The statistics are clear: more and more women are out-earning their husbands. In a 2015 study from the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, 38% percent of women made more than their partners—not complete parity, but considerably better than it used to be (in 1987 it was fewer than 25%).
While this is clearly good news on the gender pay gap front, and a win for all around fairness, it’s a victory that comes with complications. For a start, women are on the whole still underpaid when compared to men, making only 80% of a man’s salary for the same work, according to a 2017 study by the AAUW.
And while you might think a husband would be happy when his wife is making more (what guy is going to reject extra money each month?), old expectations die hard. Even the most progressive man may feel a tinge of embarrassment when he realizes he’s not the primary breadwinner.
Men’s vs Women’s Gender Roles
In a Pew Research Center Study from 2017, 71% of respondents said that a man had to be a good financial provider in order to be a good husband. Only 32% said it was important for a wife to do the same. There’s a whiff of failure in a man who doesn’t make as much as his wife, to say nothing of a husband who elects to stay home, either to raise the kids or pursue less lucrative careers.
Salaries and Divorce
It’s not completely clear how this flipping of the “traditional” financial roles is affecting modern marriages. The issue may be less “who is making more?” than “how much more are they making?” According to one 2016 study, a heterosexual couple is less likely to get married or even stay together when the man is making much less than the woman, and a marriage in which a man is not working full time is 33% more likely to end in divorce.
The lessons learned: If you really want your relationship to last, don’t worry about who makes more money or how much more. Better yet: If you can figure out a way to have both members of a couple earn similar incomes, you’ll be more likely to get married and stay together, according to the findings of a 2018 study. Easier said than done.
(Hat tip: MarketWatch)