Divorce on the dole queue

Divorce|Family|December 24th 2012

Losing your job is one of life’s traumas. It means months of struggle, uncertainty and stress over bills – and that’s if things go well!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Unemployment can subject weaker marriages to significant strain and sadly, add divorce the difficulties faced by the couple.

Suddenly familiar roles are thrown into doubt and confusion. Both partners must wrestle with the additional burden of making ends meet and doing so with one less regular income – or none at all.

The initial sympathy felt by the other partner may be gradually be eroded by resentment as weeks turn into months.

Someone’s role in life can be a big part of their attraction and if that is suddenly lost, even through no fault of their own, some people may be left wondering, somewhere at the back of their mind: “Well, if you’re no longer a director/ manager/ executive, then what are you?”

It sounds terrible but the fact of the matter is that if a man loses his job, either partner becomes more likely to leave the marriage, according to a May 2011 study in the American Journal of Sociology.

A new article on the Huffington Post speculates on the whys and wherefores. Does unemployment amplify existing dissatisfactions in a marriage? Long term unhappiness suddenly boils over and the angry wife suddenly suspects the husband of not trying hard enough to get new work, or finds his irritating habits harder to bear now that he is under her feet all day. Or is it simply the financial stresses and strains, fraying tempers and encouraging arguments and accusations? Or is it, perhaps most problematically, the deeply ingrained traditional male role of breadwinner, which the husband, all of a sudden, is no longer fulfilling?

Every marriage is different, of course, with different expectations and different fault lines. But any marriage which crumbles in the face of redundancy was never a very sturdy one and was perhaps always destined to end sooner or later.

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