Breadwinning Wives and Nervous Husbands| Wales Counseling

A recent article in the NY Times, Breadwinning Wives and Nervous Husbands, states that many marriages are on the rocks and even failing due to wives making more money than their husbands. Furthermore, many men now know that their wives have the education and skills to earn more than they do, but want their wives to work part time or stop working altogether so that he can be the breadwinner.  The article goes on to say, “one reason for the decline and formation and stability of marriages may be that women with greater earning power have greater economic security that allows them to leave bad marriages.”

Men like to feel needed and this thing with making money and being a provider is sort of built into us.  When that area of our lives feels threatened we can get really insecure.  A woman that makes more than her husband can make him feel like he has nothing to offer only if he believes money is where his identity is. My identity as a man or as a human being is not contingent upon the amount of money I make or have.  Too often men parallel the amount of money they make to how good of a husband they are.  Keep in mind that you can financially provide, but also lack providing everything else that your marriage needs.  If our minds were not so wrapped around money and who has it and who doesn’t, then the issue of wives making more wouldn’t be an issue at all. Money can’t buy everything and there are things that your family needs that require you as a person and not your bank account.  You can’t pay someone to listen to your wife’s sadness about a death in the family.  You can’t buy time to play with your kids in the backyard.   You can’t buy an app for these things either.  These are things that men need to provide and it doesn’t take making more money than you wife to do it.

As for women with high economic security having the ability to leave bad marriages it’s not anything new.  Listen, there are poor women leaving bad marriages.  People are leaving marriages left and right whether they are economically secure or not.  If there is a good solid marriage the chances of a woman leaving that marriage is low, no matter her economic stability.  If we as husbands would focus more on making our marriages an environment where our wives wouldn’t have a single thought about leaving, then just maybe we wouldn’t have these problems.  A good place to start would be with our big fat egos. In marriage couples are supposed to be one unit, but men wanting their wives to work part time or even quit their jobs is an issue of pride.  He would rather limit his wife and her God-given abilities for a self pat on the back.  It is ironic that many men want to be financially secure, but if he has the opportunity to do this with a wife that makes more the he does he feels insecure. A wife’s abilities are supposed to be honored and nurtured and not aborted so that we look better as husbands.

On the contrary, wives could put unnecessary pressure on husbands to support them based on their ego and not God’s plan. If he is able to put a roof over your head, put clothes on your back, and feed you he has done his job of providing.  That roof over your head doesn’t have to be a 3 story roof.  Those shoes on your feet don’t have to be Christian Louboutins and your food doesn’t always have to be prepared by a hired chef. Those things are wants not needs.  If you are a wife that is making your husband feel insecure about not making enough to support your Housewives of Beverly Hills lifestyle, then you need to resolve the problems of pride within yourself not his income.

I believe that once a man thinks about marriage in its proper perspective he will no longer be unhappy about his wife making more money.  Additionally if they both prioritize money correctly the marriage will be better.  My wife and I are one almost down to the toothbrush (I said almost).  If she makes money I make money and vice versa.  I don’t remember marriage being designed as a competition between husband and wife and if a husband continues to act like him and his wife are on separate teams, then they will never make it to the championship of a happy marriage together.  So my questions to the each married couple is, are you on the same team with a solid foundation or has money become your foundation and has caused the two of you to choose separate teams?

Reginald Jordan, LMSW is a therapist with Wales Counseling Center, PLLC in Arlington Texas

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