PODCAST: Are 70% of Divorces Due to Women Leaving for No Reason?

by | Nov 2, 2023 | Abuse, Podcasts | 18 comments

Do 70% of women who initiate divorce do so for no reason?
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Are women divorcing left and right for no reason?

Lately I’ve seen an uptick on social media sharing two “facts”:

  • Women initiate 70% of divorces
  • In 75% of those divorces, “lack of commitment” is the reason for divorce

The conclusion being made is that women are fickle and are leaving good men for no reason.

Guess what we decided to do on today’s podcast?

We decided to look up the actual study! It’s a fun one!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

0:10 Stats Rehab: ‘Women initiate 70% of divorces without good reason’
4:40 Breaking down what the study actually found
14:30 “College educated women get divorced the most!”
22:50 How do we know divorce isn’t happening for no reason?
26:40 Death by a thousand cuts in marriage
44:00 The importance of communicating early in marriage

 Are women divorcing for no reason?

I’m not even sure why this trope is so easily believed, but it’s being spread quite a bit on social media, along with a corollary:

  • College-educated women are more likely to initiate divorces

So we looked up that stat too. And guess what? It doesn’t say what the people are insinuating it says either. 

We decided to do this podcast for two reasons. 

First, we’re tired of the trope that women are divorcing for no reason when the research so clearly says the opposite (even the very study they’re quoting!).

But second, we wanted to show you why it’s so important to look at the actual source of statistics, rather than just taking people’s word for it. When you hear a stat that doesn’t pass the “smell test”, you don’t need to take it at face value. You can Google things and try to find peer reviewed studies that look into whatever is being discussed.

What I often do is type this into the Google search bar:

  • study journal [whatever issue I’m looking at]

So if I wanted to find out about the effects of spanking, I’d say something like:

  • study journal children effects of spanking

And you’ll get lots of peer reviewed studies! (You don’t always need the word journal, but I find that narrows things down and helps you find peer reviewed articles. The word study should always be first though!). 

It isn’t hard to check things for yourself. But even if you don’t have time to do that, remember: If you hear a stat that everybody is quoting and it just sounds strange–it likely is off!


Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Are 70% of Women Divorcing for No Reason Podcast

What do you think? Have you heard this “stat” thrown around? Why are people so eager to believe it? Let’s talk in the comments!


Sheila: What if everything you’ve been told about the reasons women get divorced is wrong?  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And today on episode 212 of the Bare Marriage podcast we’re going to look at some seriously crappy takes on stats, and I am joined today to do that by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.  Hello.

Sheila: And here is what I want to tackle.  Are you ready?

Rebecca: Yes.

Sheila: Okay.  There has been an uptick, and I don’t know why.  I don’t know what’s going on.  But there has been an uptick on social media and on other podcasts of people using two different stats.  Okay?  One saying that women initiated 70% of divorces which is true.  All right?  Lots of studies have shown that.  And the reason, the biggest reason, that women initiate those divorces—75% of women say it’s lack of commitment.  And people are saying that, “See?  This proves that women are getting divorced for no reason.”   

Rebecca: Yeah.  Which, as we will show you, is a really—honestly, gold stars to everyone for being able to misrepresent the story as well as you did.  I almost feel that gets an—like what?  Like a Darwin Award but for stats.  Something like that.

Sheila: How does this even pass the smell test?  Okay?  So what they’re saying is, “Hey, look at all of these women, who get divorced for no reason.  Women are selfish.  Women are terrible.  Women are leaving perfectly good men.  The big crisis in the world is caused by women because they’re getting divorced because of lack of commitment.”  So guess what we did, people?  We looked at the study.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Which does seem to just be a really out there idea.  That’s really new thinking, guys.  To actually read the study.

Sheila: Imagine.  Reading the study that you’re going to quote.  But that’s what we did because this whole stat sounded so strange to me the way that people were interpreting it.  

Rebecca: So this stat came from a 2013 study that’s a matched pair study.  It’s a really cool study.  Seriously, you should look it up.  The link for it will be in the show notes.  But it was a matched pair design, which means that they actually got to talk to both people of the divorced couple.  And they would link them in some way so that they could say, “Hey, so Spouse A says this, but Spouse B says that.”  And this whole reason for divorce being a lack of commitment was one option in a check all that apply question for what were the reasons behind your divorce.

Sheila: Yeah.  So they listed 12 things, and they said check all that apply.  They didn’t say, “What is the reason?  What is the one reason?”  

Rebecca: And they did ask what is the one reason.  

Sheila: Later on.

Rebecca: They did.  Later.  And later when they asked what’s the one reason.  What’s the main reason?  Do you think that 75% of women said, “I just felt like it.  It just felt like a good thing to do on a Thursday.  I was like divorce era”?  That’s not what happened.  

Sheila: No.  Exactly.  

Rebecca: Instead, 57% of the marriages, the last straw was either infidelity, abuse, or substance abuse and addiction.  57%.  So the 75% of people, of women, who are saying there was a lack of commitment are also getting divorced because they are abused.  They’re being cheated on.  There’s a spouse who is not dealing with their addiction issues.  That sounds like a lack of—

Sheila: Which also classifies as lack of commitment.  

Rebecca: Well, exactly.  It’s like, “I don’t know.  I think that sleeping with a bunch of people does signify a deep lack of commitment.”

Sheila: I know.  I’m actually surprised that 100% of people didn’t say lack of commitment.  But I just want to say—I just want to do a plug for matched pair surveys before we get into more of the detail on this particular study.  Is there is another study that is coming up that we are doing for our marriage book.  We have ethics approval from Queens University, and my husband, Dr. Keith Gregoire, is doing it with us.  And we will have the link to that study because we need both people in the couple to take the survey.  So we’re going to put the link in the podcast notes.  I think the study is going to be ready by the time this podcast comes out.

Rebecca: Hopefully.

Sheila: If not, it probably will be next week.  But there will also be a link to the email list where you can sign up.  And if you are on our email list, you are going to get notified.

Rebecca: Oh trust me.  I’m going to let you know.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Yes.  So please sign up.  And Becca’s emails on Fridays are always amazing.

Rebecca: I think so anyway. 

Sheila: Yes.  So do check that out because we really would love for you to participate in our study.  But let’s get back to this study.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  But that’s what’s so ridiculous is they latch on to this one stat that shows 75% of women said that there was a lack of commitment in their marriage.  And then they completely ignore the 57% of women for whom it’s like, “Yeah.  I got divorced because of,”—they completely ignore the 57% of couples where the reason was so clearly not a lack of commitment in terms of, “I just don’t feel in love anymore.”  It’s like a, “Yeah.  He’s an abusive person.”

Sheila: 57% said that was the final straw.  There were actually more couples than that that had some of these things present in their marriage.  So let’s do one of them.  So the next most common reason for divorce was infidelity after lack of commitment.  Okay.  So 59.6% of individuals said that there was infidelity in their marriage.

Rebecca: And that ended up being what?  Like 88% of the marriages overall.  

Sheila: Yeah.  In 88% of couples, there was infidelity by at least one of the people.  Okay.  So 60% of them admitted that there was infidelity by one or the other in 88% of couples.  And here is why those numbers are different.  Okay?  In only 31.3% of couples where there was infidelity did both people say, “Yeah.  There’s infidelity.”    

Rebecca: Yeah.  So what you’re seeing here is the average, right?  So in a lot of couples, she’s saying, “Yeah.  He cheated on me.”  And he’s like, “No.  I don’t think the infidelity had anything to do with it.”  And vice versa, right?  Where he might say, “Yeah.  There was infidelity on my part or on hers.”  And she doesn’t mention it on her side.  So you’re going to see that the individual number is going to be a lot lower because for every one couple there’s two people.

