While many couples in Kentucky aim for dual incomes and strong earnings and consider that women can earn just as much or more than men, social pressures and lingering sexism can undermine their marriages. One study indicated that marriages in which the wives earn more than their husbands are 33% likelier to end in divorce. These marriages are increasingly common since, according to federal labor statistics, around 38% of wives make more money than their husbands. However, federal analysis also shows that when these couples respond to surveys, they are likely to overestimate his income and underestimate her income.
The reasons for these issues can be complex. Despite vast social changes in recent decades, social expectations and stereotypes persist that put pressure on men to be the major income earner in a marital relationship. Men may feel emasculated or suffer a lack of confidence due to their lower earnings. Even in relationships where the wife respects her husband's contribution regardless of income, this dynamic can be strongly detrimental. These husbands may behave in controlling ways toward their high-earning wives, pushing them away and towards divorce. Other issues are common with other couples of mixed incomes, such as the higher-earning partner excluding the lower-earning spouse from financial decisions.
However, other research points to more reassuring results. One study revealed that couples are more apt to marry when they both earn similar incomes. In fact, couples may be least likely to separate or divorce when both spouses earn similar incomes even though income disparity may keep the lower-earning partner in some marriages.
Marriage and divorce are financial relationships as well as emotional and romantic ones, and they can have long-term effects on both partners. People who are considering divorce can consult with a family law attorney about spousal support, property division and other divorce legal matters.