When I split with my husband, I played with the anonymous internet dating websites. It wasn’t that I was attracted to one status of man over another, however I managed to have the more interesting conversations with ‘unhappily married men.’
Most of the men had been in their relationships, marriages, for fifteen plus years, but even though they were unhappy, they would prefer to have intimate conversation with a stranger than tell their fears and passions to their wives. But they wouldn’t dare leave their wives, they wanted the unhappiness to continue, because they were too gutless to start a new life with shared custody of the kids, alimony, child support and a chance to find true happiness.
As I go through the turmoil of financial separation, child custody and the constant uneasiness of the whole situation, you can understand why it’s hard for them to leave. Being the main bread-winner of a family is the worst position to be in in a family separation, and most of these men are in this position. The Family Court in Australia does not acknowledge that the other partner has a university degree, has the ability to make a decent income but doesn’t because they want to persecute their former partner by making them pay for everything for the term of their children’s childhood, and the Family Court expects that every each person in the relationship must live the same lifestyle they were accustomed to in the marriage. How is that actually ever possible?
So these men feel trapped in their marriages, trapped in an unhappiness of nagging, lost sexual appetites, routine and nothing to look forward to. So they get lost in their work, their kid’s sporting activities while the conversations they have with their wives are monotonous and argumentative.
In Australia, the statistics are 60% of all marriages are broken up because the wife chooses to leave, with most wives knowing that they will be significantly worse off financially, 35% of all marriages are broken up as a joint decision, and only 5% of marriage failures are men leaving their marriages. I’m sure the statistics are similar in other westernised countries, however their seems to be harsher penalties for men who don’t live up to their family responsibilities, including jail in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Beyond Blue, Australia’s main charity for depression, states that one of the symptoms of depression is living in a long-term abusive or uncaring relationship. So you can understand why these men stay in their demoralising marriages, become depressed and start to cheat to make themselves feel desirable again. They choose between going down the spiralling vortex into a deeper depression, or find a new happy place to ensure they don’t become depressed. I’m not saying that I agree with what they do, I just can understand how they get there… because I was the main breadwinner in my marriage, I was treated with no respect and I was constantly demoralised, and some how I thought that the Family Court would commend me for being the financially responsible one and for being the parent who stuck by my children when their father didn’t want to spend time with them or contact them. But they don’t.
So behind all the walls of illusion, there are probably many unhappy marriages between your friends and family, most that go unspoken. But if you really care about your friend or family member and notice a change in their behaviour, change in their attitude or change in how they interact with their partner, be the best friend you can be, and just ask them how things are going, show that you care. Because talking about it is the first step to future happiness.