For today’s dads, having a wife who is the primary breadwinner isn’t always easy. Although a growing share of married mothers earn the majority of income for their families—slightly less than one-quarter of married families with children, according to the American Community Survey—it’s clear that some men in homes with female breadwinners find this new reality hard.
Of course, working wives, who are contributing to the financial welfare of their families, are not to blame. Traditional gender norms can make it harder for female breadwinner families. But when she earns more than he does, husbands and wives were less likely to report they are “very happy,” more likely to report they have had marital troubles, and more likely to indicate they have discussed separating in the past year, according to a University of Chicago study looking at couples about 25 years ago.
Another new study, focusing on young adults who were married as of 2001-2011, showed that husbands are also significantly more likely to cheat when their wives earn markedly more than they do.
These findings may be less applicable to younger couples getting married today, but all this research suggests that—for at least some contemporary couples—female breadwinner marriages can pose unique challenges.