Sheila: Right.  Right.  Exactly.  And we did know, and this study also found, that men were more likely to cheat.  Okay.  So that is a lack of commitment.  And seriously, when people say, “Yeah.  Women are getting divorced for lack of commitment,” did nobody say, “But that answer wasn’t my lack of commitment.”  It’s lack of commitment in general.  So I don’t know why people thought that they could say, “Oh yeah.  Women are just getting divorced because they’re not committed to their marriage.”  

Rebecca: But we dealt with this with the Nancy Pearcey podcast too, right?  Where what often happens in very fundamentalist religious spaces is people look at science or stats until they find something that matches their idea of how the world should work.  Not how it does work but how it should work.  And they latch on to it, and they don’t read any further context.  Right?  I mean Emerson Eggerichs quotes John Gottman in his book, Love and Respect, even though if you actually read John Gottman, he has a whole section about how if you have a gender hierarchy marriage you’re doomed pretty much.  So this is a really common thing where people will latch on to one very sexy sounding stat that says what they want it to say, and they don’t actually look at the data.

Sheila: And this is actually especially why it’s so important to read the original study, and one of the critiques we had of Nancy Pearcey—and we did that podcast last month where we were asking the question, “Do complementarians really have better marriages,” which is what she had been claiming in her new book, The Toxic War on Masculinity.  And our critique was she got the vast majority of her statistics from newspaper articles.  She didn’t look at the actual stat.  And this idea that 75% of women divorce because of lack of commitment is all over the Internet.  You can find it everywhere.  But if you trace it back, you will find it’s traced back to this study, which, if you read the study, you will come to a completely different conclusion.  So lack of commitment, then infidelity.  Then we also had another big one with substance abuse.  All right.

Rebecca: Yeah.  That was really big.  That was 35% of couples.

Sheila: Yeah.  35% of couples said that it was a major contributing factor.  And it was mentioned by at least one partner in 50% of marriages.  Okay?  But in the marriages where substance abuse was an issue, only 33.3% of partners agreed that substance abuse was a major contributing factor.  So if she said it was his alcoholism, he only had a 33.3% chance of agreeing.

Rebecca: And I believe it was the study that found that it—typically for the substance abuse, it was an issue of—can you just read the thing that they said about?

Sheila: Yeah.  Here’s how they concluded it.  They said, “The severity of the substance abuse problem in their relationship was either minimized over the duration of the relationship or if attempts to address the problem were made the partner with the substance abuse problem would not improve and/or seek help.  After several attempts to address the problem, the relationship finally ended.”  

Rebecca: So once again it’s not a lack of commitment even when there’s addiction issues or substance abuse issues.  This is not a commitment issue.  This is an issue of the spouse, who is not experiencing the substance addiction is trying to get their spouse to fix this.  But if you have kids in the mix or even you, I’m sorry.  But substance abuse is really dangerous especially if you’re into drugs that are not legal.  You can have people—I have had friends where drug dealers have threatened their family because they owe money.  That is not something you mess with.  That’s not a commitment issue.

Sheila: No.  That’s a safety issue.  And yeah.  It just isn’t okay.  And, again, women can also be substance abusers.  It’s just that men are more likely too.  And in this study, they also found that men were more likely to.  But there definitely were women who were substance abusers as well.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  Exactly.

Sheila: Okay.  Here’s an interesting one.  Illness.  

Rebecca: Illness is a fun one to talk about.  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Mm-hmm.  So there was a really big study done in 2009.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  Journal of Cancer, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  Journal of Cancer.  And what they were looking at is what happened to marriages when one spouse was diagnosed with a life altering or life threatening disease.  Things like multiple sclerosis, brain tumor, some sort of cancer that was really serious.  So what happened to spouses?  And I’m just going to read to you part of their abstract, their conclusion.  Okay?  There was, however, a greater than six-fold increase in risk after diagnosis when the affected spouse was the woman.  20.8% versus 2.9%.  So let’s think about what that’s saying.  In 21% of marriages where the wife is diagnosed with a life altering condition, her husband leaves her.  That’s 1/5—

Rebecca: Whereas only 3% of men have that same experience.

Sheila: Right.  So 1/5 of men will leave their wives when they are diagnosed with a life threatening illness versus just 3% of wives that will leave their husbands.  That is huge.  So to say that women are the ones with a lack of commitment—

Rebecca: Yes.  Statistically speaking, on a general population level, it is just ridiculous when you consider that we know from multiple studies that life threatening domestic abuse is much more likely to be instigated by men than by women.  The amount of murders that happen between partners is overwhelmingly—

Sheila: Yeah.  So let’s get to abuse in just a sec.  I just want to read the final thing here.  Okay?  So this is the final thing in their abstract was “female gender was found to be the strongest predictor of separation or divorce in each cohort.”

Rebecca: Yeah.  No matter what the diagnosis was, no matter what was going on, if you were a woman, that was the highest predictor that you’d be left.  Yeah.

Sheila: Okay.  So also in this big study from the 75% that they are always quoting, abuse was an issue in about a quarter of marriages.  All right?  And multiple studies have also found—and I’ve got some links to these.  I’m probably going to write an article about it on the blog.  Maybe tomorrow.  Because we’re not going to mention all the studies that we looked up in this podcast.  But multiple studies have found that women are actually more likely to initiate divorce and get divorced if they are being abused.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And that’s really cool because we’ve had this idea—I know that a study out of Queens was looking at this because we have this idea in society that women who are abused are actually less likely to get divorced.  And so when we see women who get divorced—

Sheila: Because they’re so beaten down, they don’t feel like they have options.

Rebecca: They don’t have options.  And what this has found is that actually, no.  Women who are abused are divorcing at a much higher rate than the general population which is, first of all, excellent news.  We should all be really happy to hear that.  But it also means that our—

Sheila: Because we want people who are abused to get to safety.  Yes.

Rebecca: Absolutely.  Yeah.  We don’t want people to be trapped in abuse.  But it also means that this misguided notion that women who get divorced are able to get divorced, so, therefore, they can’t have been abused is wrong.  Because I think that’s what often happens, right?  We say, “Well, if you’re getting divorced, was the abuse really even that bad if you could leave?”  It’s like oh my gosh.  That’s so toxic.  That’s such a toxic mindset, and I’m glad that now we have the stats to show that no.  That is a toxic mindset because women who are abused are able to leave.  It’s just risky.  It’s scary.  It’s hard.  It’s terrible.  But they are leaving.  So when you see someone who has gotten divorced, don’t just immediately assume what it was about because yeah.  The study is finding there are so many reasons.

Sheila: Yeah.  And another interesting thing about this study—they found—they asked, “What are all the reasons?”  Okay?  A lot of the reasons where super important, super serious.  And when you ask couples what the final straw was, you’re looking at 57% of marriages it’s super serious things.  And those super serious things are also present in even more marriages.  It’s just that they didn’t name it as the final straw.  Okay?  So this is bad, people.  Well, it’s bad in the sense that when people get divorced it’s for bad stuff.  That’s actually good in the sense that we’re not seeing a ton of divorces for really frivolous reasons.  Okay?   Another thing just to hone into with this study is when they asked people, “Hey, who should have worked harder on your marriage?”  People were twice as likely to say that the husband should have worked harder than to say the wife should have worked harder.  And the majority of respondents agreed that the wife worked hard enough on the marriage.  They did not agree the husband did.  So in the same study that they are saying, “Look at all these women leaving men for no reason, they uppity women,” the men—

Rebecca: The men are like, “No.  She had a reason.  I should have worked harder.”

