When She Makes More: How to balance and cope with the breadwinner role

By David Seeger, Great Lakes Credit Union CEO and Money Monday expert on WNWO Today

Even though we're in the 21st Century and the age of gender equality, there still is a lot of sensitivity to gender roles as it applies to the traditional "breadwinner" in the household. The assumption becomes that the male of the relationship would have the most issues concerning this "paycheck imbalance," but it seems that many females are affected by this as well.

In 1981, 16 percent of women made more than men. In 2000, it was 22 percent, and now in 2013, it is close to 40 percent. Demographic experts believe that by 2030, a clear majority of women will be earning more than the man in their relationship.

Some of the reasons why are several fold: 1) The last recession took away many of the male dominated associated type of jobs that were decently well paying. 2) More women than men are attending and graduating from college than their male counterparts. 3) The average annual income for working women has increased 74 percent over the last 30 years, and 4) Women make up 52 percent of the employees in managerial roles. And for all the aforementioned reasons, women in their late 20s and early 30s (typical marriage years) therefore enjoy a significantly greater earnings prospect than men their age.

According to the American Sociological Association, in households where men are more economically dependent on women, they are more likely to cheat on their female partners than their other male counterparts. Christin Munsch from Cornell University theorizes from his studies that "men who make less money than their female partners are more unhappy and cheat because they are dissatisfied with their financial situation" and how it applies to the perceived cultural norm.

Much of this dissatisfaction on behalf of men drives right back to our societal and cultural norms associated with masculinity and the role of a man. These same thoughts/feelings are not just shared by the man, but also, their female partners as well. Often the man is described as being "unmanly" if for some reason the female of the household is the sole or majority breadwinner for the family.

Many working women that have been surveyed by are uncomfortable in that role of sole or majority breadwinner. That is not to say that they did not want to have a career, but not the responsibility of financially providing for the family, according to Suzanna de Baca of Time. Research also continues to show that women are much less likely than men to feel confident about meeting their financial goals overall and much less optimistic about their financial futures and associated responsibilities that lie therein.

So how do we cope? Here are some suggestions:

1. Talk and listen to each other - become engaged emotionally.

2. If he is insecure, be his greatest cheerleader. - tell him that you admire him on what he is able to do for the household and children and ask his advice on matters. The suggestion here is that men's egos are fragile.

3. Open yours, mine and our accounts - Have the separate accounts....and when going out for dinner or the equivalent, pay from the "our" account so he will not feel like she is picking up the tab for things.

4. Focus on the end game - focus on financial goals together that emphasis that you are in this together and the money is not his or hers.

5. Forget about duties when taking on duties - It does not matter who makes more or less as it comes to the equal distribution of household chores.

6. Seek professional help - see a counselor if this subject is hurting your relationship.