By Gerri Elder
Even though a quick look at the calendar shows that the year is 2008, when it comes to careers, many couples' mindsets are still way behind the times. A recent article by CNN discussed the conflict that can arise in marriages when career couples struggle over which career is more important.
According to a 2007 study of more than 9,000 married men and women between the ages of 25 and 59, more emphasis is generally placed on the husband's career than on the wife's work. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Iowa and the University of California-Davis, also found that when couples are forced to relocate due to a spouse's career, men fare better with an average salary boost of $3,000 per year while women lose an average of $750.
Usually couples move due to the husband's job. This can cause the wife to become a trailing spouse. When trailing spouses look for work after relocating, they often find it difficult to find a job that is a match to their qualifications, education and experience and thus take slightly lower paying jobs by default.
Relocation can take a toll on marriages. While many women were raised in households where the husband was the primary breadwinner and therefore accept the notion that a man's career is more important than a woman's, other women have a more difficult time placing their careers on the back burner. When a spouse gives up a promising career to relocate due to a husband or wife's job, there can be issues of resentment and jealousy that often lead to power struggles in the marriage. Sometimes these struggles are too much to overcome and divorce is the final outcome.
To avoid divorce and make a marriage work after a job relocation, experts say that a balance must be reached and the importance of each spouse's career must be taken seriously. In American families, it has long been the case that men are the breadwinners in the family and women take on the homemaking chores and take on much of the parenting duties as well. While some families now take a more progressive approach, stay-at-home dads are still outnumbered by far by stay-at-home moms. Some families compromise by having one parent work from home.
For families with children, there is often a stronger drive not to divorce and to keep the family together despite job relocation and the stress and conflicts that can come as a result. In order to avoid filing for divorce and having to decide on issues such as child support, messy and complex long distance child visitation schedules, and alimony, many couples decide to work through the problems caused by job relocation and career power struggles by having extremely open and honest communication.
When both the husband and wife have great careers that neither is willing to give up, sometimes the decision can be made to live apart. These long-distance marriages can also put a strain on the relationship and cause a whole host of new issues for the couple. Dealing with being married yet living apart can prove to be too much for many couples and this type of arrangement can often lead to divorce.