Husbands grow insecure if their wives earn more than them, study reveals

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* Husbands who are dependent on their wives

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Bath, husbands who are completely dependent on their wives for financial support are most stressed about their situation. “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,” the study author Dr. Joanna Syrda shared in a press release.

 

** Overshadowing a man’s income

The researchers arrived at this conclusion after studying the data collected from 6,000 married couples in America. The data was collected over a course of 15 years. The study results indicate that when the wives’ income exceeded 40 per cent of the total household income, the men started getting anxious. According to the researchers, husbands are least stressed when their wives help them financially. But a man starts getting insecure if his wife starts overshadowing his income.

 

*** ​ Consequences of gender role reversal

“The consequences of traditional gender role reversals in marriages associated with wives’ higher earnings span multiple dimensions, including physical and mental health, life satisfaction, marital fidelity, divorce, and marital bargaining power,” 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.”

 

****   What experts believe

According to relationship expert and senior consultant psychologist Shweta Singh, social conditioning in India makes men believe that they should be the primary breadwinner of the family. “Remember the days when we had school textbooks where the role of a father was described as the person earning for the family and the mother’s role as the caretaker? This is what most Indians grow up believing. So, it’s not uncommon for Indian men to suffer from insecurities if their wives earn more than them. It is society’s understanding of masculinity that is to be blamed here. We have often heard people saying, ‘boys don’t cry’ or ‘girls shouldn’t stay outside late at night’ etc. Such gender stereotyping makes it difficult for people to accept anything that is outside the norms.”

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