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Dr. Helen

Would You Care if Your Wife Earned More?

February 22nd, 2013 - 5:23 am

According to this study, marriages don’t go well when the wife earns more:

Women outearn their husbands in nearly a quarter of households with spouses between 18 and 65 years old, according to data from the 2010 American Community Survey. But their increased paycheck comes at a price, as the researchers show. They find that marriage rates decline when a woman has the potential to outearn her husband. Using US Census Bureau data from 1970 to 2010, Bertrand and her coauthors find that the more likely it is that a wife can earn more than her husband, the less likely she is to work outside the home.

Moreover, among adults age 25 to 39, marriage rates have declined from about 81 percent in 1970 to 51 percent in 2010. The authors calculate that as much as 29 percent of that decline may be linked to aversion to a wife earning more than her husband.

Naturally, the researchers conclude that women picking up all the slack is to blame for higher rates of divorce:

Moreover, wives who earn more often end up doing more of the household chores, not less. Data from the American Time Use Survey, covering the years 2003 to 2011, showed that while husbands spent an average of 20.8 hours a week on non-market work and childcare, wives spent 33.5 hours on those activities. One explanation for this, the researchers suggest, is that a wife making more money is doing more chores to assuage her husband’s unease. But serving as both the primary breadwinner and the primary homemaker may be draining. That, the researchers point out, “may be one of the mechanisms behind our results on divorce.”

However, studies have also shown that women are unhappy when they earn more than their husbands so I wonder if the unhappiness is caused partly because the women feel that they should have a man with “higher status.”

I think in today’s legal climate, it is a good idea for a man to marry someone who makes more money than they do, for the simple reason that it may protect him more down the line if there is a divorce. Most men I know don’t care if the wife makes more money, but then, that is my experience.

Would you care if your wife earned more or would it be a welcome relief?

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Image courtesy shutterstock / Kary1974

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Top Rated Comments   
My wife makes substantially more than me, about 159K and it doesn't bother either me or her. We have been married nearly 30 years and in all that time I made more or equal to her for only about the first 10 years, then in a series of fortunate events and hard work on her part she was elevated to senior management.

My wife still does the laundry, I don't much care about how things are folded, which is a pet peeve with her. I do all of the maintenance the house and cars require as well as the majority of the cooking, at least from March through October as I didn't spend 2k on that shiny stainless outdoor grill for nothing. She plans the vacations, I make sure that all the bills are paid to maintain the credit score.

Once at a dinner with friends I was asked, "Is your wife your best friend?". I replied "No, best friends often screw each other over and I have an obligation as a husband that extends far beyond the bounds of friendship."



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (84)
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Before we married my wife pretended to be poor and let me support her in my ridiculous apartment. then when a lawyer was needed suddenly it developed she had money. When we went home to see her parents and marry , well it was culture shock. Maids cooks. the f. and we were eating chuck steak on saturdays?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
A very common statement that I am seeing below - and I think that is the "answer" - is that the men themselves don't care if the woman makes more (they would even welcome it), the problem is that the *women* themselves care. Meaning that your days may be numbered as a husband if the wife makes more (because of "hypergamy").

I absolutely agree with that. Who wouldn't want to have an easier job - but a higher lifestyle because of some spouse? The problem is that a housewife is doing the hardest job in the world (and in her pajamas to boot), but a "househusband" is a friggin' leech.

The reality is probably that someone who leeches off someone else is not doing the hardest job in the world, whether male or female.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Marriage today is a future killer for all men, get married, spend the rest of your life paying your ex to screw other men and not seeing your kids unless you pay rent.
In this age of Ms Flukes there is simply no reason to get married.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Marriage is bizarre in unexpected ways.

The 65-year-old man who had always left his money to his children marries again. He gets Alzheimer's disease shortly after that, and the wife *legally* maneuvers all of his assets over to her in joint name.

Happens a lot.

