Gender roles in the United States have changed significantly over the past few decades. It has become increasingly acceptable and likely for women to work outside of the home. Along with this change, came some change to family dynamics. While in the past, women were traditionally homemakers and caretakers for the children, more families use a daycare service, and some fathers have begun staying home with the children.
While women seem to be less affected by new gender roles in both their family and social lives, new research shows that men have had a harder time leaving their role of provider in order to be the primary caretaker. A recent study, published in the American Journal of Sociology, found that men who stay at home with the children are more likely to file for divorce than their employed counterparts, even if they are fairly happy with their relationship.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, found that unemployed men may be having a harder time adapting to a different role. One sociologist from Ohio State University suggested that we may be in the midst of an “asymmetrical revolution.” What this means, she says, is that societal roles and expectations for women have changed significantly, but the expectations for men have not. Men are still expected to work and make some money, if not be the primary provider.
Surveys from 3,600 couples were analyzed in the study. Researchers found that employed women were more likely to file for divorce if they were unhappy than those who didn’t work – presumably because they had greater financial resources. Researchers found the opposite to be true for men. Those who did not have a job were more likely to leave a relationship.
Some have connected this trend to depression. Many people lost their jobs during the recession, and another recent study suggests that men could be at greater risk for depression than women. Being unemployed may make some men feel inadequate, leading to depression and potentially divorce.
Source: Time, “Stay-at-Home Dads Are More Likely to Divorce,” Bonnie Rochman, 11 July 2011