Study Shows Women More Likely to File for Divorce Than Men

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Sep 13, 2015 | 0 Comments

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According to a recent news report from the Washington Post, for the first time in western history, women are more likely to initiate a divorce than men, or at least tell their spouses they intend to seek a divorce.

At a sociologists' conference featured in the article, there was a significant amount of debate and discussion spent on this issue. In the past, it was argued, women were responsible for most of the childcare work and housework, while their husbands went to work and provided for the family's financial needs. It was a also a time when many men would openly have extramarital affairs and their wives would simply put up with it as something that is normal and supposed to happen.

One sociologist said that in today's age of β€œrom-coms, Valentine's Day, and a $50 billion wedding industry,” women have different expectations in a marriage. He stated in a modern marriage, women want a spouse who is both reliable and reasonable, a lover and a best friend. If a woman in a marriage does not feel her husband is living up to these expectations, it is more likely she will seek a divorce than a man who does not feel his marriage is going well or one who is unhappy with his spouse. As our Birmingham divorce attorneys understand, research suggests women in heterosexual marriages are the spouses who initiate a divorce about 69 percent of the time.

While this is nothing new to sociologists, as it is well documented that women initiate most divorces, research shows the trend of women deciding to end the marital relations is not evident in relationships that do not involve a marriage. In other words, in relations were the parties are not married, even long term relationships where the couple is living together, the woman is no more likely to end the relationship than the man. The leads to the conclusion that there is something about being in a marital relationship that is not going well that is much harder on an average woman then being in a non-marital relationship that is not going well. This data also goes along with study results that show that, on average, women are unhappier in their marriages than men.

As part of one study, newlywed couples were followed for a period of five years after marriage and through divorce proceedings, if the couple decided to dissolve their marriage. For one wife who participated in the study, in the first year of marriage, she reported her happiness as four on a five-point scale. She described her new husband as being clever, fun, and sweet, and said she felt they were equals in terms of their values. Toward the end of five years, when she was in the middle of their divorce, she said she used to be β€œ a very happy optimistic person and it was like he was slowly starving my soul.” One suggested reason for the increased rate of women filing for divorce in modern times is because, with most women having jobs, they are no longer dependent upon their husbands to financially provide for them.

Additional Resources:

Women are more likely to initiate divorce, August 20, 2015, Washington Post, by Yanan Wang

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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