The main problem with any analysis like this is that very few, if any, statements or facts apply to major group aggregations (like all men, for example), and once the group aggregations are broken down far enough (40-45 year old, male, divorced once, protestant, lower middle class, Midwestern, ...), there's not much data and considering the interactions between all of these smaller groups is very, very complex and, at least to me, not decipherable.
So this means that pretty much all analyses of the subject, including not only this post and the related series, but also every other article in old and new media, and I'm betting even most peer-reviewed papers on the subject, are mostly bogus. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most important topics with major impacts on many aspects of everybody's lives, so that there's little choice but to at least try to get an inkling of what's going on amid the inherent massive uncertainty.
Moving forward, with that background and those caveats, and realizing that each statement and statistic is at least partially bogus (I won't remind you of that again), let's start with divorce, which is the major front in the War of the Sexes.
Who's on the offense and who's on the defense at this particular front? Clearly women are on the offense since "[w]omen initiate between 66% and 90% of all divorces." One might be tempted to jump to the conclusion that the reason for women initiating divorce more often is that men are philandering, drunken, drug-addled louts forcing women to take drastic action, but there are at least a couple of things that don't fit that narrative.
First, "among college-educated couples, the percentage of divorces initiated by wives is a whopping 90 percent." It's unlikely that college-educated men are more drunken and drug-addled than the general population of men. When I first discovered that statistic, I was incredulous. But looking around, I noticed it's true that every single divorce among my group of friends was indeed initiated by the woman, so I'm finding it more believable.
Second, divorce has been significantly higher under "no fault" divorce law. It's when women can initiate divorce without real reason that there are more divorces. (There are more divorces initiated by men as well). If women need a "real" reason to divorce men, it's a lot harder to find.
Divorce is the front in the war where there are real casualties. For example, "divorced and separated men were nearly 2.4 times more likely to kill themselves than their married counterparts" and "over eight times more likely to commit suicide than divorced women." Depending on assumptions, this works out to hundreds or possibly even thousands of men dying because of divorce each year from suicide alone. This is roughly the same number of men in the United States military who typically die in active combat in a given year for the past several decades. So the war of the sexes is as deadly to men as any other war. There are other serious health and mortality impacts to men from divorce as well.
And beyond worrying about men, like other wars, this war is causing a great deal of destruction to families, communities, and inner cities. It possibly is even weakening western civilization as it seems that men (and women) are increasingly avoiding marriage and starting families. So war is not really just a euphemism for the conflict between the sexes as there is substantial death and destruction associated with it.
How about divorce and religion? My virulently anti-religious friends have long enjoyed pointing out that divorce rates are higher for Christians than for atheists. Indeed, I had heard this so many times that I came to believe it as the truth. Well, it is the truth, but it's not the whole truth:
Consider, as a case study, the data on divorce. Earlier this year, a pair of demographers released a study showing that regions with heavy populations of conservative Protestants had higher-than-average divorce rates, even when controlling for poverty and race.
Their finding was correct, but incomplete. As the sociologist Charles Stokes pointed out, practicing conservative Protestants have much lower divorce rates, and practicing believers generally divorce less frequently than the secular and unaffiliated.
But the lukewarmly religious are a different matter. What Stokes calls “nominal” conservative Protestants, who attend church less than twice a month, have higher divorce rates even than the nonreligious. And you can find similar patterns with other indicators — out-of-wedlock births, for instance, are rarer among religious-engaged evangelical Christians, but nominal evangelicals are a very different story.I am mixing a lot of categories here: atheists versus non-religious, conservative Protestants versus Christians, etc., but ultimately, looking at the data, it looks to me that if you want to get married, start a family, and stay married, find someone who is reasonably devoted to a religion and practice that religion with him or her, at least to the point of regularly attending services. Even though I'm non-religious, if I were looking for a wife, I might take that approach - I might not believe the dogma, but attending services is a really small price to pay for avoiding divorce.