Is Divorce More Difficult for Women or Men?

Divorce is generally more stressful and difficult for men, according to the findings of a recent study.1 In fact, as these researchers discovered, men who are divorced or who are going through a divorce are:

  • Far more likely to suffer from heart disease, strokes and/or high blood pressure (when compared to married men)
  • Nearly 40 percent more likely than married men to engage in risky behaviors and/or commit suicide.

3 Reasons Divorce Is Usually More Stressful for Men

In explaining the above findings, researchers pointed to three following factors:

  1. Divorced men can lose their sense of identity – It is not uncommon for men to define themselves by the role they play in their marriage, as these researchers explained. So, when the marriage falls apart, men can end up feeling like the foundation of their identity has been pulled out from under them. Without having a support system and a new way to rebuild their confidence, the loss of identity can give way to significant emotional distress.
  2. Divorced men are less likely to channel their grief in healthy ways – Generally, men are not predisposed to talking about their negative feelings, dealing with them head on and/or letting themselves “cry” on someone else’s shoulder to get through significant grief. This, researchers say, can lead men – far more often than women – to bottle up their grief, depression or stress over divorce; and this, in turn, is far more likely to trigger more significant physical and mental health issues later.
  3. Divorce can challenge men’s paternal role – Another reason that divorce can be so stressful for men is that it can complicate their connection with and/or relationship to their children, as well as their greater sense of belonging and providing for a family. While distress and shame about the divorce can cause these feelings to snowball, making an effort to maintain a close relationship with children can help quell these negative feelings.

What do you think about these researchers’ findings? Do you think that researchers are right about divorce generally being more stressful for men? Share your opinions with us on Facebook & Google+.

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1: Published in the Journal of Men’s Health

Top jobs lead to divorce for women, but not for men

Combining an enriching career and a loving relationship is a goal for many people. But for women, this goal still presents higher hurdles, even in the most gender-equal countries in the world. Our research on Sweden finds that women pay a high price for their career success. Being promoted to a top job in politics or business leads to a dramatic increase in the divorce rate for women, but not for men.

By studying Sweden, we can get a sense of what lies ahead for other countries that are moving toward more gender-equal labour markets. Already thirty years ago, Swedish women’s rate of higher education surpassed men’s, and their labour force participation reached a similar level. Nowadays, the proportions of female CEOs, corporate board members, and top-level parliamentarians are among the highest in the world. Advances have also been made on the family front. Unlike in many other countries, women with successful careers in Sweden are equally likely to have been married and to have children. In other words, women who aim for top jobs do not have to completely give up having a family. What happens to this family when the woman climbs the career ladder is another story, though.

We follow women’s and men’s relationships each year in time as they advance to top jobs in Swedish society. For the two political jobs of mayor and parliamentarian, we can compare the relationship trajectories of job candidates who either got the job or not. Candidates for mayor are the two top-ranked politicians for the political left and right blocs in Sweden’s 290 municipalities. Depending on the electoral results, one of them becomes mayor and the other does not. For parliament, candidates appear on a rank-ordered electoral ballot. Depending on the vote, a number of seats are counted from the top of that list. For a party that wins four seats, the fourth gets elected and the fifth does not. We analyse all those marginal pairs of candidates from electoral ballots, the winners of the last seat and the first losers who wanted to get in, but ultimately did not.

Starting with politicians who were married four years before the election, how many remained married to their partner? Figure 1 shows a striking difference between women who win and women who lose. Once the women who were promoted to mayor or parliamentarian (the black line in the figure), assume their job, the rate of divorces doubles compared to the women who failed to win the promotion. In the paper we show that all post-election differences between promoted and non-promoted women are statistically significant, and that these results are robust to various sensitivity analyses. Among men, there is no evidence of a similar effect.

Figure 1. The proportion (starting at 100%) of men and women who remain married in each year in time before and after an election where some (black lines) become promoted to mayor or parliamentarian, and others (grey lines) do not.

Turning our attention to CEO promotions we can compare men and women who became promoted, but unfortunately lack data on rejected job applicants. Figure 2 shows the relationship trajectories of men and women who went from being an employee to being the CEO of a firm with at least 100 people at some point between 2002—2012. Again, we start the comparison four years before the promotion and with a sample that consists to 100% of married people (Y-axis starts at 1). Over time, the figure shows a striking pattern where women, after becoming CEO, start divorcing at a clearly higher pace than the men with the same career transition. Divorce following promotions to top jobs appears to haunt women also in the private sector.

