There is an attitude I'm running into occasionally among men, even young men who have not had anything terrible done to them, and I think it's highly, highly unfortunate. It seems to be based on this statistic one hears over and over and over again: "Women initiate x% of divorces." Usually the statistic is 80%.
Now, for some reason, the men who cite this statistic are interpreting it as if it means, "Women initiate 80% of the marital breakups." And even, therefore, "Women initiate 80% of marital breakups for frivolous reason." The idea seems to be that pretty much all women have within them an Inner Buffy who is just waiting for the opportunity to dump her husband one day in fit of hormone-driven pique because he fails to put his socks in the hamper. And then ruin his life, ruin the children's lives, break up his relationship with his children, etc.
So what this turns into is a bitter, misogynistic attitude (and believe me, I don't use the word "misogynistic" lightly) which causes the men who cite this statistic to approach any woman, even the most innocent, wonderful, carefully raised, Christian young woman, with an intention to smoke out her Inner Buffy in order not to be "taken in" and ruined like those many men who have become statistics.
It shouldn't really be too hard to realize that a man can leave his wife for another woman and that his wife may then formally initiate the divorce! In our current no-fault divorce culture, it is quite easy for an erring spouse of either sex to initiate a marital breakup and then put psychological pressure on the other spouse to agree to the subsequent divorce. If the other spouse happens to be the one to file the papers, that doesn't automatically mean the other spouse is the guilty party in the marital breakup. There are, of course, other scenarios as well. In how many of those 80% of cases was the husband using, and unable or unwilling to stop using, p*rn, perhaps even the type which made the wife fear for her own safety and that of her children? How about severe and uncontrolled substance abuse?
Now, am I saying that all of these are definitely reasons for divorce as opposed to separation? No, I'm not saying that. What I am saying is that they are non-trivial and are at least understandable and legitimate reasons for separation. It's also pretty much inevitable in the current cultural milieu where permanent separation isn't taken as an option that this will end up meaning divorce. And in any event, if that is what is happening in many of those 80% of cases, this shouldn't go down in men's minds as proof of the perfidiousness of women. Many of the breakups that go into that 80% statistic may be instances of the perfidiousness of men.
It is just incredibly frivolous and even worryingly bitter-minded to take a statistic about the percent of women who initiate formal divorce proceedings and translate that into, "Women want to break up marriages," "Women are untrustworthy," "Women usually abandon their husbands rather than husbands leaving their wives." Anecdotally, I can't help wondering how many of us find this to be true. I certainly don't. I know personally of quite a few more men who determinedly left their wives than vice versa. If the divorce papers say that the wife "initiated" the divorce (I have no idea) in these cases, that doesn't really matter. I know that it would be ludicrous to put these into the Men's Rights story about all the women out there who deliberately destroy their own marriages.
We're doing a disservice to our young men if we're teaching them to be bitter Fred Reed wannabes. If they really meet a great lady who could be, if they wanted her to be, the Christian woman of their dreams, they may just blow their opportunity if they approach her with a high-handed attitude that assumes she is guilty until proven innocent of harboring an Inner Buffy.
It's certainly true that we want to raise our young ladies, our daughters, to be gracious and loving, not to be feminists, to desire to raise children, to be more than happy to allow their husbands' career to determine where they live, and so forth. But the parallel to this on the other side is that we want to raise young men who honor women, who are grateful for a wife's sacrifices, who are prepared to love and respect a wife. They should therefore begin a relationship with a young woman whom they have reason to believe might be that future wife with the kind of respectful and kind attitude they wouldn't be ashamed to look back on later.
Do both women and men need to be careful? They certainly do. When they don't know one another, they have a lot to find out on both sides. There are all too many men who think using p*rn is perfectly okay and who have already damaged their hearts, minds, and (horrible to realize) sexual tastes by that use. All too many of them even (I fear) among Christians. Young women need to be trying to see whether the man they are getting to know is chaste not only in his actual physical relationships but also in regard to what he deliberately puts into his mind. And of course there are many other things to look for in a prospective husband. Young men are, on their part, perfectly within their rights, when getting to know a young lady, to wonder whether she is chaste as well as loyal, kind, and motherhood-minded. Moreover, it doesn't do for either party to be naive about the number of people out there who meet such a description. But care in relationships is not the same thing as initial anger and arrogance in one's approach to the opposite sex. Let's teach both our girls and our boys to pray earnestly about their possible future spouse and to make their friendships among (what we might call) plausible groups for that purpose, with kindness and hope in their hearts.