Sheila: The men are actually agreeing.  So here’s a thought, people.  Read the study.

Rebecca: But that makes me do the thinky think, and that makes my brain hurt.  No.  I’m being a little snarky.  But it is funny.  It’s such a good example of why you shouldn’t trust stats that you just see online.  I know we do a lot of stats online, but I hope that you can always kind of track it back.  

Sheila: Yeah.  So that’s the one big stat problem that people have had with this is that 75% lack of commitment.    

Rebecca: And it’s like, “You know what?  Maybe women are just lacking commitment after they’ve been cheated on and abused and had to deal with substance abuse issues.  Maybe they do lack some commitment after that.”  And I’m like, “Yeah.  Me too, girl.”  I mean that seems like a pretty natural consequence.

Sheila: But this one I find really funny too.  Okay?  This is misused stat number two.  Are you ready?  70% of women initiate divorce, but college educated women when they get divorced 90% of women initiate divorce.  So guess what?  It’s really dangerous to marry a college educated woman because she’s just going to leave your butt.  She’s just going to leave you stranded because she’s so awful.  All right.  And that’s what we hear.  There is a really big female influencer.  I am not going to name her because I don’t want to send her traffic.  But she’s constantly doing these memes about how dangerous education is for women because it makes them more likely to leave their husbands.

Rebecca: Which is just so funny because she’s arguing for a lack of education for women and that take is such a blatant misunderstanding of stats that it just belies her lack of education. 

Sheila: And I’m not sure that everybody listening understands why that is a misunderstanding of the stats.   

Rebecca: Yeah.  So let’s talk about it.

Sheila: Let’s go into it, Rebecca.  Why don’t you explain the problem?

Rebecca: So the problem is overall the divorce rate in society is—there is a lot of different numbers kind of thrown around.  But it’s somewhere around currently the 35 to 38% mark from what I’ve seen.  Right?  

Sheila: I do want to interject here and say the divorce rate has never been 50%.  That idea that the divorce rate is 50% is not true and never has been.  But what is true is that the divorce rate has been falling ever since its height in the late 1970s after no fault divorce came in.  That was the high.    

Rebecca: There was a divorce boon there.

Sheila: Yeah.  And it’s been falling ever since until COVID.  And we have seen an uptick since 2020.  

Rebecca: Which I don’t think surprises anyone.  

Sheila: But yeah.  So the divorce rate, you’re looking at 30 to 35%.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Somewhere around there.  Between 30 and 40% depending on what you’re looking at, depending on where you’re looking at.  Somewhere in that range, right?

Sheila: And second marriages, third marriages, divorce of high rates.

Rebecca: Yeah.  That’s why it’s really hard to say what the divorce rate is because are we talking about first marriages.  We’re talking about all marriages.  So that’s why we’re getting a really broad kind of thing.  But no matter what you’re looking at, no matter what cohort of people you’re looking at, college educated women have the lowest divorce rate.  

Sheila: They do.

Rebecca: People who have completed a college education have the lowest divorce rate.  So even if 100% of those divorces were instigated by women, fewer marriages overall would still be getting divorced.  So this is the problem is understanding that the bigger number—the big percentage of a smaller number is still smaller than the bigger number.  

Sheila: Okay.  So here’s what the U.S. Census Bureau declared in 2019.  Here’s what they published.  Okay?  So divorce rate among women with a Bachelor’s degree or higher was 26%.  In the census, they said, “Hey, have you ever been divorced?”  Okay?  26% of women, Bachelor degree or higher, said yes.  Of women who had ever been married.  Okay?  If you had some college education, it was 36%.  If you had an Associate’s degree, it was 30%.  High school diploma 39%.  Less than high school diploma 45%.

Rebecca: Yeah.  So you’re looking at people who don’t even have a high school diploma, which, quite frankly, is a lot of these homeschooling, fundamentalist, Christian groups.  You look at it.  A 45% divorce rate versus college educated women with a 26% divorce rate.

Sheila:  Yeah.  And that actually goes down if you look at Master’s degrees versus Bachelor’s degrees.  So women with post graduate education have the lowest divorce rate.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  People who complete their post secondary education have a really low divorce rate.  More degrees after that lower and lower.  And this is what is funny is yes.  So more proportionately women within that group may be filing for divorce, but there are still going to be fewer divorces overall.

Sheila: Well, of the people who filed for divorce, it’s more likely to be women in that group.  Far more likely.

Rebecca: That’s what I mean.  Yeah.  Proportionately, more women might be filing for divorce within that subgroup.  But the subgroup is already smaller.

Sheila: Yeah.  So if people are already getting divorced, okay?  So this is only looking—it’s not looking at what percentage of women are going to get divorced.  90%.  No.  No.  No.  The 90% only applies to college educated women who are getting divorced.  90% of those divorces are initiated by women.  Okay?  Among people overall who are getting divorced, 70% are initiated by women.  So it’s more likely to be initiated by a woman, if you’re getting divorced, if you’re college educated.  That does not mean that college educated women are more likely to divorce you.  It’s actually the opposite.

Rebecca: It’s still less likely to happen overall.  You are less likely to get divorced overall if you marry a college educated woman.

Sheila: Right.  What it does mean though is that college educated women are less likely to put up with crap.  And that’s what they found.  And because they have the ability to get a job, they’re more likely to leave when something bad happens.  And that’s what multiple studies have found is that college education, first of all, means that your marriage will tend to be more stable.  But it also means that when it isn’t and when there is violence involved, she gets out faster.  

Rebecca: And that’s what I think is so horrifying.  It’s this question not of like, oh, are too many women divorcing who are educated.  And I think there’s less of that question.  There’s more of a are the other groups artificially deflated in their numbers, right?  How many of those women who don’t even have a high school diploma aren’t divorcing because they don’t have a choice?  How many of them are like, “I don’t know where me and my kids are going to live.  I don’t know how we’re going to support ourselves especially with the cost of living getting so high”?  Right?  How much of this is not about women just, “Oh, well, fewer women want to leave their husbands,” as much as fewer women can leave their husbands?

Sheila: Yeah.  And would the divorce rate actually be higher if those women had economic opportunities? 

Rebecca: Well, because so many studies have found that employment and education are very protective against long term abusive relationships.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Okay.  So another funny thing is people will often say that college educated women don’t get married.  Actually, the group—the cohort of women who are the most likely to get married and then have a child and then stay married are college educated women.  The people who are the most likely to only ever cohabit and to have kids outside of marriage are your non college educated women.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And so it’s kind of ironic that the people who are the most gung ho about making sure that people get married and don’t live together and have kids after marriage, all this stuff, are also like, “Don’t educate your women.”  You’re shooting yourself in the food, bud.  You’re making it less likely.

Sheila: Yeah.  Because educated women get married and stay married at high—we’re actually seeing a real marriage gap where the upper classes are still getting married and the lower classes are not.  And it’s actually really a problem for all kinds of—a host of other reasons, which we’re not going to get into in this podcast.  But just suffice it to say that all of these people who are claiming that college educated women are just dumping men left, right, and center, again, have not read the actual study.  

Rebecca: Well, and it’s the same kind of statistical misunderstanding that Emerson Eggerichs did, right?  The whole idea of 85% of stonewallers are men, therefore, 85% of men stonewall.  It’s a similar level of misunderstanding the stats.  Well, 90% of college educated women divorce their—who get divorced are the ones who are initiating divorce.  Wow.  Women must be initiating divorce so much often.  No.  Because the number is smaller.  These are all very simple statistical oversights that with statistics education—not even a serious one.  I think grade 12 stats.

