A recently released summary reviews the social science research over the past twenty years and reveals a strong correlation between premarital sexual activity and a significantly elevated risk of marital infidelity and divorce on later marriage. Continue reading
A new study finds that men are more likely to cheat if their income is much lower than what their wife or female partner makes, while women are more likely to fool around if they make more than their husband or male partner. The findings suggest that disparities in moneymaking play a significant role in infidelity, at least among the young couples they studied. Here are the details in a report from HealthDay News (don’t miss Barb’s comments below):
Study author Christin Munsch said, “… for men, the less money you make relative to your spouse, the more likely you are to engage in infidelity.”
Munsch, a graduate student at Cornell University, said she came up with the idea of studying the effects of income on infidelity after hearing from a friend who has cheated on his partner. He told Munsch that “she made all the money, she had all the friends, and he’d moved up there to be with her. He felt completely powerless.”
While there’s been previous research into infidelity, it didn’t look into differences in income among couples, Munsch said.
So she examined the results of a national survey that tracked 9,000 people beginning in 1997 when they were children. She focused on the results of the survey from 2001-2007, when the participants were between 17 and 27 years old.
The findings were released at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in Atlanta.
Two lifestyle factors, higher education and regular religious observance, seem to help keep infidelity at bay for both men and women, the study found.
But factors having to do with money – such as the man making more or less than his wife or female partner – did increase the risk of infidelity, Munsch said.
If you’re a woman and “you make more money than your partner, your partner isn’t 100 percent likely to cheat,” she stressed. Still, money appeared to be a significant factor.
Men who make less than their wives may lean toward infidelity because they feel a “gender identity threat,” Munsch speculated.
My wife, Barb, and I co-wrote a book called His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage, so I’ve asked her to join me in commenting on this topic:
Walt: This study is just one of a number of recent studies showing that when a wife makes more money than her husband, the marriage is much more likely to have future difficulties.
Barb: In the movie Up in the Air, two women are discussing marriage. The mature woman says, “Please, let him earn more money than I do. You might not understand that now, but believe me, you will one day. Otherwise, that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Walt: A 2009 German study concluded the problems caused by a woman earning more money than her husband are no longer up for debate. They’re rooted in fact. In a study of German couples, researchers found that marriages featuring a wife as the chief breadwinner have a “substantially higher risk of divorce” than if the roles were reversed.
Barb: In contrast, the study found, “if the husband earns more than the wife, marital stability is even enhanced.”
Walt: A 2010 study in the U.S. found couples are nearly 40 percent more likely to divorce in any given year in marriages where the wife makes at least 60 percent of the family income. And that is regardless of how much total money the couple has.
Barb: Psychologist Willard Harley, PhD writes, “If (married women) choose a career, the money they earn should not have to be spent on basic support of the family. … I’ve been amazed by the number of women who feel much better toward their husbands when his income actually goes to pay for her needs and those of her children.”
Walt: In our book, His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage, we looked at a number of these studies and wrote, “… when a woman wants a career, she and her husband need to consider together whether or not to use the money she earns for basic living expenses.”
Barb: Why? A woman usually needs and wants her husband to earn the money for their basic necessities, and he is designed to do this. Most wives (including those with careers) not only expect their husbands to work, they also expect them to earn enough to provide for their families. When a husband can’t, or doesn’t choose to, provide the basics for his family, it often leads to conflict in the marriage.
Walt: Simply put, a husband who does not provide sufficient income for his family’s basic needs – housing, clothing, food, transportation, and other essential – has the probability of causing increased marital distress. When a married couple faces the situation in which the wife has a professional career with a salary that allows her to provide the majority of the family income (and some or all of the basic family needs), the couple needs to recognize the potential danger their marriage faces.
Barb: In this case, we recommend the couple pray about this and discuss with a professional or pastoral counselor. They need to consider the potential risks, benefits, and consequences to their marriage and their relationship,
Many of you know that Barb and I have lost four children during pregnancy. Both of us were surprised at the depth of emotion we went through — that only escalated with each loss. Now, come a new study the reports relationships often founder after failed pregnancy. When the researchers controlled for known risk factors, women who experienced miscarriages had a 22 percent greater chance of their marriage ending, while women who experienced stillbirths had a 40 percent had a significantly greater hazard of their marriage ending — in both cases, compared with women whose pregnancies ended in live births.
