A 25 year study has shown that women who are the breadwinners in their families are nearly 40 percent more likely to get a divorce than their less financially independent counterparts. In the study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Family Issues, researchers found the tipping point came when the wife pulled in at least 60 percent of the family’s income. Couples in this position were 38 percent more likely in any given year to get divorced. And it didn’t matter how rich or poor the pair were.
The study was carried out by Western Washington University Sociologist, Jay Teachman who said that many of the 2,500 women who participated in the study were of a generation, married between 1979 and 2002, that expected the man to be the breadwinner.
“When marriages form, there’s expectations,” he said. “So, if you get new information about the relationship, you’re likely to think, ‘This isn’t what I bargained for.’
“There’s some wounded egos, too. The man is going to expect he’ll make more money, and the wife is going to expect she’s not.” When neither of those things happens, it strains the marriage, he said.
Successful women may resent a husband who doesn’t appear to be pulling his weight — “or suddenly decides to spend all his time making model planes,” Teachman said.
A woman’s higher income might also entail more hours at the office — another stress, the researcher said. Still, the cause-and-effect isn’t always clear. “You don’t know which is leading to the divorce — the rocky marriage or the decision to get a better job,” he noted.
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