Men Earning Less than Wives Struggle

Looking for proof of the effects of the gendered norms we’ve discussed about masculinity?  How about evidence showing that even when it means more money, freedom, and time with family, many men feel guilt and depression when they earn less than female partners?

A common characteristic many men experience with masculine socialization is the idea that their value comes from their professional successes and ability to provide financially.  This article is a great example that men’s choices are restricted in significant ways by norms that focus worthiness in such a narrow way.  These norms have effects on the men’s physical and emotional health, along with their relationships.

3 thoughts on “Men Earning Less than Wives Struggle

  1. This is a great example of how gendered norms for men and women can end up being restricting. It also shows how changing these norms can enhance relationships and rid people of a lot of unnecessary judgments of others and themselves. It’s unfortunate that a lot of men feel it is necessary to earn more money than their wives and that it can actually impact their happiness in the marriage. In this sense, the husbands are more concerned about how their earnings impact their family than the impact of how rewarding they may find their jobs can have on home life. This causes me to worry about possible situations where men leave jobs that they enjoy for higher paying jobs they will enjoy less just to live up to the “bread winner” expectation. Think about how much happier a family with a father satisfied with his work would be compared to a father unsatisfied with his work! If these gendered norms were not so restricting many men would most likely be able to focus more on their emotional well-being instead of society’s expectations of them.

  2. This reminds me of one of your lectures where you talked to us about “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man” and how women were urged to allow men to be the “breadwinners”. I personally think this is awful. I think that if someone feels the need to succeed and excel in something they should go for it, but they shouldn’t be jealous or resentful when their partner is doing better than them.

    Maybe that’s just my feminine gender socialization speaking though. I remember reading recently that girls typically feel its wrong to be jealous of their friends because they feel they need to be happy for them. I’m just going on a tangent now, but I hope that my husband someday is a little more androgynous and doesn’t feel that he needs to be the ultimate breadwinner.

  3. I do believe that social norms restrict men that stay at home to be with their family from enjoying it. The pressure we put on them to be the breadwinner can have some negative effects for example in the article Andrei who is married to Samantha ended up having to go see a therapist and take antidepressants to help him cope with staying home while she worked. I think it is sad that the time these men should be enjoying is full of guilt because they aren’t providing for their family with money. I hope all men who stay at home realize that what they are providing at home is just as important as what their wives provide.

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