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The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

A workaholic wife may signal marital trouble

More time in the office could mean trouble in paradise.

By Kristin Wong Nov 15, 2012 4:37PM

Wife working late? A new study says it might be a sign that divorce is right around the corner.

Photo: Nullplus/Getty ImagesResearchers from the London School of Economics studied the legalization of divorce in Ireland to determine how the rates of marriage breakdown affect women's participation in the workforce. They found that for every 1 percent increase in the risk of marital breakdown, women work an extra 12 minutes per week.

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"We see that women who are at a higher risk of divorce significantly increase how much they work. And it isn't that women working outside the home are more likely to get divorced," Dr. Berkay Ozcan, the study's lead researcher, explained of the findings.

While the simple answer may be that women spend more time at work to avoid marital strife, Ozcan says it's a bit more complex.

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"Rather, faced with a rising probability of divorce, women work more, whether they ultimately separate or not. They are working as a form of insurance in case of divorce or in anticipation of it."

Essentially, women who think divorce may be in their future work more in an attempt to secure "their outside options." For men, this link didn't exist — their productivity remained the same whether their marriage was on the rocks or not.

The researchers found that, following the legislation, married women increased their work hours by around 18 percent. While it might seem like a smart move to secure your role at work amid the looming threat of a costly divorce, Ozcan says there's a definite downside:

"Women who have secured their outside options, in case of divorce, may have done so, at least in the short run, at the expense of their leisure time and potentially their well-being."

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Photo: Nullplus/Getty Images

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18Comments
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No. It pays the bills???? This is the reason why the families hurt because it takes two parents working to make enough and maybe something extra for a morale boost but that's it . There is a breaking point you know where its not enough to keep "everyone" happy. while Big Wall St. is raking in the profits with high cost of living all around us and stagnation of wages. Have you noticed every time there is a minimum wage increase cost of everyday things catch up just as quick. That's how the keep the man down:(
Nov 26, 2012 6:19AM
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Welcome to the corporatocracy people. Our pretentious drive for image and possession has resulted in a shift in values from the loving family to the competitive workplace. Now get back to work and make your overlords some cash!
Nov 26, 2012 2:43AM
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Marriage is not the thing which only belongs to woman. How to balance the life and work not only depends on the wife's  in family, it also depends on the husband's intakes, characters and other factors. in most families, women are the weak side, so the point is how the husband handle the things in his family.
Nov 26, 2012 2:23AM
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My wife works 65-70 hours a week and I work 45.  It gives me much needed time alone to do what I want to do...actually pretty awesome!!!  And she makes makes more money than I do...pretty awesome also!  :- )
Nov 26, 2012 2:00AM
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Oh, of course. Because women should not have busy careers, that's only for men. What year do ya'll think we're in, 2012?!!

Women: best get back to popping out some more ickle kiddies and stick to baking.
Nov 26, 2012 12:42AM
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The irony is, the fact that women must (or simply want to) work outside the home can be part of the reason why the marriage is going south.  The cost of so called freedom or women's rights to work, etc, has negatively impacted many a marriage.  And, at the same time, there have been positive impacts.  There is no cut and dry case....each family must decide for themselves.  Either way, there is a cost.

Nov 26, 2012 12:04AM
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Or could it be that the Irish culture is different from ours when it comes to working wives? I mean, DUH!
Nov 25, 2012 11:10PM
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I'd say some women work more hours so they don't have to communicate/discuss issues with their husbands.  It makes for a convenient excuse.
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