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Are societal trends causing rifts in marriage?

Societal changes may be affecting the success of marriages in Virginia and throughout the country. Many spouses that married in the 1990s and early 2000s are struggling to find balance between their career, marriage and children. This is something that women began dealing with when they entered the workforce en mass during the 1970s. The potential conflict between these three items can sometimes end in divorce.

After the influx of women in the workplace several decades ago and the settling of society that took place afterwards, many men are finding themselves in the position of stay-at-home dad.

Consider two career-driven, romantically involved individuals living together. Now add two children into the mix. If both individuals are working towards individual career goals and two children are suddenly apparent, who is going to take care of them? It is often in these situations that one parent compromises their career for the benefit of the family and elects to become the primary parent while the other becomes the primary breadwinner.

Adjusting to this and rediscovering equilibrium can be tough for either spouse. The spouse that has become the primary breadwinner may feel pressure from his or her family to work hard and often in an attempt to maintain the lifestyle that was held when both parents were working. On the other side, the spouse that has become the primary parent may feel like the working parent is not spending enough time with the children. Similar resentment may be felt by the working spouse.

For example, a couple that married in their 20s lasted until their 30s without children. When the children were born, one of the parents elected to stay home with them. The working parent soon began wondering how to approach domestic responsibilities. He did not want to make his wife feel like he was making her perform some antifeminist task such as washing the dishes but they needed to be done.

Eventually, the couple divorced and now shares joint custody of their teenage children.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Are Dads the New Moms?," Susan Gregory Thomas, May 11, 2012

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