Stressed business woman

Today the number of women in the workforce and among college campuses is soaring. There are now more women than men with bachelor’s degrees and women make up three-fifths of graduate students.

breadwinners beware

In 39 of the 50 top urban markets, women are making more than their male peers. And, in nearly half of American households, women are the breadwinners. But as women work their way up that career ladder and begin to out-earn their husbands or partners, cheating is on the rise.

According to new research, when a man is completely financially dependent on his female partner, he is five times more likely to cheat than men who contribute an equal amount to the partnership.

The male identity

Traditionally, men’s identities -- and tender egos -- have been entwined with their identity as breadwinners. Men used to bring home a majority of, if not the entire household income while many women had the luxury of staying home and raising their children. Men were typically providers and protectors and women were nurturers. In fact, women married a man based on the amount of resources he would one day provide for their children -- but not in our culture today. Today, we are seeing traditional gender roles reversed, blurred and even disappear in relationships. We’re headed into the era of the "independent woman."

Working wives

As we make the shift from egalitarian to equalitarian partnerships, we need to keep in mind what this means for our relationships, especially in terms of infidelity. There are consequences for female breadwinners as they take on the roles as provider, protector and nurturer. That’s a lot of work for one human being! Men, in turn, may take a hit to the ego and feel that their gender identity is being threatened, unable to fulfill the role as the family provider. And while his wife is busy working her butt off, he may stray.

Make him feel important

So what exactly does this mean? If your man makes less than you, make sure he has buckets of self-esteem. Reward him with compliments (and sex) when he undertakes non-traditional gender roles. Women love to micro-manage men when they become domesticated.

Also, if he’s not the primary earner, make him the primary protector of the family assets. Have him manage the finances. And, please encourage him to golf with the boys or join a garage band. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner who does diaper duty by day, give him some activities that remind him he’s all man at night.

More couples advice

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How to communicate better with your partner
Highly ambitious women married to less-ambitious men

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Comments

Comments on "Do men cheat on successful women?"

Amy October 30, 2012 | 10:29 AM

What it comes down to is being there for your man and making him feel important. Money doesn't matter. If he feels loved by you both physically and emotionally, he won't be as likely to go looking for that.

gina September 27, 2012 | 12:16 PM

men are not any more dependent because of a job making less money then their wives. Neither are wives who make less money or stay-at-mothers raising three kids. it's too bad relationships are referred to in this manner. raising children is not a luxury for a women when done fulltime. I have done both and children are very difficult when small. men I believe that cheat when their wives earn more do so because society has us believing money and status is what makes you important in a family. tell that to the children that value both parents doing labor in and out of the home on their behalf.

Shannon August 14, 2012 | 9:51 AM

I think people who are going to cheat will cheat regardless of whether they are working or their wives are. Like Emma said, why would a man want to jeopardize his relationship when he's financially dependent on his girl, but also why would he want to jeopardize his relationship if he was the breadwinner?

Hannah June 04, 2012 | 10:58 AM

I think that a relationship should be filled with compliments and encouragement regardless of financial situations, but this basically makes stroking your man's ego another full time job for successful women. Isn't that a bit patronizing?

Emma May 16, 2012 | 3:51 PM

This is a fascinating idea. I get that men's egos can take a dive because their female counterpart may be more successful. But it is crazy to me that a man who is financially dependent would stray, wouldn't he want to not jeopardize that?! I think it is important to make sure your man is the man in the relationship and feels that way!

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