Not so many years ago, married men had the freedom to live by one set of rules away from home, and a different set at the hearth. Because they held the power to distribute resources however they wished, they could decide what and when to share them. As women have become legitimate wage earners with more powerful voices, they have challenged their chosen partners to participate in a whole new kind of connection that does not accept automatic hierarchy.
In the last few decades women have slowly driven their point home. The millennial men, who are their current counterparts, are freer thinkers and they have responded in kind in their relationships as well. These men like their women strong and feisty, and have willingly accepted the responsibility to connect in a more vulnerable way. They get it that it’s sexy to help make a meal or take the kids away on a Sunday morning so their wives can sleep in. They are the androgynous guys that their women have asked them to become.
You would think that the women in these new relationships would be ecstatic. They’ve got a guy who wants to work out together, share parenting, support their parallel dreams, and make their family collective central to both of their lives. They’ve established an equal relationship of coordinated teamwork, and the guys don’t seem to miss their old need to posture for power over intimate connections.
Well, guess again. Fifty percent of marriages are still ending in divorce, and women continue to be the gender that initiates those endings. In the past, their reasons for leaving most often had to do with infidelity, neglect, or abuse. Now they’re dumping men who are faithful, attentive, and respectful, the very men they said they have always wanted. Why would women who have accomplished the female dream suddenly not be satisfied with it? Why are they leaving these ideal guys, and for what reasons?
I am currently dealing with several of these great husbands. They are, across the board, respectful, quality, caring, devoted, cherishing, authentic, and supportive guys whose wives have left them for a different kind of man. These once-beloved men make a living, love their kids, help with chores, support aging parents, and support their mate’s desires and interests. They believe they’ve done everything right. They are devastated, confused, disoriented, and heartsick. In a tragic way, they startlingly resemble the disheartened women of the past who were left behind by men who “just wanted something new.”
You may think that these women are ruthless and inconsiderate. Those I know are far from that. More often, they still love their husbands as much as they ever did, but in a different way. They tell me how wonderful their men are and how much they respect them. They just don’t want to be married to them anymore.
Perhaps it would be even more honest to say that they don’t want to be yoked to anyone any more. At least in the traditional ways they once embraced as ideal. They feel compassion for their prior mates, but liberated in their new-found right to create a different way of feeling in relationships. In short, they want to live their lives with the privileges men once had.
I think I understand what is going on.
In the last twenty years, as women have found their voices and value, they have been asking more equality in their relationships. They were ready to take leadership and to disconnect from dependency. In exchange, they wanted their men to adopt nurturing and vulnerable characteristics. At first, there was an expected backlash. “Men are from Mars” and other media presentations became the cry for holding on to the differences between men and women and to keep them from blending.
Nevertheless, it became more and more apparent that quality people of both genders would be happier and more fulfilled if they could combine power and nurturing. Men would develop their feminine side and women their masculine. No longer would it be that the bad boys were sexy and the good women were virtuous. Now quality men needed to add chivalry to their power, and women to claim their ability for independent thinking and leadership. They could imagine a relationship where both were equally blended and free to be the best they could be. “She” and “he” became the new idealized “we.”
As the trend picked up energy, more of the die-hard “men’s men” started to see that the androgynous males were stealing the great girls from under their hard-core posturing, and began to wonder if their “take-no-prisoners” attitude might benefit from a little revising. Women saw their newly developed mates as their best friends, so wonderfully malleable they could take them anywhere and know they would fit in. Men no longer had to “understand and handle” their women, nor did women have to orchestrate “connection.”
Then things started to go awry. Perhaps these androgynous couples over-valued adopting the same behaviors in their relationship. Maybe the men got too nice and the women a little too challenging. Oddly, the androgynous men seemed to like their new-found emotional availability, while the women began to feel more unfulfilled. Her “perfect” partner, in the process of reclaiming his full emotional expressiveness, somehow ended up paying an unfair price; he was no longer able to command the hierarchical respect from her that was once his inalienable right.
How can a man be a caretaker and a warrior at the same time? How can he serve his woman’s need for a partner who is vulnerable, open, and intimate, while donning armor to fight the dangers that threaten his family and place in the world? How can he stand up and be a man amongst men, loyal to the hunting band that covers his back, while taking the night feeding, while not appearing less than a man? Did he blend his male energy with his female side, or did he learn to be more like a female at the price of his innate masculinity?
The women I have treated who have left their husbands for more “masculine” men believed that their new relationships would be able to both excite and nurture them. Sadly, that has not always happened. The veritable saint with balls is as elusive as ever.
