For as long as I can remember, my life revolved around preparing for a man, consciously and subconsciously.
My family, church, television shows would communicate, directly and indirectly, the importance of having a husband.
“You’d make a good wife if you cleaned more.”
“Make sure you learn to cook so you can take care of your husband.”
“Don’t be too honest because men don’t like it…”
On the flip side, I’ve seen and heard men being encouraged to focus on their careers because women will always be available to them as if women were disposable.
Times have evolved and continue to evolve for women, especially with the #Metoo Movement, #TimesUp, and companies being more conscious of ways to bridge the gender pay gap. However, women are still getting the short end of the stick even when it comes to marriage.
According to Quartz.com, “married men are more likely than single men with equal education to be among the top 1% of earners because of the benefit of women’s unpaid labor.”
Although men have traditionally viewed marriage or “settling down”, studies have shown that men reap awesome financial benefits from marriage.
Married Men Versus Single Men By The Numbers
According to Men & Marriage: Debunking the Ball and Chain Myth a study done by W. Bradford Wilcox and Nicholas H. Wolfnger,
“A growing body of research, both in the United States and other developed countries, finds that married men earn between 10 and 40 percent more than otherwise comparable single men…But the most sophisticated recent research suggests that marriage itself increases the earning power of men on the order of 10 to 24 percent…
Throughout their lives, men who stay married are in much better financial shape than their peers who divorced or those who never married in the first place. Married men earn more, save more, and generally have access to a second income.
Consequently, they have much greater accumulated wealth than their unmarried peers. In fact, the typical fiftysomething married man has three times the assets of his unmarried peer, about $167,000 compared to less than $49,000.”
How Much Time Do Women Spend On Unpaid Domestic Labor?
While men may look at these numbers and smile, women are not awarded the same financial benefit. In fact, women give up more of their leisure and professional development once a husband is in the picture.
“On average, married women spend an average of 2.95 hours daily on housework compared to 2.41 hours for unmarried women – a difference of about 32 minutes every day. And married mothers reported spending 10 minutes less daily on leisure and 13 minutes less on sleep daily,” according to Fortune.com.
Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, men in the United States spend 150.2 minutes a day — about 17.5 hours a week — doing unpaid labor. Women spend 243.2 minutes doing unpaid labor each day — about 28.4 hours a week. When you add both paid and unpaid work together, women still work longer hours.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Americans earn an average of $26.82 an hour. This means that if men and women were compensated for their unpaid labor, men would earn an extra $469.35 a week, and women would earn an extra $761.69 a week — which comes out to nearly $40,000 a year.
While these statistics are adjusted for differences in employment, education, race and the number of children and extended family members at home, I think it’s safe to say that married women do not get the same benefits as their spouse.
Why Is This Happening?
These facts and figures might be surprising, especially in 2019, but traditional gender roles still play a part within the modern family dynamic.
A study from sociologists at the University of Maryland, University of Texas, and the University of Southern California found that women married to men spend more time on housework than single moms because married women are more likely to “perform gender” at home, according to Telegram.
According to the Washington Post, “the reasons for this are not entirely clear but may be tied to deep-seated societal views about what is expected of a wife and mother, reinforced by moms’ own expectations about themselves. [Thus] moms put housework ahead of their own leisure and sleep because they feel personally accountable for providing a home for their families.”
What Are The Solutions?
How can women find balance in their romantic partnerships and dating life?, Forbes Women writer, Avery Blank, offers a few solutions. For current married women, Blank recommends:
- Asking yourself if you’re doing a task that society expects you to do as a woman
- Dividing up household responsibilities
- Outsourcing meals and cleaning
- Say yes to career opportunities that involve travel
For unmarried women who live with their partners, Blank suggests talking to your partner about your professional goals and aspirations. This is a great way to set expectations for the division of house chores to ensure you enter into your marriage as equals.
For single women, NBC News suggests that single women put financial plans by setting savings goals and paying down debt based on your age.
Although the NBC article breaks down financial steps by decade, don’t feel pressured to follow that format nor feel shame that you haven’t reached certain financial milestones yet. Take what resonates and leave what doesn’t.
After learning about the benefits men receive in marriage versus what women receive, I’m glad I scoffed at the advice I was given to land a husband early in life. It backs up my decision to focus on getting myself together professionally and financially, which seems to be a common trend among millennial young adults, according to the New York Times.
Whether you’re enjoying the single life, relishing married life, or excited about getting married in the near future, the recent data and studies indicate that working toward your professional goals, regardless of your marital status, is essential for career mobility.