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Shift in economic power seen affecting couple's dynamics

Shift in economic power seen affecting couple's dynamics

Whether in a relationship or looking for one, consider this: If you are a woman, chances are rising that you will out-earn your man.
Now that women increasingly are graduating with advanced degrees, starting their own businesses and moving up in the corporate world, their expanding role as bread-winner is altering their role in marriage and companionship. The female out-earns the male in one of every three households in the U.S., a figure that has increased every year since 2000 and will rocket to about half by 2025.
The shift in economic power has couples charting new boundaries in areas from money talks to household chores to what goes on in the bedroom.
"Because of these dynamics, the rules of marriage have changed more in last 30 years than the previous 3,000," says Stephanie Coontz, who teaches families studies at The Evergreen State College.
The shift requires as much of an adjustment from men as it does for women, who find themselves struggling to cede any control over household duties and family tasks.
The pitfalls of these relationships: Some men feel emasculated if their wives are the breadwinners and they are asked to take on more household chores and child-care responsibilities. And some women feel resentful if they not only shoulder most of the household's financial obligations, but also are expected to pick up the lion's share of the domestic responsibilities.
In Hispanic and Caribbean households where traditional views on gender roles are sometimes stronger, pressure to conform may also come from extended family. To make these modern relationships work, couples say, requires frank discussion early on, frequent communication and marital trouble-shooting skills.
"Both have to give up the 1950's definition of masculinity and femininity and focus on how they can be their best as individuals inside a couple," Coontz says.
Gilda Carle, a relationship expert, says the societal assumption is that men in these disparate income relationships must have high self-esteem. But she says it also takes a secure woman.
In a couple, Carle says, the person who makes more money tends to feel more powerful - and some women who do earn more hold that power over their spouse.


Updated : 2021-10-18 23:08 GMT+08:00