Women Have Mixed Emotions About Achieving Income Equality with Men

Income Equality

If it ever sounds like I’m beating the same drum over and over, that’s because every year it seems there is new research that validates conclusions drawn by this blog over the years.

Today’s piece, by Tara Siegel Bernard of the New York Times, suggests that while gender roles have become more egalitarian, the attitudes and expectations behind them have a long way to go.

Basically, women often out earn their partners, but this equality has created misgivings in both gender about women paying the majority of the bills.

“Over the past half-century, gender roles in the United States have become much more egalitarian. Women now  outnumber  men in college and collect  more degrees. A rising share of women earn more than their husbands, and men are taking on more responsibility at home.

What may come as a surprise – especially to those under 30 – is that despite these shifts, certain expectations persist when it comes to where men fit into the household dynamic.

“We have held on to that idea that men are supposed to provide, but have loosened up on the idea that women have to be homemakers,” said  Alexandra Killewald, a Harvard sociology professor.”

We have held on to that idea that men are supposed to provide, but have loosened up on the idea that women have to be homemakers

There are a lot of contradictions in this, which is to be expected when desires conflict.

Men have been taught that to be a “man” is to provide for your family. And 7 out of 10 adults agree that it’s “very important” for a man to support his family, as compared with 3 out of 10 feeling this way about women.

Women have been taught (rightfully) that they are equal to men and can do anything a man can do. No longer does a woman need to depend on a man when she can be an independent career woman. This, we can agree, is a great thing. But, as the premise of the article suggests, just because women CAN outearn men doesn’t mean they WANT to outearn men.

As a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women, I’ve been hearing many variations on this them for nearly two decades. Like the article suggests, a little flexibility can go a long way.

If men are willing to help out with housework and child rearing, women will be less resentful of their husband’s lower financial status.

If women are willing to let go of the outdated idea that her husband must out earn her “to be a man”, it opens up a wide new pool of egalitarian dating possibilities.

The more men and women can adjust to this new reality and take on the other gender’s formerly prescribed role, the better chance your marriage will have of thriving.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (56 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Until a month ago, when a quit a high paying yet soul destroying position, I outearned nearly every man I met. I figured getting ahead, saving for retirement was my responsibility and no one else’s. In a man, I look for financial responsibility, living well and in dignity but within one’s means, intellectual engagement, maintaining healthy habits and diet, maturity. My husband, a retiree, actually took on many female gender roles such as cooking, laundry, shopping. I performed both male and female roles because I had much greater endurance and preferred outside chores. Though I earned a high salary, I had zero desire to support a man who chose not to be those things I’d described earlier. Already did that with my dad. I’d advocate that my female students get their degrees, have established savings, be in a position to raise your family solo if needed and learn home repair and other skills. Rships fall apart, men leave, become disabled, even die, and one needs to be prepared. Never heard of a woman wanting to earn less than a man though. Tragically, way too many women here stay in abusive or very poor rships because they don’t know how to function on their own and/or have few job skills.

  2. 2

    As i type this I am commuting home after making a detour to a fancy chocolate shop for a surprise gift for the man i am seriously dating. When i was younger and pre-Evan i would never have thought of doing something like this for the man i am with. A combination of dating men that would not have valued such a thoughtful gift (he loves chocolate in all forms), and the assumption it was the man’s role to give his partner gifts. Incomes are in this case not quite equal, but definitely in each other’s vicinity.  I love my independence and knowing that no matter what I will always be able to look after myself. Just before my father died this summer he told me he was proud that I could stand on my own and wasn’t dependent on another. It made me aware of what a blessing it was. A blessing i wish all women could have. If that means that a man isn’t going to sweep me off my feet and buy me the cottage of my dreams, then so be it.  

    1. 2.1
      Emily, the original


      As i type this I am commuting home after making a detour to a fancy chocolate shop for a surprise gift for the man i am seriously dating.

      I KNOW I can speak for myself as well as Adrian, but we want DETAILS …. (not about the chocolate but about the guy.)      🙂

      1. 2.1.1


        1. Marika (the original)

          Emily & Adrian  

          It’s not me. That’s a different Marika!

        2. Emily, the original

          Marika (the original)
          It’s not me. That’s a different Marika!
          DAMN IT! Marika is such an unusual name. How could there possibly be two? That’s why I had to add “the original” to my name. There was another Emily out there and I didn’t want my views mixed in with hers. Ew.        🙂

      2. 2.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        I was curious about the chocolate shop.

        Guys come and go, but chocolate is with us forever.

