Not Too Much

Study finds men get stressed when their wives contribute too much income

According to a study from an economist at the University of Bath’s School of Management, men in heterosexual marriages get stressed about money when two things happen: When they are solely responsible for all expenses (that’s understandable), and when their wives start earning more than they do (that’s not so understandable).

According to Marketwatch, the study surveyed more than 6,000 American heterosexual couples over 15 years. The researchers found that the stress levels in men spiked when their wives earned more than them. Not only that, the men started getting stressed when their wives even came close to earning as much as them. The study showed that the lowest levels of psychological distress for men was when their wives contributed 40 percent of household income. Once the wives earned anything more than 40 percent, the stress levels of the men started increasing.

The study shows just how ingrained gender norms are in our society. Many men clearly have a long way to go until they accept women as equals. One way to combat it might be through better communication. The report found that while wives considered their husbands’ stress to be lowest when the income split was 50/50, that’s not the case. The stress level in men is lowest at that 60/40 split, men and women respectively. “The fact that a wife observes to a lesser degree her husband’s elevated psychological distress when he is financially dependent on her may be simply because he does not communicate it — this may be yet another manifestation of gender norms,” wrote Dr. Joanna Syrda, the author of the report.

Chris O'Shea

Chris O'Shea