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Study Says Couples Are More Likely To Divorce If The Wife Works While The Husband Stays Home, And It's Not Because Of Finances

By Gina Florio··  2 min read
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Marriage comes in many different forms these days, especially when it comes to raising children. The model of a father working outside the home and the mother raising the children used to be the only family unit we witnessed.

But today things are different. There are many more couples today that have a mother working outside the home while the father raises the children. But a recent study suggests that this increases the likelihood for divorce in the future.

Study Says a Couple Has a Higher Likelihood of Divorce If the Woman Works While the Father Stays Home

Harvard University researcher Professor Alexandra Killewald collected data from 6,300 couples; 1,700 of these couples had divorced. She gathered information about their finances, lifestyle choices, and habits around the home. She found that if a couple got married after 1974 and the husband worked full-time, the chance of divorce was 2.5%. But if the husband doesn't work or even just works part-time, the chances of divorce rose to 3.3%.

You may think that the main reason divorce would be more likely is because of the financial strain it puts on the relationship, but that's not the case. The study showed that the bigger problem was that the husband wasn't meeting his traditional role of providing for the family. An added factor could be that unemployment is psychologically more difficult for men than it is for women, so this stress could have a negative impact on the marriage.

"While contemporary wives need not embrace the traditional homemaker role to stay married, contemporary husbands face a higher risk of divorce when they do not fulfill the stereotypical breadwinner role by being employed full-time," Killewald explained. "Often when scholars or the media talk about work-family policies or work-family balance, they focus mostly on the experiences of women."

"Although much of the responsibility for negotiating that balance falls to women, my results suggest one way that expectations about gender and family roles and responsibilities affect men's lives, too: men who aren't able to sustain full-time work face heightened risk of divorce," she continued.

Another interesting piece of data is that before 1974, the more housework the wife did, the less likely the couple was to get divorced. Over the last several decades, the housework has been more evenly divided between husband and wife, so this statistic has greatly changed.

While there may be some fathers out there who enjoy looking after the kids at home while the mother works, it's certainly not a common scenario, and it's not a scenario that bodes well for the marriage in the future.

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