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When a change in marriage roles leads to divorce

Couples in Pennsylvania who do not embrace traditional gender roles at the start of their marriages might be less likely to divorce. A Swedish study found that when women start out a marriage in a more traditional role and earn no money or less than half of their husbands' salaries and then experience a surge in income and their careers, these couples are more likely to get a divorce than those that have been equal from the start.

Women often delay the development of their own careers while their husbands establish theirs. Wives may instead offer support by being willing to relocate and take care of the children and household chores. However, when they start to make more money than their husbands do, their husbands may react with anger. Some men may accuse their wives of having an affair or try to control their spending. Others may ease up on their own work hours but not contribute any more to child care or housework, leading to resentment from their wives.

It is possible for couples to weather this shift in roles. From the beginning of the relationship, they should aim to be a team of equals regardless of their actual duties. They should also be specific in letting one another know what tasks need to be done and what their schedules are.

Unfortunately, communication cannot always fix relationships, and when this happens, a couple may decide to file for divorce. They will then have to divide their property and work out a plan for child custody. If the husband is no longer working or making significantly less than his wife makes, she might need to pay support to him on a permanent or temporary basis. The couple may decide to sell some assets, such as the home, and split the proceeds.

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