Way back in 1964, when those four grinning moptops (known in limited circles as The Beatles) crooned “Can’t buy me love,”
media, fans and critics furiously debated the song’s meaning. And
while it’s likely that some of the speculation was pretty far out
— it was the 60s, after all — there is no doubt whatsoever that
anyone, anywhere, at any time and in any way suggested that the
unkempt Liverpudlians were predicting divorce trends in 2010.
But hey: score one more
prescient point for the Beatles, because they were right on the
money (yes, regrettably, pun intended).
Here’s the scoop: in a 25-year study that will be published in October’s issue of the Journal of Family Issues,
researchers at Western Washington University observed that, among
2,500 women married between 1979 and 2002, those who brought home
60% or more of their household income were 40% more likely to
divorce than women earned less.
And, perhaps most surprisingly, was that it didn’t matter how much the
wives earned relative to their husbands. She could earn $50,000
while he earned $30,000, or she could earn $150,000 while he earned
$100,000. What mattered was the ratio — 60% or more — and not the
actual dollar amount.
So what’s behind all this
breadwinning gloom and doom? Western Washington University
Sociologist Jay Teachman has a few ideas:
- Financially secure women can more easily live on their own, which makes divorce a more feasible option.
- Some men can struggle
mightily with the fact that their wife brings home more bacon
(and other things that their higher salary empowers them to
purchase). “When marriages form, there’s expectations,” Teachman told the New York Post.
“So, if you get new information about the relationship,
you’re likely to think, ‘This isn’t what I bargained for.’ There’s
some wounded egos, too. The man is going to expect he’ll make
more money, and the wife is going to expect she’s not. When
neither of those things happens, it strains the marriage.”
- Financially successful
wives may start to “look down” on their husbands, which can
lead to marital breakdown.
- Women who earn more are
likely to spend more time at work and less time at home —
which can put strain and stress on a marriage.
Teachman admitted that pointing to a unqualified”cause and
effect” link remains elusive, because it’s unclear whether the marriage
itself, or the wife’s ambition to get a better job (and/or the
husband’s negative reaction to that), are triggers for the marriage
problems. However, the lack of a clear-cut cause doesn’t
invalidate the surprising discovery that a woman’s earning power is a strong factor in divorce.
isn’t sure how the study will evolve, but has expressed a desire
to try the study again in 10 years with a younger pool of wives.
“The group of women [in the study] are the last generation, who
may not have expected to have the careers they ended up having,”
who knows? Maybe that next study will be all the Beatles need to
form a reunion tour, headlined by their smash new single Can Buy me a Divorce.
it lacks in appeal and romance it’s sure to make up for by being
on every sociologist’s iPod from here to Liverpool.
For more Divorce News, https://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Divorce_News/