Career Woman

Promoted women are more likely to divorce


Times have changed and continue to change, and in modern times, women are beginning to enjoy more opportunities that were previously non-existent. The dream of most women is to have a loving husband and kids side by side with a successful career. And in fact, many women have been able to achieve that.

But at a closer look, many will be alarmed to realize that the percentage of women who get to keep their husbands and their jobs pale into insignificance compared to the ones who end up divorced soon after a workplace promotion. The divorce rates for married CEOs are even higher if recent statistics are anything to go by.

A study conducted published by the American Economic Association revealed that women who got promoted in the workplace were 45% more likely to get a divorce compared to men of equal standing or other women in the lower administrative cadre. The research looked at women in politics and corporate organizations in Sweden and the results obtained were too similar to be coincidental.

Additional data from the same study covered a three-decade period among women in the judiciary, law enforcement, female health professionals, and the clergy, and the results were startling. So much so that, in female circles, there is a commonly shared proverb that says “the brighter your light shines at work, the dimmer the glow in your family life.” This is why you need a cohabitation agreement to protect you.

Why the anomaly?

In light of all these revelations, why do a significant number of women end up divorced not long after a promotion at work? Are women becoming more selfish? Do most of them value their careers more than their families? Or are there inherent factors beyond their control?

Contrary to preconceived notions, most of the women promoted in the workplace who eventually got a divorce had been married for years, even decades. The fact that their marriages lasted for so long should serve as an indicator that they treasured their family life and made sacrifices to keep it stable. And only very few of these divorce cases occurred due to accusations of infidelity.

To better understand the dynamics beyond this startling discovery, let us attempt to cast more light on why this is gradually becoming the norm among high flying females in the corporate world.

Reasons why Promoted Women May Get Divorced

#1 The huge burden placed on their shoulders

Occupying a position of authority comes with its responsibilities, which can be very demanding. Heading a local council, running the administrative arm of a startup company, or heading a Fortune 500 company is indeed a very challenging endeavor. Juggling these responsibilities with family life is no longer as easy as it once was for many of these women. Spending late nights at work presiding over meetings and reviewing official documents and timetables is a necessary career move, but this may spell doom for the marriage, according to Online Divorce. Such a burden is one that only a few husbands can live with. 

#2 Post- promotional conflicts and tension

A promotion can be a good thing, and for many couples, it is a cause for celebration. Although both parties will make an effort to adjust to the new reality, this, however, is not always an easy proposition. In the following months after the promotion, conflicts and tensions may ensue, especially if the age gap between both spouses is quite significant with the husband being several years older. 

#3 Newfound self-confidence

Getting promoted into a new role at work is a confidence booster that may rub the husband the wrong way. Women who suddenly attain a position of influence in the workplace may begin to exhibit an aggressive and authoritative personality that husbands may not take kindly to at home. 

#4 Change in the relationship power dynamic

Behind every promotion are a pay rise and other financial incentives. In homes where the husband has long been the standard breadwinner, having the wife usurp his role due to her newfound financial independence may lead to a change in the power dynamic in the marriage. This change can be unsettling for the men they are married to. 

#5 Poor and irregular communication

The longer hours female directors spend at work, the less time they have to communicate and bond with their spouse. Poor or irregular communications may raise doubts in the minds of their spouse regarding their commitment to the marriage. Furthermore, poor communication may aggravate brewing disagreements and tensions previously unresolved. 

#6 Personality Change

Similar to the presence of a newfound sense of confidence is a personality change. On the surface, it will be unfair to blame promoted women for this change because they are expected to grow into the roles they have been given. But what could lead to flashpoints in their relationships is if they are unable to separate work life from family life. Expecting certain modes of behavior from their spouse, just like what is expected from the staff at the workplace, may gradually weaken the marriage structures they’ve spent the better part of their lives building. 

#7 Numerous outside engagements

Poor communication, emotional distancing, and unresolved conflicts are caused by many factors, one of which is constant outside engagements. In fulfilling their roles in political, corporate, religious, and social cycles, promoted women spend more productive time away from home than they do with their family.

In most cases, whatever time spent with their family is rehearsed and devoid of genuine warmth and privacy, and they are only a phone call away from canceling a planned family time out. Traveling for one engagement or the other for several days or weeks strikes the very foundations on which successful marriages are built.

#8 Failure to perform traditional wifely roles

Let us also include the failure of some of these women to perform the traditional wifely roles they previously performed before their promotion. Roles like cooking, cleaning and tending the kids may have to be outsourced to nannies, maids, and cooks, and this is highly unacceptable for men brought up in conservative societies with rigid family values.

#9 Hypergamy syndrome

Hypergamy syndrome is another factor one should not discountenance. Although it will be erroneous to attribute this factor to all women who divorced after gaining workplace promotion, it should not be jettisoned nonetheless. Hypergamy is simply a social concept used to describe women who marry up the social ladder.

For most women who have been married for years and got rich off their careers down the line, they don’t place too much emphasis on how much their husbands earn. However, there are some who do and will find him no longer desirable once they begin to rise above him on the social and economic ladder.


As grim as these realities may seem, there are still highly successful women who balance work life and family life perfectly. For starters, communication is key after a promotion. Secondly, both parties need to have a conversation about potential changes to be expected and steps to be taken to combat their negative impact. Lastly, working moms need to create time to nurture their kids and reassure their spouses concerning their unshakable commitment to their family.

About Ainsley Pavee'

Ainsley Pavee is a New York based financial and business consultant with a focus on assisting female business owners and entrepreneurs overcome hurdles that can hold them back.

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