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Are successful women more likely to divorce?

Are successful women more likely to divorce?

Is it true that the more successful a woman is today, the greater her risk of divorce? Answers with experts.

In the Danish series Borgen – a woman with power, Brigitte Nyborg’s character is the first woman to become the country’s prime minister. Professionally, it is the continuation of a brilliant career. In his personal life, this will mean the end of his marriage. Is his character a representative of the sad reality? Are successful women more likely to divorce? This was already evidenced by the results of a Swedish study published in 2016, based on 30 years of administrative data from the country (1). Researchers looked at the effect of promotion on heterosexual marriage between male and female political candidates. “We found that within four years of being promoted, women are twice as likely to divorce as men,” said Olle Folke, a political scientist at Uppsala University in Sweden and co-author of the study. Additionally, women who were promoted were 7-8% more likely to divorce than women who were not promoted.

Today, 52% of female executives still struggle to balance their professional and personal lives. Among men, only 41% experience this difficulty, according to a survey conducted by the Association for Executive Employment (APEC) conducted at the end of 2022 (2). Although many experts address the popular theme of “life balance,” imbalances persist. And strained marriages. Which couples are at risk? And how do those who avoid statistics work?

Morgan Miele. “There is a problem called women and money.”

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The weight of standards

“Traditional” couples suffer the most, says the Swedish researcher. That said, for example, according to his study, marriages in which women take the most parental leave and have at least a four-year break with their husbands. “These couples are focused on the man’s career, and gendered social behavior is still very much coded there,” explains Olle Falk. Husbands may have specific expectations of their wives’ roles, particularly in relation to their involvement in domestic and maternal work… The promotion of women to positions of higher responsibility involves changing their place in the couple, which is likely to create; voltage

Less time for each other

The question is the husband’s perception of a woman, which changes according to psychologist Marie Victor Chopin. “If their wife differs from their ideal image of herself, it can play on libido and weaken their bond,” he explains.

Achieving a position of responsibility takes more time and effort. Therefore, it is difficult to devote as much to one’s marriage and one’s home as before, emphasizes Olle Falk in his study. “We are definitely less available mentally,” warns the psychologist. Not forgetting the files we bring home and the mental burden that is added to what women already carry… All these factors will cause stress, anxiety and mental exhaustion, no wonder it affects the couple’s work on if he wasn’t. used to it.

Violation of a certain character of the couple

“But who will babysit?” we already asked Ségolène Royal when she was running for president in 2007. Today, this stereotype sometimes still holds for women. “And we’re not talking about logistics here,” says professional trainer Aurélie Foucart. Some question, when they see a woman getting high-responsibility jobs, it’s the identity and image she’s sending back. It didn’t seem normal for her to prefer to thrive in the workplace rather than in her traditionally ascribed role; at home, take care of the family.

“What some people question when they see a woman getting a job with high responsibility is the identity and image she sends back. It didn’t seem normal that she would rather thrive in the workplace than take care of her family in her traditionally assigned role at home. »

Aurélie Foucart, coach.

Is it still transgression for a woman to succeed? For Aurel Foucart, yes. “In heterosexual relationships that did not begin on an egalitarian plane, that is, where the man had the highest position, the professional advancement of the woman is tantamount to breaking the balance of the couple, which is still based on a certain social norm.” he believes. This is even more true if the promotion implies that she earns more than her husband… Unknowingly, she then gains more decision-making power in the family home. Again, this means breaking the rules. And to reveal a number of fears in a person. The fear that the woman will pass him, will be more successful than him… “The proposal will make them question their abundance and character,” says psychologist Marie Victoire Chopin. A 2018 American study (3) even showed that if the members of a marriage had different salaries and the wife had the highest, the couple tended to reduce the wife’s income and increase the husband’s income, emphasizing the man as the “head of the family”;

Balanced pair, walking pair

Is this still true in 2023? Not everywhere. When author Celine Alix interviewed fifty powerful women to write her book Thanks, but no thanks, how women are redefining social success (4), none were divorced. Their secret. All these women had the same position and salary as their husbands. We agree here with the observation of a Swedish study that more egalitarian couples have a lower risk of divorce after the wife is promoted. The same observation in psychologist Marie Victoire Chopin’s office. “In the couples that work best, both partners are equally passionate about their profession. Or one of the spouses is ready to take over the responsibilities of the family hearth out of pleasure.

“In the couples that work best, both partners are equally passionate about what they do. »

Marie Victoire Chopin, psychologist

They are also those who strive for a gender-neutral life balance. “The key to success today is finding a good balance between professional and personal life. And this, regardless of whether you are a woman or a man,” says Celine Alix. If in the past the field of family responsibilities was largely reserved for women, today men also ask the question of delimiting the place of work in their personal life. “Divorce is no longer associated with gender success as much as with a couple’s ability to achieve this difficult life balance,” the author adds. I see this is a topic of both partners in the couple, not just the women.


To climb the ladder without sacrificing your union, there is only one solution: to communicate. “From the beginning of the relationship, you need to be in a sincere and constant dialogue to question the priorities of each member of the couple,” says psychologist Marie Victor Chopin. We put our cards on the table and address all the necessary points; what are the values ​​of each person, what place do we want to give to our career and possible family…”. We still need to be clear about our own. expectations and aspirations.

Communication, everywhere, all the time. “When we assume a position of high responsibility, our ability to listen and communicate changes, and we can be drier, less patient…” warns psychologist Marie-Victor Chopin. As soon as you feel irritable, these are the first signs of mental exhaustion, and it is important to talk about it with your partner. If, for example, you feel the need to have a decompression space after you leave work and come home, you can let them know to avoid misunderstandings. Last reminders. no two couples are alike, and what makes the alchemy of a union already allows itself to remain very personal. We reserve the right to rewrite the codes, even recommended.

(1) All single womenJob Promotions and Marital Durability, co-authored by Olle Folke and Johanna Rikn for the Stockholm Research Institute for Industrial Economics.

(2) By request “Balancing personal and professional life” conducted in December 2022 with a representative sample of 2,000 managers.

(3) Recruitment and reduction of people. How husbands and wives report their incomes when he earns more Marta Murray-Close and Misty L. A study co-authored by Hegeges published in June 2018.

(4) Thanks, but no thanks, how women are redefining social success, by Celine Alix, published by Payot, 224 pages, €19.

In the video, seven characteristics common to all people who go through a divorce

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Source: Le Figaro

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