We tend to see women as the caregiver in households. But the percentage of top breadwinner women has been growing exponentially for decades. Mothers are the sole or primary provider in 40% of households with children, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of 2010 Census data. This share, the highest on record, has quadrupled since 1960.
“Most of my divorce cases involve the man being the breadwinner, but that has been changing over the past few years,â€ says Curtis Boykin, a Washington, D.C., attorney whose practice includes family law.
“The breadwinner role is changing because women are now more economically viable, particularly in the black community,â€ he says.
Most of the ‘breadwinning moms’ are single, but 37% are married. What problems will occur for you if you earn more than your husband or partner? And what can you do as a couple to make the marriage works?
Financial expert Farnoosh Torabi, author of She Makes More, has rules for the breadwinning woman:
Face the facts: You’re likely to suffer higher rates of stress, infidelity and divorce. Men who depend on their female partners are five times more likely to cheat than men who earn equivalent salaries.
Rewrite the fairy tale: Shun the rescued-by-the-prince story and do what works for you and your family. Work-life balance is not a women’s issue. Men also feel that tug-of-war.
Level the financial playing field: Make decisions together. Keep accounts online and accessible to both of you. Don’t be possessive about money.
Cater to the male brain: To keep his dignity, your husband needs to feel he’s not isolated from the financial decisions. Make him feel appreciated for his help beyond money. You must acknowledge his non-financial contributions.
Hire domestic help: Outsource household chores to avoid stress and overwork. Your husband may help more around the house today than he did years ago, but you’re likely to bear the brunt of household duties. Let go of those responsibilities.
Plan parenthood: Having children changes everything. Strategize all aspects of your child’s future, college and beyond.
Grow a thicker skin: Ignore rude comments about your situation. Do not fall prey to overheated emotions at home, at work or at social events.
Remember to breathe: Avoid burnout by giving yourself one hour of ‘me time’ every day. Women experience more stress-related physical symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, depression and irritability than men. If you’re thinking about marriage and you’re highly-paid with considerable assets, attorney Boykin has some advice: seek a pre-nuptial agreement.
“I see cases now where women are seeking pre-nups so they can protect the money they’re bringing into the relationship,â€ he says.