I really don’t think this is what the vow means

I’ve joked on several occasions that since neither of us wants to go through a divorce again, my second marriage is going to be “till death do us part – one way or another.” I think I’m going to stop saying that, though – some people actually mean it.

Our Bodies Our Blog mentions an article from the Boston Globe Magazine about men who kill their wives instead of divorcing them. The article notes that it’s rarely women who do this, but

…(s)ometimes men – and let’s be clear here, it is almost always men – decide to murder their wives simply as a way to end a rocky, unhappy marriage and avoid a divorce that could ruin their bank accounts or trash their reputations or spoil a dream life they have concocted for themselves.

It recaps several Massachusetts cases where this has happened, including two that are going to trial this fall, and interviews a Cambridge psychologist who has interviewed prisoners to research their reasons for killing their partners. His findings turned up the expected – jealousy, drugs, career criminality, and depression – and a new one he calls “the materially motivated.”

Men in this last category lack emotional involvement, remorse, and a conscience…They’re preoccupied with money and status, and they typically live in suburban homes separated from others by fertilized lawns and manicured hedges, where neighbors can’t easily overhear fights (and hence are inevitably surprised when the wives turn up dead).

In the suburbs…the murder cases often take on a different twist and become “more bizarre.” The men involved often have something to lose: fine cars, nice homes, reputations they’ve carefully crafted, or lives that others consider perfect. Yet, those lives are never as perfect as they appear…these men are keeping secrets – secrets they will do almost anything to protect.

The article suggests that men who are capable of this are narcissists who actually come to believe they can get away with murder.

While this sounds a bit like a Lifetime movie premise, it’s real, fascinating, and very unsettling reading. I can’t imagine thinking this way – and that’s probably a very good thing. Going through divorce is a lousy experience, but I would think that killing someone – not to mention going to jail – has to be a much worse one.

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  1. I always wonder what makes a man this way. The term “personality disorder” doesn’t really tell us anything about the why. Is it a side-effect of a certain kind of charm – the cumulative effect of getting too away with too much too easily? Is it genetic? Or do they simply choose to be that way?

  2. True, bubandpie – it’s an explanation that needs further explanation. Where does it come from? Is there a short circuit somewhere, or is the brain chemistry off somehow? Or is the kind of person who can do this made, not born that way? The psychologist interviewed in the article has a book coming out, which may dig deeper into the root causes.