are right though, its partly on me b/c I think I can love people into being better people. It doesn’t work that way. At least I got out when I did (its taken me years to get out of previous bad relationships). In my case, any progress is good progress!

  16. Itza Sekret says

    Thanks for the article, and all the stats. It’s a great dose of reality in all the pro marriage hyperbole, and it would be nice for this material to be required reading in high schools, for both sexes.

  17. JPJ says

    Dr T and the Shrink for Men web site saved my life. It has been 3 months now since I threw my stuff in the back of a pick-up truck and escaped to a new city. It is rough, but nothing like living with a crazy NPD person. Now I can sleep at night without the fear of my wallet being ramsacked and even go out without the fear of being locked out in the street.
    Thank you Dr T for letting us know about the Partner Abuse study..
    that says that spousal abuse is very much equal now……a fact that needs to get out there into the mainstream media. (Springer Publishing Company journal)

    Again thank you Dr T for giving me another chance at life!!!

  18. esteban1971 says

    If you’ll recall, there was a similar news cycle in 2001, somewhere in between “Where’s Chandra?” and 9/11. The talking heads tossed around the usual tropes: easy sex, childish men, powerful women who don’t need anybody, et. al. But after a couple days of this, they started asking *men*… and the stories disappeared from the news. They didn’t like what men were saying, so they shut it down. The pattern repeats today.

    I never married, and have often been snarled at & called a loser because of it. But I’ve been seeing stories lately about marriage rates being at an all-time low, and I’m not surprised. There are zillions of offered reasons, but the one that keeps being kept out of the discourse is that the *potential* harm of marriage & divorce is greater than the *guaranteed* benefits of marriage. I never married because I go into each new relationship with one question: what does this person bring to me? Far too often, women with whom I’ve gotten serious just QUIT. Not the relationship–their jobs, their schooling, their physical fitness. They go into passive mode, failing or refusing to remain the competent adult to whom I was initially attracted. When I try to get them back into gear, I get a bevy of “I’m doing this (devaluing myself) for YOU!”, which is a lie and I say so. Or I get hostility: “Stop judging me!” This is an evasion, accusing me of being unreasonable by wanting her to meet minimum standards instead of being a parasite. I believe in long courtships because I need to be certain she’s not going to do these things, and I’m regularly disappointed.

    It’s gotten MUCH worse since I passed 35 (I’m nearly 44 now). Now the field is littered with bitter divorcees who fall into the “care for me!” mode right away, so courtships are shorter than ever. And the less said about girls half my age looking for a daddy, the better. But as I look out over the carnage that IS the American married and divorced world and see married AND divorced men eviscerated and deprived of even the most basic human dignity, the “loser who never married” barbs I used to get are no longer a badge of shame, but of pride.

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