There’s a common saying that goes: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Yet in some cases, perhaps it is the very fact that one is required to depend on that very hand, that leads to biting. At least, in certain situations. According to Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, one of those situations is apparently marriage.
A recent study conducted by Munsch shows that there is a possible link between cheating and financial dependence in a marriage. The study, entitled: Her support, His support – Money, Masculinity and Marital Infidelity, spanned a ten year period. Munsch collected and analyzed data from 2,750 Americans, all of them married and all of them between the ages of 18 and 32. And the results were rather surprising.
Being dependent on your spouse can increase infidelity!
According to the results of this decade-long study, people who are entirely financially dependant on their spouses are more likely to cheat. But there is a difference across gender lines in this case. While women who are fully dependant on their husbands are 5 percent more likely to cheat in the average year, men in the same position are 15 percent more likely to stray.
So why is that? Why would a financially dependant person, whose livelihood is provided by their spouse, be more likely to risk it all? And why is this true for men more so than women? The answer, it seems, is deeply embedded in cultural norms and personal sense of values.
In a journal news release, Munsch explained it as follows: “Extramarital sex allows men undergoing a masculinity threat — that is: not being primary breadwinners, as is culturally expected — to engage in behavior culturally associated with masculinity.”
Study results show that men are more likely to cheat than women.
“For men, especially young men, the dominant definition of masculinity is scripted in terms of sexual virility and conquest, particularly with respect to multiple sex partners. Thus, engaging in infidelity may be a way of re-establishing threatened masculinity. Simultaneously, infidelity allows threatened men to distance themselves from, and perhaps punish, their higher earning spouses.”
Interestingly enough, the opposite end of the spectrum is also true – men who bring home more than 70 percent of the total family income are also more likely to cheat on their spouses. Although this is not mirrored by the same statistics for women. According to Munsch’s study, “…for men, (while) breadwinning increases infidelity, for women, breadwinning decreases infidelity.”
Perhaps it can be said that this is linked to the issue of self-worth. Men in American culture tend to place a lot of their sense of self-worth on their status in society and their income. For this reason, it may be somewhat unsurprising to learn that more men, when their perceived sense of self-worth is threatened or compromised, look to bolster their self esteem elsewhere says Munsch.
Does a female breadwinner in America means a higher chance of divorce?
So, according to the results, divorce rates are much higher in American families where the woman is the sole or primary breadwinner. “The findings indicate people like feeling relatively equal in their relationships.” Munsch explains, “People don’t like to feel dependent on another person.” Which may be true. But for those families in financial situations that are less that ideal, and who have no current alternative, what could be done to avoid this dynamic? It is a tricky question indeed.
If you or a loved one are trying to escape a marriage that lacks in equality, or are hoping to leave an unfaithful spouse, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled family law attorneys can prepare you for every step in the process, and help you plan for a better future.