Six ways to stop ‘breadwinner envy’ spiralling into divorce

By Peter Jones, founder

The number of British fathers electing to stay-at-home more than doubled between 1993 and 2014, as women increasingly went out to work. Other reasons for husbands not being the main breadwinner include better career opportunities for their partners, job loss – and the age gap between couples.

Now a Harvard University study claims that marriages where the wife earns more money have a higher risk of ending in divorce.

It has been widely reported that men have a sense of failure – fearing their wives will leave them and feeling they have let themselves and their families down – if they lose their jobs.

Below are six steps to avoid these stressful and sensitive situations from spiralling into break ups and divorce:

  1. It is vital that both partners talk frankly about work regularly – and not late in the evening or over too much to drink. Traumatic arguments and lingering rancour can be diffused – and possibly avoided – if the stresses and strains of job losses and careers are shared. It is also important for couples to work together to achieve positive goals and outcomes.
  2. It is also important that both partners understand – and accept – that many men still define themselves and measure their worth by their earning power and their ability to support their families.
  3. Agree who will take on the earnings responsibility – and for how long. For example, a couple might decide that the husband has a ‘mini Sabbatical’ to recharge his batteries. If progressed, the sabbatical should be restricted to a six month timeframe as opposed to an indefinite period.
  4. It is also constructive and supportive for couples to acknowledge how hard the other works. Being a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on in bad times brings couples closer together – as does celebrating each other’s triumphs.
  5. Remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence: while one partner may see themselves as being in the less attractive position, their other half might secretly envy their seemingly easier, less stressful daily schedule.
  6. Consider whether a trusted third party can guide or advise on these discussions. At Jones Myers, we suggest support – whether from an objective, sympathetic family member, friend or accredited counsellor or relationship coach – if we feel that they can help bring about the best conclusion. As a champion of a constructive approach to resolving family issues, we have a network of trusted professionals who can help the process.

If you have any comments, queries or concerns on any divorce related issue, leave a comment below, call the Jones Myers team on 0113 246 0055 or tweet us on @helpwithdivorce.

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