When it comes to who the breadwinner is in the family, times are changing.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 1960, 11% of American families had a woman as the primary wage earner. Today, that number has climbed to 40%.
This change in gender roles can have an impact on relationships. How so?
A New World but Old Egos Remain
In the modern world, many aspects of society that were considered “traditional” have been upended. Often, this is for the better.
Interestingly, though, many men hold onto old notions of what it means to be the primary breadwinner. Even if they have forward-thinking views on other issues, this particular matter may still hold fast.
It is because many men are holding onto older concepts of what it is to be a man. Plus, ego comes into play. Regardless of gender, jobs and how much money one earns are connected to ego. Work becomes a significant factor for how one defines themselves as a person.
Defining Your Own Relationship
It is important for couples to focus more on what is important for their relationship rather than societal conventions.
Feeling that you have to fit into some kind of mold or strict definition can only cause stress in the relationship. Rather, sit down together and have an honest dialogue. Especially, discuss finances and how they affect your household. Remember, one of the major causes couples cite when it comes to divorce is disagreeing about money.
Creating an Equal Relationship
When ‘she’ makes more money than ‘he’ does, one of the issues that arise is the perceived difference in power. ‘He’ can feel he has less power when ‘she’ makes significantly more money. This is particularly true when it comes to making financial decisions. However, when partners openly discuss their concerns, it’s easier to:
- agree on who pays which household bills
- divide chores in a way that is equitable for both partners
- make major financial decisions, such as home buying or investments, together.
Of course, both partners want to be able to contribute to the success of the household and the family. For men, when they realize there are other ways that they can do this besides simply earning more money, new doors open up.
Being Kind to Each Other
If financial issues are not addressed, resentment between partners can build. It’s also helpful to avoid jokes or comments about how much each of you earns since. These can be taken the wrong way, or make one of you feel less than equal in the relationship.
Instead, be kind to each other. Listen to one another and continue constructive conversations. If you find yourselves fighting about who earns how much, take a break. Agree to suspend the discussion until both of you are calm again. But make sure to agree on a time when to pick up where you left off.
An Opportunity for Men to Shine
Previously, when men were the primary breadwinners, both partners were relegated to limiting roles. Now, though, men have the opportunity to not only shine but have more involvement in their families.
In fact, current data shows that men are seeing parenting as more central to who they are. Plus, instead of feeling depressed when they earn less than their partner, more men are taking a much more active role in parenting and childcare. And when children receive the attention of both involved parents, everybody wins.
Yes, gender roles are quickly changing, especially when it comes to who earns more. For many, this can be distressing and cause resentment. However, it is also an opportunity for men to redefine themselves and find new ways to contribute to the family.
Ultimately, it is important for both partners to communicate openly and frequently with one another. Moreover, it is vital for couples to always treat each other with respect.
Seeking the help of a professional therapist can help resolve power struggles, self esteem issues and other potential relationship conflicts that can arise when ‘she’ makes more money than ‘him’. If this is you, there is no need to struggle alone with this. Let me help.
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