Archive for July, 2011

The Pain of Pregnancy Loss

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The pain and trauma of miscarriage or stillbirth appears to make it harder for couples to stay together. While such personal tragedies can bring some couples closer, pregnancy loss “appears to increase the overall risk of divorce or separation—an effect that can last for years after the pregnancy loss.”

According to a recent study, the first and largest of its kind, couples who had a miscarriage are 22% more likely to break up, and those who experienced a stillbirth are 40% more likely to do so.

These findings shouldn’t lead people to “be alarmed and assume that just because someone has had a pregnancy loss, they will also have their relationship dissolved,” says the lead author of the study, Katherine Gold, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School, in Ann Arbor. “Most couples do very well and often become closer after loss.”

Although most couples broke up within one-and-a-half to three years after losing a baby, the increased risk of divorce or separation could still be seen up to a decade after the event, especially in couples that experienced stillbirth.

“[H]ealth-care professionals, society, and friends and family need to be aware that pregnancy loss can have a profound impact on families,” she said.

Losing a pregnancy is fairly common, Dr. Gold and her colleagues note in the study, published in the journal Pediatrics. Although just 1% of pregnancies end in stillbirth, roughly 15%—more than 1 in 7—end in miscarriage, which is defined as a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks’ gestation.

Men Lend a Hand, Save a Marriage

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

A British study of 3,500 British couples published recently suggests that couples where the man helps out with housework, shopping and childcare have lower divorce rates.

“Men’s Unpaid Work and Divorce,” which was published by the London School of Economics (LSE), found that the more husbands helped out, the lower the incidence of divorce.

The research said its conclusions undermined the theory running since the 1960s that marriages were most stable when men focused on paid work and women were responsible for housework. The study concluded that “[t]he lowest-risk combination is one in which the mother does not work and the father engages in the highest level of housework and childcare.”

Researcher Wendy Sigle-Rushton said while economists have spent much time examining and trying to explain the link between women going to work and divorce rates, “they have paid very little attention to the behavior of men. This research… suggests that fathers’ contribution to unpaid work at home stabilizes marriage regardless of mothers’ employment status.”

The study analyzed married couples that had their first child in 1970, a time when most mothers of young children stayed at home. “The results suggest that the risk of divorce among working mothers, while greater, is substantially reduced when fathers contribute more to housework and childcare,” she said.

Divorce: Rural America Catches Up

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Many people think that rural America enjoys a Garden-of-Eden innocence from divorce. At one time, rural American divorced much less frequently than those who lived in cities. No more. In divorce, rural America has caught up.

The geographic distinction have now all but vanished and now, “for the first time, rural Americans are just as likely to be divorced as city dwellers,” according to a recent analysis by The New York Times.

Places like Sioux County, Iowa, which had a divorce rate as recently as 1970 so low “that it resembled the rest of America in the 1910s,” now mirror the rest of America. Since 1970, the county has seen a sevenfold increase in divorce - “giving the county the unwelcome distinction of being a standout in this category in census data.”

“Rural families are going through this incredible transformation,” said Daniel T. Lichter, a professor of sociology at Cornell University. Shifts in values - women working and “gaining autonomy and rearranging the order of traditional families” have spread from cities to rural places. Moreover, blue-collar men have lost ground in the last 40 years, even as women have made gains.