The facts surrounding divorce are not only shocking but saddening. Almost 50 percent of all marriages in the United States will end in divorce or separation. The top three leading reasons for the percentage of marriages ending in divorce or separation are lack of commitment 73%, arguing too much 56% and, infidelity 55%.
Divorce is a very sensitive topic for many, however the facts behind it require us to have a necessary conversation in which we discuss "Why". Why are divorce rates so high other then the obvious leading reasons stated above?
I believe that in order to ensure that our future generations are not continuing to raise the statistics surrounding marriage, we have to take a deep look into the way we are raising and parenting our sons. It is far too easy to assume that our children will be immune to the forces of our society, and I don't want myself or anyone else to be lulled into a false sense of security thinking that simply loving our children and being a good example is going to be enough. The scary truth is that we are surrounded by toxic masculinity that we are just beginning to dig deep enough into to understand. For far too long, our society has fed our children gender ideas that are not only harmful to women, but that stunt young boy's healthy social and psychological development.
The number one reason for divorce and separation is lack of communication. In my opinion ALL of these things can be prevented by parenting that focuses on our children and the validity in their emotions. Sadly it is too common that we as parents punish our children for being human. Children are not allowed to have grumpy moods, sad moods, cranky moods, bad days, difficult times or "bad" attitudes. Even though us adults have them ALL the time. I am not saying parents should turn a blind eye to disrespect, but I am saying we should no longer hold our children to a higher standard and higher expectations then we hold ourselves. To speak on the number one percentage leading to divorce and separation, lack of communication— it's important to take into consideration that the noted trick by numerous top marriage counselors to stir away from divorce lies in how effectively you communicate. However this trick isn't just needed to be learned after years of marriage when the option of divorce is in the equation; it is needed to be learned when we learn how to communicate, as children. We can't change what we don't acknowledge, and we can't acknowledge what we don't see. So the first step is making sure we know what parenting decisions are leading our young boys to lack the skills and the comfortability in communicating their feelings and needs with their future partners.
The reasons behind why men do not communicate effectively stem from years of early childhood feelings, emotions and moods being invalidated, frowned upon and repressed. Men are not naturally born reserved, this is a taught and learned behavior. In western culture, women are believed and expected to be more talkative, to be more emotional and more socially adaptable and boys are believed and expected to do the exact opposite, especially in terms of feelings and emotions. When parents raise their children in accordance to these cultural boundaries, it is what truly sets young boys up to life long inabilities or delays in emotional expression. One of the many debilitating notations that men have towards communicating, is the belief that talking about feelings is inherently feminine. This can stem from minor parenting flaws such as the usage of gender based insults towards our sons such as "Your such a sissy" "Don't be a girl!" or "Boys don't cry". Not all guys feel comfortable disclosing their inner emotions, and the reason for this can be partly due to men not having much experience nor much validation when communicating emotionally.
The first component of emotional intelligence is emotional awareness. Emotional intelligence is defined as "the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically" however, the rules of society mean that boys have to censor what they express, and sometimes the only way to do that is to convince yourself that you're not feeling what you're feeling. How can men possibly have the motivation necessary for emotional intelligence if they are being told by the world around them to continue to repress the emotions that make them human? It is essential for young boys emotional development to have positive relationships with parents and or other mentors to ensure a kind of safe harbor from all the madness set out to limit their emotional expression, intelligence and awareness spinning around out there. It is also essential to reframe our expectations we set on our boys, letting our sons know that they don't have to live up to anyone else's definition of manhood (especially society's definition) and that who he is is just fine by you and others and he is loved and accepted no matter what. It is important to have your son surrounded by healthy role models who redefine healthy masculinity by showing empathy, care and emotion. Giving our sons as many examples of men living this definition, whether they are in life or heroes that they can look up to in society and works of fiction. Teach your sons to fight fair! One of the ideas toxic masculinity spews out is that men always have to come out on top, that in order to succeed they have to climb a ladder in social interactions. We need to realize that fighting is normal and allowed in healthy relationships. Men do not have to silence themselves nor win every single altercation in order to succeed. There is an inability in America to fight, make-up, forgive, and get on with relationships.
You might be wondering how these small parenting choices and decisions lead to divorce and you may disagree with my points being made, but it ties directly into men and communication. If communication is the NUMBER ONE reason for divorce, and we learn to communicate in our early childhood— then where else is to blame? Our children are watching us model behaviors, especially in regards to the way we express our feelings and moods and emotions. When we teach our boys to bottle up, to repress, to be less then what they are as humans— we are doing them a disservice, and we are only increasing the rate of divorce and separation for years to come.