Christine Park

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Income and Infidelity

The headline says it all:

Infidelity Rises When She Makes More Than He Does

In a study released this week, researchers at Cornell University suggest in couples where the man makes less than the woman, "gender identity threat" may make him less faithful. The study's author, Christin Munsch decided to look at the link between income and infidelity after a male friend who cheated on his partner confided, "she made all the money, she had all the friends, and he'd moved up there to be with her. He felt completely powerless." So he turned to another woman who made him feel more important and more valued??? It's hard to feel sympathy for the fellow, but you'd be surprised how much a man's ego and self-worth are tied to his job and ability to earn money. A quick survey among my friends who are currently in this situation, revealed feelings of shame, embarrassment, and resentment among the men. And this experience is more common than you might think.

The recession has created many more households where the woman is the primary breadwinner. Men make up 75-percent of the 7 million people who have lost their jobs in this recession. So for many households, the shift in gender roles is not a choice, but a necessity.

This may often be empowering to women... and at the same time a heavy, guilt-ridden burden to bear. One mom, "Mrs.Garcia2U" went from being a stay-at-home mom for a decade, to being the sole breadwinner when her husband lost his job three years ago. She says the stress is taking a toll on her relationships. She feels like she's not a good mother anymore, because she's always working. Her husband resents her for making more money than him. I'm not saying there aren't men who appreciate their "sugar mamas", but after this latest study on infidelity, sounds like women come out on the losing end of all this.

I asked my husband, who currently makes triple my salary, how he would feel if the roles were reversed. He swore he would embrace the role of stay-at-home dad and having a "sugar mama." But I'm not so sure. Like many men, he was raised in a household where his father was the money maker, and mom was in a supporting role. A dad who couldn't provide was a failure or dead-beat. The same social stigmas are still very much alive. One dad "K" recently became a SAHD and said he wandered around aimlessly, feeling like "something was missing."

Obviously looking to regain your masculinity in the arms of another woman isn't going to solve your problems... it will just make matters worse. Fresno family therapist Ellen Truschel says one way to head off such issues is to seek counseling before the relationship ever reaches the crisis point. Maintaining open communication and trying to meet each other's needs (emotional and physical) may help your marriage avoid becoming a statistic of this recession.

Any tips from readers? Discuss.

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