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Study: Husbands' employment status a factor in divorce

Financial problems have been widely touted as one of the strains on a marriage that can lead to divorce. However, a recent study led by a sociology professor at Harvard University indicates that a more common factor is a husband's unemployment.

The study, which did not include same-sex couples or marriages where the man chose to be a "stay-at-home dad," looked at over 6,000 couples going back to the 1970s. It found that couples where the husband was not employed full time were one third more likely to divorce than those where the husband had a full-time job.

While many people might conclude that the increasing financial independence of women over the past forty years or so is a likely contributor to divorce, the study's author concluded that women weren't more likely to divorce simply because they could afford to live on their own. It's interesting to note, however, that about two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women.

The impact of the husband's employment status on divorce seems to have increased starting in the mid-1970s, according to the Harvard study. Of course, in the 1970s, women increasingly started getting into the workplace and seeking careers rather than merely jobs. However, that doesn't seem to have changed societal views about the husband being expected to work as well.

It makes sense that if a husband loses his job and is unable to find another one soon, he may believe that he's not living up to these expectations. That can put a strain on any relationship, even if the couple is able to live comfortably on the wife's salary. It's important for couples to determine whether what is likely to be a temporary situation, albeit perhaps a longer-term one than they'd like, is truly the problem with their marriage or whether there are other underlying issues.

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