For the past 12 years, money expert Farnoosh Torabi has coached couples and individuals on their personal finances.
But recently she noticed more and more women were becoming the top-earners in their families—including her own. So she started to do some research on the phenomenon, and what she found shocked her.
“For the first time in my career, I found myself dumbfounded and disappointed,” Torabi says. “I was coming across statistics like breadwinning women have a 50% higher chance of divorce. 50%!”
Torabi herself had recently gotten married, and though she didn’t necessarily feel that her relationship was threatened by her breadwinning status, she did have some insecurities. “Media and our culture has been very vocal about women on the rise,” she says. “But no one’s discussing how we can continue to thrive—especially in our relationships.”
So she decided to take matters into her own hands. Wading through years of research, as well as conducting some of her own, Torabi compiled her conclusions in her new book, “When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women.”
We wanted to know more, so we sat down with Torabi to find out how women—and men—can navigate this new financial landscape.
LearnVest: You did a lot of research for this book, and conducted your own survey of more than 1,000 women. What findings surprised you the most?
Farnoosh Torabi: Certainly the divorce statistic was sobering. One study followed couples over a five-year period—and during that period 12% of the couples got divorced. But in couples where the women earned more money, the divorce rate rose by 50%. I thought that was really startling.
Another interesting finding was that women who make more money actually do more housework—child care, housecleaning, etc. A study found that breadwinning women do at least two-thirds of the housework. Researchers think this might be due to gender-identity considerations that lead higher-earning women to subconsciously think they’re threatening to their husbands, so they resort to traditional housewifery roles in an effort to mitigate the potential threat that their breadwinning status creates.
And finally, what’s also sad is that when she makes more or has potential to earn more she’s more likely to stop working. What economists found is that wives with better education or earning potential are more likely to opt out of the workforce. That can be a dangerous thing to do, especially if you’re just doing it because working may threaten your relationship. You have to consider the long run and your financial stability over time.