Don't Marry a Career Women

  1. This was published today on

    "Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.

    Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.

    Not a happy conclusion, especially given that many men, particularly successful men, are attracted to women with similar goals and aspirations. And why not? After all, your typical career girl is well-educated, ambitious, informed and engaged. All seemingly good things, right? Sure…at least until you get married. Then, to put it bluntly, the more successful she is the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you. Sound familiar?

    Many factors contribute to a stable marriage, including the marital status of your spouse's parents (folks with divorced parents are significantly more likely to get divorced themselves), age at first marriage, race, religious beliefs and socio-economic status. And, of course, many working women are indeed happily and fruitfully married--it's just that they are less likely to be so than non-working women. And that, statistically speaking, is the rub.

    To be clear, we're not talking about a high-school dropout minding a cash register. For our purposes, a "career girl" has a university-level (or higher) education, works more than 35 hours a week outside the home and makes more than $30,000 a year.

    If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Social Forces, 2006). You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do (Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill (American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier (Institute for Social Research).

    Why? Well, despite the fact that the link between work, women and divorce rates is complex and controversial, much of the reasoning is based on a lot of economic theory and a bit of common sense. In classic economics, a marriage is, at least in part, an exercise in labor specialization. Traditionally men have tended to do "market" or paid work outside the home and women have tended to do "non-market" or household work, including raising children. All of the work must get done by somebody, and this pairing, regardless of who is in the home and who is outside the home, accomplishes that goal. Nobel laureate Gary S. Becker argued that when the labor specialization in a marriage decreases--if, for example, both spouses have careers--the overall value of the marriage is lower for both partners because less of the total needed work is getting done, making life harder for both partners and divorce more likely. And, indeed, empirical studies have concluded just that.

    In 2004, John H. Johnson examined data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation and concluded that gender has a significant influence on the relationship between work hours and increases in the probability of divorce. Women's work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in men's work hours often have no statistical effect. "I also find that the incidence in divorce is far higher in couples where both spouses are working than in couples where only one spouse is employed," Johnson says. A few other studies, which have focused on employment (as opposed to working hours) have concluded that working outside the home actually increases marital stability, at least when the marriage is a happy one. But even in these studies, wives' employment does correlate positively to divorce rates, when the marriage is of "low marital quality."

    The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen their mate run off with a co-worker: When your spouse works outside the home, chances increase they'll meet someone they like more than you. "The work environment provides a host of potential partners," researcher Adrian J. Blow reported in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, "and individuals frequently find themselves spending a great deal of time with these individuals."

    There's more: According to a wide-ranging review of the published literature, highly educated people are more likely to have had extra-marital sex (those with graduate degrees are 1.75 more likely to have cheated than those with high school diplomas.) Additionally, individuals who earn more than $30,000 a year are more likely to cheat.

    And if the cheating leads to divorce, you're really in trouble. Divorce has been positively correlated with higher rates of alcoholism, clinical depression and suicide. Other studies have associated divorce with increased rates of cancer, stroke, and sexually-transmitted disease. Plus divorce is financially devastating. According to one recent study on "Marriage and Divorce's Impact on Wealth," published in The Journal of Sociology, divorced people see their overall net worth drop an average of 77%.

    So why not just stay single? Because, academically speaking, a solid marriage has a host of benefits beyond just individual "happiness." There are broader social and health implications as well. According to a 2004 paper entitled "What Do Social Scientists Know About the Benefits of Marriage?" marriage is positively associated with "better outcomes for children under most circumstances," higher earnings for adult men, and "being married and being in a satisfying marriage are positively associated with health and negatively associated with mortality." In other words, a good marriage is associated with a higher income, a longer, healthier life and better-adjusted kids.

    A word of caution, though: As with any social scientific study, it's important not to confuse correlation with causation. In other words, just because married folks are healthier than single people, it doesn't mean that marriage is causing the health gains. It could just be that healthier people are more likely to be married."

    What do you think?
  2. I think that about 50% of marriages will get a divorce and that whether the woman has a career is not a significant factor! I think the most significant factor is the communication between the couple and the willingness of them to cooperate together. Then, there is the fact that some people don't want to have children, some people want to have children right away...

    If the article is telling a person to marry someone to stay at home, it belittles women who want to develop professionally. Women have the RIGHT to choose whatever they want to do. It is not the men's choice.Also, I wanted to point out that "men who change diapers, change the world". If you have a husband who tells you to clean, raise kids, and be his slave, what message do you think that is sending kids?! Seriously. That article is horrible and demeaning. It is not about what rationalization you use, because hey, you can use whatever logic argument you want, and the logic doesn't have to make sense.

