The old household gender roles are a thing of the past. Back in the day, the husband made the money and took care of the finances while the woman’s role was to manage the household duties.
Now, more than five million women are the breadwinners, changing the dynamic of the modern marriage. Money Magazine’s Donna Rosato sat down with Cycle co-host Krystal Ball to discuss how this all plays out.
Krystal: More women seem to be the primary breadwinners these days, what does that trend say about the future.
Donna: That’s right we see that about 24% of women today actually earn more than their spouses and when you look at dual income households, women contribute about half of the income in the household so women are earning as much or more than men and what we found in this survey is that’s having a big change in affecting almost every part of their relationship from managing their money and how the invest to what they argue about, who controls the finances, and marital satisfaction and their sex life.
Krystal: Does the money the woman make affect their sex life?
Donna: That’s right that’s right and its and interesting finding because money has always been a source of tension but the relationship ship the dynamic changes a little bit when you have more control. So one of the reasons we think it affects the marital happiness and sex life is because there is more pressure. If you’re a higher earning women and you’re taking on more of the financial duties, you’re more stressed out so you might not be as happy, but our more surprising finding is that men are happier and happiest when they’re married to someone who is earning more money.
Krystal: Now that women are shouldering more of the financial burden, is there an equal sharing of the household duties as well?
Donna: You’re exactly right men are definitely are sharing more of the chores but women are still doing more. And the good news in our survey is that, as women earn more they are being more involved in financial decisions and they feel much more confident and knowledgeable. So that’s a good thing. The more they earn the more they’re involved, an d it just adds more to their to-do list and that’s been a very hard thing so that’s why women feel more stressed. But there are things you could do about that. I’m a big believer in outsourcing things that don’t feel as critical or make you feel as satisfied.
Krystal: What is the danger in separating each other’s earnings?
Donna: The separate accounts shouldn’t be for the big things, and it shouldn’t be a lot. Some couples make it ‘you know what if I’m going to spend anything under 100 dollars that’s up to me, I don’t want to clear that with you, but if it’s over 100 dollars, 200 dollars whatever it might be, we’re going to need to talk about that.’ And so I think that’s a kind of way to set a rule so that people know you’re not going to spend your entire savings account on a new computer or that fabulous dress. So maybe if you set a rule like that, that would be helpful so you kind of reduce and like you said you don’t want to set it up like an adversarial thing. Like this is mine this is yours. We’re not going to talk about that.
Krystal: In the old days women would have their job and be able to spend their earnings on whatever they wanted. But now, women earn as much or more than men and its more of an equitable distribution. However, in some ways having the separate accounts harkens back to the more traditional ideas that a lot of Americans know from their parents. What do you take away from the survey?
Donna: When I look at the survey and I take away from it, people need to talk more about their money and be on the same page. One of the more interesting things we found it was sort of like the dating game, what do you know about your partner? And we asked men and women what each other’s top financial goals were. And each men and women both said their top financial goals on their own was retirement planning but neither thought the other top financial goal was retirement planning. So people don’t seem to be on the same page. And I know what you’re saying, if you’re keeping separate money are you on the same page, so I agree people need to talk more. It’s not about hiding money but just having some freedom too, I think there is a balance there.