        1. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,

          Guys come and go, but chocolate is with us forever.

          I agree wholeheartedly. My love can be purchased with a nice box of chocolates. Godiva. Dark. No nuts. No fruit.

        2. No Name To Give

          I’m in a weight loss program. I can’t even have that.   *sad face*

    2. 2.2


      I wanted to touch on two great points that you made, and agree with them wholeheartedly.

      1) That you are grateful you have the financial means to be independent and are thankful for it every day. I too wish this was something that all women have. I honestly don’t think a day goes by that I’m not so thankful for my work and the independence it allows me to have. This was something both of my parents drummed into me from the time I was a little girl. Stand on your own two feet financially, and this has served me so well. Firstly it’s allowed me to carve out the life  I  want and not to have to stay in an unsatisfactory situation, particularly an unhappy relationship. Secondly, I can truthfully look at guys that I date as people, and not meal tickets. I can honestly and proudly tell them that I’m not interested in their money. For me, the fact that I can look after myself means that I can choose a man based on qualities such as his passion for his job, rather than how much he makes.

      2) You mentioned how, in the days before Evan, you would never have got a man you were dating such a thoughtful gift because you’d have thought it was the man’s job to do this or that it would have gone unappreciated. This is another nuance of dating that I have learned to appreciate. The likes of Rori Raye will tell you never to get a gift for a man you are dating, and I now realise this is not the case at all. If a man is putting in the effort to see you, contact you and commit to you, if he is making an effort to make his feelings for you known, you can absolutely buy him a gift. Men who are interested in us love it when we make an effort. In fact, I’ve been touched by how many men appreciate such small gestures of thoughtfulness because they are so unused to them. I think having someone do nice things for them is far more rare for a man than it is for a woman. For instance, I am pretty used to a guy I am dating paying for dinner, bringing me something thoughtful, phoning me to check in etc. But guys are not used to this.

      Oh, and I second what Emily and Adrian have said. Details please!

    3. 2.3

      Sorry guys, it’s Malika! The Marika is a typo, knew that would one day happen!


      I still read the comments avidly, but was busy with my private life, so not as active.

      1. 2.3.1

        Great to have you back, MaLika 😉

        Congrats on the new beau! Tell us more, tell us more..like does he have a car..?

      2. 2.3.2
        Emily, the original


        Sorry guys, it’s Malika! The Marika is a typo, knew that would one day happen!

        We are still waiting to hear the details … about what you did with the chocolates.   🙂

        1. Malika

          He loved the chocolates! Posh selection from Belgian chocolatier, they were a hit.

          I met him online after logging on to my datung site to check out whether the preceding beau was cheating on me (he was, in a rather spectacular fashion). He contacted me while i wasn’t actually ready, but when we met he turned out to be lovely! We are taking things slow, for above stated reasons, it’s now been a couple of months. Basically we want to take things much further but at an appropiate pace.

          Just goes to show that love arrived at the most unexpected of times!

        2. Emily, the original


            are taking things slow, for above stated reasons, it’s now been a couple of months.

          Glad to hear things are going well.

          Basically we want to take things much further but at an appropiate pace.

          Speed it up a little! All of us are ready for the X-rated version of this story.     🙂   (I kid, I kid.)

      3. 2.3.3

        Congratulations Malika

        … See Marika I’m not the only one who mixes the two of your names up (^_^)

      4. 2.3.4
        Karl R


        I’m glad to hear you’ve met a nice guy.

  3. 3

    A few weeks ago, I watched a forum in which two professors reacted to the some of the findings in the book The Death of Men.   One of the professor made a very important point that indirectly touches on the point of the article.   He said that even today, men, generally, are still raised to believe that they should provide for their families.   In contrast, women are taught that they should achieve so that they can take care of themselves and not have to rely on a man.    So, this attitude results in that saying — his money is our money but her money is her money.   Importantly, a study found that for married couples where the husband made more money, when they made financial decisions, about half the time husbands would have final say and about half the time, wives would have the final say.    By contrast, for couples where the wife made more money, the wife would have final say around 80% of the time suggesting that when women make more they want to call the shots because they feel it is their money.So, for true equality, women have to be raised to believe that they should achieve and make a good living in order to take care of their families — including their husbands– not just themselves.   

    1. 3.1

      “…his money is our money but her money is her money.”

      Boy that sure was how it worked in my marriage.   My ex never blinked an eye to spend my money on anything she wished, but to ask her to contribute any of HER money to things like, say buying groceries every once in a while, was akin to threatening her ‘independence as a woman.’