In our practice we consider a miscarriage or a stillbirth a 911 emergency for the marriage. I recommend to healthcare professionals and pastoral professionals that they be interactive in getting these families (parents and siblings) into preventive counseling. I only can wish someone had done that for us.
Here’s the full report from HealthDay News:
Wendy Becker already had three daughters when she miscarried at 14 weeks. That she was already a mother didn’t lessen her grief.
“What people didn’t understand was that having my other children and realizing how unique they are made it harder for me,” said Becker, who lives in Highland Ranch, Colo.
At first, her husband was understanding of her need to talk through the loss and the hours she spent online searching for support groups. But as the months wore on, he became frustrated at what seemed to be her inability to get over it.
“At a time you would think you would be able to help each other, we were going totally separate directions,” Becker said. “I was grieving. He was moving on.”
The Beckers aren’t alone in experiencing strain in a relationship in the aftermath of miscarriage; their marriage remains intact. New research finds that couples who have experienced miscarriage or stillbirth are more likely to break up even years after the loss than couples whose pregnancy ended with the birth of a child.
For miscarriage, or pregnancy loss prior to 20 weeks, the likelihood of breaking up is 22 percent higher than for couples who have a successful pregnancy. The rate of splitting up peaks between 18 months and three years afterward, before falling back to rates similar to that of other couples, according to the study.
For stillbirth, or pregnancy loss at 20 weeks and beyond, the risk of breakup or divorce is heightened by as much as 40 percent for as long as a decade after the loss, according to the study.
The researchers say this is the first nationwide study of the fallout on relationships, both among married partners and couples living together, from miscarriage and stillbirth. The study analyzed the results of 7,770 pregnancies using data from the National Survey of Family Growth.
“The findings were quite surprising at how strong they were and how long they lasted,” said study author Dr. Katherine Gold, an assistant professor in the departments of family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.
The study is published in Pediatrics.
Miscarriage can cause grief, anger and guilt, Gold said. Those feelings may fade in time, but not nearly as quickly as friends and family may expect them to, and can crop up again on the anniversary of the due date or the loss itself.
Becker, whose miscarriage occurred three years ago, remembers feeling alone in her grief. “No one else is grieving with you,” Becker said.
The impact of stillbirth can be even worse, with some women becoming depressed or suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress or anxiety disorders, Gold said.
Yet pregnancy loss by no means dooms a relationship. Most women are resilient, Gold said.
“Most women after miscarriage actually do quite well, and most couples do well after miscarriage,” Gold said. “But there is this subset of people who may be at higher risk for their relationship breaking up.”
Researchers said it was possible that having a baby could help sustain relationships, rather than a miscarriage heightening the risk of a breakup. In addition, it’s possible unknown factors could contribute to both risk of miscarriage and risk of divorce, such as mental illness or other chronic physical conditions.
After a miscarriage, men and women also experience the loss differently, said Dr. David Keefe, chairman of obstetrics & gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center.
For women, the sense of loss lasts longer. While men can certainly bond emotionally with the fetus and the idea of being a father, women have also experienced physical changes that can intensify the attachment, Keefe said.
Men and women tend to grieve differently, with women wanting to discuss the loss and men tending to want to “close up and go play golf,” Keefe said, though there are always exceptions.
For couples going through infertility treatment, who may have already heavily invested themselves in the pregnancy financially and emotionally, the loss can be especially difficult to bear.
“The study provides evidence scientifically of what a lot of us sensed was an issue, which is that following a major disappointment of a miscarriage or stillbirth, that marriages can fall apart,” said Keefe, a fertility specialist who has also trained as a psychiatrist.
After the miscarriage, Becker had trouble sleeping, became depressed and wanted to “talk about what had happened to anyone who’d listen,” she said.
Though she and her husband of 22 years never seriously considered divorce, “it did affect our relationship,” Becker said.
Gradually, Becker found her own way of coping. Now 44, she started a Web site, miscarriagememories.com, where she offers support to other women going through similar loss and sells silver charms to memorialize the baby that could have been.
“People e-mail me all the time and say, ‘Thank you for telling me I am not crazy for feeling this way,'” Becker said. “I would rather have the baby, but if I couldn’t have that, I am happy that something positive has come out of this.”