This article was created out of a relationship study conducted by Avvo, to better understand how the law intersects with people’s lives. Go here for more details on the study, and check the links at the bottom of this article to learn more about the results.
A new annual study of relationship trends across the United States conducted by Avvo finds that when it comes to failing marriages, more women tend to blame their spouse than do men, and move on without regrets.
When asked who was responsible for the end of their marriage, 64% of divorced women blamed their spouse, as compared to just 44% of men saying the same. More men than women say both spouses should share the blame, with 42% of men agreeing, and only 29% of women saying the same.
Attitudes about marriage as an institution may influence feelings about getting a divorce. When asked if they believed in the institution of marriage, 63% of women – versus 53% of men – said yes. The more weight one places on being married, it seems, the more intense the outward blame when the marriage doesn’t work out.
It’s also likely that gender roles and accompanying societal expectations come into play. According to noted sociologist and renowned sexologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz, deep-rooted, predisposed beliefs and tendencies about men and women in domestic partnerships could shape attitudes about responsibility.
“As the saying goes, it takes two to tango and two to ruin a relationship, but women are less likely to take their share of the blame,” Schwartz said. “Gender roles and traditional stereotypes of domestic partnerships absolutely play a role here. It might be that women believe that self-blame is not empowering, and men may feel as though it’s not masculine to blame their wives.”
When it comes to having second thoughts, fewer women than men express regret over being divorced: 73% of women report having no regret over being divorced while 61% of men say the same. Further, 75% of women say that’d rather be alone, successful and happy than be unhappy in a relationship overall, versus 58% of men believing the same.
Further, there are also regional differences between women and men regarding fault in divorce. When it comes to men, more men in the Northeast and Midwest are willing to blame their ex-wives for the dissolution of the marriage. 51% of men in the Northeast and 52% of men in the Midwest say their spouse was to blame, while 40% of men in both the South and West say the same.
More women in the Northeast are willing to accept equal blame in divorce than in any other region. 38% of women in the Northeast said both people were responsible for the failed marriage. This compares to 30% of women in the Midwest, 28% of women in the South, and 25% of women in the West who say the same. Women in the South and the West are more likely to blame their male partners for the marriage failing. 66% of women in both these regions put the blame on “him,” whereas 60% of women in the Northeast and 59% in the Midwest do the same.
“Men are more fearful of being on their own once they’ve been domesticated by their marriage, and even though men are more likely to think that marriage is an outdated institution on principle – they’re more likely to want to stay put even if things aren’t so great,” observed Schwartz. “Women, on the other hand, prize happiness over marriage, and are less fearful of independence generally. Whatever the underlying reasons, both partners have a role in a relationship not working, women included – even if that means as a partner, making more mistakes that you care to admit, or even choosing the wrong partner.”
See below for more details and insights from the survey data:
- New Avvo survey explores modern attitudes on love, sex, and dating
- Avvo study: one in four would use a professional matchmaker
- Avvo study: legality of same-sex marriage has triggered a shift in attitudes
- Avvo study examines new attitudes around open relationships
Are you ready to get a divorce? Find a divorce attorney in your area, or look into getting an uncontested divorce at a fixed rate—an option that might cause less regret for both you and your spouse, regardless of gender.