Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Trouble in Role-Reversal Marriages


How are all of those non-traditional marriages doing? You know which ones, the ones where the man has ceded the traditional male role of breadwinner to his wife?

Naturally, one does not want to jump to conclusions, but still, the new survey from Denmark will grab your attention:

Science Daily reports:

The study, by Lamar Pierce, PhD, professor of strategy at Olin, and colleagues in Denmark, shows that men married to women with higher incomes are more likely to use erectile dysfunction medication than their male breadwinner counterparts.

Apparently, there’s trouble in Feministland. The common sense notion that strong, powerful women who take on male roles compromise a man’s erectile function turns out to be true.

There may not be an app for that, but there are pills for that.

But then, you will ask, how are the women in these non-traditional marriages doing? Do women feel fulfilled and contented by their roles as breadwinners? Isn’t that what Betty Friedan predicted?

Unfortunately, the results are not encouraging:

The researchers looking at more than 200,000 married couples in Denmark from 1997 to 2006 also found that wives who outearned their husbands were more likely to suffer from insomnia and to use anti-anxiety medication.

They did not find these effects for unmarried couples or for men earning less than their wives prior to marriage.

Let’s see, the birth control pill is credited with having ushered in the sexual revolution. Now we discover that the great feminist vision of gender equality in marriage can only be sustained by Prozac and Xanax.

You’ve come a long way, baby!

12 comments:

Kath said...

Homemaking and motherhood have been around for a long, long time.
The radical feminists are not even a blip in the time line of world history. It is very arrogant of them to believe that the traditional family can be destroyed without some major problems developing for individuals and society at large.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Well said...

Lastango said...

This sounds spot-on. When the woman earns the higher income (especially if it's a lot more), women often have more problems with that situation than the men do -- which, in turn, makes life miserable for them both. Worse, many of women's reservations about the income gap are petty and self-serving. That surprises some folks, because the prevailing cultural meme is that women are women are enlightened, wise, fair, and confident. (Men, on the other hand, are intimidated knuckledraggers.) Michael Cunningham, a psychologist at the University of Louisville, points to the problem:

“You want me to tell you that it will get better as you get older and the pool of dating men mature in their jobs. You will be happy if the man is secure and motivated in his own field. (But) when you talk to women who have been out of college long enough to be hardened and what you hear is ambivalence, if not downright hostility, about the income disparity.”

Some of the many possible issues may include:

== Her social prestige needs are not met because she cannot be publicly proud of her man. Her girlfriends think he’s ridiculous, and she knows her own status is sinking with each smirk from her female and male acquaintances. She’s a box-checking loser who couldn’t do better. Judgement is especially harsh if the man becomes a stay-at-home dad.

== She can’t sustain sexual interest in a dependent man she neither respects nor admires. She is also denied the opportunity to feel feminine, because, in her eyes, the man is no longer sufficiently masculine. He simply has no standing in the relationship to take on that leadership role.

== If the income disparity is large and permanent, it dawns on her that she will never be able to stay home and raise her children. Nor can she return home afterward; she will have to keep working, full-time, year after year, decade after decade to maintain the household. If she harbors an unrealistic hope for another outcome, this will eventually surface as bitterness as it becomes obvious he doesn’t have the drive or the career path to ever catch up.

== If her income is not stratospheric, a steady financial contribution from him would be welcome. If he’s underemployed or an SAHD, he’s not providing it. This is grating, especially if she has status needs associated with lifestyle and consumption. When the woman stays at home, the man thinks it’s his job to be the provider. When the man stays home, she often thinks he’s freeloading.

== When the man is the breadwinner, it’s their money. When the woman is the breadwinner, it’s her money. She resents that she isn’t free to spend it how she chooses, and she is really, really angry about having to give him money. That makes the relationship maternal, defeats her desire to feel looked-after, and drains whatever is left of the sexual energy from the relationship.

Little of this looks good on women; that's why it's necessary to blame men for not having evolved to keep pace with today's heroic uberwoman.

Here are four links to articles about the downsides of woman-as-breadwinner relationships.

http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/features/n_9495/

http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/relationship-issues/beta-husband

http://boards.askmen.com/showthread.php?57450-Secret-lives-of-breadwinner-wives
(originally this article was on MSN money. It's not there anymore, but a blogger made this copy.)

http://www.more.com/relationships/marriage-divorce/love-and-money-breadwinner-wives

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Great analysis; thank you ... it's interesting to see that the facts have been out there, but that no one pays much attention to them.

Dennis said...

Lastango,
I have often wondered what would women do if they no longer had men to blame for all of their failures and had to take responsibility for their actions. Feminism is built on the idea that women get the credit for everything that goes well and men are responsible for all the evil that exists in this world. That attitude is prevalent in an education system that is rife with female teachers intimating that boys are inherently bad. And one wonders why increasing numbers of boys are alienated from the education system.
It is interesting that when a man earns an income it is OUR money and once a woman earns an income it becomes their money. It is so prevalent an attitude that we don't even notice it.
I remember the day I found out I was an oppressor of women. It was right after I had worked the third job of the day to support my wife and children. I think this was the time that women were telling men that we were too career oriented.
I also learned not to much later, after coming back from two years in Southeast Asia, that I was also a baby killer. The irony of being called a baby killer by an American woman was not lost on me. They called it a fetus and we called it the VC. In both cases a dehumanizing name making it easier to kill them. At least the VC were shooting back at us.

