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Women breadwinners and divorce: The facts may surprise you

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Family Law |

Have you ever heard the saying, “More money, more problems?” Well, if you’re a woman, that might prove true in unexpected ways. As it turns out, the more highly paid a woman is, the harder it may be for her to avoid divorce.

We live in an era when gender roles are no longer clearly defined, and most women – even those who are married to husbands with secure jobs – work outside the home. Women are found in all industries, from the boiler rooms to the board rooms.

Unfortunately, studies indicate that women who out-earn their husbands may have trouble finding marital bliss. Not only are they far more likely to be the victim of a marital affair than other women, but they’re 50% more likely to get divorced than their lower-paid counterparts.

Why would this particular money issue lead to divorce?

Theories abound as to exactly why the odds of infidelity and divorce increase when a wife out-earns her husband. Some of the possibilities include:

  • Deep-seated expectations (and disappointments) surrounding gender roles
  • Ongoing inequities in the distribution of household labor and caregiving
  • Tensions created by social pressures and expectations on both partners

Even if neither spouse is conscious of it, the idea that the husband should be the main provider may start to affect the way they feel about themselves, each other and their marriage as a whole.

The wife may resent being expected to carry the heavy lifting with childcare and housework if she is the main breadwinner but feel that she has no choice because of social expectations. That could lead to serious resentment toward her spouse if he doesn’t step up.

Family members and friends may also consciously or subconsciously react negatively to the situation, believing that it is somehow “unnatural.” The wife may be accused of emasculating her husband, while the husband may get the message that he’s “not much of a man” because his wife is the primary breadwinner.

While social expectations around money, marriage and gender keep changing, there’s still a long way to go. If your marriage is ending, for whatever reason, make sure that you learn everything you can about how to protect your future.