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Disparities at work can cause marital stress

Nowadays, many people would not think that a woman’s success in her chosen occupation could affect her marriage.

It seems like a very old-fashioned idea, especially with the many social and political movements calling for workplace equality between men and women over the decades. Yet, recent studies find that traditional gender roles still have a larger influence over some couples than many might have previously thought.

Two studies highlight disparities between married men and women

One’s job – regardless of their gender – could have a significant impact on their marriage, especially if work stress spills over to one’s home life.

However, two studies have found that a spouse’s gender and work could have an unequal effect on one’s marriage. The studies evaluated two situations where a woman’s job could increase the risk of marital stress:

  • Promotions: Women still make up a minority when it comes to holding executive-level positions. That gap is slowly closing, but a Swedish study published by The Atlantic found that in some cases, if women get a promotion to a higher position than their male spouses, they could face more marital stress than men in the same situation.
  • Earnings: While the gender wage gap still persists today, MarketWatch reports that nearly 38% of women nowadays make more than their husbands. Many women see this as a successful step in achieving workplace equality. Yet, the 2019 report notes that women who earn more than their husbands could face increased marital stress compared to men.

It is important to note that these findings do not apply to every case. These findings should also not prevent women from aiming for success in their careers.

In fact, both of these studies note that any stress caused by these circumstances generally depends heavily on each spouses’ values regarding work and family life balance. If they share similar values upon entering the marriage, spouses are less likely to experience marital stress related to the situations noted in the studies.

Job stress should not be overlooked in any marriage

A couple’s reasons for getting a divorce are often much more complicated than a spouse’s job, but it seems that one’s job can play a role in marital stress. After all, one’s work and family are often two very important aspects of a person’s life. It is only natural that one’s life at work can impact their life at home – and vice versa.

However, if couples believe job stress could be influencing the quality of their marriage, it might be beneficial for them to address this stress and communicate about possible resolutions before considering a divorce.