Sheila: Just common sense.  Just some common sense too.  

Rebecca: Well, no.  I don’t think this is just common sense.  Stats are complicated, and I do want to say we have a lot of people listening who find stats complicated too.  And I want to say I see you.  I hear you.  But I just think a lot of this—I just find it funny that the people who are like don’t educate women are also showing that they’re not educated.  

Sheila: But you know what?  I wonder if the reason they’re saying don’t educate women is because they’re trying to create marriages which give men so much hierarchy and power.  And educated women don’t put up with that.  And so if your view of marriage requires women to defer to men absolutely and to have a marriage where men get the final say in everything and where men can basically do whatever they want and women must put up with it, then yeah.  You want women not to be educated.  And I think that’s really what’s going on.  Okay.  So that’s the overall picture of these actual studies.  And to throw some more—a few more data points in on it, how do we know that divorce isn’t happening for no reason and that often women were the ones who were treated worse in the marriage.  A couple more data points other than the ones we’ve already showed you.  First of all, women tend to be happier post divorce than men are.  Women are less likely to report that they regret their divorce than men are.  And women are less likely to remarry because they’re happier being single, and they don’t want to go through that again.

Rebecca: Yeah.  I think the big thing is you can look at the—if we separate people into three categories, right?  Happy marriage and married, unhappy marriage and married, and then divorced, the difference is between the two genders is really striking here.  And it shows a difference.  So we’re even with happy marriages married, right?  Both people.  That’s the peak happiness.  When you look at studies, the happiest people, the best long term health outcomes, the best long term financial stability—

Sheila: Mental health outcomes.  Everything.  

Rebecca: A lot of outcomes.  Happy marriages that stay married.  But that’s not really rocket science.  It’s like why would you sabotage a great marriage.  When you’re in a good marriage that you find happiness in, you do really great.  The next one is totally different though.  The next two are totally swapped.  If you are in an unhappy marriage, that’s still better for men than being divorced.  Right?  So the men are still experiencing the long-term health benefits.  They have longer life expectancy.  They have better financial stability.  All sorts of things.

Sheila: Better mental health.

Rebecca: All sorts of different things.  Women don’t.  There has been a study that found that women in bad marriages actually have worse health outcomes.  And so the benefits for men are just kind of across the board for marriage.  As long as you’re married, you do better.  For women, it’s only if you’re in a good marriage.  So for women, the happiness goes married and happy, then divorced, and then married and unhappy in terms of health outcomes, in terms of happiness, all these different things.  For men, it’s not like that.  It’s married and happy, married and unhappy, and then bottom of the barrel is divorced.  See?  Men are way more likely to remarry.  Men have the positive health outcomes even if they’re in a bad marriage.  And why?  It’s like those happy marriages where both people are doing well.  You’re feeding into each other.  It’s like that silly thing from Friends that I’ve quoted before, right?  Joey’s wedding speech for Monica and Chandler.  “As we have and receive, to share and give.  And in the having of the sharing, we shall receive as we so give.”  Right?  That kind of reciprocity.  The silly.  We build into each other.  We take, and we give kind of thing is happening.  But in these unhappy marriages, what’s happening is he is being a vampire for her.  So she’s losing the health benefits, and he’s gaining them.  This is not an equal relationship.  And so when they get divorced, it’s also not equal.  She does better.  He does worse.  

Sheila: Not necessarily financially.  But (cross talk) found that in a lot of other long term—yeah.  

Rebecca: But in a lot of the long term—in a lot of other long term measures they do better. 

Sheila: Yeah.  And so if we’re looking at, “Hey, why are women divorcing?  And what are the reasons,” that’s what it is.  So okay.  So next time you hear someone say, “Hey, women are divorcing for no reason, and women are being so mean.  And women are terrible to men, and women are fickle,” just remember that no.  The majority of divorces are happening for as Gretchen Baskerville, author of The Life Saving Divorce, has said—she’s been a frequent guest on this podcast, and we really appreciate her work.  “The majority of divorces are for life saving reasons.”  They’re for because something really destructive is happening.  Okay.  Now let’s talk about the others because I think that’s where most people—well, a lot of people listening to this podcast are in abusive places and are in those difficult—

Rebecca: Yeah.  Or have escaped them.  

Sheila: Or have escaped them.  And we appreciate you.  And we see you.  

Rebecca: But there’s also another type of marriage that destroys where it’s not something where it’s a clear poison that’s a—even if it’s a onetime thing, it’s too much, right?  There’s the death by a thousand cuts marriages.

Sheila: Yes.  There is that great—what was that blog post that he wrote?  

Rebecca: Oh yeah.  The guy.  She Divorced Me Because I Left My Dishes by the Sink.  Right?  There’s this guy, who wrote this awesome article for Huff Post, and it turned into a book where he’s talking about how he got divorced because he put his cup beside the sink.  And he’s like, “Well, it wasn’t actually because I put my cup beside the sink.  My wife wasn’t a pedantic.  She wasn’t ridiculous.”  

Sheila: But that was the final straw that she said—

Rebecca: No.  It was that was signifying the relationship where she would constantly tell him, “Put your dishes in the dishwasher.  I beg of you.  Just stop leaving your crap everywhere.”  And he didn’t.  He kept doing it.  And what did that say?  It meant that I’m entitled to your work.  I’m entitled to your time.  Right?  My time and my comfort are more important than yours.  It says, “I don’t care enough to do this simple thing that we can expect of seven year olds.  I don’t care enough to that for you.”  And so it’s like, “Yeah.   So my wife divorced me because I left dishes by the sink.  And she had every right.”  That’s what he said.  

Sheila: Because he realized it.

Rebecca: So he wrote this whole book about how not to be the kind of dude who—anyway.

Sheila: There is a great Instagram reel that was shared in our patron group.  Oh, and by the way, shout out for our patron group.  Yes.  So we have people who support what we do on a monthly basis, and we’re so grateful for them.  They give between $5 and some even $100 a month just to give us some funds so that we can keep doing this.  But more importantly, that we can keep doing our research like this new study that’s coming, the new book that’s coming out.  So we appreciate them.  They get access to a Facebook group, an awesome Facebook group, to our unfiltered podcast, to what’s going on behind the scenes.  They got some extra interviews with Naghmeh Panahi last week. 

Rebecca: We’re starting a book club for Jill Duggar’s book.  Jill Duggar.  What’s her name?  Dillard.  Dillard’s book.  We’re doing that soon.

Sheila: Yes.  Counting the Cost.  So yeah.  So our patron group is amazing, and you can join that too and be part of this movement as we do try to change the conversation about sex and marriage in the evangelical church.  But in that—and we will put a link to that—yes.  In the podcast notes.  But in the patron group, someone shared an amazing reel by a woman.  I love her.  I watch a lot of her reels.  Caylee Cresta.  And she talks a lot about issues of mental load and just general unfairness in marriage and explaining how people don’t necessarily realize this is unfair but often women just get really upset and feel resentful and here’s why.  And so we’re going to let her explain this issue of dishes by the sink and mental load.  She’s talking about taking out the trash, but here’s Caylee.

Caylee: Okay.  So I hear a lot of men saying, “Why does she make it such a big deal when I forget to take out the trash?”  And the answer is pretty simple.  I want you to think about it this way.  Everyone in your home, including yourself, is at the forefront of her mind all the time.  So she remembers to do things like get your son’s favorite cereal, sign your daughter up for soccer, wash all your work clothes and make your dentist appointment.  And you don’t have to remind her to do any of those things because in her mind she doesn’t even have the choice to forget.  But if she’s thinking about you and what you need all day, then can you imagine how bad it must hurt when you can’t do the one thing she asked you to remember? Think about it. You have to remember that forgetting to do something is a luxury that a lot of women don’t have, and you remind her of how overwhelmed she is every time you reinforce that she can’t depend on you.