Figure 2. Proportion of men and women (starting at 100%) who remain married to their spouses after being promoted to CEO of a firm with more than 100 employees.

Are women happier without their relationship? This is possible, although it is unclear why the women would choose to opt out more than men. One thing that the data allow us to say is that the women who divorce after getting top jobs are less likely than others to strike up a relationship a new cohabitant or spouse. Divorces hardly seem motivated by an attractive set of new potential partners. What is also worthwhile to consider is that the women we study have been married for an average of 20 years when they get promoted. Clearly, these women did not enter into marriage lightly, and we would be hard pressed to believe that they did not value a life with a loving spouse in the first place.

We get closer to understanding the reasons for women’s divorces by zooming in on which relationships are more likely to end after the promotion. This detective work leads to suggestive evidence about couple formation. Heterosexual women — both those that aim for a top job and those who do not — often enter relationships with men who are older and earn more money than they do. Men, in contrast, often have younger wives with lower-paying jobs. The tendency for women to “marry up” means that their own promotion to a top job could create particular frictions at home. The economic and status balance that the couple used to have gets out of balance. In the Swedish data, divorces after promotion are concentrated to couples in which the wife was younger than her husband by a larger margin and where the wife took a larger share of the parental leave. The situation looks entirely different in more gender-equal couples. For women with a smaller gap in age to their spouse, and who split parental leave more equally with their partner, divorce is not affected by the wife’s promotion.

What should women do to insulate their relationships from career-related stress? To cite the Swedish top politician Birgitta Ohlsson, in her book on career advice to young women: the most important career move is to find the right husband.

Also by Olle Folke and Johanna Rickne:

Gender quotas and the crisis of the mediocre man



  • This blog post is based on the authors’ paper All the Single Ladies: Job Promotions and the Durability of Marriage, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming.
  • The post gives the views of its authors, not the position of LSE Business Review or the London School of Economics.
  • Featured image by G20 Argentina, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
  • Before commenting, please read our Comment Policy

Olle Folke is an associate professor in politics at the department of government at Uppsala University, Sweden. His research is in political economics, comparative politics and politics and gender.

Johanna Rickne is a professor in economics at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University. Her research is in labour economics, political economics, and gender economics.

YES! I want the book!

Who Initiates Divorce More: Men or Women?

Posted on February 25, 2019 by DD Admin

The correct answer is that women initiate divorce more than men. In fact, according to a study conducted by the American Sociological Association, they found that women initiate 69% of divorces.

Another interesting fact is that about 90% of divorces are initiated by college-educated women. Times have changed and more and more women will not tolerate staying in a marriage that they are unhappy in. A lot of women also have their own careers, which makes it easier to leave a marriage than if they were solely dependent on their husband financially.

One of the most common reasons women file for divorce is infidelity. In some cases, it may be the woman who cheated on her husband. Many times, there may be an underlying reason for the infidelity. Was there a breakdown in the marriage? Whether it was a communication breakdown or an issue of disrespect, or one of many other issues, it is helpful to know what caused your spouse to cheat on you.

Other reasons women file for divorce is feeling lonely in their marriage, an abusive husband, a husband that is a work-a-holic, or simply growing apart and not seeing eye to eye on anything.

Financial stress can also lead to divorce. If only one spouse is financially contributing to the household, they may feel overburdened with the finances to support the family. In addition, when a spouse does not recognize the efforts of the other spouse who is contributing to the marriage in non-financial ways this can lead to resentment and develop into anger. Lack of communication regarding spending and budgeting can cause a financial burden and stress the marriage.

Sometimes, men do not realize there is a problem in their marriage until their wife points it out. Men and women have different ways of comprehending information. This is why clearly communicating what is acceptable to you or not in a marriage is important to disclose from the very beginning.

By openly communicating with your spouse, it may prevent you from making the same mistakes in the future. In fact, you may even learn something that could salvage your marriage.

Why Do Men Avoid Initiating Divorce as Much as Women?

Men are scared that a divorce may lead to financial destruction and that they may be left with an almost empty bank account. Some men choose to stay in a marriage because they feel it would cost them way too much to get out of the marriage. Furthermore, men are just as scared of losing custody of their children as women are.

Are You Thinking of Filing for Divorce?

Consult an experienced New York Divorce Attorney for guidance on the divorce process in New York. Contact Sabra Law Group today at (646) 472-7971 to schedule a confidential consultation.

