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(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

Opinion | The cost of a male ego

The UK’s University of Bath has released a research study that sought to map the relationship between a man’s mental health and his wife’s income level

Do men whose wives earn more than them get stressed out by this? It doesn’t make sense, for the couple’s combined income would be higher than otherwise. But what goes on in reptilian portions of the male mind is not always rational. The UK’s University of Bath has released a research study that sought to map the relationship between a man’s mental health and his wife’s income level, and the results suggest that half of humankind is struggling to evolve.

The study has found that husbands are least stressed when their wives contribute about 40% to the household income. Beyond this point, their anxiety levels begin to trend higher. They are most stressed when they are completely dependent on their wives’ earnings. The study, carried out on 6,000 American heterosexual couples over 15 years, showed men unhappy as sole breadwinners. They get less grumpy as spousal income begins to rise, but only so long as their own status as chief earner is not threatened.

Perhaps the past is to blame. For ages, we have been conditioned to believe that men are providers, while women are nurturers. This outdated view of gender roles can be traced back to the days when cavemen were more useful outside the cave, as hunters and gatherers, than within. Males had a natural advantage in food procurement, thanks to extra muscle fibre. In today’s economy, brawn counts for less than brains, and men are no better than women either indoors or outdoors. For their own health, males should think straight, accept reality and celebrate all earnings for what they are—earnings.

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