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Study: Things change -- but stay the same -- when it comes to causes of divorce

When it comes to the causes of divorce, the traditional line of thinking has been that couples are often more likely to end their marriages when they are experiencing some sort of money-related issue or where they somehow depart from what has long been viewed as traditional gender roles.

While it's more than likely true that these factors have and will likely continue to play a role in divorce, a recently released study by a Harvard University researcher suggests that their overall influence has nevertheless changed over the years.

As part of the study, published in the latest edition of the American Sociological Review, the researcher examined the relationships of over 6,300 different-sex married couples between the ages of 18 to 55.

Here, these couples were divided among those married before 1975 and therefore more likely to adhere to traditional gender roles in which the wife is viewed as the caretaker and the husband as the breadwinner, and those married after 1975 and therefore less likely to adhere to these traditional gender roles.

Fascinatingly, the researcher found that when it comes to housework, the more housework women who were married before 1975 performed, the less likely they were to see their marriage end in divorce. However, this same pattern was not found among those couples married after 1975, such that greater sharing of housework was not a predictor of divorce.    

The researcher attributed this finding to a greater willingness among these couples to accept the evolution of gender roles.

Curiously enough, the researcher found at least one vestige of adherence to traditional gender roles among couples married after 1975.

Indeed, those couples where the husband worked full-time were found to be 25 percent less likely to divorce than those in which the husband didn't work full-time. As for couples married before 1975, a husband's full-time employment was not found to have a statistically significant impact on divorce.

"While contemporary wives need not embrace the traditional female homemaker role to stay married, contemporary husbands face higher risk of divorce when they do not fulfill the stereotypical breadwinner role, by being employed full-time,” said the researcher.

As to why full-time employment may influence divorce, the researcher theorized that the fact that unemployment on the part of the husband is more than likely involuntary probably plays a role.

As fascinating as this study is, it's important to remember that no matter what causes you to seek a divorce, it's imperative to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible. Together, you can discuss which avenue is perhaps the most suitable for your divorce. 

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