  4. 4

    One takeaway from this is that couples should talk about money *regularly* while creating a serious relationship and not find it unromantic or confronting. My partner and I have different styles (he favors cash and property, I’m a long-time stock market investor) and we regularly check in about our long-term financial goals. Before we moved in together we decided on how we would share finances – navigating potentially tricky topics like the fact that I was giving up career opportunities to move to the small town where we now live (he works remotely) and what expenses I would contribute (he owns his place and can pay the mortgage himself, I have my own property and mortgage to worry about). We still have to work out how we will approach buying a home together, if we end up with different salary levels when we do, etc.

    In this day and age there’s just no room for hang-ups and attachments about money and earnings. Get talking and get real and avoid more stress than necessary.

  5. 5

    “If men are willing to help out with housework and child rearing, women will be less resentful of their husband’s lower financial status.”Wow, that makes me think that resentment will pretty much still be there even if he helped out with the housework and the child rearing.”If women are willing to let go of the outdated idea that her husband must out earn her “to be a man”, it opens up a wide new pool of egalitarian dating possibilities.”That’s a big  if; one idea that isn’t going away anytime soon.Not only is this idea strongly perpetuated by both men and women, it ties too strongly with what women find attractive/desirable in a partner.

  6. 6
    Mrs Happy

    Do most married couples have separate bank accounts?   If it’s all in a joint account, how is money his or hers?   Do most married people with mortgages have interest offset accounts where they park all their money to reduce mortgage interest repayments, or is this just a Sydney exorbitant-house-price thing?   Or does each spouse maintain separate accounts, paying numerous bank account keeping fees?

    It is interesting to hear how others live their life, but it’s hard to imagine raising a family with someone, which involves time off paid work for one spouse or another to be with each baby, and together accumulating assets, paying a mortgage and credit card and loans etc, and as well as that having separate accounts, unless there is some financial incompetence in one spouse.

    1. 6.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @Mrs Happy

      My and ex and I maintained separate checking accounts and a joint savings account the entire time that we were married.   We had assigned bills and living expenses.   We had our own lines of credit and our own investment accounts.   It worked quite well and made drafting a settlement agreement when we decided to divorce a breeze.   In my humble opinion, it is the commingling of finances that causes so much drama in divorce.

  7. 7

    Women have mixed emotions about many things when it comes to dating..;)

  8. 8

    I know of many, many women who are proud to support themselves and their children.   I know of almost no women who are proud to support a husband.   Whereas almost all the husbands I know who support their wives are proud to do so.   I believe this to be both nurture and nature, and I don’t think that raising our girls differently will help much.   I’ve met hundreds of young women who were raised to be independent – none want to support a man, none want to contribute more than 50% financially, all believe that as women they contribute more than 50% through intangeables and require compensation for doing so.  Evan’s solution is for women to open themselves to dating like men.   I’d like to think we live in a world where that is possible, but deep down I don’t think we do.   My own take on the subject is that women should stop telling themselves (and telling men) that their income doesn’t matter, because it does.   Big time.   Last I checked, the overwhelming majority of mothers with children under 18 don’t want to work full-time, regardless of whether that’s what they expected they’d want when they were younger.   This means that in order to get what they want, they need husbands with 2 important qualities: i) high enough income, ii) the desire to support their wives and the notion that doing so is fair to them.   Consider what this means, and how what women tell men when they are dating tends to contradict what they are likely to want.   Consider the difference between wanting to be financially independent versus wanting to support a family – everyone in the family.   Consider the difference between what women and men believe they get from each other, want from each other, in exchange for the support.   And you’ll see why this isn’t a simple issue.

    1. 8.1
      Emily, the original


        Last I checked, the overwhelming majority of mothers with children under 18 don’t want to work full-time,

      The people you interact with are traditional, no? Most of the women I know, though older and past child rearing, worked full-time as they were raising their children, as did their husbands. I think a lot of women want to marry a man whose income, when combined with theirs, will be able to pay for raising children, and that’s not unreasonable. But I don’t think most women expect the man to either support completely or support mostly (because they are working only part-time) a household.

      1. 8.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Emily ,the original,

        in my country 76% of heterosexual partnered females with children under 18 either do not work in paid work at all, or are casual or part-time workers, and one can assume many households are thus largely financed by coupled males.

