Stay-at-home husbands more likely to divorce: study

The Globe and Mail

Stay-at-home dads are both at greater risk of being left by their wives and of filing for divorce themselves, according to a new study. (Getty Images/Thinkstock/Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Endless laundry, diaper changes, toddler tantrums, meal prep.

Stay-at-home moms may wish their husbands could walk a mile in their shoes. But if domestic harmony is the goal, dads may be better off at the office, according to a study published in the American Journal of Sociology.

For men, it seems, lack of paid work is an even greater predictor of divorce than marital unhappiness.

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Even in these enlightened times, men feel tremendous pressure to bring home the bacon, Liana Sayer, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, told Time.com.

"It's still unacceptable for men to stay home and take care of the kids."

In the study, unemployed men were both at greater risk of being left by their wives and of filing for divorce themselves.

In contrast, whether a woman worked outside the home had no impact on the chances her husband would leave her.

Dr. Sayer describes the phenomenon as an "asymmetrical revolution." Women's roles have changed significantly in recent decades, she explains, but the same isn't true for men.

"Men are still held to an older standard than women and penalized by employers and stigmatized if they are doing what's perceived as women's work," she says.

Dr. Sayer and co-authors analyzed data gathered from more than 3,600 couples who participated in the National Survey of Families and Households, funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers didn't specify whether dads were parenting full-time by choice or forced to stay home due to unemployment. That's a crucial distinction, considering the link between unemployment and male depression.

What's more, the survey data was collected in three waves, starting in 1987 and ending in 2001. That was before men started wearing BabyBjorns to the ballpark and writing parenting memoirs such as The Daddy Shift and Alternadad.

In Sweden, land of Ikea and common sense, 85 per cent of the country's fathers now choose to stay home with the kids.

Even here, 12 per cent of households have stay-at-home dads, a rate that has tripled since 1986, Statistics Canada reports.

And chances are, they've come a long way since then.

Do you believe stay-at-home dads are more likely to divorce?

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