Pandemic highlights home inequality, perhaps increasing divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 12, 2020 | Divorce

In the past six months or so, there has been an observed increase in the number of Americans calling family law attorneys to consult about getting divorced. It’s not clear yet if the Covid-19 pandemic will be associated with a huge spike in divorce rates, but it is at least leading to more tension and doubts among many couples.

There are a lot of reasons why the pandemic could be increasing divorce rates, including: more forced time spent with a spouse, heightened stress leading to more conflict, increased childcare duties with no break and worries about employment/money/security. These are just a few of many examples. In today’s post, we’ll discuss just one possible reason why divorce may be on more minds these days: realization of domestic inequality in heterosexual households.

Women do more housework and childcare

It is commonly believed that even in households where husbands and wives both work fulltime jobs, women still have more responsibilities at home. But this isn’t just an observation – there’s data to back it up. According to recent polls, working women spend about one extra hour per day than their male counterparts (on average) tending to housework and childcare. Although women have been strongly represented in the workforce for more than half a century, the “housework gap” between men and women essentially stopped narrowing in the 1980s.

During the pandemic, when many children have been forced to attend school online and parents no longer have childcare for their youngest kids, stresses related to child rearing have gone way up. And because most of us spend all day at home right now, housework has also become a much bigger deal – particularly when it doesn’t get done.

The domestic responsibility gap between men and women isn’t new, but it certainly seems more obvious during this time when we’re all stuck at home.

Women most frequently initiate divorce

Data show that when heterosexual couples get divorced, it is most often initiated by wives. It likely cannot be entirely explained by the domestic responsibility gap, but that gap certainly doesn’t help.

If you are currently experiencing relationship issues related to or heightened by the pandemic, please keep the lines of communication open with your spouse. It may not be too late to implement small changes that could make a big difference.