There has been an increase in the divorce rate in the recent past. It has been aggravated by the changes in gender roles. This study seeks to find the role of gender in the rate of divorces. The research gives the background of the divorce and uses secondary sources of data collection as its primary method. Interviews are carried out to ascertain the recent married couples’ perception of the divorce rate. The study confirms that gender plays a significant role in the increasing rate of divorce.
Keywords: gender role, divorce, social structure, traditional marriage, mixed marriage, egalitarian marriage
This study seeks to define the role of gender in the rate of divorces. Hypothesis of the research is that gender role plays a huge part in the rate of divorces. The second hypothesis is that divorce rates are on the increase. The primary method of this research is the use of the secondary sources. Moreover, an interview is carried out for further review of the topic. The paper seeks to confirm that gender role plays a huge part in the rate of divorces. The objectives of the study are to find out the roles played by gender in the rate of divorces, why gender is a factor to consider in decreasing divorce cases, other factors influencing the rate of divorce. Finally, the paper will seek to define the ways in which the society can adapt to reduce the number of divorce cases and adverse effects related to gender and its role.
The effect of gender roles on marriages have been an important issue in the recent past (Albertini & Garriga, 2011). In the past, gender roles dictated whether a woman would walk alone or with the husband before the colonial times. It also dictated whether women would enroll in the workforce. Gender roles also had an impact on the household. Gender roles both created by the society or a certain gender still affect the daily lives of people. The impact has, however, changed over time. Gender roles refer to the attitudes, behaviors and values the society dictates. Men and women have changed their views due to the shift of roles of women in the recent years. This change is attributed partly to the rise of feminists.
Gender roles are cropped in marriage; thereby they dictate how people should live. Taking into consideration gender roles, there are two types of marriages: the egalitarian and the traditional. Egalitarian marriage is a kind of marriage where the roles are equal; hence, they can be played by any partner (Amato, 2010). Traditional form of marriage is where the husband assumes the role of the breadwinner and the supreme authority. The wife assumes the role of a homemaker and remains at home. Therefore gender role is defined as the expectation within a society that defines how males and females should react, feel and think (Amato, 2010).
According to evolutionary theory of gender (Amato, 2001), different responsibilities lead to different stress on both genders resulting in differentiation of their roles. Men respond by wanting to compete while also remaining aggressive. Women respond by being nurturing. According to social theory of gender (Amato, 2000), these roles are formed by differences in psychology of males and females. It leads to contrasting social roles of gender. The cognitive theory defines the development of children’s gender as a perception developed through having people observe and imitate how the two genders behave. In studying the effect of gender roles on divorce rates, it is significant to consider the various types of marriages. There are the traditional, mixed and egalitarian marriages. The basis of this classification is the commitment of the partners, occupation, domestic responsibilities and attitudes (Amato, 2010). Previous studies on the marriages found out that women who were in egalitarian marriages were successful in their careers and had fewer children.
In the history of families in the US, gender roles have been changing (Amato, 2000). On the one hand, during the Civil War, marriages had traditional concepts. On the contrary, during the Agrarian Revolution, men left their homes to go and work while women took care of their children. Women were celebrated as submissive while men were celebrated as aggressive. During early nineteenth century, there was a change in this tradition. Women became more aggressive and went out to look for employment. That was later halted by the deep depression which was experienced by many men unemployed. This process has, however, reduced as women had better chances at work just as men.
Factors that influence the choice women make concerning improving their career or having a family are: the desire to have a satisfying job and personal characteristics. The choice of career greatly impacts the marriage structure and the family. It implies that any increment in the wages earned by a woman will result in few children. It shows the perception of women; it is not possible to have a successful career and a big family. It is because of the understanding of the primary role of women as the caregivers at home. Other women want to be regarded as equals at home just as they are regarded as equals in their job places. It is influenced by many opportunities for work available for women.
Other studies have revealed that there is a reduction in the proportion of men to women who are the only breadwinner in the families (Amato, 2000). However, this does not relieve the women of their duties at home. It is tiresome for women as the majority of them desire to have a successful career and a healthy marriage. Men, on the other hand, are reluctant to assume that women dominate house chores. It has led to misunderstandings that result in separations and divorce. After divorce, couples seek acceptance from their children. The gender differences still increase in the way the children are raised up and supported. Traditionally women are considered to be kin keepers. It , however, worsens after divorce.
