Before things get underway, I just wanted to mention that it’s Blog Reader Appreciation Day. Thanks so much for reading and participating here, whether it’s every day or just every now and then. I am truly glad you found this place and hope you visit often!
Laurie Ruettimann called attention to a recent Wall Street Journal/CareerJournal.com article that reported on a study finding that women with advanced degrees were more likely to get divorced then men with comparable educational levels. The rates are highest among MBA’s, but doctors and lawyers were equally susceptible. The study also noted that female professionals were two to three more times more likely than males to be unmarried and not have families.
It’s another one of those things that makes me wonder what year/decade/century we’re living in. Weren’t things supposed to have changed by now?
In her own response to the report, Heather Mundell made a point of something I’ve been known to say myself on the subject of “having it all” – “(D)ecide what you really, really want, because you may not be getting it all, not all at one time anyway.”
It’s an interesting finding, even without digging too deeply into the sociological implications. One question it raises for me is how the educational and earnings levels of the divorced women surveyed compared to those of their (ex-)partners – higher, lower, or in the same range? If they were mostly higher, that makes me wonder about some other recent reports about men’s comfort level with women out-earning them – and about women’s comfort level with doing it. It’s still relatively new, and a shift in the established order. On the other hand, the unmarried, childless “career woman” is a fairly well-established figure, sad to say.
I really wonder how big a role a significant disparity in education and income plays in this. I haven’t ever been the more-educated, higher-earning partner in a relationship, but I know that the degree-level difference between my first husband and me (he’s a Ph.D., now a Ph.D./M.D., and I stopped with a B.S.) was a source of insecurity for me. That evolved over time, though, since we’d met in high school and were peers for our first few years together; I didn’t really feel uneasy about it until he completed grad school, and then it became an ongoing struggle. That sort of insecurity can definitely strain a relationship, especially considering that it may well be one-sided; the more-educated, higher-earning partner may not even see a problem.
Then again, the more-educated, higher-earning partner may feel stress and resentment at carrying more of the financial-support responsibility. The couples who have agreed for one partner to “opt out” career-wise to stay at home with young children are another twist on this situation.
My experience in my first marriage makes me feel that one factor in a couple’s compatibility is comparable educational and income levels – at least, it’s a fairly significant one for me, and we do have it in my second marriage. As far as this study goes, I really hope there’s more to it than what’s been reported, because these conclusions strike me as fairly simplistic and just a bit sad. What do you think?