Well, surprise, surprise.
Mama tried to warn us about letting some bum live off of us when we got grown. And her words must have stuck because a new report reveals that millennial women are very ashamed of making more money than their boyfriends or husbands.
According to the report, millennial women have definitely gotten the memo that men are supposed to be protectors, providers and breadwinners in the family unit. So when women find themselves in situations where they’re out-earning their partners—even if it’s only by a few thousand dollars—women begin to “feel guilty,” or even “resentful” in their relationships.
What’s worse is that the report cites a University of Chicago study which shows “that a wife making even $5,000 a year more than her husband was associated with a greater risk of divorce.” Isn’t that awful?!
Well, the report concludes that the best way to solve this income inequality issue is for men and women to share the responsibility of earning money, in an environment where both partners have “fulfilling and lucrative jobs.”
And that’s where I think this report gets it wrong.
You see, I don’t think women really care who’s bringing home more money in the relationship. In fact, I think most women would prefer to make their own money, because Mama also told us to never depend on a man for anything! But what women absolutely abhor is how men have somehow managed to shift the burden of breadwinning over to women without shifting the responsibilities of homemaking on their own shoulders.
Most men (save, of course, T.I.) don’t mind women stepping out of their traditional roles and supporting the family financially. But ladies, try going home tonight and telling your partner you think he should step out of his traditional role and take your last name, since you are, after all, the family breadwinner.
Better yet, tell him that after working a long day to make enough money to support your family, you expect to come home to a clean house with dinner on the table. And make sure he knows that you’ll need him to keep those rambunctious kids away from you for at least half an hour, as you’ve had a stressful day and want to unwind with a glass of wine and some peace a quiet before you receive your children. I can just about guarantee there would be an insurrection in your house that night. And you would watch your liberal, enlightened significant other who was totally OK with women working outside of the home, turn into a closed-minded traditionalist real quick.
He’d scoff at the idea of coming home and having to pick up after you and he’s certainly not going to spend most of his time running after those kids. He thinks that’s still your job. And I’m not making this up, that assertion can be backed up with data.
Now, men can’t have it both ways, except that they are. Millennial women end up shouldering what was traditionally a man’s burden without getting sufficient help with her own traditional duties. So women “feel guilty,” not because he makes less than she does, but rather because she knows she’s allowing herself to be taken advantage of. Similarly, women feel resentful because their husbands see her struggling to fill all of these roles, but don’t feel compelled to lift a finger to help, because, you know, that’s “not their job.”
And I’m sure a woman begins to think, “If I have to make all of the money, do all of the housework and do most of the child-rearing, what do I need him for?” Leaving him when he’s not making any meaningful contribution to the family probably seems like merely relieving herself of one more person to feed.
My personal conclusion is that the best way for couples to navigate this scenario is for men to step up. You can’t see your partner struggling out here to do it all, while you sit by and do nothing. If she has the money piece of the relationship on lock, fine. Now look for other areas of the relationship (like childrearing, housekeeping, budgeting, investing, etc.) where you can you can take control. Just because you’re not the top earner in the relationship doesn’t mean you’re no longer the head of the household. It just means you have to redefine what being the head looks like. That will require abandoning some of the traditional ideas of being a man means in a marriage, but if your wife was willing to abandon hers, then surely you can adjust yours too. And if you just can’t bring yourself to do that, because having a woman be a wife in a traditional sense is that important to you, then get out here and get these coins, Bro. Problem solved.
Keep up with Sylvia Snowden at www.trulysylvia.com.