The Main Reason Wives Divorce Their Husbands, According To Research

Turns out, women want divorce more than men do.

Last updated on Aug 11, 2023

unemployed man, sitting on tsteps outside with his hands rubbing his eyes tuaindeed via Canva

By Laura Vinopal

Ten out of 10 haters agree that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. But, luckily for married dudes, that figure is technically slightly less, and it turns out that your boss might deserve a surprising amount of credit for keeping you and your spouse together.

A massive 2016 study from Harvard University revealed that the main reason women divorce their husbands and the leading cause of divorce for women is a lack of employment, which may come as quite the old-fashioned blow to your work-life balance.


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But at least it will give you something to keep in your back pocket the next time that you have to stay at the office through dinner — you know that you did it for love.


Researchers from the study had looked at a whopping 46 years' worth of data of over 6,300 U.S. heterosexual married couples, obtained by the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from 1968 to 2013.

After 1975, they found that men who were not employed had a 3.3 percent chance of getting divorced, compared to a 2.5 percent chance of divorce for men who were employed. 

RELATED: 6 Key Factors That Make You Less Likely To Divorce

While a 0.8 percentage difference may seem slight, the study also took into account a number of other relationship factors like household responsibilities, economic co-dependence, and finances, but none of them had as strong of a correlation with an increased chance of divorce as the husband’s employment status did.


And though this might hardly seem fair for you, it actually does work out well for both your wife and your daughter. Ironically, you can blame these arguably dated employment expectations on feminism, because another woman did first.

Sociology professor Alexandra Killewald, the author of the study, concluded that, prior to 1975, women who had done less housework were similarly more likely to get divorced.

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But second-wave feminism had made it so that women could become more career focused and be able to “have more freedom in how they ‘do’ marriage.”

The study also found that men have contributed to more housework overtime on top of full-time employment expectations. Killewald concluded that a husband's income did not matter as much as simply having a job at all.


As she explained, “When I show that husbands’ lack of full-time employment is associated with risk of divorce, that’s adjusted for income. It’s not how high earning he is. My results suggest that, in general, financial factors do not determine whether couples stay together or separate.”

And suddenly, Mrs. Doubtfire and Mrs. Featherbottom are finally starting to make some sense. Obviously, those dudes were just trying to kill 2 birds with one stone.

RELATED: Top 10 Reasons Why Divorce Is So Common These Days


Lauren Vinopal is a freelance journalist who writes about health and science. She is a staff writer for MEL Magazine and has appeared in MTV News, Vice, GQ, and more