We’ve come a long way from the days before the suffrage movement, when women were more possession than person. We’ve even evolved beyond the iconic woman of the 1950s, miserably enduring her domestication. Since those early times, women have consistently engaged in radical movements aimed at minimizing their invisibility and maximizing their opportunities.
Divorce is less taboo and more common in our current climate. However, if we’re honest and look into the deep crevices of our understandings about gender roles, we can notice some inequities that are still evident. Those archaic residuals become less palatable after the walk down the aisle.
Time recently published a study suggesting that women in marital relationships are more likely to ask for a divorce than their husbands. This statistic differs from the one in cohabitating or dating relationships, in which there is no difference between the genders.
Why would marriage create an environment in which women feel they have to give up their dreams of a future and possibly cause great strife for their children? Is divorce the new radical movement for women?
1. Women are doing more of the housework.
Now, I must say I'm an exception to this rule, but then again, I’m still happily married. It's a pervasive and prevalent reality in our culture that women are more responsible for what's traditionally considered housework (dishes, laundry and the ever-dreaded dusting).
This reality seems to mirror what the rest of society believes are gender appropriate work roles. Women are doing the passive work — the work that men don’t want to do — and that has less value in the eyes of the masses. Women at work and at home are underutilized and it would appear that same woman feels as though she has more say in whether she leaves a job or a marriage.
Any way you slice it, that’s not fair, especially after having children. These same women are busy putting in the 9 to 5, and when they get home it’s hard to watch their husbands sit on the couch while they make dinner and put the kids to bed. Divorce becomes a radical battle cry of “I won’t take being treated unfairly any longer!”
2. Women are making more money.
If I’m a professional woman making a living wage, out in the workforce and coming home to still do all the housework, how long will it take me to look around and wonder “What would it be like to do this on my own?”
Money gives women the freedom to make choices in her life. She can decide to do something about her level of happiness in ways that she might not have ever been able to before. Once a woman starts asking that question and comes up with the answer that she might be able and better on her own, the natural progression from that point is often to divorce.
3. Women are working more now than ever in our history.
Even the “stay at home mom” has something going on. Whether that’s an Etsy account or a thrift business, most women are reaping the financial and emotional rewards of generating an income. Lots of the work women are doing is meaningful work and so women feel better about themselves. Women are beginning to internalize the message that they are worthwhile, even if their husbands haven’t quite been able to express that. As humans we become empowered when we successfully navigate new terrain in the world. Once we have a certain notion of our capabilities, it's harder to accept things as they've always been.
4. Men are not quite on the curve yet.
The benefits of the cultural shift are innumerable for women and they’re immediate. Men are benefiting too by having women more engaged in their own lives and their couple life, but those benefits are less obvious and they're somewhat painful for the husband. Whenever the status quo changes, there's some level of discomfort. No one wants to do the dusting, so that man who's accustomed to things the way they were for his parents maybe isn't so willing to make a change.
Our husbands are capable of the change, and as couples we are able to navigate evolution. We must change our messages to men on the whole. In social circles, our husbands need high-fives for changing diapers and mopping floors. In our churches, we need to hear messages of equality and not servitude by women. In our schools, our boys need to see more male teachers and our daughters need to receive equal pay for the same work her male counterpart is doing. We save our families when we begin to question what's always been and provide support for what's different.
Lydia Kickliter, LMHC is a therapist specializing in helping women through transition. You can find her at www.thepathwaystowellness.org.
Source: Divorce - YourTango.com