Many North Carolina women who would have been expected to remain home and raise children in past decades are choosing instead to enter the workforce and pursue careers, and virtually all sociologists think that this development is a positive one. However, several studies into the impact that income disparities can have on relationships reveal that successful women are far more likely to see their marriages end in divorce.
If the research behind these studies are correct, then the problem is a serious one. According to data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one in three wives now earn more than their husbands. A Harvard University professor who studied more than 6,300 relationships in 2016 found that men do not react well when they are not the primary breadwinner and they behave especially poorly when they only work part time or do not work at all. In these situations, she found that the likelihood of a marriage coming to an end increased by a worrying 33 percent.
The results of a 2017 Pew Research Center poll suggest that these marriages are being undermined by the stubborn persistence of traditional gender roles and not envy or frustration. Only one in four of the respondents told Pew researchers that it was very important for mothers to provide their children with financial support, but that figure rose to 40% when they were asked to voice their opinions about fathers supporting their children.
Even marriages built on a solid foundation of love and affection may be compromised over time by suspicion and fear when one spouse earns significantly less than the other. To prevent this from happening and to give the spouses involved a greater sense of security, experienced family law attorneys may suggest that couples consider prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements with property division and alimony provisions.