        All my working life and until my 1st child was 6 weeks old I knew I’d go back to work full time after the baby.   No doubt in my mind.   Then, when she was a few weeks old, I realised I could not leave her for 50+ hours a week.   It’s primal.   Unexpected.   I changed career paths so I could only work 1-2-or maximum 3 days a week.   I never see myself working full time again actually (unless finances absolutely require it), because by the time they’re finished school I’ll be too old to have the energy and stamina to work full time.

        It’s not just traditional families here, it’s most households.   Middle and high income earners have the choice (maybe with some economic juggling) for the woman to not work much/at all, and poorer families find the cost of childcare doesn’t cover the females’s earnings, so conclude there is little point.

        The surprising thing (for me) is you don’t know what you will do in this regard (work or not) until you do it (have young children).   It must be annoying for men – “I’ve decided to completely stop earning and stay home”.   No wonder we are told that men while dating don’t prioritise her income or job – they probably don’t rely on it continuing if kids come.

      2. 8.1.2
        Emily, the original

        Mrs. Happy,

        I never see myself working full time again actually (unless finances absolutely require it), because by the time they’re finished school I’ll be too old to have the energy and stamina to work full time.

        I’m not a huge advocate for work. I think work is tedious and the routine sucks the life out of you. And don’t get me started on how horrible it is being told what to do all day long, but I’m not independently wealthy. If I could, I’d only work part time, but I can’t afford it. I’ve just never wanted to be financially dependent on someone. It’s bad enough to have to do it with any employer. And when I was younger and thought having kids was still an option,   I wanted to make sure I was in a position to financially support myself and my child completely — including health insurance costs — if I had to, if the father walked out the door and wouldn’t contribute. Even if that meant only having one child.

    2. 8.2

      Hi Jeremy,

      You speak a lot about women saying one thing and wanting something else and you always caution us young men to be careful of the advice older women give us about finding, getting, and keeping a woman.

      So my question to you is; what should we do? I mean how do we tell the difference between what advice women have that works and that doesn’t if they themselves don’t know… And they don’t know that they don’t know?

  9. 9

    I agree it’s not a simple issue.   50% of the time I’m dating men who make less than me.   It would be most of the time if I wasn’t living in an expensive coastal city.   My male colleagues who make my salary do date down economically.   However, they are usually trading their status jobs/high salaries for younger and more attractive females.   These women are also very proud of them.   You hear them talk proudly of how their bf just made partner or CFO etc.   when married these women often take on more of the domestic duties.   If I date down economically, I know it doesn’t mean hotter/younger guys want to date me and will feel proud of my accomplishments in the same way.   It’s also rare for men who earn less to want to take on more child rearing or domestic roles.   I think if both sides started to view things differently then I could see it work, but just telling women to ignore men’s providership without gaining what men gain today is a challenge.   Not blaming either side, but this is the challenge I’ve seen from friends who have married less successful men (challenges my make friends don’t have).

    1. 9.1

      You bring up good points. Biologically, men are hard wired to be providers and now live in a world where many of them struggle to do so. I also dated mostly men who underearned me and while the whole family thing isn’t an issue at my age, still resentment would rear its ugly head. Since I was also supporting a dying parent, my greater fiscal responsibility was also a cause for resentment. Was always putting off vacations because I never knew when I’d have to take the emergency flight out and I had to, numerous times. You’re right about lower earning or retired men not taking over some domestic duties to equalize the situation. Used to drag myself home after a 13 hr teaching day and still have to feed animals, make a fire in the stove, do laundry, clean, vacuum etc. Rather than help out, many men wanted me to downsize my life to a point where they could stay in my home and not have any chores. That didn’t fly as the point of the high paying job was to allow me to live the life I wanted, not be in a small, sterile, space, surrounded by other homes and noise. Ironically, it was always the successful men, both hard workers and those that came from high end family, including my husband, that would take over cooking etc and could see that I was exhausted. They were the only ones who would encourage me to relax after a hard day, would make the bed, bring in wood, clear snow, without being asked. Makes one wonder if their overall work ethic had a lot to do with their success, eh?

    2. 9.2

      I agree with what you wrote, K, and I’ve heard that said by many women in my circles.   But I wanted to ask your honest opinion here (and that of the other women here) – if young men did admire your income/success the way young women do for men, if men did take on more domestic duties at home, would you choose to date down?   I ask because my experience is that most high-earning successful women would not.   They often talk about how nice it would be to have “wives” of their own, but they aren’t generally attracted to such men IME.   The advice they give men in this regard is to adopt qualities that will result in their being sexless.   While it’s nice to fantasize that we are in a world where the only gender roles are the ones we choose, such is not the world in which we find ourselves.

