Breadwinning Wives: What Happens When Women Out-Earn Men?

As more and more women take on high-paying jobs and break through the glass ceiling, the traditional gender roles in relationships are changing. Today, it’s not uncommon for women to be the primary breadwinners in their families. But even in the 21st century, some people still cling to outdated ideas about gender roles, including the belief that women who out-earn their male partners will ultimately lose respect for them. Take the following clip, for example, from the Just Pearly Things Podcast.




Destiny on @justpearlythings.5 #destinygg #destinystreamer #debate #podcastclips #feminist #feminism #dating #marriage #fyp #fypシ

♬ original sound – destinyclips – destinyclips


In the clip, Pearl claims that women out-earning men have a hard time respecting the men they’re with. This then leads to some back and forth on how the disparity in the division of labor inside the home factors into that theory. She then later challenges the notion that housework could ever be a legitimate reason for divorce. What Pearl fails to understand is that when it comes to conflict around the division of labor in the home, the issue really isn’t about the tasks at hand.  The issue is what it means when there’s one partner putting in significantly less effort than the other.

In reality, women don’t have a hard time respecting men they out-earn, but they might find it challenging to respect men who aren’t carrying their weight inside the home when she’s financially contributing to the household expenses, as Destiny argues in the clip.

According to numerous reports, married women perform about twice as much more unpaid domestic work than their male partners. Some research suggests that even when wives are the primary earners and both partners work outside the home, married mothers are still doing the lion’s share of the housework and child care. These findings suggest that despite progress towards gender equality in other areas, there is still a significant imbalance in the division of household labor between men and women.

When a wife works just as many hours as her husband and contributes just as much of her income to the home as her husband, yet finds herself being the only one cooking and cleaning every night after her eight hour shifts, she will instantly get the idea that what she brings to the table isn’t being acknowledged or appreciated by her husband. She’ll begin to feel used and taken for granted, which breeds resentment and contempt. Business and media mogul Mel Robbins calls this phenomenon “breadwinner resentment rage.”

We’ve all heard men excuse themselves from housework with their paychecks for years, but for some reason, a woman’s paycheck doesn’t come with the same leniency. If his earnings absolve him from getting dinner on the table and keeping the dishes clean, then why is she still expected to cook and clean in between earning? Given that both partners are contributing financially to the household, it’s reasonable to expect that both would share responsibility for the domestic tasks that need to be carried out.

However, that seems to be an adjustment some men just aren’t willing to make. They’ll then accuse their partners of ‘disrespect’ just because she won’t accommodate him as if he’s the only one who works. At the end of the day, a breadwinner wife having standards for herself doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have respect for her husband. It just means that she values herself and her contributions just as much as she values him and his contributions, and no truly decent man would take issue with that.

Until next time,

Ash Pariseau


  1. I’m the breadwinner in my house and my husband stays home. I do have a lot of conservative people in my life who are baffled that I don’t resent him for not bringing in any money, but for my part I’m baffled that they see male-female relationships through that narrow lens. Here’s the deal – any money made is a household resource, in just the same way that using the kitchen / the TV / the Netflix / Etc. is a household resource. Sure, the paycheck has my name on it but the money isn’t “mine” per se.

    Destiny is 100% right that the tension often comes from the state of the house. At my house, because I’m the breadwinner, I don’t lift a finger around the house unless it’s one of the (minimal) chores I agreed to do. Because my husband doesn’t have the time management / planning skills I do, often times there’s a lot around the house that just doesn’t get done. For the most part I ignore it, but when it really irritates me, I’ll have a talk with him and he’ll step up for a while. I’ll be honest, it’s a recurring issue in our marriage just because of our personality differences.

    But overall it works for us – I have a demanding job and it’s starting to involve travel again, so it’s a weight off my mind that the person taking care of the kids is the person I trust the most in the world.

    • Thank you for sharing your insight, AthenaC. It’s great to hear that you and your husband have found a system that works for your family, regardless of societal norms and expectations. It’s important to recognize that the traditional gender roles of male breadwinners and female homemakers are not the only valid way to structure a household.

      You’re absolutely right that money earned by one partner is a household resource, just like other shared resources such as the kitchen or the TV. The key is to ensure that both partners feel valued and appreciated for their contributions, whether that’s financial support or managing the household and caring for children.

      It’s also important to acknowledge and address any tension or disagreements that may arise from differences in personality and time management skills. Communication is key in any relationship, and having open and honest discussions about expectations and responsibilities can help avoid resentment and frustration.

      Ultimately, the most important thing is that both partners feel supported and fulfilled in their roles, whether that’s through paid work, caregiving, or a combination of both. It’s great to hear that you trust your husband to take care of your children, especially when you have a demanding job that involves travel. It sounds like you have a strong partnership based on mutual respect and understanding, and that’s something to be celebrated.

  2. TBH, I favor the traditional paradigm and believe it the best structure for a family. However—in today’s broken economic system, it really can’t help but happen. A marriage relationship requires that both parties contribute, and the economy is outside of a family’s control, so it has to be worked out the best way it can to keep the family together.

    • Agreed. It’s important to work together and find a way to navigate the economic challenges to keep families together and thriving. Ultimately, the success of a family is determined by the dedication and contributions of both parties, regardless of the structure they choose.

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