NOTE: Author Dorothy Dix was the Oprah of the 1920s-1930s. She was the most widely read advice columnist of her day, with her writings syndicated in newspapers across the globe.
FULL TEXT: A correspondent says: “It is women who are the petitioners in the great majority of divorce cases. It is wives who clutter up the courts with their matrimonial woes. Not men. It is seldom that you hear of a husband having the law on his wife. Why is this? Do women, taking them by and large, give better satisfaction as wives than men do as husbands. Or do men bear the wear and tear of marriage better than women do. Or does the fickle sex extend its mania for change even to changing husbands.”
Nobody can authoritatively answer these questions, but a light was thrown on them recently by a questionnaire that was sent to a large number of married couples asking if they were satisfied with their males, and to which far more men replied “yes” than women. This may have been mere gallantry on the men’s part, or, it may be, that men are less choosy about wives than wives are about husband, for certainly general observation shows that the mill run of wives are not easier to live with than that of husbands. They are much of a muchness. And neither one is any prize package.
Probably when a husband and wife agree to disagree, the reason he lets her ask for the divorce is to save her face. The divorcee has to have some plausible excuse for breaking up her home and half-orphaning her children that will appeal to public sympathy, whereas the man who resents the Little Woman bawling the life out of him is regarded as a quitter and a poor sport w no couldn’t take it.
~ Marriage Hope Too Much ~
There are many reasons why women are the chief patrons of the divorce courts. One of them is because they expect too much men and marriage. In spite of all they have seen in their homes and on their walks abroad, every starry-eyed little bride thinks that her marriage is going to be a perpetual petty party, and that her husband will be a happy combination of a go-getter and a cinema hero. And when she finds out that marriage is mostly babies and cooking and wearing last year’s clothes, she turns to Reno as a cure for her sorrows.
Another reason why women get divorces oftener nowadays than they, did in the past is because it is the vogue. Everybody’s doing it. Especially in Hollywood, which sets the style in conduct as well as clothes for half of the women in the country. In Grandma’s time, when a divorce was looked upon askance, wives suffered and were strong, no matter how much they had lost their taste for their husbands. But now, when getting a new husband causes no more comment than getting a new dress, they feel that to stay married to the same man makes them seem as old-fashioned as if they were still wearing last year’s hats.
And another, and a bitter and a shameful reason, why women ask for divorces oftener than men is because they have found out how profitable is the alimony racket and how easily it can be worked by any pretty woman. Thousands of women marry men for whom they have no affection, and with whom they have no intention of living, just because a marriage license delivers their husbands into their hands as the victims of the lowest holdup game ever practiced.
Undoubtedly there are times when a divorce is a necessity, but if you will take the profit motive and the fashion out of it, it would save many a broken home.
[“Dorothy Dix Says:” (column), syndicated (Bell Syndicate Inc.), The News (Frederick, Md.), Jul. 6, 1944, p. 4]