Who needs a husband, anyway?
Economists find that as women grow more self-reliant, marriages become more about wanting commitment than needing it.
Straight men, you'd better hope these women would like to have you as a husband, because they sure don't need you as one.
That's exactly the point that Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, made Monday on The New York Times' Economix blog. With The Brookings Institution noting that marriages overall are waning, Folbre notes that at least part of the explanation stems from the steady disintegration of the stereotypical marriage-hungry American woman.
As self-reliant women have drifted from a Peggy Olson "Mad Men" novelty to a more equitable modern reality, Folbre says, trading in independence for marriage's supposed financial stability has become a less alluring prospect. Unwilling to accept what San Diego State University economist Shoshana Grossbard calls a quasi-wage for their domestic services, women are approaching marriage with an increasingly improving set of terms.
A husband who doesn't get his feelings hurt by the idea of a wife out-earning him tends to be more amenable to an even split of the decision-making and household duties. The Pew Research Center finds that guys are increasingly coming around: Only 28% of all its survey respondents this year agreed that it's "generally better for a marriage if a husband earns more than his wife," compared with 40% in 1997.
That's creating a society more like Japan's, in which a Harvard study observed that men who had working mothers were less likely to have hang-ups about working wives and more likely to marry. Pew found that an increasingly college-educated society more accustomed to change is also more likely to hold out for more equitable marriages because college graduates were half as likely as those with only a high school diploma to say it's generally better for a marriage if a husband out-earns a wife.
That's just the state of things. With both men and women generally waiting longer to marry, have children and develop their careers, they're putting off until their 30s what generations who came before generally accomplished in their 20s. With economic conditions not on their side and divorce rates in steep decline, partly as a result of their procrastination, current generations are putting a lot more consideration into their decisions about marriage.
While that's not providing easy answers for Miss USA pageant contestants, it's making it a lot easier for women to hold out for the right marriage or to hold off on marriage altogether.
"As same-sex couples have profoundly demonstrated, the demand for marriage is not based on some natural sexual division of labor but on the desire to give personal commitments public recognition," Folbre says. "Men and women who get this point probably enjoy a distinct advantage in finding a partner."
Most people marry for emotional reasons, and then figure out family finances later. Maybe not the most prudent way to do it, but at least they don't view marriage as a business.
My wife has out-earned me for about 20 years of our 30 years of marriage. Originally I earned more, but the social-political climate has benefitted her more than me. That’s okay – we have a union, not a competition. And yes, I do try to do at least half of the household chores – but out of respect to her, not because I’m browbeaten to do it.
However, I do admit that this situation has kept us from having kids. Partially because we don’t have the 1950s stereotype family unit, but mostly because I haven’t felt secure enough in my earning ability to feel that I can afford kids. Maybe I’m wrong, but we also know several other married couples who have done the same thing. I agree that women should get equal pay and opportunity for equal effort. But I have experienced “equality” over-reaction that hurt my career. A lot of women are getting what they think they want, but shouldn’t then complain if they find that what they get doesn’t live up to fantasy.
My wife currently earns more than me. I was making more the first 5 years, then we spent a couple years flip-flopping, and now she is killing me. I took a new job to avoid relocating the family which resulted in me taking a 10%+ paycut. Meanwhile, my wife's employer rewarded her for staying with a raise and then she got promoted. I'm nearing joke status because of it all but it was a family decision to stay here. I don't regret it at all though and I love my new job.
At the end of the day, it is going to the same checking account. Our family dynamics haven't really changed since the day we married and I made more. We go through periods where I have to work OT or go on business trips and she has to carry the weight or vice versa.
If you are making marriage decisions on money, I am glad I am not your significant other. Kids on the otherhand are a financial decision. Your ability to support those kids and provide them a safe shelter and full belly isn't free. Your desire to be a mommy or daddy is just a selfish desire. Yes, love and time are critically important but so is shelter, food, education, medicine, etc.
Gee this guy misses the most important thing
You can not collect welfare if you are married.
Most single moms are riding the welfare train taking this country into debt.
Look, the United States is the the process of making Marriage - well- financially unfeasible for many.
Many women have learned that the state/federal benefits and tax incentives are on their side not to marry.
Men are systematically being emasculated, so now we here terms about metrosexual......
And face it, with the sexual revolution that is happening - well I like say "You can't turn a hoe into a housewife"
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