Women Are More Likely To Pull The Plug On Their Marriage Than Men, New Study Suggests


Dami Olonisakin

Editorial Assistant



A study from the University of Michigan has shown that women are twice as likely as men to end their marriage and file for a divorce.

The research involved 355 heterosexual couples and followed them for a period of 16 years. Women reported higher levels of tension at the start of their marriages than men, but their husbands reported higher rises in tension as the marriage went on. 


For some wives, increased tension was more of an issue for them if their husbands experienced low tension levels over time.  

Lead author Kira Birditt, from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, explained in a statement that when husbands have low levels of tension, it could relate to a lack of investment in their relationship. “They might believe it's unnecessary to change or adjust their behavior," she said.

The couples who were part of the research were interviewed during the first, second, third, fourth, seventh, and sixteenth years of marriage. The study also included data from the Early Years Of Marriage Project, which began in 1986.

The husbands and wives were questioned about their experiences of resentment and irritation in the previous month, and how they felt after disagreements, fights, and arguments. Birditt noted that perhaps wives had “realistic expectations” of their commitment, whilst husbands had “more idealistic expectations of wives".


In 2015, a similar study, involving more than 2,000 straight couples, found that nearly 70 percent of divorces were initiated by women. However, the same result wasn't seen in terms of the breakup of non-marital relationships. The lead author of this study Michael Rosenfield, a professor of sociology at Stanford University, said that perhaps wives were more likely to end their marriages due to experiencing lower levels of relationship quality.

“On the other hand, I think that non-marital relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the non-marital relationships more flexible and therefore more adaptable to modern expectations, including women’s expectations for more gender equality,” Rosenfield said.

In the latest research, 40 percent of the 355 couples ended up getting a divorce. "Previous studies have looked at married individuals, but you're not getting information from both people in the couple. People in the same relationships have different ideas about the quality of their tie," Birditt said.


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