The Divorce Machine

Divorce. Torn photograph of wedding cake topper.
By April 09, 2017


Society wants you divorced.

Society wants you divorced. The very fabric of our social networks support and encourage divorce and many divorces are socially executed in the same way. It’s not a pretty story, but it’s a common one. 75% of divorces are initiated by women. And in the majority of these divorces, even if the divorce is initiated for innocuous reasons, the divorce will quickly turn into a machine determined to vilify the husband while clearing the wife of any wrongdoing and making her the victim. This may not even be her intention at the beginning, but as soon as the divorce machine gets started, it’s hard if not impossible to stop the gears.

Once the woman makes the decision to leave she will make her case to friends and family in secret. They will react with surprise, sadness and concern. They will want to know “why.” In her mind, and according to society, Facebook memes, music, movies and everywhere she looks, feeling dissatisfied and wanting “more” is enough reason. However when she acts on this, the people around her will want more of reason. Afterall, they “seemed” happy, and maybe they spent many years together, and maybe they have kids. To those around her, it’s quite a big investment to throw away, certainly there’s more of a reason than that she was getting bored?

So she will build a case and the divorce machine will help her.

She will throw out complaints to her friends and family. Find offensive things he does. She will exaggerate indiscretions to garner the compassion of those whose support she will need. In return, other women will console her, with little likes like, “oh poor you, you deserve better.”

These women have no idea, truly, what the wife experiences or even how she behaves toward her husband. They only know the common and abundant platitudes offered to women when they are dissatisfied. It’s a false flattery and coddling. It’s often not a conscious thing but I believe it stems from an unspoken desire to watch others fall. It’s destructive cruelty, packaged with a bow.

These harmful platitudes and unrealistic expectations as well as propping up a woman’s martyr status for having to “tolerate” a man starts before the marriage is even really in failure mode. Often they start, on a small-scale as soon as a woman gets married.

Women participate in what I call toxic bonding rituals. We call them girls night out, girl time, socials. But in nearly all the situations where women gather socially, there is an unofficial competition for who’s husband is the most useless. While no one truly wants or believes they have a useless husband, they do want to elevate their own perceived status in the girl group through one upmanship as martyr.

Problem is, women start to believe the stories they tell, especially when they paint themselves in such a glowing light.

Now, as you all are well aware, none of the evidence has to be “real” it just has to be convincing. We have a culture that disrespects men and celebrates the fake “empowerment” of women. It’s easy to learn what sorts of complaints are more effective than others in gaining the sympathy and support of a support system that will see a woman through to getting what she thinks she wants: “freedom.”

So the woman will begin to share these complaints in building her case for why she “deserves better” and to convince others that she is not leaving the marriage for petty or selfish reasons. In fact, she is quite miserable “because of him,” and there is no solution other than dissolving the marriage.

What happens next is surprising in the predictability of it. Especially when we have no fault divorce and a culture that does not believe divorce is a terrible thing. On a certain level, a frivolous divorce is looked down on. Even if it may be allowed by law, socially, a frivolous divorce is seen as selfish or a mistake, so every effort is made to make the divorce seem “necessary.”

Once the wife communicates her decision to leave, family, the white knights, friends and YOLO armies surround her to take up the mission of extracting her from her horrible awful terrible no good life. The reason that absolves her from being cast off as selfish or frivolous in her relationships is always that “he” is awful.

Everyone starts gathering evidence from “OMG he didn’t even like your profile picture” level stuff to “he didn’t go to counseling, he has no heart.”

Then, to comfort and absolve any guilt over leaving, the armchair psychologists come out reading books on manipulation, abandonment, emotional abuse. Before long, the marriage has evolved from being characterized as “not satisfying” to abusive. They all get on board.

By now, the lawyers are chomping at the bit, the bills are stacking up and she’s stressed and scared but there’s no turning back because the narrative is gaining speed. Everyone has found a new purpose in life to save her from him.

If a man is incredibly unlucky and going through an exceptionally awful divorce, the armies might need a final nail in the coffin. Maybe the evidence isn’t convincing, maybe her behavior starts to cast doubt on her character. The armies of armchair psychologists will start to read books on Narcissism, Psychopathy. They will pick apart the man’s every word and action looking for confirming evidence and because we all have a few unflattering characteristics and because divorce is such an intense experience drawing out the worst in us, they will find some morsels of deviant behavior to support their horror story. He may find himself facing a restraining order when he’s attempting to communicate with her. He may even find himself arrested for domestic violence or child abuse. These are not always real accusations, they are often tools used by lawyers with a client who must be seen as blameless for financial or social reasons. It will thoroughly cripple a man’s ability to have any say in the process. The divorce machine tears him apart.

The machine takes over. The friends and family all support each other in demonizing the man. Often this starts before he is even aware she is considering divorce, but whether he sees it coming or not, there is very little he can do to stop it.

Kitten Holiday is a writer, lover and free thinker based in North Carolina. She writes essays, humor, fiction and opinion on her blog Kitten Holiday. Kitten is famous in small circles, widely read by a couple of people and a total bad ass when time allows.

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