Money and sex are the two things that are responsible for driving a toxic wedge through most relationships. Here's something I could never understand. How does a woman, who has been conditioned all her life to believe that the man is the chief breadwinner, switch gears and step into a brand new role? A role that requires her to bring home the lion's share of the bacon.
Like any big societal shift, "The Miranda Complex" does not take place without casualties. Remember, Miranda in Sex and the City? She was the lawyer dating the bartender, whose income and social skills were not up to par with hers. Today, lots of women are finding out first hand, that a relationship between a successful woman and lesser-earning man is very complicated. It brings up lots of different issues, that over time, could end up hurting both partners and breaking up relationships.
Today, two-thirds of women over the age of 40 earn more than their men, so it's not hard to figure out why there is so much trouble brewing in paradise.
"The woman making more money than the man creates a problem," says psychiatrist and relationship expert Dr Gail Saltz. Just like women have been conditioned to be taken care of, men see themselves as the provider. When that role is taken away, their male psyche is severely bruised.
"Our respect for our partner rests on whether they are fulfilling their gender expectations," says Professor Janet Reibstein, psychologist and author of The Best Kept Secret: Men & Women's Stories of Lasting Love. "Higher-earning women struggle to respect their low-paid men because social prejudice says that a man should keep his woman.
"Women want to be in charge of their lives and careers, but they also have the contradictory need to know that their man will look after them if required." When that's not happening, a woman's sense of femininity and a man's sense of masculinity is often he threatened. "
Whether they admit or not, women will resent their man spending their hard earned money on "man toys" they could not afford without her financial help. Do the more successful men secretly harbor resentment when their women are out spending their hard earned money? I do not know. Maybe they do, but do not say anything because its always been their job to be the provider.
When low-earning men fee belittled and high-earning women feel resentment, there's another part of the relationship that goes downhill very fast. Their sex life. It's quite common for high-earning women to withhold sex when she's not getting what she feels she's entitled to. It does not take her long to catch on to the "she who has the gold rules" way of doing business.
A 2006 study from the University of Virginia, questioning 5,000 women, found that they were happiest when their husbands brought in 68 per cent or more of the household income. "Married women have happier marriages when their husband is a good provider," says Professor Steven Nock, co-author of the study.
Until both sexes learn to disconnect the hardwiring that defines the gender roles, it's going to be difficult to find the balance that gives both people what they are truly looking for.