Financial strain is commonly blamed for unsuccessful marriages, but is the data really there to back up that claim? One researcher suspected that there was likely more to it than that and set out to understand the sociological influences for the average divorce. The findings might not fall in line with what some Pennsylvania couples believe to be true.

The study focused on couples’ working lives, including how the housework is handled and each spouse’s employment status. Once these factors were distinctly separated from finances, the researchers reviewed each data set to determine which had a bigger influence on divorce, and they discovered finances were hardly the driving factor. As it turns out, a husband’s employment status has far greater influence than a couple’s respective income.

Husbands who have a full-time job have a 2.5 percent chance of getting divorced during a given year, whereas men who do not have any type of full-time employment face a 3.3 percent divorce chance. The study excluded husbands who voluntarily stayed home with children, suggesting that involuntary unemployment is a much larger burden for couples. The same effect was not seen when wives’ employment statuses were reviewed, and whether employed full time, part time or not at all, it did not appear to have any correlation to divorce rates.

Understanding some of the complex reasons behind divorce can help Pennsylvania couples remove the emotional aspect of the process from the other issues that must be addressed. Property division, child custody and spousal support are all emotionally charged issues as is, and remaining focused on the goal rather than the reason for divorce can be helpful. Staying focused typically allows couples to address important issues through mutual negotiations or mediation with an impartial third party.

Source: Bloomberg, “Don’t Blame Divorce on Money. Ask: Did the Husband Have a Job?”, Ben Steverman, July 27, 2016