Dating Over 40: Women with Graduate Degrees More Likely to Divorce

This is no April fools joke. I wish it were. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, women with graduate degrees including MBA’s, lawyers and MD’s are all at risk of high divorce rate. While the article doesn’t provide the reasons why this seems to be true, it does state that a research study is soon to be released that surveyed over 100,00 professionals.

Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson of Washington & Lee University School of Law analyzed data on  professionals in business, law and medicine. She determined that for women, a professional degree can be hazardous to marital health. Ouch!  Maybe all that hype from the 70’s about women having it all: a great career, marriage and a husband might be a stretch – even for us super-human females.

In the article, Professor Robin only had one rather simplistic solution – look for men who are more loving and supportive than most. Well, when you think about it  – that makes sense doesn’t it. Traditionally, it’s been said over and over, that behind every successful man is a good woman. so what we really need is a great wife!

Think about it – wouldn’t you love someone to pick up the cleaning, take the kids to doctor appointments and soccer, and run the household? Not an original thought, granted, but a good one nonetheless.

Yet, I haven’t seen that many men willing to do the wifely duties. So now what? How about another solution? That leads me back to my article about settling – settling for a heart of gold and  looking past the paycheck to find love. Two really good things I can say about blue collar men: 1) they can fix stuff 2) they haven’t competed much with us so they aren’t jaded about women the way some white collar men are.

I have seen so many of my women friends marry guys who are not professional men with very happy marriages. It’s something to think about. Do you need a clone of yourself with a white collar? Or, can you think of some other qualities for the man you want to share your life with? It’s something to think about. This is not about settling – like accepting something less than you want. This is about reframing what you want – rethinking what might make you happy in the long run. It’s definitely worth thinking about.

Let’s hear your thoughts on this topic.


20 responses on “Dating Over 40: Women with Graduate Degrees More Likely to Divorce

  1. Ronnie Post author

    Jenny, looking for a loving partner is a process. Sometimes it happens quickly, other times it takes longer. The secret is to be yourself – but your “best” self when you meet new people. Always start with the positive ands think of what you’d say on a job interview – same principles apply – like not bad-mouthing your previous boss/husband. Use your feminine charm to interact and attract, rather than your masculine business-like energy which doesn’t work in the world of romance. Observe the men you date to see if their behavior, values, attitudes, energy level, and lifestyle are a good match. Be as open as you can to different types of men and be smart about turning away from those you know won’t work. And lastly, believe – believe finding the right man for you is completely possible. That’s my philosophy in a nutshell! Good luck out there and Happy New Year.

  2. Jenny

    Thanks so much for your feedback.

    I definitely think you are right that his unwillingness to be a partner was an underlying cause of our breakup. He seemed willing to be a partner before we got married, but that started to change soon after saying “I do.” It just took too many years of wear and tear for it to take its toll. Thank God I did get the graduate degree so that I could leave and support myself!

    If I had to pick one or the other, I’d take someone who shares my values of partnership over the money, but after pulling the load for 20 years, it would be nice to find someone willing and able to lighten the load. Since I love kids and wanted more than one to begin with, I hope my willingness to be a good stepmother will help me find someone with whom to build a strong family for our kids and ourselves. Any suggestions for how to achieve this goal are welcome.

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Ronnie Post author

    Hi Jenny,
    Sorry to hear your marriage didn’t work out. However, I don’t think that has to do with your difference in education. It does have to do with his willingness to be a partner. And I think your advice – to look at a man’s parents’ gender roles – is very wise.

    And yet there are exceptions to every rule. I know a family where her job brings in 5 times what her husband makes and he has a good job. She pays the bills, he buys the food and cooks and they share child rearing. I know another couple where she does all the food, he cleans up and their jobs are equal. So much of how things work out depends not on education, but on the agreements you make up front and the values you share – or don’t share. .

    I wish you all the best in your search for new love. My bet is you can find a good man, whether he makes a lot of money or simply shares your values of partnership.

  4. Jenny

    I’m writing to weigh in as a woman with a graduate degree divorcing a man with a 4 year college degree after 20 years of marriage. Perhaps my story will be of interest.

    To me, marriage should be a partnership to which both partners contribute the best each can offer. This may mean that the husband is the breadwinner while the wife is a homemaker, or vice versa. It may also mean that partners fill different roles at different times as needed based upon the circumstances (e.g., downturn in husband’s industry leads to layoff, etc). Either way, each partner should treat the other with respect for his or her contributions to the family.

