Female money doesn’t buy male happiness
A smart, successful, independent female friend of mine recently said of money and relationships: “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” With two-income households becoming the norm and stay-at-home-dads not so uncommon, today’s couples are confronting money challenges generations before simply didn’t have to consider. The modern woman with her career and own source of funds doesn’t need a man the way women before her did, but the shift in relationship ideology leaves more questions than answers.
A new study recently considered the extent of men’s masculinity ideology, in other words, emotional control, success, dominance, violence, power, and anti-femininity and homophobia, as an influential factor on relationship quality. Authors Patrick Coughlin and Jay Wade from Fordham University concluded that macho men whose partners earn more than they do have worse romantic relationships, in part because the difference in income is a strain for them.
Conversely, they revealed in the journal Sex Roles, men who are not so traditional in their masculinity do not place as much importance on the difference in income and, as a result, appear to have better quality relationships with their female partner. Of course, they started the study with the inherently biased notion that “The breadwinner role for men is still the accepted norm in marriage, and allows for and supports the husband’s power and authority in the family.”
Money = Power … or Does It?
Power and authority often come with money—but not always. Financial guru Ramit Sethi writes in his blog post “Smart Women Marry For”, “I know a lot of guys who think that once they start making ‘serious money,’ women will be more interested in them. Inevitably, even if they do start making a lot more, they aren’t any more successful with women. What really makes a difference in their ability to attract a partner are other, ancillary factors that money enables.”
A certain amount of earning power, money, helps create confidence in the earner, along with access to confidence-building activities like pursuing hobbies, using gyms, or doing yoga. If that’s true, then female money doesn’t buy male happiness but neither does male money buy female happiness.
As two-income households become the norm, two earners are getting their confidence and self-esteem from their work—and their earning power. That’s what presents the issue for my female friend: male pride is damned by you if you earn more, your pride is damned by you if you don’t earn at least equal.
Changing the Love of Money
One solution: a blogger named “1969” offers, “[Marriage is] like running a corporation. A business venture. You have to go into it knowing that it could fail or it could succeed beyond your wildest dreams and make you rich.” Her business-minded viewpoint is indicative of a certain type of new relationship paradigm, where women and men are running the show together with different roles. And that’s the key: understanding how earning power makes each partner in the relationship feel, and what role they need to fulfill in the coupling, may be the answer to today’s relationship woes.