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Women More Likely to Seek Divorce Due to a Lack of Gender Equality in their Relationship

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28th September 2015

Women More Likely to Seek Divorce Due to a Lack of Gender Equality in their Relationship

A study has revealed that married women are more likely to separate from their partners and seek a divorce because they feel their husbands are not pulling their weight around the house. Researchers have found that women report feeling a lack of gender equality in their marriages, with more housework and childcare responsibilities falling to them, rather than their partners.

As part of the “How Couples Meet and Stay Together” project, a nationally representative study of adults across the US and the UK, researchers have been examining figures from 2009 to 2015. At the beginning of the study, 2,262 heterosexual adults, aged between 19 and 64, were profiled and reported being in a relationship. By this year, 371 of those taking part said that they had broken up with, or divorced, their partner.

The data showed that of the break-ups, there were 92 divorces, and women had initiated 69% of them. Many had cited a frustration at the proportion of household chores they had been left to pick up. Those women participating in the study who had remained married were, on average, less satisfied than men with their relationships. Of the cohabiting relationships, women had initiated just 56% of the break-ups.

Professor Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University and the leader of the study, cited a “second wave of feminism”, which is shaping women’s views of marriage. He said:

“I think that marriage as an institution has been a little bit slow to catch up with expectations for gender equality. Wives still take their husband's surnames, and are sometimes pressured to do so. Husbands still expect their wives to do the bulk of the housework and the bulk of the childcare.

On the other hand, I think that non-marital relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the non-marital relationships more flexible and therefore more adaptable to modern expectations, including women's expectations for more gender equality”.

He added: “The results are consistent with a feminist critique of heterosexual marriage as a gendered institution in which wives find less satisfaction than husbands do”.

Couples have biggest fights over smallest possessions on separation

A separate study on relationship breakdowns, commissioned by the Big Yellow Self Storage company, has revealed that when it comes to arguing over the separation of marital assets, couples have the biggest fights over the smallest possessions. 50% of respondents said that possessions were one of the biggest causes of dispute - ahead of issues relating to children, which polled at 45%. However, with 55% reporting a significant disagreement about money and cars, those were found to be the reasons behind most rows.

Almost half of those surveyed confessed to hiding items in a bid to keep hold of them, with it exposed that on average, £394 worth of possessions are thrown away in anger during the separation process.

Participants also reported arguments about small households items, with 20% reporting an argument about the TV, 16% saying they have rowed about their bed and 10% saying they have argued over white goods.

Marital therapist Andrew G. Marshall said that the data provided important incite into what couples focus on when separating. He stated:

“The results of this research reveal how relatively unimportant material possessions take on a more emotive role during the turmoil of a break-up, adding conflict at a very difficult time.  People throw out treasured items in the heat of the moment, but can come to regret it at a later date.”

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If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce and family law, or want to draw up a pre or post-nuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement, call our mediation, divorce and family dispute resolution solicitors in absolute confidence on 03456 381381. Alternatively, email us at familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.

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Needs Dev Amanda Melton

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