      1. 9.2.1


        What do you mean by date ‘down’? I don’t earn a lot, but I’m well educated. I think I’ve once dated someone with my education level, and never anyone with a higher degree. I don’t consider that dating ‘down’, but I don’t really find a whole heap of degrees sexy. Intelligence, yes, but not necessarily formal education.

        In terms of money, it wouldn’t be hard to make more than me, so most guys have, but definitely not all. Many, many of my dates after the first one or two, we take turns paying. I don’t personally consider that an issue, but I know people who do, including some of my family members. But I still wouldn’t consider that dating ‘down’.

        I also don’t care about height and date men of all heights, so again that would not be an issue.

        I’m trying to think of times I’ve felt I’m dating ‘down’…the only thing I can think of would be if there was nothing I found impressive and masculine to admire them for. Eg one guy who revealed all his insecurities within the first two dates, essentially told me his ex dictated when and how he saw his child (and even seemed to hover nearby when they were together), would call and sound all depressed, I’d ask him if everything was okay then he’d spend 10 mins apologizing for his tone…  – now he had a low level type job, but it was the whole package that bothered me. And I just couldn’t get up any attraction, I never thought it was dating down. I just felt kinda repulsed but then bad about feeling that way about a nice guy. I’m sure that happens to men too?

        I think I’m off on a random tangent here, but just not sure what it even means to date down? Or how that would look/feel.

        1. Jeremy

          You’re probably better off not knowing.   The women who see dating less successful men as “dating down” have their own set of problems and blind-spots.   It has to do with their expectations of who will adopt what role.   How concerned are you with roles?   😉

        2. Emily, the original


          I think I’m off on a random tangent here, but just not sure what it even means to date down?

          Hate to say this but you’re inadvertently opened up a can of worms … because now we are going to get a bunch of comments about dating lower than one’s perceived   SMV, “dating down” to experience less rejection, “dating down” for easy sex ….

      2. 9.2.2

        Jeremy, you raise some interesting questions and I certainly had to think about it.   Years ago, I don’t think I would have appreciated dating someone who made less than me yet wanted to have more of domestic role (and by less, I mean like a lot less, someone who makes 50k less than me isn’t a lot to me).   I haven’t even met a lot of men who talk about spending more time at home with kids to really test this.   In my social circle, where the men are very frank, they have little to no interest in that.   I only have thought about this lately, because at this point I do out-earn a lot of men, especially the ones that aren’t laser focused on their careers.   At this point in my life, I would appreciate someone who earned less, but would play a more supportive role.   When I see co-workers and friends with husbands who earn a lot less, but still want a job outside of the home and the sacrifices that are made for child care or location by the women it’s tough.   I don’t see these same choices being made when the men out-earn.   My female colleagues who have high earning partners, usually take more time off for work for domestic tasks, leave early if the kids are sick, pass up on work travel etc.   I recently met a coworker’s boyfriend who was really cute, but certainly lower earning and less ambitious than her.   He moved across country for her job (like the girlfriends of many of my male colleagues).   I really enjoyed his personality and thought he was attractive and he fit in well with her not easy going personality.   Years ago I would have just saw him as not attractive because he lacked ambition.   Now I see him differently, but then again he still has a solid job, but just less so than my female co worker and he’s more willing to put her career first.

        1. Jeremy

          Thanks for your thoughtful reply here, K.   I often wonder how much of this issue is a chicken-egg dilemma.   On the one hand, your experience is that men are reluctant to assume a domestic/supportive role, even if they under-earn.   But on the other hand, you acknowledge that at least younger women (childbearing age, most likely) are not likely to be interested/appreciative of men who earn less, even if they would adopt a supportive role.   Given that men’s motivations for just about everything (especially at a young age) revolve around sex, how much does the knowledge that adopting a supportive role (rather than an alpha one) will result in sexlessness leads men to not want to adopt that role?


          Pew studies show that young mothers often prefer to work part-time or not at all, while young fathers prefer to work full-time.   But is that because that’s their preference, or because they know the “divorce clock” starts ticking for them as soon as they lose their job?   Whereas it does not for women.   I only present this for your consideration to counter the common narrative that I read above – that men need to earn more because it’s women who end up doing the domestic chores.   Why do you suppose that is?   Who wants what, in exchange for what?

        2. Mrs Happy

          Why men don’t stay home and care for young children is complex, and definitely not only concentrated at the level of the individual and his opportunities for sex.

