Divorce predictions can be a really grey area. While it might be easier to see things coming after the fact, when it comes to making a prediction about which couples will make it or not in the long term, it can be difficult. Experts are weighing in on the subject matter though and revealing that there's one major issue that is at the root of many heterosexual divorces: that marriages seemingly fall apart when the husband stops working. And even more specifically, if the husband is working full time or not.
According to Alexandra Killewald, professor of sociology at Harvard, who takes a very statistical approach to the subject at hand through her 2016 study published in American Sociological Review. Her findings were pulled together through examination of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, which represents data from 1968 to 2013. This takes a closer look at data from various points as employment, financial status, and household chores. within these parameters, Killewald searched for divorce predictors.
She looked at 6,309 heterosexual couples and discovered that, in couples who were married before 1975, divorce was likelier if husbands and wives split the housework. Then, for couples who divorced after 1975, there were key indicators that it was a direct result of an issue with a husband’s job.
It's interesting because even though we fight so hard for gender equality, for some reason our society really has trouble shaking the idea of the husband being the breadwinner in the marriage.
Fatherly spoke directly with Killewald, who shared that when it comes to salary, dads, in general, don't make much more money than men without children, however, "moms earn less than childless women. Research suggests that women earn less because they take time off to care for children. It’s the motherhood wage penalty. It could be that moms change jobs, but some of it is still unexplained."
She feels that a possibility that plays a key role in this scenario is that "moms are blocked from taking higher paying jobs, but it’s also possible they take lower paying jobs, or they forgo a promotion because it would require travel or it would mean a 90-minute commute. Or being a manager would mean being on call, so part of it could be a choice. But it’s usually moms that make this choice or trade-off."
Overall, the fact that marriages go awry when the husband loses his job or changes from working full time to part time has a lot to do with these very traditional ideas that we still have of marriage or the breadwinner concept. When their employment situation changes it creates new obstacles and uncharted territory for a couple. This brings on marital risk factors as they begin to navigate their new roles.
While there is still more data and statistics needed to look at the full picture and of course there are many different pieces to this puzzle, it's safe to say that these kinds of changes can put a strain on a marriage.