Women’s progress in the workplace has skyrocketed over the past decades. Women are in all kinds of professions, ranging from entry-level to top senior positions, and in many cases surpassing their husbands. The rise of breadwinning wives means there has been an increase in the number of stay-at-home fathers.
While the success is great for women’s empowerment, how does the dynamic play out in marriages, and how does a man really feel being married to a capable, highly driven, and powerful woman?
What Does the Research Say?
You would think a woman’s contribution towards the family income would be admired and respected by her husband, but research conducted by the American Sociological Association suggests women who outearn their husbands are three times more likely to get cheated on than a woman who is completely financially dependent on her husband.
Women who outearn their husbands are three times more likely to get cheated on.
CNN also points out that “breadwinning women, whose husbands were 100% dependent on them, were the least likely group to cheat.”
Christin Munsch, Sociology Professor at the University of Connecticut, who led the research, concluded that women feel guilty for breaking social norms, therefore, work twice as hard at home to keep potentially strained relationships intact.
It sounds unfair, right? Women have had to fight tooth and nail to get to the top, so why can’t men show us respect and loyalty for bringing more to the table? That’s how a rational mind would think, but if that were the case, why are men distancing themselves from breadwinning wives who go above and beyond?
Men Need To Feel like Men
At the end of the day, men are men, and they have needs too.
It's like when women have days where we want to feel like beautiful goddesses, so we’ll go out and spend ridiculous amounts of money on beauty and hair care products. We don’t know why we do it, but we just do. It feels instinctual, and it’s the reason why the beauty industry is worth billions.
Men also have days when they want to feel like — men. The kind of men who are competent providers, protectors, heroes, leaders, and admired by their woman. These masculine instincts and desires run deep.
When a wife dominates her husband in every area, he will feel insecure and emasculated.
Even after decades of feminism, you’d think men would feel okay with wives coming out on top, but the reality is, when a wife dominates him in every arena, he will feel insecure. Another term for this dynamic is emasculation — as in the woman has emasculated her man.
What happens when a man feels emasculated? Not all, but the study suggests 15% of married men will try to fill the void by seeking validation elsewhere. In other words, men will cheat, to regain their masculinity.
It’s not okay for a man to cheat on his wife, and it’s not the woman’s fault. If a man chooses to commit adultery, that’s on him. He’s responsible for his actions and their consequences.
Celebrity Couples Who Cheated
We see this phenomenon playing out with celebrity couples.
There have been numerous cheating scandals surrounding Khloe Kardashian's ex Tristan Thomson. There was the time he got caught kissing a girl in a club while Khloe was nine months pregnant with their daughter. Then there was the biggest scandal of them all — Tristan hooked up with Kylie’s BFF Jordyn Woods at a house party.
Some people think he’s just a cheating ratbag, but even if this is true, dating a Kardashian would make any man who hasn’t achieved a similar level of success feel inadequate.
Dating a Kardashian would make any man who isn’t similarly successful feel inadequate.
Just look at her other sisters' relationships — there have been numerous reports of Scott Disick cheating on Kourtney and remember the time he got caught with a girl in a hotel while they were on a family vacation? Tyga has also admitted to cheating on Kylie.
Either the sisters are terrible at choosing good men, or these men felt insecure for depending on the Kardashians’ success so they engaged in compromising behavior behind their backs (or both).
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale
Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale divorced in 2016 after it was revealed that he had a 3-year affair with their former nanny Mindy Mann. Mail Online reported, “he got caught out after explicit texts and photos were synced to the family iPad.”
Looking at their careers leading up to the divorce, Gavin was the house-husband while Gwen’s career soared. She released hit after hit, performed at Coachella alongside Pharrel, joined The Voice as a judge, and performed at the 2015 Grammy Awards alongside Adam Levine.
This article is not to scare women, but rather to empower you to think more critically and help you understand the differences between how men and women feel about being the breadwinner.
Obviously, women have the freedom to make their own choices and choose their own lifestyles, but we also have to be real. Having a highly demanding, powerful career comes at a price, whether it takes a toll on your marriage, time away from your children, or the stress you take on from having to do it all.
Every marriage will come to a crossroads where you have to make hard decisions about balancing career and home life. While everyone has different needs and aspirations, if you want a marriage that stands the test of time, it’s important to consider the pros and cons.