In the past, men almost always assumed the role of breadwinner. However, in the past decade, women have been taking the reins and outearning men. While many men and women are fine with this, it can lead to issues for some marriages. It may even lead to divorce.
Why is this still an issue in the 21st century? Because some people cling to traditions, no matter how outdated. Many people are afraid to move away from established gender roles. A man may have seen his mother and grandmother stay home to raise children, so he may expect the same from his wife.
Women also tend to honor traditions even though many claim to be feminists or liberals. While women have seen huge gains over the last few decades, men and women alike favor men as breadwinners.
Many women, however, think it is easy to be breadwinners. They think they will feel more empowered. However, it can be exhausting, since many women work, pay the bills, and have to come home to cook, clean, and take care of kids. Earning more money is not always all it is cracked up to be. While earning a lot of money can be exciting, it can also be frustrating. Some women secretly wish their partner would earn more money.
In fact, 71% of adults said that in order for men to be good partners, it is “very important” for them to support their families. There is a lot of pressure for men to be the breadwinners, even though this role is archaic. It is also harmful to their health. Men see declines to their physical and mental health as they take on more financial responsibility. However, men also get stressed out when their spouses earn more than 40% of the household income.
So what does this mean? What do men want in a relationship? Overall, men want to be the breadwinners so they can feel more masculine. This is especially true for men who grew up in the 1950s. In the end, it should not matter who earns more money, as long as both spouses are fine with it.
How Does This Lead to Divorce?
Some couples end up divorcing due to the woman’s status as a breadwinner. In fact, when the woman is the breadwinner in a marriage, divorce rates increase by 50%. The biggest reason why is that men often feel emasculated by their wife’s success. They feel inadequate because their wife is making more money than them. The man then feels lost in the marriage. If he cannot provide for his family, then what exactly is his role?
Another issue is that finances always cause tension in a marriage. Women lose respect for their husbands because they expect more from them. Men, on the other hand, feel insecure. It becomes a battle of the egos. You have to realize that you both are necessities in the household. You just need to change your mindset and perhaps change your roles.
Another thing to consider is that women are graduating from college at higher rates than men. These women are marrying men without college degrees. This can lead to tension and divorce if the spouses do not communicate.
Money also creates competition, which is not good for spouses. There is also the belief that money equals power, so the breadwinner has more power. The other person, therefore, is responsible for everything else. You need to work as a team, and salary does not equal value.
How to Make Things Work
Having a female breadwinner does not mean the marriage is doomed. Here are some things couples can do to avoid tension.
- Communicate. Communication is key in marriages where the woman is the breadwinner. Each person needs to understand their role. What questions or concerns do they have? If there are issues, it is best to confront them head on. Do not let tension mount.
- Set a goal. Men can do their part by contributing toward a savings goal. This can be something for the house, such as new furniture or decorations.
Contribute in other ways. A marriage is not just about money. There are chores that need to be done, dinner that needs to be cooked, and kids to care for. Men can contribute to the household in other ways.
- Be empathetic toward the lower earner. Breadwinner disparity is a real thing. If you are the breadwinner, assume that your spouse is working hard in a career, but they are just not earning more money than you. If your spouse does not work at all, though, and refuses to contribute to the household, that is a totally different issue.
- Deal with it. Being a female breadwinner does not need to be a problem. Each household is different, so you and your spouse need to do what works for you. Respect each spouse’s status and contributions to the household. Remember you are on the same team, so do not treat your spouse as a threat; instead, they should be your ally.
Seek Legal Help
Being a breadwinner can be stressful. It is bound to cause communication issues and arguments in many marriages as both parties struggle to find their roles.
Some men are uncomfortable with their wives being the primary earner. This can lead to emotional issues, lack of communication, and ultimately, divorce. If this describes your marriage, contact Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler today. We can guide you through the process for a less stressful divorce. To schedule a consultation, call (954) 346-6464 or fill out the online form.