ESSEX — Marriage is a journey full of ups and downs. To survive and be strong, a maritalrelationship must work through rough patches that test its stamina — such as financialdifficulties. Unfortunately, many marriages don’t overcome the stress that comes with significant strains in the family finances.
A new study from the University of Essex, published by its Institute for Social and Economic Research, reveals that married couples who lose their jobs are more likely to divorce within the following year than couples who keep their jobs. But it also finds that the statistics are significantly different depending on whether it’s the husband or wife that’s unemployed.
Morten Blekesaune, a researcher from Norway, used data from British Household Panel Survey reports from 1991 to 2005 for the study, chronicling 3,586 married or long-term couples’ lives. Among the findings: the risk of divorce within a year rises by 33% when the husband loses his job — and by 83% when it’s the wife — as opposed to those who remain employed. And when the wife loses her job, the risk increases with the length of the marriage: the risk rises by 82% if the couple has been together for five years and by 200% in the case of 15 years.
“The results suggest that the costs of becoming unemployed are not simply financial,” the study says. “They can also be emotional, as marriages break down and couples split up.” As for the gender gap in the study results (which also find that women worried about theirfinancial health are more likely to end their relationships than men in the same position), the study adds: “This might reflect the different roles that men and women still have within couples in British society — in particular, the man might still be seen as responsible for ensuring financial security.”
Other results from the study include: couples in their 30s, and those with a significant age difference between the partners, are more at risk; cohabiting couples are more at risk than married ones; and couples who feel “stressed out” are more likely to break up. The presence of children in the relationship did not indicate that the couple was any less likely to remain together.