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High Income Women Increasingly Choosing Divorce

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Woman over 50 who earn $100k annually are far more likely to get divorced than their male counterparts.

Women over 50 earning more than $100k are increasingly likely to add divorce to their shopping list while male peers are far more likely to stay married according to survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The data seems to dispel the myth of the mid-life crisis being a male phenomenon,” says Seth Eisenberg, President of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation that delivers relationship and marriage education classes to tens of thousands nationwide.

America’s Families and Living Arrangements Survey

The 2009 America’s Families and Living Arrangements study reveals the percentage of women earning over $100k who are divorced climbs from 11.85% between 45-49 to 22.45% from 50-54. For men in the same income category, the percentage who are divorced drops from 8.4% between the ages of 45-49 to 6.61% for those who are 50-54.

For men between 45-54, as income increases, the percentage who are divorced declines. For high-earning women between 50-54, the percentage that are divorced grows as paychecks increase.

While the overall divorce rate for 50-54 year old women earning more than $100k is just over 22%, almost one in three Hispanic women, 29.4%, in the same age and income category are divorced, nearly double the rate of Hispanic men, which at 16.7% is more than double that of both White (6.5%) and Black men (7%) in the high income range.

Francisco and Viviana Robledo

Francisco and Viviana Robledo, married 23 years, teach marriage education classes to Hispanic couples.

PAIRS Marriage Education Classes

Francisco and Viviana Robledo have taught marriage education classes to thousands of Hispanic couples in South Florida since 2007.

“With greater income comes greater freedom,” says Viviana Robledo, 44, mother of three, who will celebrate her 24th wedding anniversary in April.

Francisco Robledo, 46, says Hispanic men registering for PAIRS marriage education classes are eager to learn skills to strengthen their families.

“Men are learning that the models they often saw from their own fathers no longer work,” he says. “They come to classes grateful for the chance to learn to confide, listen, understand emotions, and work through differences that could otherwise threaten their marriages and families.”

Learning Skills to Enhance Love and Intimacy

Eisenberg says today’s marriages are more often based on love and intimacy than previous generations who saw their unions as primarily about security, stability and raising children. “Lower income couples struggling to pay housing, food, healthcare and education costs may have different priorities than those with greater resources,” he says.

Viviana Robledo says Hispanic women want husbands who are also their best friends. “It’s not just about chores, bills, and parenting,” she says. “Women, especially those with greater resources, also expect friendship, romance and pleasure from their husbands.”

Francisco Robledo, who teaches the 9-12 hour PAIRS Essentials classes in Spanish at area churches and community centers, says men are increasingly aware of the need to learn skills to succeed in love, much as they do for work.

Strengthening Marriages and Families

“It’s difficult to blame someone who never had a chance to learn from his own father, but we’re seeing thousands of Hispanic men in classes who want to do everything possible to strengthen their marriages and families. For their wives, those are welcome investments,” he says.

“Feelings of love,” says Eisenberg, “come from being a pleasure to each other. People of all backgrounds, ethnicities and income levels are realizing that doesn’t happen by accident or from simply sending smoke signals — it requires talking, listening and understanding each other. Couples – men and women alike – are looking to preserve their families and the skills to be successful. Learning to listen, confide emotions, and work through differences are giant steps forward.”

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