If your partner suddenly gets a new, high-paying job, of course you’re going to be excited for them. But as new research has found, professional success doesn’t always bode well for relationship success. According to Swedish researchers, women who begin their marriage earning less than their husbands (or nothing at all) are “significantly more likely” to get divorced if their career suddenly changes for the better. Translation? Women who get promoted are more likely to get divorced, and that sucks.
Olle Folke, a political scientist at Uppsala University, and Johanna Rickne, an economist at Stockholm University, analyzed data from the Swedish register of job candidates before and after receiving promotions at work. They looked at data from over 30 years of women who were promoted to top managerial roles or were elected to office to see how a woman’s sudden professional success would affect her personal life.
They found that women who won elections were seven percentage points less likely to stay married after three years in their new jobs than women who lost. However, the same couldn’t be said for men. Whether a man won or lost an election had really no effect on his marriage.
Married women who got promoted to a top position, like CEO, were also found to be two times more likely than their male counterparts to get divorced after three years.
So what’s going on here? According to the researchers, there are three hypotheses to explain why this is happening. For one, a wife’s unexpected promotion could cause issues for a couple that prioritizes the husband’s career. Two, her promotion could cause more stress in terms of dividing household tasks in “unequal relationships.” And three, women just leave relationships that aren’t flexible enough and don’t offer the support they need.
When it comes to relationships, people never stay exactly the same forever. Growth and change are good. But if one partner can’t be supportive and adaptive to the changes that are happening, it makes sense that the other would consider letting them go.
So keep doing you, keep owning your success, and hopefully you have a supportive partner who will happily come along for the ride — because you deserve nothing less.