Employment may threaten marriage

A new study suggests that while a woman’s employment status does not usually make or break a marriage, men who are unemployed are more likely to file for divorce compared with those who have a job.

The study, led by Liana Sayer at Ohio State University, found that even though social pressure discouraging women from working outside the home has decreased, there is still considerable pressure on men to fulfill the role of family breadwinner.

According to the research, an employed woman is more likely to initiate divorce than a woman without a job, but only when she is unsatisfied with the marriage. However, even men who are relatively happy in their marriages are more likely to leave if they are not steadily employed.

Researchers suggest that the changing role of women in the workforce may have something to do with the study’s findings. While a woman’s decision to work is no longer seen as violation of marriage norms, society still has negative associations with men who do not work.

“Women’s employment has increased and is accepted, men’s non-employment is unacceptable to many, and there is a cultural ambivalence and lack of institutional support for men taking on ‘feminized’ roles such as household work and emotional support,” the researchers wrote.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports there were approximately 158,000 stay-at-home dads in 2009. Among them, about 59 percent had two or more children and 57 percent had a yearly family income of $50,000 or more.