          There are still women alive in 1st world countries who weren’t given the past-age-14 educational opportunities men were, because it was assumed they would “just stay home” once married.   I have colleagues who say if they couldn’t afford private school fees for every child, they would private school only their boys, because they see women once kids arrive not continuing in careers, whereas the boys will (it is assumed) have to keep working throughout their life.   So in all sorts of ways boys are set up from birth to be the ones who earn money.     It is well known in my country that private boys’ schools can charge higher fees than private girls’ schools – parents will pay more to educate a boy.

          Add to that the reality of breastfeeding keeping a woman physically geographically tied to each baby for 1-2 years, and the historical reality of lack of contraception, and married women until recently were often either breastfeeding, pregnant, or about to become pregnant, from age 20 until 40-45.   Why on earth would parents or society pay to highly educate and professionally train such a group?

          At this society level,   it doesn’t matter how sexually attractive a man who stays home, might be – he never gets the chance.   His wife doesn’t earn, so he has to.   Unless he lives in Scandanavia now, paternal leave after each baby isn’t a reality.   If all the men around you earn money and you don’t, and women and kids need money, the pattern becomes entrenched – your DNA won’t get a chance if you don’t earn.

          Economically, until the whole of society changes,   each household unit (small business) will be most financially successful if each adult in it specialises, hence the man works for money, and importantly his brain and time are completely freed up to do so, because the woman stays home.   It doesn’t matter if doing a 50-50 split, i.e. both paid working a few days a week and both home with kids a few days a week, would work better emotionally for the family.   Workplaces don’t really care about families, for all their purported “family friendly” policies; they care about profits.

          I could write for hours on this topic, I’ve read so much about it, and experimented with the different variations in my own family life, but I’ll stop here for fear of boring my audience.

      3. 9.2.3
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Jeremy,

        I wrote a long piece days ago which address this query before you asked it, but it was eaten on posting and never appeared.   Jeremy, your imaginary premise is not real, so there’s no point fashioning an answer to it.

        My experience is of the way the real world works is the following.

        1. A high-earning man improves his mate selection (is much more attractive to the opposite sex simply because he earns more money than other men) but that is not as true for a high-earning woman.

        2. A woman married to a high-earning man will sacrifice a lot to give to the relationship and make the man’s life easier, and prioritise/improve his ability to earn more and get promotions.   She may quit her own career and paid work and stay home, do almost all the childcare, housework, holiday planning, present-buying, social circle socialising work, move city or country for his work advancement, never travel but support his work/fun travel, be available to pick up 100% of the family workload slack when he has to travel or study for work at regular intervals or short notice – including even packing his bag, prioritise his need for weekend free time/sporting adventures/fun days away (“he needs a break after his hard work week”) over her own, basically do all the background humming tasks which keep a well functioning family and home running smoothly.   A man married to a high-earning woman will not tend to do all this.   Even is he is the rare man who stops paid work to become a househusband, he will not support her rise to the top of paid work with anywhere near the same personal sacrifices.

        3.   Children throw the 180 turn-society-around-wife-earns-much-more plan out, because most other families have the woman doing most of the primary care of the kids, and stay-at-home-dads get socially excluded from park plays, home coffee catch-ups, etc, thus the dad’s children are socially excluded too.   A sick child going to the doctor, dentist, hospital, wants its mummy there to cuddle.   A child scared to try on shoes at the shoe shop wants mummy there.   Mums do the emotional work of caring better than dads do (yes general assumption but I’m speaking in generalities and how I observe the real world).

        4. Others will judge adversely.   Family, friends, acquaintances.   It will be tiring to repeatedly explain this works for the family.   The man’s manhood will be questioned, and he will start to feel that, and the woman’s view of him will be adversely affected.   Again, not the ideal, but the real world experience.

        5.   Jeremy, maybe your colleagues aren’t attracted to such men because the overall package is of less drive/intelligence/ability/chutzpa, than the women and the male colleagues all around them, have.

        6. Importantly what all these mean is that overall a high-earning male’s life is easier when he earns more, but a high-earning woman with kids and a home to run has a harder life, if she works full time, because essentially she still comes home or dashes around during all her work and non-work hours, doing much of the above.   She does a double or a triple shift.

        Women know this.   Evan can cry from the rooftops till he is blue in the face about choosing lower-earning men (and I appreciate he has a point in not culling too completely), but until the world around us changes, women know that their life will be easier if their husband earns more.

