More Young Couples Split over Uneven Division of Labor

  • By Bae Jun-yong

    May 01, 2023 08:36

    Reasons for divorce are changing from personality differences, domestic violence and adultery to unequal division of labor and living costs at home.
    One divorce attorney said, "One woman seeking legal advice even brought an excel file showing the share of housework her husband did and how much the couple split in terms of childrearing responsibilities and living costs. Younger couples these days feel there is no reason to continue their relationship if the other side fails to take on an equal burden."
    According to legal sources, most of the married couples seeking divorce these days are in their mid-30s to early 40s, who have fallen out in the first few years of marriage.
    "The concept that a married couple are an economic collective no longer applies," another divorce attorney said. In the past, married couples pooled their financial resources to cover their costs and make investments. But nowadays, while they may open a joint bank account for running costs, they manage their own money separately.
    "Some people even accuse their spouse of using money from their joint bank account for personal use," the attorney said. "But mainly arguments occur over how many hours each spouse dedicated a week to housework or who drove on the way to visit the in-laws and who paid for the fuel." 
    Another lawyer said, "The older generation might think that younger couples are refusing to yield or understand each other when it comes to housework and childrearing, but younger couples seem to view the equal division of work as rational. Marriage is not seen as being about sacrificing yourself for the happiness of your family but as a path to your own happiness." 
    The lawyer added ruefully, "Sometimes I think my clients approach the division of housework too rigidly, and even couples with children seem to be opting for divorce too easily." 
    There is also a feeling that young people view marriage as a means to improve their future prospects and achieve prosperity, rather than as a union of lovers.
    Roh Jung-tae at the Research Institute for Economy and Society said, "The concept of marriage and gender roles is anchored weakly in Korea due to its rapid industrialization, and now it's crumbling quickly and couples are reluctant to give up even a little of their rights."
    Suh Yi-jong at Seoul National University said, "Young people in their 30s and 40s are the generation who put importance on defending their rights and being independent when they grew up. The positive is that we are seeing more equality in marriage, but the downside is that couples are becoming less understanding, more insistent on their own rights, and increasingly jump to divorce when anything goes wrong."  
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