We might be in the 21st century but some things never really move forward. One such example is the earning hierarchy in the family. For centuries men have been deemed the breadwinner while women are seen as people who're supposed to take care of the household. While that may have changed now, what apparently hasn't is that men still feel stressed if their wives earn more than them.
Yes, you read that right. If you've been married a while and your wife earns more than you do and there's some tension between you two, it's most likely due to the fact that she's getting paid more. A new study was able to find that as long as women contribute to 40% of the expenses, men are okay with it. But the moment that number starts increasing, men start getting uncomfortable and having to depend entirely on their wives for money gets them stressed to a whole new level.
As per the research, if the men get married to women who always earned more than them the men didn't feel stressed about the wage gap. However, having to shoulder all the responsibility of earning for the house increases stress levels in men and the same was noticed when their wives starting contributing to over 40% of expenses.
“The 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. “The elevated psychological distress that comes with husbands’ economic dependence on their wives can also have practical underpinnings due to bargaining in the shadow of dissolution or the fear of reduced economic status in the event of an actual divorce. These effects are larger among cohabiting couples, possibly due to the higher probability of dissolution,” she elaborated.
The participants of their study were asked to report feelings of sadness, vulnerabilty, nervousness or even if everything felt like an effort. It was found that men reported better mental health than their wives reported on their behalf. “This too may be down to gender norms. If masculine social roles preclude the admission of vulnerability, and men are inclined to hide symptoms of stress and depression, it follows that wives’ responses (about their spouses) will be less accurate,” said Dr Syrda.
“With masculinity closely associated with the conventional view of the male breadwinner, traditional social gender norms mean men may be more likely to experience psychological distress if they become the secondary earner in the household or become financially dependent on their wives, a finding that has implications for managing male mental health and society’s understanding of masculinity itself,” the researchers elaborated.