Divorce rates are brought about by many factors. Among them, there are the psychological ones such as low satisfaction in marriages. Others include incompatibility, relationship, division of work and behavioral challenges. It does not mean that all those marriages facing these forms of stress undergo divorce. It is because of the presence of children. Children are viewed as a shared investment between the couples. Couples who have experienced divorce have been found to be unhappy, discontented with most aspects of life and at risk of divorcing again.
In order to carry out the study, qualitative techniques were employed. These included secondary sources and the use of interviews. Interviews were done to get first-hand information from people. It had to be carried out to a person very different from the researcher. Appendix A contains the interview questions, and appendix B includes the interview. A male lecturer from the department of sociology is the respondent to the interview. The respondent is a senior in the department, married for more than twenty years. He is a white man from Canada. Due to the societal expectations, he was married and divorced. Currently, he is living with his second wife. He was asked his opinion on whether gender role and expectations have changed a lot in comparison with the past.}}
By using interview as the primary method of collecting data, this study was successful. Reasons for the present predicament were realized, recommendations towards solving the issue of gender roles were also found. From the interviews carried out, it was confirmed that women have great chances that they missed in the past. Nowadays, women can work, earn more money and become financially independent. Such a situation has increased the rate of divorces because women can no longer stick back to abused marriages. They can independently take care of themselves. The role of men has also changed. Women are currently viewed as breadwinners in a set up where men have a little position. According to the interviews, gender has played an enormous role in increasing the rates of divorces. Previously, women were stuck in abused marriages for the sake of their children. They were fully dependent on men. In the past, there was the issue of social stigma. The society negatively perceived men who had divorced their wives. Women, on the other hand, were negatively perceived when they lived separately from their husbands or single.
Currently, this view has changed. The society has learned to accommodate such people. People nowadays prefer to live alone rather than be married. It is also a factor that has reduced the rate of divorces in the present time. Earlier, economic security relied on marriage for women. It is, however, different in the present age. It implies that the divorce rate relies on gender role and rate of marriage.
Conflicts in gender role cause increase in the rate of divorce. That is because gender forms the dominant cultural narrative. For men to be considered authoritative in marriage and relationship, they must show their prowess by being economically independent.
The social structure has castigated it. When women get an even position, men feel threatened because it is out of the norm for them to rely on women. The role of gender in socialization dictates that men and women perform their roles as required. According to the study, marriage and relationships are different. It is dictated by the diverse roles played by gender. If the disparity between roles in gender is lessened, then the relationship becomes better. If these differences increase, the healthiness in the relationship deteriorates (Amato & Hohmann-Marriott, 2007).
In marriage, couples need to coordinate in playing their varying roles. In this way, the gap will be filled, and both parties will play a role in enriching the relationship within marriage. The traditional expectations and values have changed over time. It has been attributed by advanced technology especially in such developed nations as Europe and the US (Amato & James, 2010). Previous technologies like desk phones are presently redundant. There is, therefore, a need for both parties in a marriage to earn income for sustenance. The demands of the society have also risen. It calls for the need to embrace this technology that is eradicating the morals and tradition.
In conclusion, man and women must take actively take part in decision making. When men view their wives as helpers rather than lesser people, they will create harmony and healthy relationships. It would go a long way in reducing rates of divorce. Men need to embrace housework as part of their role because of the increasing demand of the economy. Advanced technology has forced women to search for careers. Men ought to change their perception towards women and the general work associated with women. By so doing, they would be reducing stress and strain placed on the shoulders of the women.
The perception of the society towards gender roles needs to be changed. It will enable men to babysit their children and do all the wifely duties without stigmatization from the society. Women can do men’s work without the society’s condemnation. There is a concern that this conflicts in the role of gender may be passed to the coming generation. In solving this problem, the future generation may create another vicious cycle because the increasing opportunities this generation has, for instance, the legalization of gay marriages. Due to increasing opportunities, more diversity will be developed. There will be more equality and hence more misunderstandings. It will, however, not reduce the rate of divorces. It calls for a society to be trained on the definition and roles of marriage. It is because people cannot differentiate between marriage and relationships. If people have an open mind, then the whole issue of gender role will be solved.