When things haven’t worked out as they thought they would, several of the women I am now working with are re-thinking their decisions, wondering if they left too soon, or for the wrong reasons. They want to reconcile with the men they have left behind. Their husbands are torn between the understandable desire to reject them and still wanting them back. Ironically, because these have nurtured the feminine side of their natures, they are also able to forgive in a way few men have been able to do in the past.
But because they have no interest in returning to the “bad boy” mentality their competitors brandished, they are faced with a challenge most men have never had to confront. How do they hold on to their vulnerability and capacity to nurture, and blend it with the strength and power required of a self-respecting leader of men?
None of my reuniting couples ever want to lose each other again. They’ve left the old ways behind and know that going back to what was will not work anymore. They intensely want to create a new kind of connection that blends the beauty of traditional roles with the freedom to move between them, and to blend the best of the past with an as-yet-unwritten future.
It must be a parallel path. Both men and women must separately find their own balance between their need for independence and their desire for ongoing commitment. As integrated individuals in their own right, they would then have the capacity to create a relationship that is more than the exchange or sum of the parts. Committed partners who are willing to fight for that innovative solution will find the way.
*Article originally published on the Huffington Post.
More than half of all men in committed relationships have admitted to cheating, and according to Oprah.com, 17% of all divorces are caused by infidelity. That’s practically 1 in 5 marriages gone because of cheating! With these depressing figures isn’t it safe to assume that pretty much any man I end up with will be a cheater? Of course, I’m not looking for a cheater and I certainly wouldn’t choose to be with one on purpose, but if I already know that statistically my husband will cheat wouldn’t it make sense to at least seek one with money?
No one really plans to be with a man who isn’t faithful but with all this data pointing towards infidelity, why settle for just an “average cheater” when you can have a rich one? If a man is going to hurt me emotionally, shouldn’t I at least make sure that I’ll be taken care of financially?
Now this is not the same as saying I am looking to marry a man with money or that it’s okay if a rich man cheats on me. All I’m saying is if I am going to be cheated on, I’d rather it be by someone of means than by someone without. Having money doesn’t excuse a man from having an affair, however, it doesn’t make sense for a woman to be cheated on by someone who has nothing either.
I know this may sound crazy but men think the same way to a certain extent, don’t they? There are plenty of good women (aka: wife material) but men go for women who have nice bodies & a pretty face. They probably think that if you have to be stuck with one woman for the rest of your life (hopefully), you might as well get one that’s attractive. To me, that’s the same thing as saying if I have to be with someone who will cheat on me (statistically speaking), it might as well be someone who’s not broke.
At the end of the day, the data proves that most men cheat. And if most men cheat, I might as well get me one with money, right?
So the latest in all-things-Kardashian is that Khloe Kardashian’s marriage to Lamar Odom is on the rocks. The source of this purported split is Lamar’s battle with substance abuse. In other words, they might be getting a divorce because he’s reportedly addicted to drugs.
Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t the wedding vows say something like, “in sickness and in health…till death do us part”? Well, we already know that most marriages today don’t last until death but what about the “sickness and in health” part?
Let’s examine the word addiction. It’s a neurologically based disease, which means that drug addiction is a chronic often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug use despite any & all consequences. The repeated use of drugs leads to changes in the structure & function of the brain so while the initial decision to take drugs is voluntary, over time the changes in the brain can affect a person’s self-control and ability to make sound decisions. In other words, a person can develop an intense impulse to take drugs. Many people don’t understand how someone can become addicted to drugs. They mistakenly view drug addiction as strictly a problem brought upon one’s self & that anyone who gets addicted is weak. But that’s simply not true.
People often underestimate the complexity of drug addiction – it is a disease that impacts the brain so stopping is not simply a matter of willpower. Yes, drug addiction is preventable but it’s a disease nonetheless, just like any other chronic disease – diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. There are many reasons why someone would become addicted to drugs. No single factor can predict whether a person will become addict, just like there is no solid way to predict whether or not a person will develop cancer. So if this is the case, why are people willing to tolerate some diseases & not others?
Addiction is reportedly one of the top 10 reasons for divorce* in 2012. But if addiction is considered an illness, why are people so quick to let it end their marriage? What happened to that part of the wedding vows “in sickness and in health”? Why is it okay to give up on someone with an addiction but not any other disease? Let’s take Khloe & Lamar for instance – while we don’t know for sure if they are divorcing, is it right for Khloe to leave Lamar because he has a bonafide medical illness? We don’t know how long he’s been dealing with his alleged drug addiction but isn’t it safe to say that if anyone should stick by his side, it should be his wife?
