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Are women or men more likely to initiate divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Divorce

There’s a cultural stereotype that says women enjoy marriage more than men. The mainstream media often depicts women as eager to demand marriage from men, while showing men as people who would prefer to remain single. People talk about marriage as a concession that men make toward women to keep them in their lives.

It might, therefore, seem reasonable to believe that men are more likely to file for divorce than women. After all, they desire or appreciate marriage less in theory. However, research into divorce statistics and long-term outcomes after divorce shows that the opposite is actually true.

Women are more likely to file for divorce

A significant majority of divorce proceedings begin because a woman files for divorce. Women are significantly more likely than men to request a divorce. This is particularly true for older couples who have remained married for decades and are near retirement age.

Every divorce occurs for unique reasons, but there are certain trends to the reported reasons people give for filing. The discrepancy in filing rates may relate to the uneven distribution of unpaid labor in homes. Women tend to spend more time cooking, cleaning and caring for family members. The discrepancy could also be a result of the moderately different rates of infidelity between the sexes.

The reasons women give for filing may also explain why women tend to report higher levels of personal satisfaction and happiness after divorce when compared with men. Divorced women are also typically less inclined than men to marry again after divorce.

Filing first can make a difference

Neither spouse can actually prevent a divorce if the other is intent on ending the marriage. Many people wait to file for divorce, possibly hoping that their spouse may make the first move. They think others may blame them if they choose to file. However, there are certain benefits that come from being the party who files. The person who decides to file chooses the timing for the process. They also have an opportunity to set themselves up with personal resources and gather key financial records before the divorce begins.

Men and women both have the option of filing for divorce when a marriage is no longer a healthy, functional relationship. Making sense of current divorce trends can potentially inspire someone to take a long look at their own relationship to determine whether or not it’s time to move on.