I've long noted in my practice that women initiate far more divorces than men. After studying my firm's cases over a two year period, we found women initiated over 75% of divorces from Richmond to Williamsburg, Virginia, in our personal experience.  Why?  I'll weigh in on my thoughts and then turn the conversation to our intern, Amy Salamon, below.  

    Confession time. In my natural state, I'll let the laundry pile up until literally there is nothing left to wear, no possible combination that could make sense, and then, finally, do the laundry.  It never gets that far, however, because as the pile in my judgment reaches the middling state of development, snap!, my wife will do the laundry, then carefully monitor me folding and putting away that laundry (ha). 

     What does that have to do with our finding that 75% of divorces from Richmond to Williamsburg are initiated by women?  Simple.  Women, in a messy situation, don't wait until it piles up high, but rather, take action, and take action far sooner than men.  In my own experience with laundry and the experience of my clients in divorce, custody and support matters from Richmond to Williamsburg, Virginia--women decide a situation is no longer acceptable sooner than men. 

    Generally speaking, men will wallow in a bad marriage, much like they will accept a pile of laundry, ever higher, or an unclean house for a few more days than women will.  And so, when a relationship fails, it is women, in demonstrably greater numbers, who initiate the divorce, the custody, or the unpaid support action.

    And, so, if you are a woman reading this article, you might be nodding your head, but also feeling guilty about calling us. You might think you are admitting defeat, and should just wait for the man in your life to file for divorce?  If you're waiting for the man to make the move until they decide to marry or be with someone else, you will wait an awfully long time.  The bad situation might get worse and the man's general complacency will keep him from taking action.  If you're in an impossible situation, and you know in your heart it's time, ladies, give us a call for a marital assessment. Our number is at the top of the site, and I will meet with you to review where you are and in my experience what you will likely face next.  For many of my clients, this is their first time in a law office, and so our goal is to make you in that first meeting feel as comfortable as possible, while getting the answers you truly need at this difficult moment.  Welcome.

     --Van Smith, Attorney with Smith Strong, PLC

     Now, intern Amy Salamon weighs in . . .


            “What are these?”—Brooke

            “You asked for lemons. What my baby wants my baby gets.”—Gary

            “There are three lemons. I asked for 12. Baby wanted 12.”—Brooke


At the beginning of The Break-Up (2006), Brooke, played by Jennifer Aniston, and Gary, performed by Vince Vaughn, are engaged in an altercation about the number of lemons that Gary brought back from the grocery store.  This fight, which has erupted over a few lemons, later develops into a heated discussion that leads to the couple ending their relationship.

While not portraying a married couple, The Break-Up exposes some of the frustrations that women may feel in their marriages as well as the confusion experienced by some husbands over these seemingly nonsensical outbursts of their wives.

In many situations, the story is the same. A wife loses her temper after her husband forgets to empty the dishwasher or do the laundry, and she does it for him. A husband chooses to watch the news instead of helping to cook dinner so his wife grudgingly makes the meal after arriving home from work.

Or, in the case of The Break-Up, Brooke ends the relationship when Gary doesn’t listen to her directions to buy 12 lemons and instead comes home with three.

But, why do these seemingly trivial altercations lead to women initiating divorce more than men?

For some couples, altercations such as these become the norm of married life. While petty at first, these fights over laundry, the dishes, dinner and lemons begin to entangle much more. Even though a wife may have been simply frustrated with her husband for forgetting to do the laundry one week, she begins to resent her husband for this forgetfulness after he forgets time and time again.

Instead, she does the laundry every week. And files for divorce.

While gender roles and stereotypes may be fading, women still do the majority of cooking, cleaning and caregiving; women may even do all of this after a long day at work. Frustration and anger can easily escalate for women who feel as if they are not listened to or not appreciated, leading them to initiate divorce.

In fact, studies indicate that women initiate divorce two-thirds of the time more than men. As the dirty laundry a woman asked her husband to do becomes a heaping mound covering the entire floor of the closet, she gives in and throws it in the washing machine. In the same way, as frustrating and irremediable problems in a marriage abound, women are far more likely to visit their attorneys and file for divorce.  

Whether you or your partner is initiating a divorce, our attorneys here at Smith Strong, PLC are here to guide you through this process. With offices in Richmond and Williamsburg, Virginia, our firm is ready to take your call about any family law issues you may be facing, including divorce, custody and support matters. You are also welcome to request a free copy of our Founder H. Van Smith’s latest book, The Ultimate Guide to Divorce & Custody in Virginia: Quickly Get Back to Fully Living Your Life, emailed to you instantly.

Call us today at (804) 325-1245 or (757) 941-4298 to schedule a SMARTSTART comprehensive case preparation meeting.


H. Van Smith
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