    Gender roles are fine, but people don’t always fit into them. When I got married, I was thinking more about love than gender roles. Over time, my work became more demanding and income producing, but his did not. He didn’t try to make things easier on me by helping out at home. I eventually found myself bringing home the bacon AND frying it in a pan while he watched cable. He became dissatisfied with his own work and complained that it embarrassed him. I told him I didn’t marry an occupation; I married a man. I didn’t care what career he pursued as long as he pursued one.

    These unpleasant circumstances were tolerable, but the increasingly constant criticism was not. Why didn’t I keep the house spotless on my own (no maid or spouse to help) while working 70 hour weeks, paying the bills, doing the taxes, and raising our child with no help from him? Women in his family kept house and raised kids with no help from their husbands; never mind that their husbands earned enough money for them to be housewives and stay at home moms while he did not. What was wrong with me?

    I finally figured out what was wrong with me – being married to him. I wish I had reached the conclusion in less than 20 years – I should have married a Jon, not a David.

    I know plenty of female professionals married to Mr. Moms and I hope it works for them. Maybe it does. It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t expect it to ruin our marriage, but it did. He should have married someone who, like him, would rather watch cable than read a book. Then he wouldn’t have felt that he’d lost power by marrying a more educated woman and I wouldn’t have resented working a like a dog while my husband took it easy.

    My advice to women considering the “Mr. Mom” option is to seriously consider the gender roles in your respective families. Women, please consider the roles your potential husband’s relatives, especially his parents, play in their own marriages. My soon to be former in-laws are Archie and Edith; not good role models for a Mr. Mom, not that I wanted one. Of course, there aren’t many Mr. Mom role models in their 70s and 80s. Maybe our daughters will have better resources.

    As for me, I now prefer a man more successful than I am so that I can achieve without bruising his ego. Before getting married, I dated plenty of men who fit that description. Finding one now won’t be so easy

  5. Ronnie Post author

    Hello Y3,

    You might be right – women with grad school degrees might be able to afford divorce more than others. I doubt having a degree makes women more com’t point to qualitative dtata. And I’m sure you are right, grad school won’t cramp your style – it didn’t cramp mine! I’m married and have an MBA. I didn’t mean to deter you from your goals by any stretch of the imagination. I just thought ti was interesting.

    Good luck with school and your love life!

  6. yyy

    This article says that women in grad school get divorced more often, but is that really a bad thing?

    Perhaps the women that are not divorced want to get divorced byt can'[t because they don’t have enough money to get divorced because they didn’t get their graduate degrees.

    My parents are divorced and they are both much happier, now that they are divorced, then they were ten years ago with each other.

    My point is – statistics is statistics – but you cannot determine the quality of people’s lives form a statistic. Statistics also say that women are initiating the divorce at a higher rate due to infidelity. So maybe these women prefer to be divorced than to hang around a cheating man! Imagine that!

    I would like to have a happy marriage but I do not think grad school will cramp my style. In fact, anyone that can’t tolerate me going to grad school is not worth marrying anyways.

  7. Jon

    I agree with David. My wife and I were married at age 20 and 19. We had our first child 9 months later. My wife went to school and got her undergrad. I worked my back side off to put her through school because I knew that one day she will want to enter the professional world and the only way to do that was with a degree. She willingly stayed home for over 13 years being a stay at home mom raising our children while I worked and (got my degree at the same time).

    We purchased our second house on my income alone. We lived simple and we lived happy. Our children had the stability of having a mom available to them during the crucial relationship building years.

    She now is getting her masters degree, while all our children are in school a little older and able to manage the tasks we provide them (and they have many).

    There are “womans power” females out there who ARE control hungry, my wife is one of them. However I am a white collar man, who does well and can hold my own. We compromise when we need to compromise, we argue when we need to argue.

    Every woman SHOULD get a college degree (I will pay my three girls way through college), simply because they need to make sure they are not self reliant on someone elses potential lack of reliability.

    I am pro education for women, I am pro stay and home “job” for women.

    I loved all of Davids comments and hope that my comments do not diminish his quality input.

  8. Ronnie Post author

    I don’t think we demonize stay at home Mom’s. What’s really being said here is that there aren’t enough men who WANT or can afford teh LUXURY of a stay at home woman. Plus there are many women who want a career and let’s not demonize that either. And lastly, with today’s economy, it usually takes two incomes to support a family.

    Get off that soap box David – it’s slippery and you might fall.

    ‘Nuf said gentleman!

  9. anam

    Wow David! I’ve got to hand it to you – everything you say is spot on. Dont take any notice of what these ladies have said.

    Women really need to rethink their roles, stop complaining incessantly about everything and recognise where they are going wrong.

    And this coming from a woman.

  10. David

    Mira – what part of this man thing is mysterious to you?