        1. Jeremy

          I agree with most of your points (except point 3 – I’ve seen many families where child cries for daddy, especially if he is the primary caregiver).   The question is WHY?   Why aren’t more men willing to be the caregiving spouse?   Why won’t men who are the caregiving spouse be as likely to do all the things women do?   Part of the answer is that men tend to have less neuroticism than women – this is well-documented.   Part of it is likely biological predisposition.   Part of it is likely how we are raised.   But part of it – a big part – is that women aren’t attracted to that type of guy.


          Men’s behavior is motivated by female response.   If women rewarded men for being caregivers, I guarantee that men would be caregivers.   It’s one thing for a woman to say “I appreciate a man who adopts a supportive role.”   It’s quite another for her to say “I find men who adopt a supportive role sexy as hell.”   Never legitimately heard that.   I’ve heard women say that men who do chores are sexy, but that wasn’t because they actually thought so, it was because they wanted the men to do the chores.

        2. Marika

          Mrs Happy

          I think these things depend on the type of man, woman and the life they want to lead.

          My sister out earns her husband and does most of the work, while he does the domestic and kid stuff. A good friend is the sole provider for her husband and child.

          These women are both very happy BUT no one is out buying crazy, extravagant gifts or organising over the top dinner parties. They aren’t those kind of people.

          I think Jeremy’s point is that more men would go the non traditional route if women found it sexy. Personally, I don’t think of a guy who wants to be a stay at home Dad as a particularly sexy dating prospect. But, interestingly the people in my family who tease my brother in law the most are the other men…

        3. Emily, the original


          Personally, I don’t think of a guy who wants to be a stay at home Dad as a particularly sexy dating prospect.

          I agree. I think a lot of women would see a very domesticated man as being a bit feminine. Even a man who seems overly dependent on his wife can seem a bit feminine.

        4. Adrian

          Hi Mrs. Happy,

          I’m currently reading a book called ” Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating.”

          What I find fascinating is how many dating and relationship experts today tell us that men naturally want to court, it’s instinctual but that is NOT historically true!

          I haven’t finished the book yet but from what I have gathered so far the whole thing about men paying, or a woman wanting a high earner has more to do with social status than it does with natural instinct.

          …     …     …

          On a slightly different note I would like to hear your opinion on something since you are always so pragmatic.

          While sitting at a table in a cafe’ I heard two women talking about the second date one of them had with a guy and lots of yada yada, blah blah blah… but then they went into things about him that were red flags and one was that he was 41 and never married.

          This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, I’m just curious as to why a older man who has never being married is a red flag but an older man who is divorced or has multiple divorces is not?

        5. Mrs Happy

          Dear Adrian,

          to answer your q, a number of ideas tumbled into my mind, but I don’t know how correct any of them are.

          1. If the cafe woman wanted marriage (eventually), a person who has already been married is statistically more likely to marry again, than one who has never married.

          2. Ages are changing a bit with time, but most men who are reasonable catches and want marriage, can marry during their late 20’s or 30’s, thus an unmarried 41 y o has a higher-than-average likelihood of either: not being a great catch, or he has not wanted marriage.   Either is a disadvantage for a woman wanting marriage.

          3. I think relationship history is important when dating a 41 y old.   Has he ever had a long term relationship, defacto or girlfriend; if not, why not, if yes, why did it end?

          4.   The reproduction question may be an issue.   E.g. has he not married because he is ambivalent about or doesn’t want kids?

          There is nothing wrong with a guy who hasn’t married by 41, but he is statistically unusual, so the woman in the cafe was noting it as a point of difference.

          Incidentally, I’d consider a 41 y o with multiple divorces a big red flag.

          I love eavesdropping on interesting conversations – what an entertaining cafe visit to have!

        6. Jeremy

          Adrian, regarding this issue, keep in mind that when selecting men, many women trust their intuition much more than their conscious thoughts.   And while many believe their intuition to be a mystical thing, it is really nothing more than subconscious heuristics, rules of thumb.   For many women (not Mrs Happy), one of the most powerful heuristics is social proof.   One can’t necessarily know the quality of a man by looking at him or even by spending a few dates with him.   But if another quality woman has accepted him, there must be good qualities in him.   This is why married men appear more attractive than single men to many women – even men who have been married but subsequently divorced.   Some woman somewhere thought he was good enough to marry, so he must have some quality. Of course, this heuristic is ridiculous, because if he was divorced then some woman out there thought he was worthy of divorce in spite of her once marrying him – but that heuristic doesn’t register as strongly – is more impactful on people who make more thoughtful and less intuitive decisions.

