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Shifting roles can lead to divorce

North Carolina couples might find themselves beginning their married lives while falling into traditional roles of the husband as primary breadwinner and the wife as the caretaker of home and family. However, this dynamic might change over time, particularly as the wife's career develops and she begins to earn more, which can lead to tension in the relationship.

According to experts, the tension that arises when couples begin to experience shifting roles is often a result of the difficulty husbands have with giving up these traditional roles. A Swedish study found that couples who began their relationship with traditional gender roles but shifted over time had a higher chance of experiencing a divorce than couples who were in more gender-equal relationships from the beginning. The way people react to the changes can contribute to what happens in a relationship. In many cases, a husband who had previously considered himself the primary breadwinner might act defensively against a wife who began to earn more, trying to control every aspect of her life. In other cases, the husband might opt to work less but still expect the wife to continue with the greater responsibility of the family and home-related duties.

To attempt to prevent rising tensions and even the possibility of divorce, experts recommend discussing career and family expectations, even before marriage, to set the stage for a more gender-equal relationship that might better sustain later shifting dynamics. Experts also suggest having open and honest conversations about needs, particularly when those needs change due to outside factors such as more responsibility at work.

Couples who cannot overcome the changes might choose to end their marriage. In those cases, each spouse may contact a lawyer with family law experience to help explain the person's options, assist them through the process and represent them legally.

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