    So let's see: Men with $, woman with nothing.. If that doesn't work, the woman can't pay for a divorce attorney, can't get a home, can't get a career after a divorce. The men basically have someone to do everything they don't want to do, and the woman suffers (either before or after the divorce). The woman will feel she owes something to the guy, won't feel economically independent.. and so forth.
    When I did a family law clinic, it was sad to see how many woman fall in that situation -- where the assets of the family are basically frozen and they can't use them for an attorney, where they struggle to get a job and spousal support (if your state has it) is for a limited amount of time.

    About staying single -- well, that is a very personal choice that shouldn't be made just on being healthy or avoiding a divorce.

    A marriage/relationship is as successful as communication is. I have seen data that says couples are unhappier when their kids are teenager and once they move out, their marital happiness increases.

    So perhaps people should just work on communication and try to get the relationship to work. Its not like everyone in a relationship is dooming it to fail from the start. And not all relationships fail.
  3. Very interesting article. I think some of it is true.
  4. I think it would be interesting if when you posted, give your marital status, years married and if you are a career women.... if you want:flowers: (no pressure).

    here is mine... I am 29, have been married for 2 years and I am a career women. And yes, I think the article is true. However, I would have thought it a load of crap before I got married.

    I am at a crossroads in my life and I am scared :censor: less, for all the reasons mentioned in the article. Want to have children and be the best mom that I can be, but I know that means sacrificing things my husband doesn't have to (like my body). Don't know what to do :shrugs: .
  5. thanks for sharing the study...very interesting indeed.
  6. I'm 32, single, never been married, no kids. I'm a professional and am very good at what I do. I don't want to offend anyone, but this is my two cents:

    I've found that men often are intimidated by bright women. Generally, I think men need to be needed. If you're a career woman who makes her own $, owns her own house, drives a nice car and can "take care" of herself, a guy's not so sure why he's needed. Guys do seem to be drawn to women that are "needy" in some form of another.
  7. Honestly, even if I am not a career woman, I still wouldn't want children and I still wouldn't want to stay home and do the stereotypical women's duty. Therefore, in my opinion it has more to do with what a person believes than whether the person is a career woman.
  8. Very interesting article, thank you for sharing. =)
  9. It seems that a lot of guys I've run into get drawn to women who are "needy" and then when they do get together with that woman, then they complain about the woman of not being independent enough. I feel that some of these guys are just looking for excuses to make themselves feel better.

  10. I find the opposite to be true in the age group - 50+ - of men I date.

    They want a woman to be independent - especially financially (which I think is hilarious...ummm....I'm the only one supporting myself so doesn't that make me financially independent??), and they run for the hills at the merest hint of neediness of any kind.
  11. things that make you go hmmmm?
  12. Leah411 and wickedassin: any guy anywhere would be soooooooooo f-ing lucky to have either one of you! Excuse my French.

    This is really interesting... I agree with wickedassin, a lot of guys do want to feel needed. But then, a lot of women want to feel needed, too, but perhaps in a different capacity.

    If you haven't had a lot of life experience (traveling, career, etc.), of course you're going to be more easily satisfied. Urgh, I hate to use my own friend as an example, but here I go... she's from an extremely wealthy Mormon family. Was home schooled all her life, got married at age 18, had a baby at 21, lives very well and is highly satisfied with her life. But a girl who went to Exeter, did undergrad at Dartmouth is going to have a different outlook on what a satisfying life is. This is not to say that any one is better than the other... it's all a matter of perspective anyway.

    As for me, I don't think I'll be a career woman. My mom speaks 5 languages fluently, has a Masters but was a stay-at-home mom and is very happy.
  13. Agree!

    There was a similar study and it basically said that women who subscribe to traditional roles (ie stay home and watch the kids) tend to have more stable marriages. It makes sense because a stable marriage is what they want, what they are focused on. (I'm not saying career women don't want that, but it's not necessarily the center of their lives.)
  14. I find this statement to be true. I met a couple men in that age range and they are looking for a woman who can "take care" of herself, intelligent and gorgeous.

    I think these guys are delusional though. I understand they worked hard to get to where they are, but why would an independently wealthy hot (and often young, like half their age or younger) intelligent want them? Yet this is the type of women they try to pursue....
  15. I also find this to be true. It takes a very confident man to be with an "independent" woman. (I think that confidence builds with age.) So many of the men I meet in business school prefer to date younger and "less accomplished."