Lies, Dammed Lies, and Statistics

Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – Lies, Dammed Lies, and Statistics

Lies, Dammed Lies, and Statistics
I’m sure the premise of the article is correct … Successful career women are probabily more likely to divorce than housewifes … but it’s still just a statistic.

The truth is divorce has become ‘acceptable.’ Growing up in the ’60’s and ’70’s I can’t even recall a single parent who was divorced. My ex-wife’s parents are still married and mine were until the passing of my father.

In my case I was the sole breadwinner for almost 20 years. Fancy home in coastal San Diego. Three children in the ‘best’ private schools.

What happened is that my high income went bye-bye in the tech crash of 2000/2001 and without any income from my wife there was no real reserves to fall back on. So much for the theory of the career women and divorce.

Divorce is so EASY and the truth is women believe (often falsely) that somehow they will end up better off financially after the fact. I like to say that one ‘good’ divorce spawns five others … as the network effect spreads the news at how cool of a deal Judy got when she divorced Sam.

The truth is child support is formula driven. You can buy the software or go on line and get the numbers. Alimony is something a good lawyer can minimize. So my wife, accustomed to $11k showing up every month ended up with about $400 in alimony and child support calculated on the modest $5k/mo I had been bringing in since the tech sector tanked. About $1500/mo in total.

I believe that a man will stay in a marriage, for the sake of the kids more often than a women will. Women (falsely) believe they can take their husbands to the cleaners, but a clever man can arrange things to produce a different outcome. I was never secretive about this, I told her the week she filed what she was going to end up with (I had been preparing for some time) and was spot on correct to within $100 on the monthly result she ended up with 2 years later.

As they say in the film “As Good As It Gets…”

Receptionist: “How do you write women so well?”

Melvin Udall: “I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability.”

08-24-2006 01:05 PM

Re: Lies, Dammed Lies, and Statistics
I think Noer wrote the article to stir up an argument that would generate traffic to the Forbes’ website — and hopefully not because he believes it 100% himself.

Personally, I disagree with his article wholeheartedly. Studies have shown that while marriage benefits men (they’re healthier and live longer lives), the opposite is true for women. They may still live longer than their male counterparts on average, but marriage does take a few years off their lives. By the way the study was comparing people who married and those who never did.

Also, (in another study) over the last few decades as more women have joined the workplace and therefore contributed more to the household income, there has been little change in the distribution of household duties. In other words, the division of house chores hasn’t kept in lock-step with the financial contribution. Women may be working the same hours and bringing home nearly or maybe more pay as their husbands, but when they get home many still have housework to do before their workday officially ends. That doesn’t mean that men haven’t been helping out more, because they have, but there’s still a greater imbalance at the homefront than in the family bank account.

Furthermore, the article offers a narrow viewpoint on the current state of marriage/divorce as a reflection of societal changes in the past few decades. Let’s face it, we work the longest hours and have the shortest vacation days in the Westernized world. More households have become two-career ones, but these days both partners have to work to make ends meet or to maintain a certain lifestyle. Gone are the days when one income was sufficient. Our paycheck hasn’t kept pace with inflation. I know that some economists attribute the low rise in pay to the mass entry of women into the marketplace, but that’s besides the point. The reality is most households nowadays need a working woman (part-time or full-time).

So yeah, maybe career women are having more extramarital affairs than their stay-at-home counterparts, but are they having more than the career men? Also, with longer work hours, men and women tend to see their coworkers more often than their spouses. Is it surprising that women (and men) might develop feelings for a coworker and have an affair. A hundred years ago, someone would have an illicit relationship with the neighbor down the road, but today the neighbor is in the office next door. Anyway people in happy marriages don’t embark on an affair. If your spouse (husband or wife) does so, it’s because there’s something wrong in the relationship. People don’t have affairs or divorces because they’re keeping an eye out for a better thing. No one gets married thinking, oh well, this will end in a divorce. If so, why marry? Hell, not marrying is a hell of a lot cheaper and less time consuming than getting a divorce (or having a wedding unless it’s a Vegas one).

And yeah, we have more divorces now than ever, but that doesn’t mean marriages were better in our grandparents’ generation. Since divorces were considered social no-nos and harder to get, people tended to stay in unhappy marriages. Maybe now we’re more honest about it, though, of course, since it’s easier to get a divorce, maybe some people just aren’t trying hard enough to work things out. Also, a major cause of marriage failures is financial difficulty (and not financial gain). To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t seen or heard of a study that cited career women as a leading cause for the break-up.

Honestly, a good and happy marriage is one based on communication and adaptability. And that starts before the walk down the aisle. You can’t anticipate every hurdle or change, but the better prepared and honest you are with each other the better your odds. If a future spouse isn’t so keen on having children or a large brood, the chances are low that the person will wake up one day with a change of heart. If that special someone is career-oriented, guess what, he/she won’t suddenly give that up because a kid comes along or you make more money. If your fiancee has certain financial or lifestyle expectations, it’s likely she/he might not want to stick it out during crises. By the way the same goes for you too. You might be the one who doesn’t want kids, is career-ambitious, or likes vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard. In the end, if you want this person regardless of these or other differences, try hard to negotiate and find a balance that might work and keep doing it for the rest of your marriage.

Don’t blame an unhappy marriage or divorce on the fact that your wife is a career woman or not marry her because she is. If you love her for other qualities/attributes that outweigh her having a career and the two of you are committed to being flexible and mindful of each other’s needs and hopes, then a career shouldn’t be the deciding factor. The same goes for the woman with a career man. The quality and sustainability of a marriage depends on both partners. If anything, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the decades.

08-24-2006 04:15 PM

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