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Do Gender Roles Impact Divorce?

a man paints his lips with red lipstick and a girl shaves her face with a razor with shaving foam on a blue background. Theme of gender, roles in society

Gender roles may impact a person’s decision to initiate a divorce. Traditional and modern gender roles have their fair share of conflict. In traditional roles, the perspective is a male breadwinner and female homemaker. Modern couples often have a more contemporary view that places men and women as equal earners with shared responsibilities. There is a set of expectations regarding each partner’s responsibilities in both dynamics. Whether or not partners are in agreement regarding the dynamic may influence them to separate.  

a man paints his lips with red lipstick and a girl shaves her face with a razor with shaving foam on a blue background. Theme of gender, roles in society

Traditional Gender Roles

Historically, a man “wore the pants” in a relationship, fulfilling the role of primary earner and decision-maker. In these partnerships, a woman would be expected to fulfill the role of homemaker, carrying little weight in decision making. Partners may admit the relationship is imbalanced, but are willing to live with things as they are. However, this dynamic only works if both partners are comfortable. Couples who adhere to traditional roles generally express more dissatisfaction within the marriage. When views on these relationships are mismatched, there is an ample amount of opportunity for conflict. A partner may only see things from his or her own perspective, making little room for understanding. This can lead some dissatisfied partners to pursue a divorce.

Modern Gender Roles

These couples are often described as androgynous because the two partners share many traits. This dynamic gives partners a better means of communication because each can identify with one another. Both partners having a say in all decisions means more negotiating and compromising. A wife is also more likely to address issues openly with her husband in this type of partnership. Regardless of the room for error, what is most important is that one another’s perspectives are in harmony.

Two-thirds of separations are initiated by women. Unhappiness in marriage is the most common cause of women initiating divorce, regardless of financial independence. The two most cited reasons for divorce are marital dissatisfaction and financial issues. Research is showing that being financially independent mattered less to women than marital satisfaction. The one-third of divorces initiated by men were dominantly filed by males who were unemployed or staying at home with the child(ren). 

Divorce is stressful and life-changing. Often, divorcing individuals want to settle differences as equitably and quickly as possible, with minimal stress on the family. A family law attorney can help to mediate decision making regarding custody and separation of assets. 

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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