Why getting a top job “dramatically increases” a woman’s chances of divorce

This article was originally published at the Washington Examiner.

I feel bad for women with really big jobs who make a boatload of money. Somewhere along the line, they got the message (from their mothers, from the culture, etc.) that a high-paying career should be their life’s goal. As a result, from the time these women graduated high school, they began mapping out a life that would reflect just that. They de-prioritized everything else and became the powerhouses they were taught to become.

No one told them it would come at a cost.

A new study from economists in Sweden examined how promotions to top jobs affect the likelihood of divorce. The researchers found that getting a top job “dramatically increases” the chances of divorce.

For women. Not for men.

“Promotion to a top job in politics increases the divorce rate of women but not for men, and women who become CEOs divorce faster than men who become CEOs,” notes Johanna Rickne, a professor at Stockholm University and co-author of the research.

This will no doubt upset women who’ve chosen a more traditional male career path. But those who understand and accept (the acceptance part is key) the vast differences between women and men and how these differences are designed to work in tandem, this finding makes perfect sense. Because what the study is essentially saying is this:

Even in the most egalitarian countries in the world, male and female desire trump the massive amount of time, energy, rhetoric and wealth nations spend to achieve so-called equality.

Men and women are not interchangeable and thus come to the marriage table with different wants and needs. To provide and to protect are at the core of a man’s identity, whether it’s 1920 or 2020. It is not his singular means to care for his family, but to him it’s the most important. It’s the unique contribution he brings, just as giving birth is to a woman.

The truly beautiful part is that women are made to respond to a man’s desire to provide and to protect. When a wife knows she can rely on her husband, whether or not she’s employed herself, her respect for him comes naturally. At the end of the day, what she wants is to feel cared for.

When this dynamic breaks down—for whatever reason: the husband is unemployed or the wife earns more—the resentment sets in, and the respect and the sex fall away. Divorce is almost always inevitable.

Had today’s high-earning women been privy to how supplanting the male role would affect their love lives, they might have made different choices early on. Instead they were misled by a generation that believed women had to live like men in order to be deemed worthy. In doing so, women relinquish the greatest power they own: feminine power.

Feminine power is rooted in warmth, in grace, in nurturing and in loving. It’s focused on feelings and emotions more than it is on the bottom line. Indeed, the power of the feminine is what allows a marriage to flourish. Without it, a relationship will die.

Sadly, women who were indoctrinated to believe that masculine is powerful and feminine is weak traded in their feminine power for a different kind of power: wealth. This wealth was meant to keep women from having to “depend on a man,” but all it did in the end is keep them from having a man at all.

“Rickne’s data suggests that women who divorce after scoring top promotions are less likely than men to remarry or to have a serious relationship,” writes Maddie Savage.

There’s no way for an egalitarian society to thrive without simultaneously destroying marriage because it undermines male and female nature. “I think this norm changing is pretty far off,” notes Rickne.

Far off, indeed. The truth is, it ain’t ever gonna happen. In the fight between man and nature, nature always wins. We’re much better off embracing reality than fighting against it. That’s where the real power lies.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne is an author, columnist and relationship coach committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.
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