For many women, career growth and success are essential components of a fulfilling life. However, data suggests that “having it all”—meaning a career and a family—is extremely difficult to manage. Despite social and political measures to promote gender equality, the workplace remains an area of struggle—not just professionally but also personally.

Divorce rates are higher among professional women who work in dual-income households, especially if the woman makes more money than the man.

The psychological power of gender norms

Whatever gains our society has made toward gender equality, it is still a generally accepted social norm that the man should make more money than the woman. The psychological impact of this is significant, specifically on women.

In marriages where the wife is the highest earner, the woman might feel the inequality negatively and begin to feel tied down or even embarrassed by her husband. She is also more likely to be the target of her husband’s aggression. Both these factors cause divorce rates to rise.

In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, high-income wives were more likely to experience marital dissatisfaction if they earned more than their husband. Husbands, on the other hand, were unaffected by the fiscal factors and only experienced dissatisfaction if their wife showed signs of unhappiness with the marriage.

If the husband provided essential support in some capacity, however, the wife’s dissatisfaction with her husband’s less impressive career is often reduced or eliminated.

In conclusion, married couples who experience disparity in income generation might benefit from open communication and considering non-monetary contributions to the family of equal worth.

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