Keeping Househusbands Happy

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When wives earn more, infidelity is more likely and divorce rates are higher.

Farnoosh Torabi, personal finance expert and the author of When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women (Hudson Street Press, 2014), offers survey data and advice on family dynamics for wives and husbands when her job supports the family. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the woman earns more in 29% of families where both halves of a married couple work outside the home. Despite the fact that this family structure is now much more common than it was a generation ago, Torabi cites several studies that found that when wives earn more, infidelity is more likely and divorce rates are higher. She offers tips on how to make this setup work. 

Four Things You Do To Make It Work When She Makes More:

1. Make his money matter.

"If he's bringing home 50 percent of what you're making, it's still good money," suggests Farnoosh. "If he's bringing home less money, attach it to big goals." Pauline in Hackensack agrees. "In our case, my husband maintains responsibility for almost all of the financial decisions... even though the larger share of the income is coming from my work," and it helps. 

2. Talk it out, be honest.

Matt in Westbury said it's a source of tension in his marriage. "It makes perfect economic sense for my wife to work and I'm home with the kids. But it's a struggle... and on Long Island I'm the only dad at the Mommy and Me classes. It's not like in Brooklyn with the Hipster dads." 

Sarah in Highland Lakes said she hadn't realized how old-fashioned she was until her husband stayed at home. "I'm having little twinges... and we just got it out in the open and had a huge fight." It helped, she said. "It's me... this is what we wanted and what we planned for. I just didn't realize I was so old-fashioned."

3. Sometimes you'll feel stuck.

Caller Mary in Brooklyn said it would be helpful to have more flexibility at work. "In 2014 in New York City, the amount of money that it takes to raise a family here really almost demands that one of the parents be somebody who has a more flexible schedule, who can be available, and most jobs that support a lifestyle here don't really allow for that kind of flexibility," she said. "If we want to stay in New York, we have to keep working at the kind of job that I have."

4. "You've really got to love each other." 

Mark in Rockland County's wife has been the sole breadwinner for 9 years. "I've been depressed about not working, but I do other things... and I take care of the house. She has not cleaned or cooked or anything like that for years."