Stay-at-Home Dads More Likely to Get Divorced

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids

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You really need to think twice before you take in an ocelot, chimpanzee, wolf or human male with the thought of domesticating it first.

No matter how well trained and behaved they appear to be, these are essentially wild animals who operate more on instinct than intellect. They can be peaceful one minute and tearing your heart out the next.

And, odds are, one day they will want to return to the wild. On the other hand, odds are just as good you would will want them to go, anyway.

This is especially true of human males. Some women think they can train these creatures to stay home and perform basic domestic tasks, even take care of the children. Let's face it. That's a lot to expect from essentially mindless brutes who have trouble mastering the mechanics of lifting a toilet seat.

Researchers say they are likely to bolt.

A study published in the American Journal of Sociology concludes stay-at-home fathers are more likely to get divorced because, try as they might, they cannot ignore the calling of their Klingon blood. They generally prefer to be out in the world, marauding and competing.

Staying at home -- especially because of unemployment -- drives them to fits of depression.

"It's still unacceptable for men to stay home and take care of the kids," Liana Sayer, an associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, tells Time magazine.

Sayer says a woman who is unhappy in her marriage is more likely to consider divorce if she is working rather than unemployed. But unemployed men, she adds, face a double whammy.

They stand a greater chance of dumping their wives or being the dumpee -- even if they are fairly satisfied with their relationship.

It's what Sayer calls an "asymmetrical revolution."

"The role of women has changed a lot, but we have seen far less movement in the roles of men," Sayer tells the magazine. "That men be breadwinners still seems to be very salient for couples. If a man is not bringing in some money, it seems to be unacceptable."

Sayer and her fellow researchers collected data from more than 3,600 couples who participated in the National Survey of Families and Households funded by the National Institutes of Health.

They thought they would find unhappy-but-employed men would be more likely to leave their wives. Not really.

Men's depression -- tied to their job situation -- seemed to be the deciding factor.

"For men, not having a job increases the risk he will initiate leaving the relationship, and it also increases the risk women will leave the relationship," Sayer tells Time. "Men are still held to an older standard than women and penalized by employers and stigmatized if they are doing what's perceived as women's work."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.