Now, I’m not advocating someone staying in an abusive relationship, however, I do think it’s the spouse’s duty to stand by their mate through thick & thin. Besides, doesn’t it just acerbate the situation when the person closest to you doesn’t stick by your side?
So shame on you Khloe for leaving Lamar during his time of need! Marriage is supposed to be forever; at the very least “in sickness and in health.”
If you know someone who needs help with drug addiction, go to DrugAbuse.com or call 1-800-943-0566 for help. For more information on prevention, please visit the Prevention Research information page; and for more information on treatment, please visit the Treatment Research information page. To find a publicly funded treatment center in your State, please call 1-800-662-HELP or visit www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
Just about every woman I know has been hit on by a married man. Myself included. I can’t respect a man who cheats on his wife plus I’m afraid of bad karma. I would hate to have a torrid love affair with someone who is married, only for my husband to do the same thing to me.
Recently a married man connected with me wanting to hang out. I didn’t know that he was married at the time I gave him my phone number, but I think it slipped it out during one of our subsequent conversations. When I asked him outright he said he wasn’t really married. When I pressed the issue, he stated that his divorce just wasn’t final yet. I told him that without a divorce decree in the eyes of God & according to the state of California that means he’s still married. In other words, a separation is equivalent to being married but it does not equate to being divorced. I also told him over & over that I don’t deal with married men but he just didn’t seem to get the point.
But why would a woman want to date a married – albeit separated – man? I know of plenty of women who wouldn’t mind, but I don’t get why. I mean, wouldn’t they still be considered an adulteress? Or is it considered okay because the man has already left his wife (noticed I said “left” her, not yet “divorced” her). Remember, legally adultery includes men who are separated. Reconciliation accounts for about 20% of all separations* and messing with a married man diminishes these chances. That’s like me spending my dad’s life insurance money because he’s been told he has a 20% chance to live. Just because a man has chosen to walk away from his marriage doesn’t mean you have to play a part in him staying away from his marriage.
According to the latest research the majority of couples who separate end up getting divorced (that’s a no brainer, right?). But what about the couples that actually work things out during their separation and get back together – that 20% I talked about? What if one of the married men that have asked me out falls into this category? I don’t want to get emotionally invested in a man only to find out that he’s going back to his wife. Not to mention that men who are in the middle of a divorce are not emotionally available, let alone ready to get into a serious relationship right away. That’s like going from the “frying pan to the fire” and what man wants to get involved while they’re still involved with their own marriage? These are just some of the reasons why I can’t get involved with married men.
So married men before you hit on me show me your judgment, please!
This past weekend I attended a party where I saw a lot of my old classmates from grade school. It was a good catching up with them since I hadn’t seen most of them since Kindergarten, which for me was over two decades ago. And even though we were all the same age most of my old classmates were married or had children or both, which led them to ask me why I was still unmarried with no children. I gave them the response that I always give: “I just haven’t found Mr. Right yet.” One of my more outspoken classmates (who is married with 2 kids of his own) looked me up & down and quickly told me that my problem was probably that I was “too picky for my own good”. But how can anyone be too picky when it comes to marriage?
WHAT DO I REALLY WANT?
The conversation with my classmate got me to thinking – am I too picky? Maybe I just don’t recognize it. Could I be unwilling to see that the things I desire in a husband are not reasonable after all? Maybe I need to re-evaluate my needs & just stick with the things that are deal breakers. Should I reconsider what’s important to me & pursue a relationship with someone who is a good man even though they don’t have everything that I want or need in a relationship? Older women always advise me to focus on the important qualities in a man like good character, honesty, open communication, trust & whether or not he’ll be a good father to our children but I want to know when does attraction and chemistry come into play? When do romance and a sense of humor come into play? I know that those qualities aren’t what keep a marriage together but they do account for a lot in a relationship, especially during the rough times. If I have to deal with someone that I’m not attracted to (intellectually, spiritually or emotionally) then it makes dealing with that person a lot more difficult. Don’t get me wrong – integrity, trust and good character are all great things to have but if there’s no attraction then what good does it do?
Yes, I have requirements of certain characteristics that I am looking for in a mate. Unfortunately, I have yet to find all of these characteristics in one man but that’s the real reason for me being single. A lot of us women were told to have a list of qualities that we would like in a mate and to be very specific with this list. I wrote my list out and ended up with about 20 qualities that I’d like in a husband. Some people have told me that this list is too long but I contend that while not all of these qualities are mandatory, they are what I truly desire in a mate and are all important to me. Of course, it is still up to me to exercise good judgment with which qualities are most important to me.