Sheila: I just think that sums it up really well.

Rebecca: Yeah, it really does.

Sheila: And we’ve talked about mental load before. I don’t want to belabor it but just to say that over years and year and years this can really wear on a person when you feel like my time, my energy is not valued the way yours is because you sit down and you think nothing of sitting down while I am working. And it gets exhausting. I find what often happens is—and this may be more what I want to talk about in the rest of this podcast is how we can avoid this situation.

Rebecca: Yeah, because we don’t necessarily want to talk about—if you’re in a marriages—like the 57% of marriages where the final straw is infidelity or abuse or substance abuse, we’re like, yeah, girl, get out. That’s not something where we’re like, “How can we fix this marriage?”  I’m like, “That’s not really my priority. I’m going to be honest. I think those are really big deals that you should be talking to someone who can have your safety in mind and maybe who’s licensed and trained in these kinds of things.”  But there is a small, small portion of marriages where—because remember 88% of the couples had infidelity. So let’s say 10% to be generous, right?  Of marriages where there isn’t a quote unquote reason.  I don’t necessarily agree with that because I think that long term—we know from studies that this kind of thing literally sucks years off of women’s lives.

Sheila: Yeah, when you’re bearing all of the mental load and emotional load.

Rebecca: When you’re constantly feeling like you’re not heard, you’re not seen, these kinds of things, it actually does have genuine long term health repercussions on women in particular. And why on women? Because women typically are the ones who fill in the blanks when things aren’t being done. Whatever it is. Whether it’s emotional labor with in-laws or making sure that the kids’ stuff is all sorted or whatever it is, women are taught from a very young age that just like Caylee said you don’t get to forget. You have to do it because no one else is going to, and that kind of marriage just—it eats away at someone. So we want to talk about that kind of thing because there’s a lot of women who get divorced who they didn’t want to have to get divorced.

Sheila: And a lot of men who get divorced.

Rebecca: And a lot of men who get divorced where they didn’t want to have to get divorced, but they didn’t realize what was happening.

Sheila: Yeah.  And I think this is what happens.  Okay.  Again it isn’t always—we’re not saying that it’s always men’s fault, but I think couples get into this dynamic where there’s a problem. There’s something happening that is making one of you feel, “I am not valued because I feel like the other person thinks like they’re entitled to me being this amazing spouse even when they’re not putting in the work and they’re not valuing me.” And that can look in all kinds of different ways.

Rebecca: Oh, yeah, all sorts of ways.

Sheila: Let’s say that she is constantly talking to her mom and spends all her time with her sister and her mom and never spends time with him. Right?  She really values her family of origin, and the mom isn’t nice to him.  And she doesn’t care. That’s a really common dynamic you see. Or she’s over spending, and he just can’t get the finances under control. And he’s working really hard, and she’s just not contributing enough and is really causing the family to go into debt. That’s another really big thing, and that can make someone feel very taken advantage of. And that could go either way. It could be him doing it too. We could have mental load issues. We could have family of origin issues. We could have sex issues.  Although as we have shown on this podcast, sex is not the issue in general. Lack of sex is a symptom. It’s not the problem in and of itself.

Rebecca: But when there is an issue like infidelity, like abuse, like substance abuse, and these kinds of things where it really is—it’s bigger than the relationship. This is a personal problem. When there’s, honestly, just relationship problems that just eat away year after year after year, what we want to say is often we feel helpless because as women we’ve been told your job is to make sure everyone is comfortable around you. Your job is to smooth all the waves over. Your job is to look effortless while you do it. Your job is to have everything be perfect and make sure it’s perfect.  And if he helps, then that’s great. But it’s really your responsibility. And so what happens if there are problems with in-laws?  Do we speak up the first year? Year two? Year three? What about when the kids start to come and they continue to cross boundaries? What do we do?  Right?  We’ve been taught for so long to be quiet that often what ends up happening is—think about a plane.   Right?  If you go off course by one degree, it’s super easy to fix early.  But if you’re eight hours into your flight, all of a sudden you’re in a totally different country. This is what I get from looking at a lot of these studies is that if you course correct earlier it’s easier. So if you have that option, please do.

Sheila: Yes, please, please, please.

Rebecca: Please do. I remember when we were in university, we talked about marriage counseling, and I—it’s in a textbook so I can’t remember exactly where it is.  But I remember we were talking about the idea of relationships can be described as having multiple different phases. Relationships that go from dating until divorce, right? Divorce bound relationships have multiple phases. And people often go to marriage counseling after a crisis phase.  Right?  There’s something that triggers why they would go to counseling or why they would seek help. It’s something big typically. Usually the couple is already on their way to divorce when they start to seek help. But the studies have shown from what I remember we were talking about is that if you seek help at that point, you’re already kind of too far gone for most people. But if you seek help earlier like when there hasn’t been some huge blowup and you’re like, “I don’t even know who you are anymore,” or anything like that, but it’s more of the, “We just don’t feel connected.  We’re living parallel lives.  We feel like we try to reach out, and the other person just doesn’t really—it just doesn’t mesh as well as it used to.  I’m feeling more alone.” Those kinds of things. That’s when you reach out for help. It can actually move you in a different direction because you’ve corrected your path earlier on in the flight.

Sheila: And that’s hard to do.

Rebecca: It is.

Sheila: That’s hard to do because people don’t tend to seek help or do change until there’s a crisis because it’s just easier not to if there’s not something really, really serious trying to get you to do that. It’s the same way that we don’t exercise even though we all know we should.

Rebecca: Yeah, our brains are created and designed to take the easier route, and that is an adaptive trait. That’s often something that we beat ourselves up for a lot, but it is a very adaptive trait. Right?  You don’t have the mental energy to be on 100% all the time. You don’t, and that’s not a failure on you. You’re just a human being. So what do we have to do? We have to accept that this is how we were created, and then work with that and challenge ourselves to do what doesn’t feel natural sometimes.  Right?  If things are not going great, don’t wait until you literally can’t not deal with it. Right?   Deal with it now even though it takes effort because you’re going to get more reward. It’s the idea of if you see it as like—and maybe this will be stressful to people—but gaining interest in your head. When you notice there’s a problem, you can either deal with it now and not pay a ton of interest or you can deal with it in ten years and have ten years of accrued interest on top of the initial problem.  And relationships seem to work very similarly in again situations that are not one of those 57% where there’s a—or one of the 88% or however many percent—what we’re saying is that if you’re in one of the big three, none of this really applies. We’re talking to people who maybe you got married a little bit ago and you’re just feeling totally disconnected. You are just kind of like trudging on, and you’re feeling yourselves drift apart.  And you’re like, “Well, it’s not that bad yet.” You really should be trying to fix it now instead of when it gets so bad that you have to fix it.

Sheila: This is applies to sex too.  Okay?  This is something that we’ve been talking about a lot. Since The Great Sex Rescue came out, but I’ve done a couple of series on it on the blog.  But I remember this email that I got from a man. Okay?  He said this—and I’ve talked about this before on the podcast I think.  But he said, “I really, really want to give my wife pleasure. I want her to really love sex, and I’m eager to give her foreplay.  But she just doesn’t want it. She tells me that, ‘No, no, no, don’t worry about me. Just go ahead.’ And so we’ve been married for 17 years, and she’s never had an orgasm.” And I’m like holy cow. How much do you really want her to have pleasure if you’re still willing to use her body when she doesn’t feel good? That should be sending off major red flags in your head because guess what? If you start marriage and she has an orgasm the first time she has sex, her chance of having the same libido as you is virtually identical.