Source: American Sociological Association

While the divorce rate in America has been declining since the 1980s, between 42 and 45 percent of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. And it might surprise you to find out that most of these filings are initiated by women.

© Provided by Best Life It’s great to have different interests and friends as a married couple. However, when this means you spend more time without your partner than with him or her, you could be headed for a split. “If you and your partner spend most of your time apart, your relationship is at risk. Not having common interests or connecting on a regular basis as a couple is hazardous to its health,” says couples consultant and coach Lesli Doares, MS, LMFT, author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After With More Intention, Less Work.

“Many men are blindsided by their wives asking for a divorce because everything is just fine for him,” couples consultant and coach Lesli Doares told Best Life. “Women instigate about 80 percent of divorces—many after years of feeling unheard or having their concerns minimized.”

There are a lot of habits—outside of cheating, which is the most obvious one—that lead women to want a one-way ticket to Splitsville. Feeling like their husband isn’t attune to their needs or doesn’t do enough household chores are big ones, as is the fact that women are actually more likely to get bored with long-term monogamy than men.

Interestingly enough, however, the percentage of women ending relationships doesn’t extend to non-marital bonds, which experts say might have something to do with the way marriage has been slow in catching up with today’s expectations on gender equality.

“When men and women seek couples therapy and then subsequently divorce; or, when either partner seeks individual therapy about a marriage conflict that ends in divorce, it’s often the woman who expresses more overt conflict and dissatisfaction about the state of the marriage,” psychotherapist Douglas LaBier wrote on Psychology “On the other hand, the man is more likely to report feeling troubled by his wife’s dissatisfaction, but pretty much ‘OK’ with the way things are; he’s content to just lope along as time passes. In contrast, I find that younger couples—who are more likely to form non-marital but committed relationships—experience more egalitarian partnerships to begin with. When their relationship crumbles beyond repair, both experience that disintegration. Both are equally likely to address it—and part, if it can’t be healed.”

But why are men so often blindsided by their wife’s request for divorce? The answer is that men often view the absence of conflict in a marriage as a sign that everything is peachy keen, when it might actually be a sign that the wife is so tired of bringing up issues with no tangible results that she’s just given up on the marriage altogether.

“Many women go radio silent after years of attempts to improve the relationship. If she no longer is talking about it, and a specific solution has not been implemented, she may be planning her exit,” Doares said.

“You need to be aware and realize it is a bad thing if your spouse starts to shut down verbally,” matrimonial law attorney Jacqueline Newman told Best Life. “Is she beginning to no longer talk to you about her day or what is going on in her life? If she stops complaining, that can also be a bad sign.”

So if your wife seems inordinately tight-lipped as of late, it’s worth asking her some of the questions that every husband should ask his spouse at least once a year. And for more great advice on how to maintain a healthy marriage, check out the habits experts say are most likely to increase your chances of divorce.

Related video: You’ll never guess what workplace factor will up your chances of divorce (provided by Buzz60)

Women are more likely than men to initiate divorce in the United States, but they are no more likely than men to initiate breakups in a dating relationship, a new study finds.

“The breakups of nonmarital heterosexual relationships in the U.S. are quite gender-neutral and fairly egalitarian,” study author Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University, said in a statement. “This was a surprise because the only prior research that had been done on who wanted the breakup was research on marital divorces.”

Previous research had found that women are more likely to initiate divorce, at least in the United States, Europe and Australia. In the new study, Rosenfeld compared divorces to nonmarital breakups, in an effort to understand the driving forces behind each type of breakup.

To investigate, he looked at data from the 2009 to 2015 waves of How Couples Meet and Stay Together, a nationally representative survey spearheaded by Rosenfeld and his colleagues. The new study includes 2,262 adults, ages 19 to 64, who reported having opposite-sex partners in 2009. By 2015, 371 of the participants had broken up or gotten divorced.

Women initiated 69 percent of the 92 divorces, Rosenfeld found. But there was no statistically significant difference between women and men when it came to nonmarital breakups, regardless of whether they were living together, he said.

Breakup rationale

In the past, social scientists argued that women were more likely to initiate divorce because they were more sensitive to relationship difficulties, Rosenfeld said. But if this were true, then women would be more likely to initiate both divorces and nonmarital breakups, he added.