You’re probably wondering what’s on my list. I won’t write out everything but some of the more important qualities include a Christian man who will be faithful, has a sense of humor, thoughtful and active in his community (or at least productive in society outside of work). I honestly don’t think that these things are too much to ask for. There are other qualities on my list such as physical features and the like, but those are mostly preferences (i.e. – complexion, height, build, etc). I was talking to an acquaintance one day (a recently married man in his 40’s) about my “list” and he told me that most of the things I’m looking for are realistic, but there were a few qualities that he deemed unrealistic. He reasoned that in this day in age, and with the age range of men I’m interested in (ages 35-45) it would be very difficult for me to find exactly what I want so I should remove certain qualities from my list. I didn’t want to get into it with him but I took what he said with a grain of salt (basically ignored him completely). The things that I want in a husband may seem unreasonable to someone else but to me they are not. Besides, how can someone else tell me what’s important to me?
A lot of my male friends tell me to get rid of my list, but the funny thing is that they all have their own list. Sure, it may not be written out like mine but it’s all in their head. Every man knows exactly what he wants in a woman and won’t settle until he gets what he’s looking for (which is part of the reason why men stay single for so long). No one ever complains that a man is being picky so why I should be concerned with that label?
IF I’M SO PICKY I MUST HAVE SOMETHING GOOD TO OFFER
I always hear that men are allowed to be picky because they have more options. Since women are starting to make more money & become more accomplished than their male counterparts there are fewer successful men to choose from. Therefore women can’t afford to be as picky as men. Although there is some truth to that, I don’t believe that I need to have a shorter list just to get a husband. Everything that I want in a man I have to offer. I want a man who is a Christian, I am a Christian. I want a man with an education, I have a college degree. And the list goes on & on. I am not a millionaire; therefore I wouldn’t expect to be with a millionaire (although it would be nice, Lol!). My point is this: I would never ask for something that I don’t have to offer myself.
AM I MISSING OUT?
Sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on my future husband because I’m holding on to a list that may or may not be realistic. I also wonder if my list should be shortened or maybe even retired. Maybe I am too picky for my own good. But I am content to remain single until most of the items on my list can be checked off.
Besides, with so many divorces in this country people just don’t seem to be picky enough.
It seems like almost every celebrity couple signs prenuptial agreements before getting married. But those are usually situations where the bulk of the money is coming from the man or both parties have individual wealth (think Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta Jones or Sarah Jessica Parker & Matthew Broderick). But I wonder what happens when the woman is the breadwinner in the relationship. Does she make the man sign a prenup before marrying him?
I started to think about all of the female celebrities that have married “regular” men (or have gotten close to marriage). Here’s the list of some of the couples that came to mind and their net worth, according to www.celebritynetworth.com:
- Michelle Obama & President Barack Obama – As a VP of Community Affairs, Mrs. Obama was pulling in close to $300,000 / The then-Senator about $160,000 per year
- Teresa Heinz & John Kerry – Our Secretary of State only makes about $187K, and he’s married to an heiress of Heinz ketchup thought to be worth close to 1 billion dollars
- Oprah Winfrey & Stedman Graham – Okay, Oprah makes like a gazillion dollars a year
- Reality TV star Bethenny Frankel & Jason Hoppy – Last year Bethenny made 8 figures; I’m guessing Jason made about 6
- Jennifer Lopez & Mark Anthony – Jlo is worth about $250 million, whereas her soon to be ex-husband is “only” worth about $40 million (largely due in part to being married to her)
- Songstress Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon – Mariah’s net worth over $500 million, compared to a “paltry” $15 million for Nick
Surely, some men are willing to sign a prenup to be with the woman they love. They recognize that bringing less money into the marriage doesn’t make them any less of a man, and that money isn’t everything. But don’t men hold all the cards? For example, on the television show Real Housewives of Atlanta, Grammy award winning singer/songwriter Kandi Burruss has stated repeatedly that she believes in prenups. However, this was before she got engaged. Now if Kandi’s fiancé (Todd) doesn’t want to sign a prenup, then she may lose him altogether. There are plenty of women who would love to be with Todd and wouldn’t make him sign a prenup (grant it, most of these women aren’t millionaires but still, you get my point).
So if you are a rich woman, do you take the risk of losing a good man by making him sign a prenuptial agreement just so you can save some money? Or, do you follow your heart and marry the man of your dreams knowing that having money can’t replace a having a husband?