How can I save my marriage when my wife wants out?

Why are women in their 30s and 40s filing for divorce?

How can I save my marriage when my wife wants out? Husbands are shocked, flabbergasted, and generally confused as more women in their 30s and 40s file for divorce. I have had countless professional men in my office telling the same story. Their stable, happy marriage of 15+ years is on the verge of crumbling and they have no way to stop it. Their wives are done, checked out, looking for something or someone else; and many men didn’t even see it coming. This trend is real and it’s poised to increase even faster as Covid-19 creates an intensified version of the holiday effect.

The country of China has seen a huge spike in divorce filings since the coronavirus lockdown, and 75% of those filings are initiated by women. Likewise, in the United States 66% of all divorce petitions are initiated by women.

I became a divorce lawyer to understand why people get divorced. Why would someone throw away decades of investment and half of their net worth? Why would someone change their minds in what usually appears to be an abrupt fashion after so many years building a life with someone? Why would a good parent rock their children’s lives with the instability that comes from divorce? Once I became a divorce attorney, I started listening.

After more than 15 years listening to why people choose to get divorced, there are patterns. Culture seems to have changed dramatically for women in the last several decades. Cultural shifts have created highly educated, competent women wrestling with a desire to be personally fulfilled, valued and respected. They want to be an excellent wife and Mother, look Instagram fabulous, and, have a great sex life. Women want more now than they ever have. They want to be loved, desired, respected, admired. They want fun and meaning. They want connection and emotional intimacy, and did I mention great sex. Increasingly, women are confessing that they are not happy in their marriage, and maybe they haven’t been for years. They are seeking to find themselves, do something new, or establish new emotional and physical connections. They may start working out, losing weight, and looking long at hard at ways to improve their appearance and fight aging. There may be signs of an affair, like secretive texting, or increased desire for “privacy”.

Is it a midlife crisis?

Yes, there is the midlife happiness dip. It turns out there is a happiness curve that exists in all countries and all demographics. Our happiness plummets in mid-life. People describe feeling trapped and feel like they are failing. Despite objective data that might be contrary such as career success, good health, or growing net worth, our biological rhythm sets us up for misery as we transition from being ambitious and goal oriented to being more dependent on deeper emotional connections. The transition plagues us from about 35-50, then we start getting happier again.

There is an expectation gap. People in midlife expect they would feel joy and contentment and instead struggle with restlessness and feelings of inadequacy. If a couple isn’t emotionally connected enough to work through this season together, the marriage is at risk.

What should Husbands do?

Intervene early and resolve underlying issues within your marriage, before your wife is done. Once she has decided she is done, she is at risk for meeting someone else. Once a powerful connection is created with someone else, dopamine will flood her system. The happiness gap is gone. She is now on a powerful, addictive love drug and there is virtually nothing you can do to stop it. You can’t confront her. You can’t ask her family or friends to intervene. This will most certainly push her farther away. She will be resentful and use your behavior to justify every decision she is making.

If your wife wants out, you need to start protecting yourself and your children. You need to minimize your financial risk. You need to consult with an attorney now. As you battle heartbreak, you need support to make decisions in your longterm best interest. You can hope and pray your wife will return, but you must prepare for the possibility that she won’t.