JP said...

Xanax doesn't work for the long term.

Eventually, it's effectiveness drops to zero and you just end up addicted.

Maybe another analogy is appropriate.

Lastango said...

Here's a piece that sharpens some of the issues:

http://lifestyle.ca.msn.com/real-life/work/hearst-article.aspx?cp-documentid=24118315

Consider this snip:

===

Making more makes me resent him and feel he's not pulling his weight and should figure out something else to pursue," says Elizabeth D., a computer executive in Silicon Valley, of her husband, who holds a lower-level job in the industry.

"When my husband stopped having sex with me, he said that my haranguing him about his lack of income killed his desire," notes Lisa R., a recently divorced publicist in Vail, Colorado.

Indeed, fury isn't pretty. I know one television executive who walked out of her 25th high school reunion "when one too many women said something like, 'Your husband does what? Oh, that must be ... creative.'"

===

It also includes this interesting bit, about power:

===

"Jane Greer, Ph.D., couples therapist and host of Doctor on Call at healthylife.net. "When a man makes a lot of money and a woman doesn't, there may be fighting over money — the actual dollars and cents of living and how she spends it.

When a woman makes a lot of money and the man doesn't, the fight isn't exactly over money but over power: She expects to have more of it ... It's more about who gets to choose the vacations, the cars, the furnishings — and also, who takes up the slack at home."

===

The theme of women being "powerful", rather than merely successful, comes up over and over again, and I'm getting the feeling it's deeply corrosive to relationships.

For instance, here's something that never would have been written this way if the men had been the high-earners:

"Seven of the 18 women who are currently CEOs of Fortune 500 companies....have, or at some point have had, a stay-at-home husband. So do scores of female CEOs of smaller companies and women in other senior executive jobs. Others, like IBM’s new CEO, Ginni Rometty, have spouses who dialed back their careers to become their powerful wives’ chief domestic officers."

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/behind-every-great-woman-01042012.html

If the wives were the stay-at-home spouses, no one would ever designate them as subordinate by calling them their husband's "chief domestic officers". The rhetoric would have been all about how she's key to his success, not how she tags along behind, or, worse, "All these men wrap themselves around their wives’ schedules much like a trophy wife would”, as smashmouth Barbara Corcoran declared when she returned from -- wait for it -- Fortune’s annual “Most Powerful Women in Business Summit".

I suspect the bias toward aggressively wielding power in relationships in innate to women. We see it in the workplace, where the great majority of women prefer to have a man as their boss, rather than report to another woman. (I've seen an heard this myself, many times.)

If that's true, the "power" rhetoric is natural, but secondary, and reinforces rather than creates a basic female bias toward exploiting an advantage.

This interpretation suggests a marriage with a bread-winning woman who makes substantially more contains the seed of its own destruction, and the woman will have to work to keep her instinct for supremacist behavior from wreaking havoc over the longer term. She won't get help from the sisterhood, which is doing all it can to encourage a gaudy triumphalism. A professional woman who succumbs to the siren song of her own specialness, destroy her family, and learn too late that she's too old to piece together another homelife.


Anonymous said...

And now a woman's perspective. It's not about power it's about hard wired girl things. These women want to keep all the chips because they can't really let go of what women are hard wired to want/do. For example JP's snippet about the woman wanting to have say over the furnishings - that's a nesting instinct. Men don't care how a woman decorates the nest but a woman cares about how anyone else does it. She wants her nest the way she wants it. Also the reason women prefer a male boss is the queen bee thing. The queen bee doesn't support or want or nurture or mentor other women in her territory. RE: Stuart's link to the MORE article - none of these women picked (except soccer guy)ambitious men. The road signs were there from the beginning, these women just denied it. They all picked beta males, further emasculated them, then got upset about the results. They didn't want to totally give up the hard wired desire for the strong, bread winning man when they themselves assumed that role. They wanted a man that would also run a company and do house work and raise the kids. They couldn't role reverse and accept a house husband or a bus driving husband because women are hard wired to want what they want, however politically incorrect and anti "progress" that is. She can "have it all" but only if the bar is also moved up even higher for her man. None of these women have enough insight to uncover and question their basic hard wired beliefs driving their misery.

Lastango said...

Anonymous @ 8:56 AM,

Thanks much for your thoughtful reply. I certainly agree these women lack insight. Indeed, they seem to be dealing with their sourness by digging the hole deeper. They're getting help in making things worse from the rhetorical climate. My awareness of the power dynamic jumped when I happened to be reading a piece at Evan Marc Katz's blog. Katz provides relationship advice to successful women. He wrote:

"You’re not bad for being a strong, working woman. You’re impressive and admirable and powerful and all of those adjectives that successful women like to call each other."

