A new survey shows a radical shift in the economic structure of families in the United States as more women say they are outearning their husbands than ever before.

The research by TD Ameritrade says nearly half of the women who took part in the survey say they make as much or more than their partners. That’s a seismic change from 1960 when only 3.8% of women were the chief breadwinners, according to the Pew Research Center. Women now comprise more than half of the workforce in the country, and the percentage of those becoming the primary wage earner is expected to rise.

Marital strife over changing roles

Researchers found clear signs of a generational shift as millennial women are nearly twice as likely as their baby boomer counterparts to earn as much or more than their partners. But this often leads to conflict between couples. More than one in five millennials say their relationships feel more strained because one partner earns more than the other, while only one out of every 10 baby boomers say the disparity in earning status causes friction.

Intense feelings have resulted in many families where women are now the primary earner. Women are much more likely to say they feel secure, proud, independent and more in control, but some women feel embarrassed or guilty about their roles. The TD Ameritrade study says men were more likely to downplay the shift saying they were “neutral.” However, they may be downplaying their true feelings about the issue even in this enlightened age.

Unresolved tension between spouses – for whatever reason – can lead to marital strife. No matter which role you play in your marriage, don’t walk away without making certain your rights are protected.

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