I keep seeing women who married wealthy men during their childbearing years, falling head over heels, post-divorce, for loving, not wealthy men.
Because I have a legal project and because the news today does not inspire me, I wanted to direct your attention elsewhere — and get your opinion about a post-divorce phenomenon I keep seeing here in true, blue Marin.
Marin being what it is, I move in high-end white-collar circles. This is not a boast, it’s just a fact. At all the schools my children have attended, the greater number of parents have at least one degree and a majority have two. Some even have three degrees. These credentials translate into high-earning jobs for both men and women — although I know of only two cases in which the wives out-earn the husbands.
Over the years, several of my female friends have gotten divorced. With two exceptions out of perhaps 15-20 divorces, the husbands were very good earners. Unfortunately for their wives, they were also narcissists or sociopaths. The same clinical, self-detached, manipulative qualities that made them thrive in the corporate world made them unpleasant in the home.
The divorces of which I speak happened many years ago and my women friends have moved on. Only one of them has a new partner who earns more than, or as much as, her former husband did. The trend I’ve observed is that these women have all found tremendous happiness with partners who earn about the same as or even less than the women do.
I still get a kick out of what one woman told me: “He’s so wonderful. He’s loving and supportive to me. He barely earns any money, but I just don’t care!“
My theory is that, during peak childbearing years, these women instinctively sought men who would provide for them and their children. It didn’t matter that the men had less than stellar interpersonal skills. What mattered was that, when the women were pregnant and raising little children, they would not have to worry about food or shelter. This was not a gold-digger approach to selecting a husband. It was an atavistic drive to provide optimal circumstances for raising a child.
Once women’s childbearing and child-rearing years ended, the women were unconstrained by lizard-brain concerns. Post-divorce, they could follow their hearts, not their reproductive organs. That’s why I see the same women who were emotionally burned by striving, successful men now seeking comfort with men for whom financial success is not a be-it and end-all.
In other words, the fact that a young woman chose as the father of her children an emotionally distant or punitive man who was a very good breadwinner does not mean that the woman will repeat that pattern in her next relationship. The hormones and common sense that dictate a certain choice when we’re young may be delightfully irrelevant when we’re older.
So, that’s my theory based upon the post-divorce women whom I’ve observed in my little patch of Deep Blue. Is it just me or have any of you seen (or lived) the same phenomenon?
Photo credit: Divorce, by Gerard van Der Leun. Creative Commons; some rights reserved.