Rebecca: Yeah, so many studies have found that if you just start out sex with orgasms, dudes, it works out pretty well.

Sheila: But if she has had sex for 17 years and has never had an orgasm and doesn’t like sex, do you know how long it takes to make sex good now?

Rebecca: Yeah.  We don’t say that to discourage people from trying. That’s not what we’re saying. What we’re saying is there has to be an acknowledgement here. We’re not saying that if it’s been seventeen years it’s too late. That’s not what we’re saying.

Sheila: No, please check out our Orgasm Course. Please, please, please.  I will put the link in the podcast notes.

Rebecca: We have heard so many stories, and there’s also just genuine evidence from other studies that show that anorgasmia absolutely can be rectified.

Sheila: But it’s harder when it’s been 17 years.

Rebecca: It is.

Sheila: And this is what we’re trying to tell you people is like if something is not working address it early. Address it early. The first few years of your marriage that’s when you need to be addressing some of these things as much as possible. Sweat the small stuff.

Rebecca: Yes.

Sheila: Seriously, sweat the small stuff because the small stuff adds up.

Rebecca: And I do want to address that because I know that a lot of women—a lot of marriages break apart because of quote unquote without a reason.  Quote unquote. And I’m saying that—but that idea where it’s like it’s been 25 years of feeling used and misunderstood and taken advantage of and married to someone with extreme entitlement. And you’re working yourself to—how many women have we all known who have been up doing housework and chores for hours while their husbands are just doing their own thing. There are a lot of marriages where that’s the reason why there’s divorce. And I think it can be tempting in a lot of Christian circles to say, “Oh well because it wasn’t one of the big reasons, therefore, she just wasn’t committed and it wasn’t a valid,”—no, no, no, no. Death by a thousand cuts is still a death. I want to say that. We’re talking about the difference between—like with the issues like your spouse cheats on you or there’s abuse or there’s long term substance addition that they’re just not dealing with. These kinds of things that are just horrible to go through those are kind of like out-of-the-blue brain tumor diagnoses. Then there’s other things where it’s like maybe a preventable lung cancer.  But once you’ve got the lung cancer, it’s still lung cancer. I’m just trying to explain how I don’t want this to become a podcast where people say, “Oh, well, you didn’t get divorced for the right reasons.” What we’re talking about here is what’s preventable and what’s not really in the same way. But preventable doesn’t mean that, well, you should have to just live with it. We still treat the lung cancer, guys.

Sheila: We’re not trying to make a policy or anything on when you’re allowed to divorce. That’s not what this podcast is about, but we just don’t want people miserable.  Okay?  We don’t want people miserable.  And marriage is good for you.  When you’re in a good marriage, it’s good for you. There’s so many benefits. Our survey found that.  Multiple surveys have found that.  Harvard longitudinal studies found this.  Marriage, when it’s good, is so positive.  And we want that for people.  And I just know from talking to couples, from witnessing couples, from our survey data, from our focus groups that a lot of times it’s like it is that death by a thousand cuts because you let small things go in those first years of marriage.  And you can handle it in the first year of marriage. You can handle it when she doesn’t do any housework or when he’s getting you into debt or when he’s always over at his mom’s house and isn’t spending any time with the kids. You can handle it for a while. You can’t handle it for 25 years. There’s a point where you’re going to break. What we’re trying to say is break at year one.

Rebecca: Or don’t even have to break.

Sheila: Yeah, just make an issue out of it early. Think to yourself, “Is this something I can do for 35 years or 50 years?” If you’re 25 years old and you’re married and your spouse is spending their weekends out with friends or their nuclear family and not spending it with you and they’re doing this regularly, ask yourself, “Can I put up with this for 55 years?” Average life expectancy 80 years old.  So can I put up with this for 55 years?  And if the answer is no, then you’ve got to do something about it now because you may be able to handle it for a couple of years.  But eventually, you’re going to crack. And so do something about it before you crack because it will get worse and worse. I remember when you guys were babies I was friends with a woman who had kids the same age.  And we spent a lot of time together, and she would tell me about her marriage which was really problematic.  And at one point, she decided that she really wanted to start having dinner as a family.  Okay?  So she was putting the baby in the high chair around the table. She put the food on the table. Her husband came home from work, and he went and sat on the couch.  And she sat there at the table waiting for him to come and join them at the table in their small apartment.  And he didn’t get up. And so eventually, she took his plate and brought it over to him, and he ate in front of the TV.  And from then on, he ate in front of the TV every night. And then their marriage was getting worse and worse and worse. She was feeling more and more disconnected. He would come home. He really wouldn’t talk to her. He wouldn’t interact with the child.  And she found this really, really hard.  But she was still bringing him the food at the couch every night.  Now I’m not saying that their disconnection was her fault.  I’m not saying that.  But what would have happened if that first night she hadn’t had brought the food to him?  And what if she had insisted, “Hey, if you’re going to eat what I cook, you’re going to eat it with me?”  Now, he ended up being quite a terrible person.  It could be that he would have said, “No.  I would rather leave.”  And the marriage may still have blown apart, but maybe it would have blown apart earlier before so much trauma had happened too.  So I’m not saying she could have avoided divorce.  I’m just saying I think for a lot of people they get into these negative dynamics that make things worse.  And if you can address those negative dynamics early, sometimes this marital break down may not happen.  

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  Yeah.  A silly lighthearted example is actually me and Connor.

Sheila: Yeah.  Please do a silly one because I took a serious one.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Yeah.  So my husband has—he has decided to give up coffee, which really impacts me.  And I’m really the main character here.  No.  But he has decided to give up coffee.  And for eight years of marriage, he has been the one to go and pick up coffees or something if we’re going to have a night watching a movie or something.  So the other night I asked him if he could get us coffees.  And he looks at me, and he’s like, “You can go get you a coffee, but I’m not going to get you a coffee.”  Right?  And I’m just like, “Well, that’s so rude.  You have to go.”  No.  Wait.  You don’t have to.  Yeah.  No.  I’m being lazy because literally you get nothing out of this.  And you’re trying to give up caffeine, and I’m asking you—yeah.  To go get me—yeah.  No.  I’m the bad guy here.  Right?  So we had this conversation where we—and we were both just totally laughing over it.  But our default as humans, like I just said earlier, our default is to do the easy thing.  And we often, I think, have this idealized version of how we should be, right?  And we should be perfect.  Right?  We should be perfect.  I should just want to do everything, and I should have limitless energy.  And I should never make any mistakes, and I should never be selfish.  And I should never do anything.  And that’s just not what happens.  We are human beings.  And the benefit of relationship is that we can be each others’ gutters in essence.  Like when you’re bowling.  Gutter ball.  Right?  Connor and I can both hold each other accountable.  And he can be like, “Rebecca, I am not going to drive out using my very scarce free time since we have children to buy you a coffee when I am giving up coffee.”  Right?  And similarly, when we were first married, I was like, “Hey, we’re both students.  I am not doing all of the cleaning.  I am not doing this.  You are doing this.”  And that’s been such a beneficial thing for us.  And for both of us.  If I hadn’t made a fuss about mental load early in the marriage, we would have a very different relationship than we do right now.  If he just kept enabling me to be a little bit lazy and sit on the couch while he went and got me treats that also wouldn’t have been great.  Right?  I think that this is one of the benefits of relationship where, again, we’re talking about marriages where there isn’t anything big wrong.  This is just bad habits and cycles.  We’re not talking about bad character.  We’re not talking about whether or not someone is a safe person.  We’re talking about just these situations where we can get into ruts because we forget that we’re supposed to be iron sharpening iron.  And we’re not supposed to bend over backwards to make someone feel comfortable and happy, but we’re supposed to actually just be healthy people.  And you’re allowed to expect that of your spouse.