She is one rich woman, never having worked a real day in her life. Leeching off men is the most productive thing that women can do in terms of getting money. Patricia Kluge got a settlement approaching one billion dollars, then went bankrupt a few decades later. Who cares? Now she has a new sap to pay for her. I don't think men realize the extent of this.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My wife always earned more than me, I am a disabled veteran of the Vietnam period. Life after the RELACDU was made much harder by these facts.
Where as the wife was a pretty tall brunette with an education.
It was my fault if I earned less.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yikes!
Maureen Dowd , her eyes have opened wide ,writes today how the new rising to the stars feminist will throw her under the bus with elite nose stuck high in the air.
This uppity thinking has brought total destruction to the GOP . I saw the the first signs when Mitt Romney in his last year as gov rounded up the Jesus and Mary aliens in my great city, the poor Mary I watch 5am holding her baby in her arms fleeing . He even took away the children . At first I felt he was just delivering a message of hope to them since he remember his own ancestors trouble in Mexico but in the last few months of the president election the hand writing was on the wall curse upon the GOP and only if they listen to how the Bishops tamed Rome "LOVERS of The Poo" as Peter Leithart writes can the GOP be saved in our day with strong moral medicine
The hand writing on the wall for Uppty women "I Sit AS QUEEN" she say in Revelation 18 and then she is devoured by the one she is sitting on figure of speech if
Maureen Dowd turns on her who will save her?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Am I the only one who doesn't have a clue what you're talking about?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I will explain. Meet my body guard at the first gate. You will then pass through 7 gates . this will take 7 days. A tent will be waiting for you. For 7 days you will stay in this tent and my servants will bring you bread and water three times a day and your only protection from the outside elements will be the nylon tent. At the end of the 7 days you will be given a 24 word message you will understand and told to sahre this with your peers. When they see this message you will regret you understand and they do not and stand at the crossroads not as Eve but as Adam in the garden of Eden and weep for the loss of your peers. This is too great of a burdon to ask from a women to carry I believe. Look what happen to poor Joan of ark.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Footnote

Revelation 18
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,

“Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
6 Pay her back as she herself has paid back others,
and repay her double for her deeds;
mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed.
7 As she glorified herself and lived in luxury,
so give her a like measure of torment and mourning,
since in her heart she says,
‘I sit as a queen,
I am no widow,
and mourning I shall never see.’
8 For this reason her plagues will come in a single day,
death and mourning and famine,
and she will be burned up with fire;
for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Most men I know that make less than their wives are only bothered because their wives are. They couldn't care less otherwise.

My wife is the breadwinner currently (though my investments from when I was working are now generating about 30% of our income). I am not bothered by my wife making more than me (though I already had success). It does bother my wife but I think that is mostly her loss of status at work and among her female friends about not having a "provider male". Apparently I am considered near bum status even though I am handling 3 children under 5 one of which has a mental disability.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Not at all..it would allow me to return to what I love...building hand-made, custom furniture. Something we can't afford for me to do now. My wife has been working part-time for 5 years now...because why in the world would a company hire someone in retail management with 25 years of experience, when they can hire a kid out of college and pay them nothing...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Heck no, I don't care that my wife makes more than I do. Because she does, quite a bit more.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The more income, the merrier! Who cares where it comes from? Cash is cash and it would take some of the stress off of me.
TheOldMan
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Who cares where it comes from?"

Women.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There have been times in our marriage when she earned more than me and times when I earned more than her. When we were first married, we were both computer programmers, but she worked in the aerospace defense industry and I worked for a public university. I moved into industry and my salary went up and she cut back her work schedule to get another master's degree. Then she left computers to become a public school teacher. Now she has left teaching and gone back to school again and I am the sole breadwinner (by this point our youngest "child" is about to turn 28). Soon I will retire and she will be back to work for a few more years (12 year age difference). It doesn't matter who makes how much as long as a family can live on the annual total. We've always shared the work. Marriage is a partnership.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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