CNN has released details of a new study that says men are more likely to cheat on women who earn more money than they do. (Think Sandra Bulluck and Jesse James.) The amount of the disparity seemed to change fidelity rates with men who were completely dependent on the woman five times more likely to cheat than men who earned similar amounts as their female partner.
The study’s author, Christin Munsch, says the income disparity may threaten traditional views, or it could be that these men just happen to be unhappy in the relationship.
Before you start feeling sympathetic for these under-earning men, the study reports that men who make significantly MORE than their wives or girlfriends ALSO are more likely to cheat because his job may require long hours or travel, and this situation may be more conducive to cheating.
Hmmm … sounds like a lot of excuses for why some men may feel it is acceptable to cheat. The men who were least likely to cheat are men in relationships with women who earned 75 percent of their income. Perhaps certain men feel this allows them to view their mate as a partner without feeling they have lost control?
Women in the study, unlike the men, were more faithful when they depended on the male for financial security; they were half as likely to cheat. Munsch says this situation may be more socially acceptable and nonthreatening, they may have fewer opportunities to cheat, or they may not feel it’s worth the risk.
(Studies have shown women are less likely to cheat. Do you agree with Munsch’s reasons, or do you believe women have lower sexual desire or greater control of their sexual impulses? Or do they care more about the morality or impact of their decision?)
The good news is that within the study of married and cohabiting couples, only a small number of them experienced cheating—3.8 percent of the male partners and 1.4 percent of the female partners.
I think it can be healthy to have either partner being the breadwinner, and I know some stay-at-home fathers who are very appreciated by their high-earning wives. Whichever spouse earns more, he or she should not pretend to control the relationship with the purse strings or claim to have more say because of the size of their paycheck. The partner who is earning less may be sacrificing for the family, with home and child rearing responsibilities, and that should be valued as much as the dollars earned.
I agree that high earners probably have more opportunities to cheat, particularly with travel and professional connections. (If you face temptations, put protective measures in place, such as not going out to lunch with a colleague whom you find attractive.) However, any partner who chooses to stray can find the opportunity. Both genders can and should have the capacity to be faithful to the commitments they have made.
That being said, I know many couples who have successfully overcome infidelity. If you or your partner has cheated, find a pro-marriage counselor to help you through the crisis.
What do you think about this study’s results and about men’s and women’s propensity to stray?
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