Prompted by Katz's remark, I began to pay more attention to this aspect of these women's sense of entitlement. They do indeed like to apply those labels to themselves and each other, and examples were everywhere.

It's said bubble markets are never frothier than at the very top. Right now, the you-go-girl high-fiving is deafening, and the women seem extraordinarily eager to hear it. Self-examination would rain on the victory march, and is discouraged as retrograde or worse.

This phenomenon may be having a range of real-world consequences. A significant proportion of high-achieving women are single or childless, and often both. The popular media is fond of putting the blame for that outcome on culture and socialization, and on men. That amounts to handing entrenched women a shovel.

Of course, no phenomenon has a single cause. I'm suggesting women have a natural instinct toward flaunting power, and that this is counterproductive in relationships. Self-insight by successful women would help them and their mates. As someone put it,

"If you were a comedian, at a certain point you can’t keep insisting that you’re funny but 'nobody gets the joke'. It’s easy for you to sit back and say, 'I’m great, but no one can handle me.' It’s harder – and more important – for you to look in the mirror and figure out why."



Anonymous said...

Lastango, Interesting food for thought. I would build on what you have said by saying that the traditional ways women wield power are upset by the new feminism. What may have worked in the past for a marriage now eats at it. Mrs. John Smith use to get power and prestige through who her husband (and sons)were. So they were the sun and the moon. Today MS. Smith-Jones still gets upset when she can't wield that power (though she eschews being Mrs Smith). She doesn't think to question why. If his power was enough in the past and now it's her power why should his "lack of ambition" make her less? It's the same power and now she can't lose it via divorce. Also the queen bee's less than supportive attitude towards younger, climbing queen wanna "bees" is an extension of this desire for power in the way women traditionally get it- a successful woman is likely the only woman in a room and the men will compete for her attention. I am a woman engineer (25 years and counting) and I can tell you this is also hard wired). Why bring in someone younger that may take that away? Have you ever walked through a door or gotten into an elevator or up from a dining table as a very junior person and known that the president of the company would have held the door or let you go first or would stand as you got up? Or known that every person in a room of 40 or 50 will know your name because you are perhaps the only woman or one of a handful?

Finally don't underestimate the fear of divorce as she experienced it from a child's perspective as a shaping force for the drive behind a career woman. All the power her Mom lost, moving to a smaller house, being a middle aged Divorce'(the time when a women's bloom is waning and so her ability to use that easiest of powers to re-establish herself is fading). Entering the labor force after years of staying at home...All those years later so many daddy issues mixing together with her drive to push through the glass ceiling. All that desire to never be out of control and not in charge of the $ like her mother was. Feminism pushed too far and now it's the gift that keeps on giving.

Men should unapologetic be MEN. Men that are not alpha males should avoid career women. Note that I am not calling them alpha females because the alpha female will not mate with a male that is not also alpha. If you ever ran into stay at home corporate wives you would know this to be true. Also the alpha female doesn't need to be told she's powerful. It's validated every day (sort of like a beautiful woman doesn't need to be told).

Anonymous said...

Good morning Stuart,

While the blog post is interesting, the accompanying first comment was fascinating as it describes the antithesis of the whining beta males in the many linked articles and posts above. As this woman found, there are many benefits to marrying a real man instead of the feminist version cured of the defective male traits.

http://collegeinsurrection.com/2013/02/college-student-loans-will-be-the-new-sub-prime-crisis/#more

BTW legal insurrection and college insurrection are great blogs. http://legalinsurrection.com/

Lastango said...

Anonymous @ 4:19 PM,

You make an excellent point about younger women being motivated to stay in financial control by having watched the aftermath of their parents' divorce. To that we might add the need for dual-income marriages that include two high incomes, especially if she pictures an aspirational lifestyle and the spending that requires.

With today's declining marriage rate and high divorce rate, she knows she can't be certain she will find a husband, or that their marriage will last if she does. Further, it appears many men now expect their wives to make a major financial contribution. Also, in relationships, having a student debt load out of proportion to her income potential can be a show-stopper.

Adding fuel to this fire is the declining earnings potential of her prospective mates. For instance, most folks have read about the collapse of the legal profession, but now the market for new MBAs is starting to fall apart. And (IMO) that's just the tip of the iceberg as debt-driven enconomies around the world start to hit the wall. To make this even worse, college enrollment stats indicate there will be fewer high-earning men relative to the number of women who would like to marry them. Then there's MGTOW, a whole other topic.

Anyway, that's a lot of pressure for a woman to be under. It would seem hard for her to stop pressuring and controlling when she comes home to her relationship or marriage. And she has the entire gender industry (and all of its friends) shouting that she's entitled to a stellar future; it's up to her man to do all the introspecting and make all the concessions so she can get what she wants for herself. She should insist on nothing less.

==========

BTW, I like your observations about women being treated special when they are around mostly men. I interact sometimes with groups of women in parts of an industry where there are few men. Because they tend to be high-up in their organizations they are also older, and many of them are single. They are very glad to see me!