In the standard patriarchal household, the man is the breadwinner and the woman tends to the house and children.
This notion is so engrained in the psyche of society that a reversal of roles can lead to the decline of the man’s health and problems in the bedroom.
In a study called “In Sickness and In Wealth,” researchers from Washington University in St Louis found that men in relationships where the woman was the primary breadwinner had a higher chance of experiencing problems with erectile dysfunction and other physical and mental ailments.
They also found that men in these relationships were more likely to cheat on their wives to regain their confidence in the bedroom.
In the study, professor Lamar Pierce from Washington University and Michael Dahl of Aalborg University in Denmark say:
“Male sexual desire and behavior is tied to cultural and social factors such as patriarchy and money, potentially causing men to suffer reduced sexual desire or dysfunction when perceiving their traditional role of provider to be usurped.”
The study claimed that when the social norm of the man being the breadwinner leads men who are not to feel emasculated and inferior.
This feeling carried over into the bedroom and led to serious erectile dysfunction problems in addition to signs of anger and frustration. These symptoms were also found in situations of unemployment and decreasing income.
Unfortunately, it is not only the male who suffers in this type of relationship. The same study found that women who were the breadwinners in a relationship also suffered from insomnia and anxiety linked to their income level.
New research shows that men who make less money than their wives are also more likely to cheat in a relationship. In a 2010 study from Cornell University, it was found that stay-at-home fathers were more likely to be unfaithful to their wives than men who were the primary breadwinners.
The infidelity is thought to be caused by decreased self-confidence caused by the man not feeling like the head of the household and needing the increase in confidence that is often found when having an affair.
The opposite result was found for women in relationships where the man was the primary breadwinner. Women who were more financially dependent on their spouse were less likely to turn to infidelity.
Changing Family Structures
In 1960, only 11 percent of households relied mostly on the wife’s income. In 2010, it was found that women were the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children. While many of these households were those of single mothers, a study from the Pew Research Center showed that a large percentage of them were women in traditional family structures.
Education levels are also shifting with only 7 percent of women having higher education levels than their spouses in 1960 as compared to 23 percent in 2011. 61 percent of couples have similar educational backgrounds.
While the shift in family structure and income levels has been steadily changing over time, society’s view and acceptances of the changes has not been rapid, leading to some of the current problems experienced by both men and women.
License: Creative Commons
Derek has been an active health blogger for the past 5 years. He enjoys blogging about mens health, male health issues, dieting, and other topics that relate to men. When he is not blogging, he spends a lot of his time in the gym and with his family.