Unhappily wed—study examines why married women are more likely to initiate divorce

Love has been called the universal language. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, nationality or political ideology; everyone needs love and longs to find someone to both love and love them back. Of course, there are varying ideas of what it means to love and be loved and it’s these differences that often prevent individuals from both finding and staying together with a significant other.

Throughout history people have been trying to figure out why relationships either fail or succeed. For U.S. sociologists, this is especially true when it comes to the institution of marriage as the U.S. divorce rate continually hovers at around 50 percent. A recent study conducted by a sociology professor at Stanford University revealed that, at least among heterosexual couples, marriage itself may breed unhappiness.

For the study, information from “2,262 adults, ages 19 to 64, who reported having opposite-sex partners in 2009,” was examined. When information from these individuals was reviewed in 2015, 371 were either divorced or had split from the individual with whom they were with in 2009. In reviewing whether it was the man or woman who initiated the divorce or split, researchers noted that “women initiated 69 percent” of the divorces. However, researchers were surprised to discover that the break-up initiation rate for dating heterosexual couples was roughly 50/50.

Whether people want to admit it or not, everyone has certain opinions and ideas of what a relationship, and especially a marriage, should be. What’s more, the institution of marriage is still heavily influenced by society and entrenched views of the roles that men and women within a marriage should fulfill.

Based on the findings of this study, it can be argued that many heterosexual women in the U.S. may find marriage to be “constraining, oppressive, uncomfortable and controlling.” These sentiments are backed by statistical data that shows a continued “unequal power dynamic,” that is present in many heterosexual marriages.

For example, while many married moms work outside the home, they tend to earn less money than their husbands. Additionally, married mothers spend an average of 41 hours every week tending to family care giving matters compared to 22 hours for married fathers and women also tend to do more housework which could lead to and intensify feelings of resentment and inequality.

Source: Live Science, “Women Are More Likely to Initiate Divorce, But Not Dating Breakups,” Laura Geggel, Aug. 22, 2015


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