Personal Finance

Study: Increasing number of married couples earn similar pay

In a growing number of marriages, husbands and wives earn about the same. However, women are still doing more of the caregiving and housework.

Wallet with cash.
Elise Amendola / AP

More married couples are earning similar pay, but women are still doing more of the caregiving and household duties, a Pew Research study found

According to the study on heterosexual couples, 55% of marriages today have a husband who is the primary or sole breadwinner. In 29% of marriages, both spouses earn about the same.

Breadwinner wives account for 16%, up from 5% percent in 1972.

“There is a lot more empowerment. So women are feeling a little bit more in control of finances,” said Dr. Ashley Head, a licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois at Thriveworks. “It's also bringing in more finances.”

However, it’s not necessarily always a good thing. Psychologists are seeing how this shifted dynamic can impact relationships.

“Where we are seeing the conflict is more with that time aspect. Like, allocation toward time and resources, self-care time, those are where I’m seeing the conflicts,” she said.

Woman working in a laboratory

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The study also found husbands are spending more time on leisure, while wives devote more time to caregiving and housework.

“What I'm seeing is that it definitely is bringing more conflict into the relationship,” Head said.

So how can you find a resolution if this is happening in your relationship?

“Here’s your self-care time, here’s my self-care time, here's our family time, and trying to make it more equal on those playing fields because the finances are starting to come equal, now we need that time to be equal as well,” she said.

“Communication is definitely important; that would be one of my biggest tips,” Head said.

However, she mentioned that these conflicts aren’t as present in non-heterosexual relationships.

“I’m not seeing it as often in your non-traditional relationships, whether that's a man and [a] man being married, woman [and a] woman being married, [or] your polyamorous relationships, I'm not seeing this conflict as often.”