As the song goes, “love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” Interesting then, that if you don’t put the horse in front of the cart, things go awry. Perhaps it is the same with relationships.
Only about half (50.5 percent) of Americans ages 18 and over were married in 2012, which is a significant drop from nearly three-quarters (72.2 percent) in 1960. However, 70 percent of American adults confirmed they were in a committed relationship of some sort.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 facts about love and marriage,” at Pew Research Center, Feb. 14, 2015.]
As the traditional transition of romantic relationships into marriage continues to shift, so too does the conversation regarding gender roles, both in and outside the home.
Gender disparity continues to persist in the professional world. The degree however, depends upon your perspective. In one study, 72 percent of male senior executives agreed that much progress had been made toward women’s empowerment and career progression. However, among female executives, about the same percentage (71 percent) disagreed with that statement.
Stereotypical roles of men and women still run quite deep, regardless of how far society progresses. In short, while people often theoretically support the advancement of women, perceptions of women in the work environment show there is an underlying bias. This is evidenced in a Fortune magazine research report that analyzed how men and women were labeled in personnel reviews: 76 percent of feedback on women included descriptions like “abrasive,” “judgmental” and “strident.” Only 2 percent of reviews on men included those types of comments.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How men and women see gender equality differently,” at World Economic Forum, Feb. 11, 2015.]
Well-defined expectations for the roles of men and women start long before they enter the workforce. One survey of Harvard Business School graduates found that once they entered marriage, half of the men thought their career would take priority over their wives’, and 75 percent of male graduates assumed their wife would take on most of the responsibility of child/caregiving. The female Harvard Business School graduates did not share these beliefs, with half of the women saying they believed their careers would share equal importance with those of their spouses.
And why not? In 38 percent of U.S. marriages, the wife earns more than her husband. If you eliminate the marriages in which the husband doesn’t work at all, 29 percent of women earn more than their husbands. While it is well-documented that wives still shoulder the greater burden of household chores in two-earner families, it’s interesting that this gap is even wider among households in which the woman earns more. Why? Researchers believe she’s trying to overcompensate on the home front so her husband won’t feel threatened. Unfortunately, the increased strain of working “double-duty” can also lead to challenges in marriage, increasing the statistical likelihood of divorce.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Many Women Earn More Than Their Husbands?” at FiveThirtyEight.com, Feb. 5, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Wives who earn more than their husbands, 1987-2012,” at U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 24, 2014.]
As a country, we don’t make it easy for either working spouse to be an attentive parent. In fact, of the 185 countries and territories compared in a Geneva international law review, the U.S. was one of only three (the other two being Oman and Papua New Guinea) that do not require companies to offer paid maternity leave. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of American dads say they don’t get to spend enough time with their children. In countries that promote paid paternity leave, studies have found that a dad who takes two or more weeks off after the birth of his child becomes more involved in changing diapers, feeding and bathing the infant nine months later than a father who doesn’t take leave. It also helps with the future household income; in Sweden a mother’s income rose 7 percent for every month of leave her husband took.
Unfortunately, studies also confirm what we already know about moms who take time off work to have children: When Dad takes family leave, his immediate earnings can suffer, in addition to experiencing a higher risk of getting demoted or disciplined.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Everyone Benefits When New Fathers Take Paid Leave,” Think Progress, Feb. 13, 2015.]
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “U.S. Paid Family Leave Versus the Rest of the World, In Two Disturbing Charts,” at Think Progress, July 31, 2014.]
Love, marriage, family…it’s a lot to balance. Whether you see any of these factors playing out in your life or the lives of your loved ones, we can help you develop and monitor a financial strategy that can help provide confidence in your family’s future.
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