      4. 9.2.4

        I am dating a younger man who makes 1/3 of my income. He also works much less hours (almost 50%) but he does not do more domestic duties at home. He does some and I do the rest. He is an amazing guy and I love him but I do feel resentful to the fact that he just has a nice life with me without doing much. After he moved in, my place is a constant mess and I cannot keep up with cleaning and everything else. I miss when I lived alone, where I literally did 10 times less work. When I was in the reversed situation with my ex-husband, where he made most of the money, I did ALL house work, cooked fresh meals every day and he had ironed short every morning and dinner and lunch every single day. I’ve yet to come home from a long day at work and see a dinner prepared to me. And it’s with all my girlfriends, same thing. After such experience, you think, what the hell, why would I date someone earning less than me, if he does nothing at home, at lest he should make more money.

  10. 10

    Haha Emily, probably.

    But we all know guys have this highly attuned thing about up / down / left or right 0.25 smv. Jeremy was asking the ladies this time!

    1. 10.1
      Emily, the original

      But we all know guys have this highly attuned thing about up / down / left or right 0.25 smv. Jeremy was asking the ladies this time!
      I know I certainly use an SMV scale for:

      -0.25: Guys to proposition for NSA sex. You always want to aim lower to ensure success.

      Same SMV: Guys to date short-term in periods of boredom

      +0.25: Guys to date/have a long-term relationship with

      I kid. I don’t do any of this.


  11. 11


    Oh you know the role I want them to play in my life…the role of..smooth operator 😉😀

    1. 11.1
      Emily, the original


      Oh you know the role I want them to play in my life…the role of..smooth operator 😉😀

      Yes! All women are looking for Mr. Sexy Pants!   🙂

  12. 12

    I feel like something important is being missed. I have heard and read that men like providing, like being needed. Doesn’t that make it less of an issue that “women have mixed emotions about out earning men” and more of a point that “it makes men feel good to provide and to be needed”?

    Of course, no one wishes to be used, to be seen as a moving wallet. However, I don’t see anyone talking about the fact that in order for a man to provide, the dynamic requires a woman to receive. Nothing there inherently means the woman can’t appreciate and reciprocate. And when she does, the man feels good, again. Isn’t that what Evan keeps talking about – be a good date by doing the things that make a man feel good?

    For myself, I’m grateful  when a man is chivalrous, when he opens doors, loans me his jacket, pays for dinner, specifically because he doesn’t have to do those things – he chooses to. It’s an expression of kindness, and I appreciate kindness. Additionally, it puts the power in his hands to make choices for us, which is a win-win. He gets to feel powerful and I get to see what choices he makes when he is making decisions for us (information I very much need in order to know if he is a match for me).

    It just seems like there is a lot of merit in having the man do the tasks that make him feel good, and paying someone else to do the tasks that don’t (or that he doesn’t care about) if the woman doesn’t have the time or interest to do those things. Same for the woman, really, but women in general have a lot of tolerance for doing things they don’t want to do.

  13. 13


    While I take your point, please be very careful making blanket statements about men and divorce. When I divorced I had to move out of our place, had no car and had to start all over again. Non-savvy women who marry for love don’t always end up in the more fortunate position post divorce.

  14. 14


    Re your last post, I do agree and wrote something similar, except men doing chores IS sexy..when (I *almost* wrote because 😁) it’s rare. It’s kinda like how guys like hot chicks washing cars. When you see your butch man washing dishes…look out 😉

  15. 15
    Mrs Happy

    The title of this piece is wrong.   I (and in a perfect world, most women on the planet) expect to be paid the same as a man, if I can do the same paid employment jobs/tasks, with the same abilities.

    I do NOT have mixed emotions about achieving income equality with men. I should absolutely have income equality with men, no doubt in either my mind, or my emotional state.

    Some women might have mixed emotions about the relationship consequences of being with a man who earns less.

  16. 16

    I used to read this blog a lot, when I was dating. I thought that the advice was very good and practical. I really tried to forget about money, when it came to judging my compatibility with men.
    I married a lovely guy, who makes 10x less than I do. He shares the same values, he’s caring, he’s kind, he wants to make me happy. But I regret marrying him and not pursuing a relationship with someone that has an income similar to mine (and I did have this opportunity). I hate being the breadwinner. I’m tired of working full time and feeling like the financial burden is on me. I’m envious of my female colleagues that married men that outearn them, and hearing about how relaxed their lives are, and how they feel sorry for me that I don’t have the same opportunity.
    I wish that I was really clear with myself, while I was dating, about what was really important to me. Just a word of caution, ladies.

    1. 16.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Got it. You hate equality. You’re doing the exact same thing you expect a man to do for you.

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