Couples decide that divorce is the best option for their future for countless reasons. Whether due to infidelity, illegal activity or addiction, one partner generally decides the marriage is over. Additionally, it is not uncommon for the couple to simply grow apart over time. Recent research, however, suggests that one trend seems to be common across numerous scenarios – women tend to initiate divorce at a higher rate than men.
In an article published in Current Opinion in Psychology, the authors argue there are numerous evolutionary mismatches that seem to increase the likelihood of divorce. Researchers specifically noted certain mismatches that can signal the end of a relationship, including:
- Financial mismatch: Mate selection is a process that is, in many ways, fundamentally hardwired into our brains. People make decisions based on both physical characteristics and personality characteristics. Another characteristic is based on social independence and financial resources. The researchers noted that in opposition to the desire to find a mate that exhibited these characteristics, the societal needs of the woman have evolved in recent decades. More women have access to advanced education and financial independence than ever before. It is no longer necessary for a wife to remain married simply to protect her financial strength. As such, the wife might initiate divorce more readily since she is financially independent.
- Caregiving mismatch: In recent years, gender roles have experienced more blending than ever before. Certain roles have swapped while certain roles are shared. Historically, the married couple experienced a level of interdependence that required marital roles to play off each other in a common, necessary fashion. Now, the blending of roles has led to a reduction of interdependence. This has created a caregiving mismatch. Traditionally, women have completed household chores and taken care of the children. Now, with more women in the workforce, this has led to a dramatic increase in responsibility – both in the home and outside. Unfortunately, this added pressure can increase stress and tension leading to a decline in mental health and overall well-being. Sadly, this often leads directly to the dissolution of marriage.
Many divorcing couples cite an increase in stress and reduction in intimacy as key factors at the end of the marriage. This additional stress often stems from various mismatches between societal expectations, genetic predisposition and then blending of traditional gender roles. Ultimately, this results in women feeling greater independence and empowerment, allowing them to initiate divorce at a higher rate.