Men Stress Over Relationships And Income?
We’re sad to say it, but it’s unfortunately true. Men are afraid of their wives earning “too much money.”
A new study from Bath University called “Husbands’ Stress Increases If Wives Earn More Than 40 Percent Of Household Income” has given us insight into US men’s heads. Unfortunately, we’re not liking what we’re seeing.
As the title suggests, men are increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of their spouses being more financially successful than them. Stress peaks if husbands find themselves “economically dependent” on their partners.
Now, of course, it makes sense to worry about being “economically dependent” on your partner. It is a reasonable hit to pride and it leaves a question of “what if?” What if the relationship ends because of a breakup or a death? How will I survive when I don’t have all the money my spouse is bringing in? This is, again, a reasonable reaction to have in your head when in this situation.
That said, the study found understandable reasoning wasn’t in the head of their male study participants.
“These findings suggest that social norms about male breadwinning – and traditional conventions about men earning more than their wives – can be dangerous for men's health. They also show how strong and persistent are gender identity norms,” said Dr Joanna Syrda, an economist at the University's School of Management.
How It Was Done
These results were found after researchers analyzed responses from 6,000 heterosexual couples over a 15 year period. The study found that marriages were strained if the 40 percent income level was breached. In fact, incidents of cheating and divorce were more common after the 40 percent income level was surpassed. That said, couples that started with the woman having a higher income saw no increased level of stress.
“The results are strong enough to point to the persistence of gender identity norms, and to their part in male mental health issues. Persistent distress can lead to many adverse health problems, including physical illness, and mental, emotional and social problems,” added Dr. Sydra.
It’s important to note that this study was focused on heterosexual men and women. And, of course, the results were heavily influenced by societal norms of men being the “breadwinner.” That said, same-sex couples are still strained by gender norms and masc/femme dynamics. As such, it would be interesting to see how LGBTQ people would fair under similar circumstances. We’d just have to wait another 15 years to find out!