Divorce Lawyer Reveals the Biggest Reason Today's Marriages Are Failing
The good news? This common issue is something you can fix before it's too late.
About 22 percent of first marriages end within the first five years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are lots of different potential reasons for divorce, from infidelity or excessive fighting to financial issues or simply growing apart. However, one expert—Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., a New York-based divorce lawyer—says he's noticed a growing trend that may be sabotaging marriages. Keep reading to find out what he says is the biggest reason marriages are failing.
Women are taking on too many roles.
In a recent video on TikTok, Vetrano said: "I am seeing working moms doing it all. And I'm seeing the husbands step back and saying, 'I don't have to do a thing.'"
According to Vetrano, many women today are not only carrying the bulk of the parenting responsibilities, but they're also maintaining a full-time job, cooking dinner every night, and taking care of the housework. "Women are tired," he explains.
Of course, it's impossible to split everything evenly all the time—but experts agree it should balance out somehow.
"Part of why people get married is to have someone to partner with during tough times," Bill Gentry, a divorce attorney, owner of Gentry Law Firm, and author of I Want Out, tells Best Life. "We all expect our partners to do a little more when we're sick or going through a tough time. However, on a day-to-day basis, it is completely reasonable to balance household responsibilities."
This reflects a larger cultural shift.
"Gender roles within marriages and partnerships are evolving," says Holly J. Moore, the founding divorce attorney at Moore Family Law Group. "More women are pursuing careers and often becoming primary household breadwinners."
So, why have relationships become so lopsided if there have been so many advancements in gender equality?
"There's often a default assumption that women should handle domestic responsibilities," explains Amy Colton, a certified divorce financial analyst, family law mediator, and founder of Your Divorce Made Simple. "As women's roles in the workforce have expanded, there hasn't always been a corresponding shift in domestic dynamics, leading to an imbalance where women are overburdened both at work and home."
There's a common reason for this imbalance.
Matheu Nunn, a divorce lawyer at Einhorn Barbarito in New Jersey, says some of this is rooted in antiquated notions of what marriage should look like: Some men grew up watching their mothers take care of their fathers, and so they romanticize the idea of this kind of dynamic.
"What happens far too frequently is that the wife ends up being the primary caregiver for not only their children but also for her husband," explains Gentry. As he puts it, these women essentially feel like single mothers.
"If your husband does not help with the grocery shopping, help take care of the kids, do laundry, help prepare meals–guess what? You don't have a partner, you have another child," explains Vetrano in another TikTok video.
If you're thinking about marrying someone, Gentry advises watching the dynamic between your partner and their parents: "If they do everything for him and he seems helpless, he probably is."
Changing the dynamic might mean asking for—and accepting—help.
Nunn and Moore agree that as with other issues in a relationship, communication is key.
"Wives should feel comfortable discussing their feelings and concerns, avoiding the buildup of resentment by addressing issues early and constructively," says Moore. "And it's essential for husbands to proactively offer help with household tasks and childcare rather than assuming their partners will handle everything."
Colton recommends that husbands regularly check in with their wives, asking questions like, "How can I support you this week?" or "What can I take off your plate?" rather than always putting the responsibility on her to ask for help.
Laura Doyle, a relationship coach and best-selling author, says she was one of those women—overworked and overwhelmed—and she almost divorced her husband over this very issue. However, she finally realized that if she stated a need or desire rather than complaining, her husband responded differently.
Everything changed when Doyle simply said: "I would love a clean kitchen," as opposed to "This kitchen is a disaster!" She shares, "That was over 20 years ago and he's been cleaning the kitchen ever since."
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