Travel anywhere in the developing world, and you will find American volunteers working on social projects to help women trapped in the cycle of poverty. The scenario goes like this: Adolescent girls do not finish their schooling as they must help around the house full time. With limited education and options, they marry young and have children, which keeps them trapped in the home for many more years to come. Unable to earn an income, they remain dependent on their spouse. These projects aim to give women the skills to start small businesses from home to make their own money and escape an often unhappy or abusive marriage.
Things are not that different for some women in the U.S. Even though most women finish their education, and many have great careers, others end up trapped in a marriage without the financial means to escape.
Women often give up their careers to raise children. As time goes by, their knowledge of the field they worked in becomes obsolete, making it harder to get the well-paying job they once could have. If they want to end their marriage, they may do the math and fear they cannot afford to run a household alone. If the children are still young, they would need to earn enough to run the home and pay for child care when they are working. It is no surprise that many choose to stay put, despite being incredibly unhappy. Many even remain in abusive relationships because they cannot afford to leave.
Unhappy marriages are bad for parents and their children. While the cost of divorce and life alone may be prohibitive, the price of staying could be considerably higher, especially if there is domestic violence involved. Seek legal help to understand your options.