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How a change in income can affect some marriages

Fewer California marriages may start with the couple in traditional roles than in the past, and a study by Swedish researchers says that these equal marriages could be more solid than traditional ones. Problems may arise in more traditional arrangements when change happens. The study found that when women made no money or less than half of their husbands' salaries at the beginning of the marriage and then transitioned to earn as much or more than their husbands, these couples were more likely to divorce than married people who were on equal footing from the start.

These divorces often happen because when women begin focusing on their careers, there is no one to pick up the slack in housework, child care and other duties. Even husbands who cut back on their own work schedules because the family no longer needs the extra income often do not take over those chores. In other cases, men resent the higher income of their wives. They may react angrily and try to control the money or allege that their wives are having affairs.

Sometimes couples can survive these changes through good communication. A spouse who needs his or her partner to do more around the house may need to be specific about the tasks that must be done. Couples must also communicate clearly about their schedules and set aside time for one another.

Divorce may be the only solution for some couples. At this point, they will need to communicate effectively about the division of property and child custody. If they cannot do so, they can resort to litigation. However, most couples prefer to try to negotiate first even if it is challenging since it may be less expensive than going to court and may lead to better results. Attorneys may participate in the negotiating process and may, in fact, handle the actual negotiations.

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