According to analysis of divorce cases by Gateley, a UK law firm, seven in ten marriages fall apart because couples fail to reach an agreement on decisions relating to the home, such as how monthly finances are arranged, where couples live or how household responsibilities are carved up.
Only one in five marriages ends because of infidelity, the law firm said.
The company said that couples who treat marriage as a “business merger” – and talk about domestic issues – are much more likely to stay together in the long term.
Of the seven in ten marriages that fail because people can not agree on simple domestic issues, by far the most common cause is lack of agreement over finances. One in eight of these marriages disintegrate because couples are unable to agree on where to settle down.
Elizabeth Hassall, a partner and head of the family division at Gateley, said that it is surprising how many “fundamental decisions” are barely discussed before couples get married.
She said: “Yes it’s romantic to be walking down the aisle, but the realities of a ‘merger’ are a little more cut and dry, It is often the case that people simply don’t think about it, or feel comfortable discussing life choices, but what is apparent is that going into a marriage blind could be a recipe for disaster.”
That study is from one law firm, but it reminded me about this story about a Norwegian study that discusses the importance of traditional roles within the marriage.
Couples who share housework duties run a higher risk of divorce than couples where the woman does most of the chores, a Norwegian study sure to get tongues wagging has shown.
The divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.
“The more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate,” Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled Equality in the Home, said.
Researchers found no, or very little, cause-and-effect. Rather, they saw in the correlation a sign of “modern” attitudes.
“Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage” as being less sacred, Mr Hansen said, stressing it was all about values.
“In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially. They can manage much easier if they divorce,” he said.
There were only some marginal aspects where researchers said there may be cause-and-effect.
“Maybe it’s sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity … where one person is not stepping on the other’s toes,” Mr Hansen suggested.
“There could be less quarrels, since you can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling his or her own weight,” he added.
For another academic study on this featuring Brad Wilcox, click here.
I think that these studies are interesting because I often hear from women that they are most afraid of being cheated on by men and that this is the cause of divorces. That is the number one threat to divorce in their minds – adultery. But the data seems to show that there are other issues that are more important – and more preventable. Feelings of love don’t resolve these domestic issues that are the real threat to marriage – it takes rational communication and planning before the marriage to defuse them. Naturally, negotiation works best when there are no distractions from crazy emotions and sexual passions. But I have often found that women are opposed to answering tough questions and being led in a particular direction during courtship. So on the one hand, they are fussing about adultery, which is a low-risk problem. And on the other hand, they are preferring an emotional roller coaster to reasonable courting discussions, which exposes them to the real threat to marriage.