Earning Gap Leads to Divorce

Aug 8, 2012 by

The results of a 25-year study of the marriages and income of more than 2,500 women who married for the first time between 1979 and 2002 show those women who are the main paycheck earners in a household are far more likely to end up getting a divorce. They are 38 per cent more likely to divorce in fact.

Although the researchers cannot say exactly why it is so, the study out of Western Washington University clearly shows that women who make more money than their husbands are more likely to divorce than women who earned less or remained at home and did not earn an income at all.

Research points out that there could be several reasons behind the statistic, the first being a possible imbalance created when the male ego is not gratified by being the chief breadwinner in the home. A successful professional woman might easily eclipse a less-than-successful husband in the home and the wife’s financial independence only makes it easier to afford a divorce to get out of an unhappy marriage.

Other possible reasons behind the increased likelihood of divorce include tension in a relationship if the woman reacts negatively to a spouse that does not earn as much as she does. An overall increase in the number of women in the workforce as well as an increase in the number of hours worked could also promote relationship problems leading to divorce.

Add the fact that findings from Cornell University research show that married men who are financially dependent on their wives are more likely to have an affair as a way of attempting to assert their masculinity, and the prospects of a happy marriage for low-wage earning husbands only get father away. The statistics show that anyone currently in a marriage with a significant husband-wife earning gap might want to take some preemptive action in the form of marriage counseling or other relationship therapy before things get out of hand and it’s too late.


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