“Women seem to have a predominant role in initiating divorces in the U.S. as far back as there is data from a variety of sources, back to the 1940s,” Rosenfeld said. “I assumed, and I think other scholars assumed, that women’s role in breakups was an essential attribute of heterosexual relationships, but it turns out that women’s role in initiating breakups is unique to heterosexual marriage.”

According to the surveys, married women reported they were less satisfied with the quality of their relationships than married men were. In contrast, women and men in nonmarital relationships reported similar levels of relationship quality, Rosenfeld found.

It’s possible that women report lower levels because they experience heterosexual marriage as constraining, oppressive, uncomfortable and controlling, Rosenfeld said.

Researchers have examined the unequal power dynamic present in many American heterosexual marriages. For instance, American women are usually younger than their husbands, earn less money and often take their husband’s last name, Rosenfeld said.

The book “The Changing Rhythms of American Family Life” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006) found that, although married fathers increased child care time between 1965 and 2000, married mothers still spent more time overall on family caregiving (41 hours per week for mothers versus 22 hours per week for fathers), Rosenfeld said in the study. Wives also cook and clean an average of 10 hours more per week than husbands do, he said.

In the 1980s, men did substantially less housework than their wives, according to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Family Issues. That study found that “marriages in which the wife felt they were doing more than their share of the housework were especially likely to end in divorce,” Rosenfeld wrote in the new study.

“I think that marriage as an institution has been a little bit slow to catch up with expectations for gender equality,” Rosenfeld said. “On the other hand, I think that nonmarital relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the nonmarital relationships more flexible, and therefore more adaptable to modern expectations, including women’s expectations for more gender equality.”

Breakup feedback

In order to learn more about the divorces and breakups, Rosenfeld asked survey participants to write down reasons explaining their splits. Among the nonmarital breakups, people had the following answers:

  • “I wasn’t in love with him anymore; he was selfish, immature. I was ready to move on and find better love.”
  • “…He called me home from work to say he needed to have a serious discussion with me. He told me that after almost 9 years together he could not live a lifetime with our differences, especially since he is a Republican and me a Democrat….”
  • “We had a mutual break up … we knew that we would never end up getting married as we belong to different religion. However, we had a nice relationship till the time we were together, and she is still my very good friend.”

Among married people who had gotten divorced, people said the following:

  • “I want a traditional marriage, but she sees it as controlling.”
  • “I used to be a very happy, optimistic person, and it was like he was slowly starving my soul. I didn’t like the way he treated me, and finally realized that he was abusive. I didn’t know that such a thing existed until I researched it. Once I realized was going on was abuse, I started the proceedings for a divorce.”

The reasons behind each breakup are intriguing, but “it take a study with far greater depth of information than to fully understand why women are less satisfied in marriage than men are,” Rosenfeld said in the study.

The research, which has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, was presented at the American Sociological Association’s 2015 annual meeting in Chicago, which is being held from Aug. 22 to 25.

Follow Laura Geggel on Twitter @LauraGeggel. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Let’s Stop Blaming Men for Divorce: A Response to Harry Benson

In an article published on this blog, Harry Benson of the Marriage Foundation reflects on the falling divorce rate in the UK over the last 25 years, a consequence of fewer women petitioning for divorce. According to Benson, “men have been behaving progressively better over the last 25 years.” He asserts that men are now more likely to make a deliberate decision to get married, rather than slide into marriage under social pressure. This results in increased commitment leading to women being less likely to sue for divorce.

One can understand the narrative that men are the guilty party when women initiate divorce. The evidence shows that women are significantly worse off financially following divorce. Five years after a divorce, a man has an income that is 25% higher than before the divorce, whereas the woman’s income is 9% lower. The poverty rate for divorced women in the UK is three times the rate of men. This leads to the assumption that if a woman decides to get divorced, the man is likely to have been seriously at fault.

This narrative assumes that women have a practical approach towards marriage and divorce, but perhaps their priorities lie elsewhere.

In The Washington Post, Michael J. Rosenfeld discussed why women are more desirous of marriage, yet more likely to become dissatisfied and initiate divorce. He told the story of one woman who initially reported a good relationship with her husband-to-be: “He is very clever, fun, and sweet. I respect him and feel like we are equals on values, intellect, and humor.” She noted, however, “It is not excellent because I wish that he was more romantic. He’s very practical.” Four years later, they divorced because, as she explained, “I used to be a very happy optimistic person and it was like he was slowly starving my soul.”

