Are Women Happier When Men Are the Main Breadwinners?

Are traditional marriages going to satisfy them more than unconventional ones?

housewife and husband with roast dinner
housewife and husband with roast dinner
(Image credit: George Marks/Retrofile RF)

Folks, like it or not, I'm going to do a little more ranting today about this evolutionary psych stuff.

In the article I commented about yesterday — in which evolutionary psychologist Nick Neave argues that women are biologically programmed to be dependent on men — he goes on to make two more points:

1. Women are happiest in traditional marriages.

In making this argument, Neave points to a recent study from sociologists at the University of Virginia, which found that couples who are happiest in traditional marriages run on old-fashioned gender lines, where the man is the main breadwinner: "The report showed conclusively that women who worked were more dissatisfied with their husbands than those who stayed at home," he says. He also points out that one of the study authors, Radford Wilcox, said: "Regardless of what married women say they believe about gender, they tend to have happier marriages when their husband is a good provider."

2. Women like men who make more than they do.

Neave goes on to say: "Happiest of all were women whose husbands brought in at least two-thirds of the household income, regardless of how much they helped with domestic chores. In short, I suspect women will never feel truly comfortable earning more than their men. The need to rely on a man is driven by such a deep-seated biological urge. I cannot see it ever being eradicated completely."

Oh, please. I think this whole phenomenon could easily be explained thusly: Women whose husbands are bringing in that much of the income are probably less stressed, and therefore happier.

As for why men might not like women who make more than they do, well, I think that's easily explained by centuries of socialization. Men are slowly coming around to the idea that women can be providers, too, but it's a relatively new idea in our culture.

Are you with me?