New research from the US has investigated why women are twice as likely to file for divorce than men.
Researchers from the University of Michigan looked at data on 355 couples over a period of 16 years. They found that while tension within the marriage increased over time, husbands’ tension increased more than their wives. However, there was a greater link between the risk of divorce and tension among wives.
"The association with divorce was greater if men reported low levels of tension when women reported a higher accumulation of tension," said Kira Birditt of the U-M Institute for Social Research. "It could reflect a lack of investment in the relationship on the husband's part—they might believe it's unnecessary to change or adjust their behaviour."
Study participants were periodically asked about their irritation or resentment within the relationship and how often disagreements with their spouse caused tension.
Researchers found that women experienced higher tension at the start of the marriage. Husbands experienced lower tension early on, but this increased more over time.
"It could be that wives have more realistic expectations of marriage, while husbands had more idealistic expectations of wives," commented Birditt.
"These findings are exciting because it's important to consider both people in the relationship," she added. "Previous studies have looked at married individuals, but you're not getting information from both people in the couple. People in the same relationships have different ideas about the quality of their tie."
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