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    When Wives Work and Husbands Don’t

    By Kristen Houghton     

    “I am tired of being the breadwinner. I love him but, he needs to get a real job!”

    The statement, made at a “Women in Education” conference, was part of a speech on women who are the main support of their families. The speaker’s words resonated throughout the room.

    More than fifty percent of all households in the USA have a woman as its prime “breadwinner.” Though the men in these households do work their salaries could not support a family.

    Surprisingly, in homes where the highest level of education for both spouses is college or beyond, the percent of women supporting the household rises to sixty-seven percent.

    This turn-about in primary salaries hasn’t arrived suddenly. It has been steadily on the rise for the past twenty years but, is only now being studied by sociologists. In the traditional past, men’s salaries have been the primary source of family income. Much of that had to do with society’s ideas that men had careers and women were homemakers. The simple fact, that educational and job training opportunities were geared more to men than women, left no doubt over who would become the “breadwinner.”

    The women of the past twenty years have been fortunate enough to have excellent opportunities in education and training available which enabled them to enter fields once dominated by men. Their earning power has increased dramatically.

    But the very same advantages that helped women achieve have also created a dilemma.

    Men coming of age in an era where it was commonplace for Mom to work outside the home in a well-paying job, see women as competent and strong. The pressure to support a family is no longer a man’s domain.

    This has created a problem for women. The idea of shouldering the complete financial burden of a family causes resentment. This is compounded by the fact that their equally well-educated husbands are content to have jobs with less pay or no jobs at all. Barring stay-at-home dads, most women feel their husband should work a full-time job the same as they do.

    Change always follows success and the fact that women are achieving financial success makes it easier for men to change their own ideas about working. Laboring simply to “get ahead” is no longer satisfactory for them. For the majority of working women, job satisfaction takes a back seat to getting ahead.

    Sometimes “change” needs a little tweak to benefit both spouses.

    Couples need to evaluate both their marital and individual goals. Each needs to contribute either financially, or in other productive ways, to make their lives together work.

    Written by Kristen HoughtonRate this article:

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