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.


Single for too long, Ronnie wanted to find love. So, she made a few tweaks and then dated 30 men in 15 months to meet her adorable husband Paul. Discovering the keys to midlife dating, she founded It’s Never Too Late for Love to help other smart, successful women find love too! Her mission is to share her proven dating advice  and keen insights about men with women everywhere who are serious about finding love with the right man. Ronnie Ann Ryan, MBA, CCC is a Certified Coach who has helped 1,000’s of midlife women with her Love & Dating Coach services. She’s been featured on BBC’s 5 Live Radio, NBC, ABC, and Fox News, NPR, eHarmony,,, Connecticut Magazine among others around the world. An established author, you can find her 6 books on Amazon.

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

  1. 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!

    • 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. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.



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