    Helen figured that since she had her OWN money, she’d pick a guy of lesser financial worth and education who had looks over brains & success. She selected a man the way many men pick women. When a man picks a woman “just for looks” however, he actually gets something. Namely, health. Men are attracted to health w/o even realizing it. We call it good looks, but it is good health in reality. So, since the woman carries the child, he gains healthy or even beautiful children.

    Men offer something different to the union – stability. Mira, when you expect nothing of a man, that’s exactly what you get. A blue collar man is not a suitable match for an MBA woman’s debt structure if she gets pregnant and can’t work. Now he may have animal appeal, and he may be someone who doesn’t threaten her sense of control, but he’s not able to do what men do (provide Stability) – to the standard needed by Helen.

    In the end, women need to realize that though men and woman are equal, they are not interchangeable. And every post you see here where a woman bemoans the selection of a worthless man – has HER driving the choice of that pairing selection, and erroneously assumes interchangeability between men and women. Wrong, wrong ladies.

    There’s nothing wrong with being a stay home mom folks, and statistics seem to bear that out for favorable marriage out comes additionally. Stop demonizing women who place others ahead of them selves. Selflessness is a necessary ingredient in all successful marriage and parenting arrangements.


  11. mira b

    Ronnie –

    David (and Helen’s man) seem to be pretty emblematic examples of what we’re up against as women. I hope you’re seeing that our “attitudes” aren’t always the problem.

  12. David

    Ronnie – your suggestion that my advocacy of traditional values is “hostility against women” and “1870’s thinking” is very telling.

    It is lost on NO ONE here that you avoided every salient point in my article and jumped straight to the name calling.

    Lets try and stay rational here – because it’s not against women to be FOR children and against things likely to cause divorce. The study SHOWS the results of your kind of thinking, and frankly, though it’s new news to career girls, it old news to men. We read this kind of incredible revelation and just snicker. Remember Ronnie, men have brains too.

    If you want any chance at all at marriage, you need to be offering children. If you want any chance at STAYING married, re-read the study above and take it’s advice. Don’t get your husband to act like your mom so you can act more like your dad. If you figured this all out to late – well, then you’re too late. Women need to hook up EARLY (before 30) if they ever want a decent shot at marriage. Men gain nothing they don’t already have already by marrying older women, and despite what women think, men very very rarely marry just for love. They usually marry to gain something they don’t have by NOT being married. And now a days – (for good men) that’s only one thing – children.

    There is nothing bad about a young woman who gives the best of her youth and talent to her husband and children instead of private industry. Any such woman is a pearl of great price, and rare indeed. Career girls seem to be united in this hostility toward women (and men) who prefer traditional roles – which all the studies now are showing to be better than the career/feminist “me first” options. After all, w/o a study, who would have ever figured out that a woman who placed others ahead of herself might make a better marriage partner or mother?

    It’s great we have studies….


  13. Ronnie Post author

    Ah yes, find a successful man and stick with him. What a simple and easy solution. By the way David – are you brokering those guys? Because it’s not so easy to find them. Thankfully there are plenty of good men out there, but for the majority of couples today, two incomes is just a hard cold fact of life. I think you are still living in the 1870’s my friend. Please take your hostility against women else where.


  14. David

    Sounds great Ronnie accept:

    There IS another option to 2 incomes. Find a successful man, and fully commit to being a successful woman (rather than just a well paid one). There’s nothing wrong with being a stay home mom married to a guy who makes over 6 figures. IMO – Women who have one foot in each of three different things never seem to be good enough at any one to justify the risk of marriage for men who stand to lose 1/2 of everything in an ugly divorce.

    Remember Ronnie, most of the women out there working prefer to continue to work no matter what their man is earning. So it’s about “control” and “materialism” rather than real need for basics or survival.

    When a man hooks up with a woman who’d rather be in the office than at the nursery, he shouldn’t be surprised at having problems in his marriage, or problems with his kids down the road.

    Lets try to figure out what makes great kids and a successful marriage first, rather than what makes a happy full time career girl who’s also the part time wife and part time mom.

    The study that predicated this article seems to show that women who DO chose other priorities fail at marriage – I have just stated the obvious as to why.

    Understanding from men ISN’T what we need here – men have been the same for 100 years and want no more or less today than they did in 1870. Women have changed completely in the last 40 years – they have become more like our dad’s than our moms. And IMO, that is the problem because no (straight) marriage needs two dads.


  15. Ronnie Post author

    David, I agree with you when you say that men and women are not interchangeable and that while we may be equal, we are not THE SAME. How true! On the other hand, I don’t think women will completely revert to traditional roles at this point, because the truth is, today you need two incomes to survive. So the working thing is most likely here to stay.

