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Women who get promoted are more likely to divorce

The British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was famous for still cooking and ironing for her husband despite holding the country’s top job. She even cooked for her male colleagues when chairing political meetings. While attitudes about a woman’s role have moved on significantly since her time, a recent study suggests that things still have a long way to go.

A Swedish study found that when women got promoted, it doubled the chance they would divorce within three years. This did not happen when men got promoted. Researchers found that divorce was most likely to happen when the wife’s promotion upset the “traditional gender order” of the marriage.

Why does divorce rise when women get promoted?

Researchers found the divorce rate rose in the following circumstances:

  • If the couple had previously prioritized the man’s career over the woman’s and were now required to reverse that
  • If the woman had taken much more time off to parent the children than her husband
  • If the woman was younger than her husband by four years or more
  • If the woman became the main breadwinner in the family

The wife’s promotion was less likely to end in divorce when the woman’s career had always been considered important or when both parents had taken a similar amount of time off to care for their children. 

Ultimately, this study highlights the importance of setting the right expectations when you marry.

What should you do if you’re headed for a divorce?

Many marriages result in divorce when one party, typically the woman, realizes they have compromised too much and put themselves and their career second for too long. As the rise in divorce among the over 50s shows, it is never too late to put yourself and your career first again.