Houston estate planning attorneys as they counsel their clients hear many personal stories about reasons for divorce. A new study entitled, “Wives’ Economic Resources and Risk of Divorce,” by Jay Teachman of Western Washington University offers insight by looking at the relationship between wives’ economic resources and the risk of divorce. Apparently, women who make more money than their husbands are more likely to divorce.
The 25-year-long study was published in the October issue of the Journal of Family Issues including sexual battery in Florida. Researchers found that if the woman was the predominate earner, then the couple was 38 percent more likely to break-up. The point of earning power that tips the scales towards divorce is when the woman makes 60 percent of the family income. This point held true over each year of the study. The class of the couple was not at issue because the statistic remained true whether the couple was well off or not.
However, the earning power of the woman and its proportion to total income reveals other contributing factors to divorce such as expectations and egos. The study was conducted with 2,500 women from a generation that married between 1979 and 2002 and expected the man to be the predominant earner. Teachman explains that marriages are formed around expectations. When information about the relationship changes, one of the partners may feel that the changed information is not what they expected.
The marriage can become strained when egos bruise says Teachman. Men who believed they would be the main breadwinner see their wives in that role and may stress or make adjustments and pick-up a hobby. A woman who is the main earner may resent her husband and view him as someone who is not able to pull his own weight in the relationship.
Teachman also explains that a higher income also brings more hours at work. That time can also become another stress factor. However, cause and effect is not always clear, and Teachman says, “You don’t know which is leading to the divorce — the rocky marriage or the decision to get a better job.”
Unsatisfied, the sociologist would like to conduct the study again in 10 years with women from a younger generation that may no longer have the expectation that the man should be the predominant breadwinner. Different expectations may create different relationships with a greater possibility to endure.