I was just reading a story in Genesis 31 about Jacob and Laban. Jacob, a young man, is an outcast traveling the dessert when he comes to Laban, a land owner with beautiful daughters. He lives and works with Laban for over ten years, benefiting from Laban’s stable house and business. He marries two of Laban’s daughters and improves his business and profit. One night Jacob sneaks away with what he sees as fair share of cattle, along with his wives and children, knowing Laban won’t see it that way. Laban wakes up to all that is gone and furiously pursues and overtakes Jacob in the dessert. Here they quarrel and negotiate – and knowing to try to keep Jacob would be futile, he releases him to leave.
It’s my impression (men – tell me if it’s true) that Laban’s fury over all that is lost is a similar tale as how men feel after years of devotion and provision to their wife, who is choosing to leave. Like Laban, men might feel, You came with nothing, I provided for you for years, I made your dreams for home and children and the sweet life come true. And now you want to take what? And the legal system says you get how much?
What one might fail to see is that Jacob’s efforts, which allowed Laban to amass incredible assets and possessions, provided a new abundant lifestyle for Laban, one that would not have existed had Jacob not been present over those years. Yes, women benefit greatly from the generosity over time of men, and their lives most often have been been significantly improved due to the stability and contribution of men’s generosity. However, it’s a new life standard that both have worked themselves into, that the legal system has deemed the new “norm” for that family, and one that must be preserved as closely as possible, primarily due to any children involved.
If it’s any comfort, women often fair much worse after divorce due to lost capabilities with careers and job opportunities, lost market skills. The National Association of State Treasurers Foundation Reports on the significant loss of standard of living for divorced women: see http://www.tomorrowsmoney.org/Templates/tm/Content.aspx?id=367.