Happiness: Not for Sale, How Income Disparities between a Man and Woman affect their Relationship

By Monica Wilson on July 18, 2012

Women are set to earn more in any profession within 25 years. From traditional housewives with a little control over major household decisions, the number of women earning more than their partners has significantly increased in the past years. This however, doesn’t buy male’s happiness, a new study suggest.

Female Breadwinners

At the end of 1960s, only 4 percent of the female population has earned more than their partners. But the figure went up to 19% which is equivalent to 2.7 million. According to the official figures from the Office for National Statistics, the number of men who has given up their jobs to take charge of the household stuff has skyrocketed by 80 percent in just a span of 15 years. This clearly shows a shift of roles between men and women when it comes to raising a family.

How does this affect men?

In a study by Patrick Coughlin and Jay Wade from Fordham University in the US, it was found that men who have partners earning higher than what they do have the worst romantic relationships. This is because the disparity in income is a big deal for men. Traditional view suggests that men are the breadwinners of the family. And with this comes their power and authority. There’s no wonder why some of them feel distressed whenever their spouses or partners earn more money.

The study involved 47 men whose partners have bigger income. Through an online survey, the participants shared how the quality of their relationships is affected by the disparity in income. Their perceptions on emotional control, success, violence, power, dominance, homophobia and influence (which represent the masculinity ideology) were also assessed.

Coughlin and Wade found that men who endorsed the traditional masculinity are more likely to have low-quality romantic relationship while those who endorsed non-traditional masculinity are more likely to experience high-quality relationship.

According to the study authors, their findings demonstrate how men with high-earning partners could have poor or better relationship.

If you’re a woman who’s earning more than your partner, here are some tips to restore the balance in your relationship:

Be fair.

Many couples end up fighting because of some petty household chores that were left undone. Distributing home responsibilities isn’t as easy as saying ‘you sweep the floor, I’ll do the dishes’. Talk to each other and make sure everything is done in a way that’s fair for both the two of you. Don’t fight over a house chore because one is supposed to do that while the other one’s spending more time in the office and earning more.

Don’t sleep unless the argument has been settled.

One of the greatest secrets of successful couples is being open to each other. Don’t let a day pass without working out the problem or settling the argument you just had.

Talk about how decisions will be made.

Remember that you’re pioneers on this situation. If before, men have the sole authority on decision-making, this time it’s different. Even though it makes sense that the one who earns higher is more influential in rendering financial decisions, it’s important that you both talk about it together. Have a cup of coffee and brainstorm. After all, it’s not just about you or him; it’s for your family.

Seek help in needed.

Monetary issues can totally wreck a relationship. You can earn money anytime you want but finding a good and long lasting relationship takes time and extreme effort. A professional therapist can help the both of you restore the beautiful relationship you once had.


Source of this article:

Coughlin P & Wade J (2012). Masculinity ideology, income disparity, and romantic relationship quality among men with higher earning female partners. Sex Roles; DOI 10.1007/s11199-012-0187-6

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