“Independent Women,” take note: According to new research, men who are financially supported by their wives are more likely to cheat.
The study, titled “Her Support, His Support: Money, Masculinity, and Marital Infidelity” and published in the American Sociological Review, looked over 10 years of data on 2,750 married people ages 18 to 32. Researchers found there’s a 15% chance husbands who are entirely financially dependent on their wives will have an affair… to which I have to ask: What. The. Eff?
“Engaging in infidelity may be a way of reestablishing threatened masculinity,” lead study author Christin L. Munsch, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, said in a statement. “Simultaneously, infidelity allows threatened men to distance themselves from, and perhaps punish, their higher earning spouses.” In other words, because men have been raking it in since the beginning of time, they instinctively resist giving us even one minute to feel proud about our paycheck, for fear their testicles will shrivel up. (By comparison, wives who are completely financially supported by their husbands are 5% more likely to cheat, the study found.)
On the flip side, because breadwinning women know they’re challenging the status quo, says Munsch, they end up engaging in what sociologists call “deviance neutralization behaviors” (or as I like to call it, pulling a June Cleaver). For example, a woman making the moolah might minimize her accomplishments or do more housework — a traditionally feminine gender role — because she thinks it’ll balance the scales with her man. “This emotional and physical work is designed to decrease interpersonal conflict and shore up their husbands’ masculinity,” said Munsch. “It’s also aimed at keeping potentially strained relationships intact.”
Unfortunately, though, not being a sugar mama isn’t the answer. According to the study, as the money your guy earns increases, the odds of him cheating decrease—but only until his total contribution to your joint cash hits 70%. If a man is earning more than 70% of the joint income, he is once again become more likely to stray. Sigh. (Still, husbands who earn more than their wives are less likely to cheat than husbands are completely economically dependent on their wives.)
Do better, men!