Sheila: Yeah.  I saw an Instagram reel by a young female influencer.  I’m getting seriously worried about this.  I don’t know what to do.  So if any of you listeners have ideas, let me know.  But there’s a real trend on Instagram and TikTok of young women in their 20s and early 30s tend to be good looking, but the trad wife thing is really taking off where they’re the ones spewing everything that Emerson Eggerichs and Shaunti Feldhahn and the Every Man’s—they’re spewing it all.  And there’s a real growing movement of this.  And I don’t know how to—we’ve got to do something.  But anyway, this woman was saying how she just loves submitting to her husband.  She loves being a stay-at-home mom.  She loves making him food and doing the housework while he sits there relaxing.  And I thought, “Okay.  You can sustain that now.  I would love to know what you’re thinking when you’re 55 years old.”

Rebecca: Well, and that’s exactly it.  Because when you look at the stats, they’re really happy for 7, 8, 9, 10 years.  

Sheila: Yeah.  But you can’t sustain that long term.  And if you are working while he is relaxing, what you’re really saying is your time is more valuable than mine.  So you should be able to relax because you’re the man while I do all of this work for you.  And this is going to play in multiple areas of your life, right?  And it isn’t always a gender thing.  If she is spending too much money, then her lifestyle is more important than my time and then my stress.  So it’s okay for her to add to the amount of work I have to do and to the amount of stress I have because that’s the way that she (inaudible).  And when this goes on over and over and over again, you can sustain it for a little bit, but you can’t sustain it long term.  And that’s why we need to make issues of these things early and figure them out early.  And please with sex.  Please with sex do that.  Read The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex, Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex.  Figure out how the sexual response cycle works.  Read The Great Sex Rescue.  Like I said, we have an Orgasm Course.  We have a Boost Your Libido course.  But it’s so much harder to fix a sex life where there has been selfishness, where there’s been obligation, where there’s been no mutual pleasure 15, 25 years down the road than it is to fix it at 6 months.

Rebecca: Can I say something that might be a little bit—I don’t know if people would like this or not.  But I’m curious to know what people think.

Sheila: Yeah.

Rebecca: I honestly wonder how much of this would be easier if we stopped putting it in marriage terms because so much of that is so loaded based on a lot of this—it’s so tied to gender roles.  And we actually started treating our marriages more—hear me out.

Sheila: Okay.

Rebecca: More like roommates.  Okay?  Because I know that’s like the whole, “You’re married.  You’re not roommates.”  But the thing is—

Sheila: There are some benefits to being roommates.

Rebecca: Connor and I very much feel like roommates to a certain—in our day-to-day life because there’s this level of you both have to contribute to the house.  You’re both living in each other’s space instead of it being one of your space that the other person is infringing upon, right?  It’s like it’s a shared communal living situation.  When you were roommates, you were either clean, or you were kicked out typically.  Right?

Sheila: For those of us who had roommates, we all had that conversation with that one roommate who never did any chores.  “You’ve just been getting along so well with Jordan lately.”

Rebecca: “You and Jordan vibe so well.  Have you ever thought about—because we were thinking about maybe like—I don’t know if we can—I don’t know.  We were thinking maybe we get a smaller apartment, but we don’t want to make you just not have anywhere to go.  What if you moved in with Jordan?  And then we moved into a different apartment where you weren’t.”

Sheila: Everybody had that one roommate, right?  Or maybe you were that one roommate.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Maybe you were that roommate.  

Sheila: But when you were roommates, you were like, “Yeah.  The bathroom needs to get cleaned.  The floor needs to get mopped.  Let’s have a chore list.”

Rebecca: And that’s legit the conversation that Connor and I had our first year of marriage was he cleaned in his—his bedroom was always messy because I’m a messy person too.  We’re both messy.  It’s fine.  But he cleaned the sink and the toilet at his roommate house, so let’s do it in the marriage too, right?  I honestly wonder if the idea that you’re not roommates just means you have to have sex.  But if you’re not actually living up to the standard of roommate, maybe we need to work on that too.  Right?  Because the idea of you’re making someone’s life harder in different ways—if you’re a roommate making someone’s life harder you get kicked out.  That’s not a good roommate.  Be a good roommate, guys.  

Sheila: In shared space, you’re not allowed to leave your stuff around the shared space.  Yeah.  There was lots of stuff that we would talk about as roommates.

Rebecca: Yeah.  I just feel like maybe we do need just to figure out how to be good roommates first.  And then we can—that’s the basis.  That’s the basic, bars on the floor level where it’s like just be good enough to be their roommate.

Sheila: But Leo Tolstoy opened the book Anna Karenina with a famous line, right?  “Happy families are all alike.  But every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  And that is actually really true.  Happy families all have very similar things, right?  They treat each other well.  They respect each other.  They’re partners, et cetera, et cetera whereas unhappy families can all be unhappy in their own way.  And if your marriage is unhappy—for some of you, it might be mental load.  It might be finances.  It might be—

Rebecca: It might be one of those big three.

Sheila: It might be one of those big three.  For when it’s not those big three, it—there’s all—and we’re never going to mention all of them.  We’re never going to cover all of them.  But I think the theme that I really want people to take home is when we let things go that are unsustainable in the long term you’re going to one day wake up in crisis where you just can’t do it anymore.  Because when you’re young, you have optimism, and you have so much energy.  You often have better health.  You have more time.  It doesn’t seem like it, but you actually have more time.  Until children come and then you don’t.

Rebecca: And then you have no time.  You have negative time.

Sheila: You can sustain things when you’re young much easier than you can once you’re in your 40s, 50s, and 60s.  So deal with it in your 20s and 30s for whatever reason things aren’t working.  Deal with it early, and then you’re less likely to find yourself in a place where you’re saying, “You know what?  If we got divorced, my life would actually be better,” because for a lot of people, that’s actually true.  That is objectively true.  If you get divorced, your life is better.  How sad is that?  And so if it’s possible to have a different ending to your story—and for many people, it is if they deal with these things early.  Whatever that thing may be, then maybe you won’t end up like one of these statistics.  And so it takes work to deal with things early.  It means that things are going to be rocky.  You’ve got to rock the boat.  You’ve got to say, “Hey, this isn’t okay with me.”

Rebecca: But it’s also such a great way to learn how to grow as well.  But both Connor and I have gotten so much better at confrontation both in handling it but also doing it well because we’ve actually done it.  

Sheila: So those are the two big takeaways from this podcast.  First of all, before you quote a stat, read the study, or you’re going to look like an idiot.  

Rebecca: Please.  Please.

Sheila: And we will laugh at you.  Please read the study.  Women do not initiate divorces for no reason.  

Rebecca: Again, 88% of the couples had some form of infidelity.  

Sheila: Yes.  Yes.  So there’s something going on there.  Okay?  And the three biggest final straws that were present in 57% of marriages—they said this was the final straw.  Infidelity, abuse, substance abuse.  So women are not getting divorced for lack of commitment.  And when people say that, just realize they don’t know what they’re talking about, and they’re not worth listening to.  But the second big take away is just we don’t want you to be in one of those stats.  And sometimes you can’t help it.  Sometimes it is really because your spouse has bad character, and they’re going to end up hurting you.  But in the cases where that isn’t the case, then let’s do something early because great marriages are great.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Again, the best health outcomes are people who are in happy marriages.  So if you can do the work, if it’s a problem of just miscommunication or relationship skills versus a lack of character and safety concerns, if this is a relationship skill issue, put the work in before you’re so far down the crisis path that you don’t have any choice but to deal with it.  Deal with it while it’s still small.

