If you're a woman whose marriage suffered as you made strides in your career, you're not alone. A recently released study by two Swedish academics found that women who became successful in the public or private sector were more likely to divorce -- at least if they began their marriages earning less than their husbands or not in the workplace at all.
Women in the Private and Public Spheres
The study was possible thanks to the extensive data maintained by Sweden on its citizens. Researchers looked at three decades of data "that follows job candidates before and after promotions." In the private sector, researchers zeroed in on married women who became chief executive officers (CEOs) of companies with at least 100 employees. Twice as many of these women got divorced within three years of that promotion as men who reached that level.
Political success for women often doesn't bode well for their marriages either, according to the study. A look at women who ran for mayor or for Parliament showed that women who won their elections were 7 percent less likely to be married after three years than those who lost. For men, their electoral success didn't change their odds of divorce.
The Relevance of Early "Gender Traditional" Marriages
As noted, these differences in divorce rates seemed to impact only couples who had what the researchers called "gender traditional" marriages at the beginning. They determined this based on the percentage of parental leave taken by the husband and wife after the birth of a child. In Sweden, couples get a total of 480 days in total that they can split however they choose. Women who took at least 80 percent of the leave were classified as being in "gender traditional" marriages. Couples in marriages where both spouses' careers seemed to be equally important in the early part of their marriage didn't see the same heightened rate of divorce when the woman gained success in her field.
The researchers hypothesized potential reasons for the results of their study. For example, women are more likely to leave spouses who don't support them in their career or don't provide the flexibility they need to balance work and home life. This lack of flexibility and unwillingness to renegotiate responsibilities for home and children can place strain on a marriage.
While no one should have to sacrifice one's marriage for one's career, or vice versa, sometimes, significant changes of any kind for one spouse change a marriage to the point where it's irreparable. If you have reached that point or are even considering the possibility of divorce, it's always wise to seek legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney sooner rather than later.
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