    But you can work and learn to cook and take care of your children. And yes, kids are the priority. Since you’re not a woman, why not have just a bit of empathy for our plight – its very to juggle everything and do the best at wearing so many hats.

    I recommend empathy. It’s is very sexy to women. Give it try and maybe, one will cook you dinner…

  16. David

    When I read stuff like this I have to scratch my head. Why is it a surprise to anyone that people trained to fight (lawyers) or to run the show (MBAs) aren’t in immediate conflict with their male counterparts in any union?

    The baffling thing here is this underlying female assumption that men and women are “equal” really means “interchangeable”. Why should women have to be as good at fixing the car and programming the VCR or men as good at taking care of the kids?

    Who decided that the traditional roles where not best? Clearly the divorce rates and incidents at Columbine where less in the 1950’s than they are today. What’s better for women of today (being single and childless) than having our mom’s roles?

    Marriage isn’t a woman’s refuge from “not having it all, and all at once”. It is a vocational choice just like being a Doctor. But take it from a triathlete (run, swim & bike racer) folks, you can’t be good at everything ALL at once. And if you have to pick one thing to be worst at – it can’t be the kids.

    When women decide to train themselves to do what their father did rather than what their mothers did – men should just treat them like Tiger Woods applying for a job as an Ocean Lifeguard. “Hey – we can’t use you on the beach Tiger, because you can’t swim (or don’t want to swim), but I’d love to see your next tournament!”

    Lets face it folks – if you want to be an Ocean Lifeguard – you have to learn to swim some where along the line – rather than ask the boss/coworkers to swim with you, for you, or be more loving and supportive about your poor swimming.

    Ladies – wanna get married? Try being different from your girl friends. Skip Sex in the City, grad school, and ask your mother how she stayed married so long. I had to learn to repair an engine or a Television, so what’s so bad about learning to cook? I can, but won’t marry a woman who can’t.


  17. Ronnie Post author

    Hi Lisa,

    Well you wrapped up your thoughts nicely at the end with your criteria. If a man has all that he is worthy of you. But in defense of the blue collar man, I myself met plenty of white collar scoundrels. So I don’t think the blue collar fellows have the market cornered on slacking off or poor manners.

    Everyone is entitled to preferences. I just think you can find a gem in more than one spot -that’s my point. I wouldn’t opt for a man without values no matter how much money, good looks or education – that’s all I’m saying. Character and money don’t necessarily show up hand in hand – but a good heart can show up any where. Thanks for your thoughts.

  18. Lisa

    Hmmm, I was taught to look for a man with a similar background, education and spiritual values/religion. There’s a very good reason for this and it is to reduce the problems that arise from different values and backgrounds.

    Not wanting to be shallow I decided as an adult to poo poo my parent’s teachings and did my stint with the blue collar workers. I would say a decade is enough time trying to find love with someone from more humble beginnings/standards.

    I’m back where my parents wanted me to start, dating college educated professionals or business owners who understand the need for social skills, manners, etiquette, commitment to work, the consequences of slacking off, customer relations, effective communication, negotiation. Moreover I have learned that when a blue collar worker states in his profile that he is self-employed it is code for “I just can’t keep a job” or “I’m not willing to show up at work everyday”.

    Ronnie, I do like your advice and you are so, so correct on keeping the heart open and ready, but let us not forget the reason that cultures were established in the first place…. it was to create pockets of people who had the same standards, making it easier to find a mate with whom you could establish and nurture a family to carry on your bloodline. When we step out of our culture or away from our religious beliefs we re-invent the wheel.

    What works for me is to look for a man who came from the same financial status, class, education, family values, work ethic, spiritual belief, and had a “mean mother” who made him do chores and clean up after himself. If he’s not a liar and has all of that then I invest in finding out if our personalities are compatible. Anything less is just experimenting or longshots.

  19. Ronnie Post author

    So sorry to hear about your bad experience with Mr. Blue. However, we can’t judge all blue collar men based on one bad apple. All blue collar men aren’t disrespectful, lazy, money grubbers. Just like the idea that all women aren’t gold diggers -not true either. You get the picture.

    My heart does go out to you and I wish you healing and the opportunity to connect with a new, better man who will treat you right, love and cherish you as you certainly deserve.

  20. Helen

    As a professional woman with an MBA, I was married to a blue-collar guy. He sponged my money, brought in friends who laughed at me, and finally left me fifteen years later for a checkout girl.

    Blue-collar guys may be good at fixing stuff, but they’re no more likely to hang around than any other man. And they have really poor table manners.

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