Are Women Filing For Divorce More Than Men?
Women do initiate divorces with more frequency than men. The question then becomes why? While a question like this may have several potential answers and usually ends up eluding to a confluence of factors coming together, the common-sense default state should indicate that men and women initiate divorces at about the same rate. So, what’s going on? Is there a latent psychological factor that forces men to stay in relationships they aren’t happy with? Are women less likely to accept a situation that doesn’t meet all of their needs? Do women have more options when it comes to potential romantic partners? Are men more tied to their relationships than women?
The rate of divorces has increased
All 50 U.S. states and the U.K. have moved to legalize no-fault divorces. It used to be much more difficult to pursue a divorce because, in order to end a marriage, you had to allege fault. This resulted in situations where a divorcing couple would blame each other for minor things and drive up not only the cost of litigation for themselves, but also sap the resources of the court with allegations that had no reason to exist other than the law. Today, couples need only claim that they have irreconcilable differences and only one of the spouses needs to make that claim. The courts no longer care why your marriage broke down. They simply accept that it did. This results in cheaper divorces, quicker divorces, and less animosity post-divorce. But it also results in more divorces.
While statistics can be difficult to glean on this matter since not all courts record who initiated a divorce, some numbers place the difference between men and women as high as 70-30 in terms of who initiated the divorce. In the U.K., where we have better access to statistics, the number is around 62% in favor of women.
One of the driving factors in the divorce rate is the economic independence of women. About 100 years ago, economic independence was extremely rare for women, forcing them to stay in marriages for their own survival. In some cases, these marriages were extremely abusive, but a lack of financial options forced them to remain in place. In cases where that pressure does not exist, women may be finding that subordinate roles or roles that do not meet their emotional needs are no longer worth sustaining. Economic independence gives women more choices than they had before. The option to leave is among the most likely.
That being said, why is marriage more oppressive for women than it is for men? Ultimately, a related study suggests that the division of marital work still heavily falls on women even when they are working full-time.
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