Marriages in which both people work and make similar incomes are more common than they were in the past, but there are still many couples who start their marriages with a more traditional arrangement in which the husband earns most of the money. However, Virginia couples who opt for a less traditional model might end up with a more stable marriage. Researchers in Sweden found that marriages that started out with the husband as breadwinner and transitioned to the wife making as much or more money than her husband were more likely to end in divorce than marriages that began on equal footing.
This may happen for several reasons. Often, women have put off their own careers while they relocate for their husband’s job and take care of the home and children. Once they begin working and earning more money, their husbands may take the opportunity to ease off on their own work hours, but they do not pick up the child care and household tasks that the woman was doing. This can lead to resentment.
Another type of resentment arises from husbands who feel threatened by the size of their wives’ paychecks. They may react by becoming controlling about the money or accusing their wife of having an affair.
When marriages break down under these circumstances, the couple will have to go through the process of property division and deciding on child custody arrangements if minor children are involved. If a wife is earning significantly more money than her husband at this point, she might be required to pay alimony. Many couples prefer to try negotiation first since it may be cheaper and less time-consuming and also gives them more control over the process.