Princess Bride and (less than) the royal treatment

By InformHer Staff Writer

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.”

 

But Princess Bride, is marriage really bringing all of us together?

When it comes to salary and income earnings, marriage helps men a lot more than it helps women, according to Claudia Geist’s 2006 article titled “Payoff or Penalty? A Comparison of the Marriage Wage Differential for Men and Women across 15 Nations.”

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Her examination of the hourly wages of married and unmarried men and women, between the ages 25 and 55, revealed something interesting, and a little upsetting. Men in the 15 countries studied (including the United States) earn noticeably more when they are married than when unmarried. On the other hand, women earn about the same as they would married or unmarried in a majority of the countries examined. Geist explains that this may be because of the types of jobs married women work, and the consistency of the cross-cultural belief that men are breadwinners. Further research is needed to confirm if this data is evidence of either of those claims.

“Chin-up, Buttercup,” because this study does not mean that women will suddenly be payed less at their job when they get married. Instead, the marriage wage gap points to a few likely problems, for example the harmful social pressure on men to be the breadwinner in a partnership.  Finally, this also illustrates how women’s work is undervalued and confirms that women’s potential for wage-earning is less than men’s.

Wait, women have a lower earning potential? 

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If this sounds sexist to you, it’s because it is. Women’s work is generally undervalued in comparison to men’s due to the fact that women make up the majority of the care-work workforce (think nurses, day care workers, maids, stay at home moms). Care workers do not receive comparable (or even adequate) pay. The solution is not to avoid being a careworker yourself, but to value care work and care workers, and to shape the dialogue that surrounds care work in a more positive way. Other factors that could explain why women earn less may be their negotiation ability and the amount of work they must take on at home.

The pay gap for married women is widespread, with numerous problematic causes, and numerous solutions. “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, now prepare to” forget about discovering a one-size fits all solution to this problem. Instead, we need to wholistically re-evaluate the roles of women in our workforce and the value we place on care work in our culture if we want to ever close the marriage pay gap.

American Horror Story: Earning more money than your husband

By Erika Harrington

Lions, tigers, and high-earning women! Oh, my!

Framing a situation where a woman makes more than her husband as a marriage-dooming horror story is nothing new. From family to friends to tv shows, we’re constantly told that if we ever find ourselves making more money than our partner, we’ll be welcoming a host of problems into the relationship.

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Now you’re probably wondering, do you have to choose between a fulfilling marriage and a fat paycheck?

Not quite. Don’t let this myth crush your hopes of a decent future, and allow me to ease your stress. I’m happy to report that these fears, instilled in you by society and the media, are just as real as the boogeyman.  (Assuming, of course, that you don’t believe in the boogeyman. You do know he’s not real, right?)

According to Gregory Eirich and Joan Robinson, there is no evidence that the wife being the higher-earning spouse has any effect on financial satisfaction and marital stress [in the context of a heterosexual relationship]. Although some marriages may face finance-related strains, Eirich and Robinson report that those strains have little to do with who makes more money.

Amazing. Who would have ever imagined that which person makes the most money does not actually matter in the relationship? Oh but wait, because the best is yet to come.

giphyThe best part about this study was the finding that at the end of the day, what really matters isn’t who makes more money, but how much money a couple makes combined. It turns out that no one really cares who’s picking up the bill for a five-star dinner, or whose credit card the tropical vacation gets charged to. The only thing that matters is actually eating that steak and laying on that beach. The moral of the story: Marital strife is influenced by how much money a couple makes combined—not by who is making it.

Revolutionary.

With that said, this wouldn’t be a proper InformHer post without reminding you that a problem still persists. If people don’t really get divorced because the wife is bringing home all the bread, then why are we talking about it? Sadly, even though a woman out-earning her husband isn’t the life ruining issue that so many American dramas say it is, this myth can still impact the important professional decisions of many women. Further, it can have an impact on the egos of some men. The idea that each spouse has certain marital roles to fulfill and that a woman should be afraid of being more successful than her partner can seriously alter a woman’s intended career path.

So let’s use this research as a guide to closing the gender gap, and to shoot down any excuses keeping women from the top. It’s time to readdress our priorities, and start putting a possible beach house and a new Mercedes over an overly protected male ego.

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