Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Study looks at gender role evolution and risk of divorce

A marriage means that two people are committed to each other. They are bound by laws and, in some cases, by their church and faith. That basic idea behind marriage hasn't changed much in the last century, though we have seen certain laws change such as same-sex marriage laws. 

While the point of saying "I do" has remained relatively the same, expectations within a marriage do change as society changes. A study looks at how gender role expectations might play a role in the duration of a marriage and whether the union ends in divorce. 

Researchers looked at different-sex marriages from before 1975 and those that began after. They looked at behaviors of husbands and wives within the marriage and at the rate of divorce. The basic findings from the study show that in the more recent marriages, whether women worked outside of the home didn't impact the rate of divorce. Instead, the risk of divorce increased if the husbands didn't work full-time. 

What is expected and accepted of married women and mothers is the prime example of how gender roles have changed in the past 50 years. It is no longer politically correct to expect women to be full-time wives and mothers. Women represent a significant portion of the workforce, even when they have children. The study's findings don't show that this evolution of a woman's place leads to more divorce.

So why does the chance of divorce reportedly increase when a man doesn't work full time? The researchers suggest that society has done better at accepting new norms for women than it has with accepting different roles for men. In order to be the ideal husband, the study implies, a man must be a primary breadwinner. 

This research highlights matters that do play a role in many unhappy marriages. Is the workload shared? Does each partner feel as though the other is contributing as expected? Do the spouses' expectations of marriage and each other match up anymore? If the reality of one's marriage is a consistent disappointment, if the status quo is too exhausting, divorce could be a positive option. A family law attorney can answer questions and clarify concerns you might have about a possible divorce. 

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