Sheila: Because remember if you’re not going to be able to put up with it for 55 years then don’t put up with it now.  Because if you do put up with it now, it’s going to keep happening for the next 55 years of your life.

Rebecca: Yep.

Sheila: Yep.  So there you go.  That is what we wanted to share with you on the Bare Marriage podcast.  So thank you for joining us.  Again, we will have the links to our email list so that you can sign up to be notified about our next survey.  We’ll have a link to our patron group.  We would so love for you to join us.  We also do have—they’re available.  I think that we’re going to be taking them out of our store in the next few days.  But our domestic violence awareness merch and our breast cancer awareness merch.  We got them up late in October.  So even though October was—

Rebecca: Yeah.  We’ve been busy, guys.

Sheila: We’ve been busy.  So we’re leaving them up a little bit in November.  20% of the profits from those products will go to charities in our local area in Ontario, Canada that support breast cancer research and domestic violence help.  And, again, we will also have links to our sex courses, the Orgasm Course, the Boost Your Libido Course because deal with this stuff early people.   I don’t want to hear any more emails from men saying, “I’ve been married for 17 years.  She’s never had an orgasm, but I keep having sex with her.”  Let’s just not do that anymore.  Okay.  Thank you.  And we’ll see you again next week.  

Rebecca: Bye.

Sheila: Bye-bye.

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Lisa Johns

    Ah yes, the rise of the tradwives… (isn’t “trad” a cognate of Stepford?)
    I have a theory on this phenomenon, based on my own experience of having grown up in a dysfunctional home. When I was in college and had just become a “born-again” believer, I just *knew* that the reason my family had been so dysfunctional was that my parents weren’t operating in a “biblical” manner — my mom was angry and pushing back on my dad’s actions/inactions, and it created a very chaotic, high-conflict atmosphere. I wanted to do things *differently*. So I was going to a) stay home (like my mom did, actually), b) NOT lay expectations on my husband, c) get everything PERFECT so that our household would be peaceful and happy. (It didn’t work out too well, but that’s another topic.) I think that a lot of these young tradwives have come out of very dysfunctional and painful backgrounds, and they are trying to make sense of their trauma by doing things “differently” from the way their moms did, and making *their* homes as perfect as they are sure they can (they are determined to accomplish what their mothers could not). As you say, that may carry them through eight or ten years, but we should be watching to see how many of them are hospitalized within the next decade after that. That sounds ghoulish, and it’s not really my intent, but first, we need to be aware that this kind of lifestyle will wear out both women AND men who attempt it, and second, these are people and families who are going to require a lot of care to heal, and if we can be cognizant of the issues that led them there, we will be more equipped to provide the care.

    And thank you so much for addressing the topic of “divorce for no reason,” anyway! This was an excellent answer to the BS that circulates around the issue!

    • Bernadette

      My instincts agree with you about that being a possible reason for the “trad wife” phenomenon among young adults.

      • Codec

        You have no idea. A lot of young men and women for that matter are terrified of the idea of being taken advantage of in a relationship so the idea that a partner will be dedicated even if it is in a way that is absurd sounds very alluring to many people.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s an interesting theory about tradwives! very interesting. There’s a whole body of research too that found that the typical 1950s housewife was really because of trauma from the war. And while these women’s lives revolved around their husbands, they often neglected basic parenting. I think that trauma often does make us go to extremes.

      • Lisa Johns

        And speaking of trauma from the war(s)! A friend and I were talking about what seems to be a large spike in general meanness in the last half century, and she made a comment about the generation having been raised by a generation of people who were traumatized by war. This made me stop and think: do we really realize what the 20th century did to humanity? WWI, WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War… then the 9/11 attacks as we entered into the next century, and all that has followed from that…
        That’s a lot of stuff to deal with! And it has had its influence on how we see marriage and family, and the expectations we place on both, as well as on ourselves and others.
        I think the 1950s became an ideal both because it seemed to be a time of new-found peace and prosperity after the wars, and because the trauma from them was still latent, and most people hadn’t yet seen how horrifically it was going affect individuals and society.
        There has to be a way to address the mentality, but I’m not there yet.

        • Angharad

          Good point. My grandfather was an extremely abusive and twisted man, and while nothing excuses his behaviour, I do believe that his wartime experiences may explain his actions. His sister once commented ‘the brother I knew never came home from the war – I don’t recognise the man who came back in his place’. And of course, the damage he inflicted on his family continues to trickle down the generations.

      • Lisa Johns

        And the point about revolving around the husband and neglecting basic parenting… wow. We can see that too.

    • Nessie

      Lisa Johns, your theory holds water to me!

      Unfortunately, to many of the people indoctrinated in these spaces, the “stats” on divorce reasons, etc., *do* seem to pass the smell test. Even if there is an inkling that something is off, others in these spaces readily explain that it is the work of the devil trying to lead you astray, so you learn to shut it down quickly. It can be easy to see the abusiveness when you’ve never been exposed to it or you finally get some time away to really process through it, but if you’ve never known anything else, well, it’s really all you know so why would it smell off?

      As for the memes, if you slap any words on a nice enough image, many will accept it without a second thought, I’ve had friends send me some from a certain blogger and I have told them what my issues are with her. I hope they will think on what I shared.

  2. Codec

    Allow me to give some perspective about why this trope has become so popular.

    There is a growing philosophy on the internet one that has both female and male adherents.

    The idea goes like this.

    Men and women are hypergamous. They seek to find the mate they believe will best meet the needs they have at the moment. This philosophy is often very misogynistic or misandrist in how they imagine these needs working. There is an idea that women/men look towards those who will gratify them sexually when they are young, but that as they grow older they look for stability. I am portraying this particular philosophy in a far more tame manner than what you will find about it online.

    I find this particular philosophy to be rather simple. Too simple.

    I believe that if anyone can adress these kinds of claims it would be you Mrs. Sheila. You have the power of research statistics and more. This philosophy is growing and it needs to be combatted.

    • S

      Codec, these places you seem to have a lot of information about are not healthy spaces. You would do yourself a favor by staying away from these kind of sites.

  3. Codec

    Please address the Redpill. I believe that you can.

    • Marie

      I second that! This is a growing problem and is influencing a lot of young people inside and outside the church

      • Codec

        The fact that she addressed this is already an amazing first step in addressing that philosophy as the claim that women (or men among the groups that are female dominated in this philosophy) are hypergamous and will only settle for a “beta” for the money or the security are absolutely everywhere in that space.

        • Laura

          The “alpha” and “beta” thing has been thoroughly debunked by the original researcher! It’s so so ridiculous and not at all a reflection of reality.

    • Robyn

      The Red Pill is one of the most harmful ideologies to the future of male-female relationships. Part of what made me opt out of dating at 25.

  4. Angharad

    There seems to be an increasing trend for people to come up with an idea they like and then hunt round for anything that will ‘prove’ it. Also, the ‘influencer’ you mention has carefully designed her own echo chamber – anyone who disagrees with her is deleted or blocked, while she laps up the praises of those who tell her she is so wise. So no one ever forces her to think through the errors and gaps in her statements of ‘fact’. (Ironically, every time she argues that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote or make any decisions, I find myself thinking that she is actually the best evidence for her own argument, because if every woman were as incapable of rational, logical thought as she is…)

    And for Christians, you have to add in the tendency to see any opposition as ‘from the devil’.

  5. Jean Amico

    How about 45 years?

    • Lisa Johns



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