The Impact of Gender Norms on Divorce Risk

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The Impact of Gender Norms on Divorce Risk
The Traditional Labor Division
The traditional family was defined by married heterosexual partners having children and the traditional division of labor. However, modern families are increasingly becoming more individualized. In the twentieth century, women's participation in the labor force increased, requiring all spouses to work for a living. As a result, a change in the conventional division of labor, in which males are no longer the sole source of income as women begin to work full-time, has harmed marital stability and increased the risk of divorce if the male no longer fulfils the gender norm of being full-time employed.
In the 1880s, the belief in the separate work spheres for women and men gained momentum in the United States. Prior to the 19th century, men and women used to work together on farms doing different duties but mutually working to run their family business or their farm. Following industrialisation, men joined the paid labour force and worked away from home. Women were perceived as pure, loving, and innocent; hence, they were suited to take care of their family and home. The notion that the place of women was in the house, as well as the glorification of the traditional roles, had been rampant before the industrialisation age. Women were glorified as submissive and pure while men were greedy, aggressive, and competitive in nature. Studies reveal that the gender roles were shifted affecting marriages.
The Way the Risk of Divorce is Affected by Gender Norms
According to Killewald (2016, p. 697), divorce occurs when women believe they will have a better life if divorced. The author further argues that there are high rates of divorce if partners do not depend on the marriage for financial stability so they can exit the marriage happily. Killewald (2016, p. 698) also states that the income of both spouses is likely to minimise the financial strain they experience due to a possibility of couples spending their leisure time together rather than using extra hours to supplement their family income. Evidentially, wives' income minimises chances of divorce particularly if their husbands earn less. Additionally, in attaining dual-earner partners, economic empowerment of women reduces their dependence on men. This is a threat to specialisation benefits and increases the risk of divorce. Therefore, Killewald (2016, p. 700) emphasises that when both take part in the labour market, the division of unpaid and paid work in the family changes into the negotiation between partners based on preferences and relative wages. In this case, alternatives to marriage are perceived as significant determinants of spouses bargaining power.
According to Greenstein (1995, p. 31), married women have an anticipation of working far from their families making divorce so attractive to them. Greenstein (1995, p. 32) further adds that white women are employed 35 and even more hours weekly causing approximately 60% risks of developing marriage issues over a period of 5 years. The author further argues that the work history of wives is positively linked to divorce. Despite this does not result in marital conflict, it appears as an avenue for arguing in already conflicting couples. Employment removes women from home making them shun homemaking duties increasing the level of stress and clashes in the marriage.
Greenstein (1995, p. 32) argues that if society holds that female employment reduces the marital stability because of the resulting conflicts related to the traditional division of labour, married women can possess traditional gender attitudes. This might demonstrate a minimal impact on their employment status and marital relationships. Therefore, traditional women are more likely to support the stability in the marriage. Contrary, non-traditional wives find the inequality exhibited in the division of household labour inequitable and onerous reducing marital stability.
According to Bird (1999, p. 33), husbands' lower contributions in sharing the household chores is a major contributor to the gender difference in terms of depression. The author further adds that inequity experienced in unpaid household labour has a higher effect on distress compared to the amount of work done. Therefore, employment moderates the impact of the household duties division on stress and depression. Depression rates are reported lower in individuals who do 79.8% of their household duties. Even though the role of men is directly associated with their potential income earnings, the lack of employment threatens gender identity and further interferes with gender relations (Bird 1999, p. 36), This can be attributed to the fact that men are associated with higher income levels because they are considered as household heads and breadwinners. Women often blame and displace their husbands when their family faces financial crisis.
According to equity theory, when people participate in inequitable relationships, they are likely to be distressed (Yogev and Brett 1985, p. 610). Hence, the higher one perceives spouse's share in the domestic chores, the greater the marital satisfaction and reduced divorce risks. Yogev and Brett (1985, p. 614), argue that spouses who are happy in their marriage are those who share the household responsibilities. Authors further add that wives are happier in marriages where they feel less burdened with family responsibilities due to the fact that their husbands have shunned the traditional models and contribute to the family domestic chores. Furthermore, a lot of attention has been drawn to the possibility of inequality on household labour and its association with divorce. Nonetheless, there is a link between marital happiness, conflict, and satisfaction and domestic division of labour. It is evident that equitable arrangement can contribute to higher satisfaction and happiness of both partners reducing the risks of divorce. Yogev and Brett (1985, p. 614) in their works examined the link between fairness in completing household responsibilities and divorce, marital happiness and the speculation that dissatisfaction with domestic chores arrangement might reduce marital satisfaction among couples heightening the odds of divorce.
Evidentially, there is a need to ensure equity in the division of the domestic roles in a marriage. This will ensure satisfaction and happiness among couples thus minimising the odds of divorce. On the other hand, the society should accept that roles of women have changed and they are increasingly undertaking male-dominated careers. Moreover, creating a balance between the distribution of household roles between husbands and wives and the paid labour is essential for those who want to have a happy marriage. This would reduce the tension and stress between partners that can result in conflicts thus increasing the odds of divorce. However, it is important to remember that inequality alone does not cause divorce: there are other cofounded factors.
_x005F References
Bird, C.E., 1999. Gender, household labor, and psychological distress: The impact of the amount and division of housework. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 40(1), pp.32-45.
Greenstein, T.N., 1995. Gender ideology, marital disruption, and the employment of married women. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57(1), pp.31-42.
Killewald, A., 2016. Money, Work, and Marital Stability Assessing Change in the Gendered Determinants of Divorce. American Sociological Review, 81(4), pp.696-719.
Yogev, S. and Brett, J., 1985. Perceptions of the division of housework and child care and marital satisfaction. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47(3), pp.609-618.

August 18, 2021

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