An article on, a website by and for divorced mothers, also probes this question. While spousal infidelity and housework are mentioned—it is the “touchy-feely” elements that come into play. The author notes that women often initiate divorce when they experience boredom: “Women very often need more than their man can provide, especially when it comes to intellectual and emotional intimacy and a sense of adventure and surprise.” He goes on to explain how, even where there were financial and familial reasons for keeping a marriage intact, some women may cheat either when their needs are not being met or as a way of getting an emotionally-absent husbands’ attention.

There are other reasons why women may be less inhibited when it comes to divorce. The majority of children live exclusively or mainly with the mother following a divorce. As a result of this, significant assets are awarded to mothers on the basis that they are caring for children regardless of who is at fault. Lifetime maintenance payments in the UK can be awarded based on the man’s ability to pay and carry on regardless of improvements in the ex-wife’s financial situation.

Baroness Hale, one of the chief architects of family law in the UK for the past 40 years, explained it this way in a speech she gave in November 2018:

The fault-based system of divorce was ostensibly and in practice abandoned. Married mothers gained a status equal to that of married fathers while they were together and in practice became a good deal more powerful once they were apart. This was because of the importance attached to keeping the children in a stable home with their primary caregiver, still in the great majority of cases the children’s mother.

If dealing with the challenges of living with another human being can be avoided while keeping your children and only being slightly worse off financially, there will invariably come times for women when the temptation to do this must be great.

For his part, Benson argues that economic factors affect both sexes alike and therefore do not provide the explanation. This is where he makes his biggest mistake. First, we know that marriage rates in the UK are at their lowest on record and, as Benson’s own research shows, it has increasingly become the preserve of higher-income groups. We also know that the wealthy are less likely to get divorced, perhaps at least partly because of men’s higher income. We would, therefore, expect that as the rate of marriage declines and becomes restricted to the most privileged in society, so would the rate of divorce.

But here in the UK, there are other factors that come into play. We have a tax and benefits system that is designed to encourage the dual-income family. While there are strong financial incentives to go it alone for those with lower levels of income—these are not the people who get married. For the high earning, two-income marrieds, we have created a system of tax credits, help with childcare and tax thresholds which, as long as they stay together, will leave them better off. For example, if we look at a family with two children and total earnings of 60,000 pounds, they will pay 6,520 pounds less in taxes than a single-income family with the same total earnings.

As these two-earner families become the norm, there is a big increase in fixed household expenses like commuting, childcare, and mortgages leaving little give in the system. Women cannot increase their hours of work as they might have done in the past because they are already working full time. In her book The Two-Income Trap, Elizabeth Warren described how the ubiquity of two-earner households left families in the United States with more precarious financial circumstances in relation to bankruptcy. I suggest that here in the UK, similar circumstances are making women think twice about divorce.

Finally, women’s presence in the workplace forces them to rely increasingly on their men for child care support. This is not so easy to come by once you get divorced.

Since the middle of the last century, we assumed that marriage was evolving from a union whose primary purpose was largely functional to one in which individual self-fulfillment and companionship are the goals. This companionship approach to marriage left it very vulnerable—particularly when women do not feel fulfilled.

The lowering rates of female-initiated divorce may also reflect a slowly emerging new model of marriage that is not only based on companionship but has social functions, such as the care of children and the elderly, as well as economic functions reflected in the necessity of two incomes. This form of marriage might actually leave women happier. As they perceive the other benefits of marriage, the self-defeating pressures created by the expectation of personal fulfillment might reduce.

What, then, is one to make of Benson’s link between divorce rates and what he attributes to men’s bad behavior? To be clear, Benson does not say that men who initiate divorce are “bounders and cads” who discard their wives irresponsibly, whereas women who divorce their husbands do so because their husbands behaved badly.

On the other hand, he does not distance himself from such a travesty. Divorce has at least as much to do with women’s behavior as men’s. And Benson’s analysis points us away from the things that we can do about divorce rates. Society’s influence on behavior is necessarily indirect. If we want stronger marriages and fewer divorces, we need to understand the social and economic functions of marriage as well as the role it plays for the individuals involved. We need to focus on the big influences on marital demise, such as those public policies that incentivize single parenthood and divorce.

Belinda Brown is a social anthropologist who speaks and writes on family and gender issues. She is the author of The Private Revolution: the role of women in the Polish underground movement. Further links to her work can be found here.

Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or views of the Institute for Family Studies.

Women file for divorce

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