The gender ideologies regarding roles and responsibilities of men and women seem to be similar across all cultures. A picture of an ideal family usually portrays mother as a homemaker and the male member as the breadwinner. The burden which some men feel while having to earn for their entire family may take a toll on their mental health, says a recent study.
The study revealed that though men are required to don the role of the main breadwinner in a family, they would prefer their spouses to share some of the financial burden. The findings also indicated that when women are able to financially contribute to the well-being of their family, they feel emotionally strong. The results of the study were shared at the 111th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in August 2016 in Seattle, WA.
The researchers conducted the study on the basis of details obtained from the 1997-2011 phases of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. They examined the income data of married couples aged 19-32 and studied mental and physical health of each partner.
Determination of the psychological and physical health was done with the help of questionnaires and the scores. The researchers found that mental health deteriorated among men who had assumed more financial responsibility than their wives. The scores also indicated that mental and physical health of men had gone for a toss during phases when they were required to be the primary breadwinners in the family.
The study found that the psychological and physical health scores of men were five and 3.5 percent lower when contrasted with men whose partners made equal contributions in running the household. The mental health of the men showed improvement as their financial contribution in the family increased.
‘Gendered expectations are harmful for men too’
The researchers could not determine any link between the income of women and their physical health. The authors of the study said, “Our study contributes to a growing body of research that demonstrates the ways in which gendered expectations are harmful for men too. Men are expected to be breadwinners, yet providing for one’s family with little or no help has negative repercussions.”
The findings showed how gender differences in various cultural settings and expectations can affect one’s mental health.
One of the co-authors of the study Christin Munsch, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, said, “Men who make a lot more money than their partners may approach breadwinning with a sense of obligation and worry about maintaining breadwinner status.”
Munsch added that women tend to indulge in breadwinning depending on the opportunities they get or the choice they make. For women, breadwinning has more to do with increase in their self-worth irrespective of what others say about it.
Equal contribution has positive effect on overall health
The observations do not imply anything negative; rather, they highlight how equal contributions from both the spouses can positively affect the mental and physical health of both the partners. The authors added, “Our study finds that decoupling breadwinning from masculinity has concrete benefits for both men and women.”
During the past two decades in the U.S., there has been a rise in female labor participation coupled with decline in the role of men being the sole breadwinners for the family. As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 nearly 37.7 percent married women in America earned more than their husbands, compared with 23.7 percent in 1987. Thus, the gender stereotype of men earning more than their female counterparts is gradually disappearing.
Road to recovery
Being afflicted with any kind of mental illness not only takes away the right to live life to the full, but also mars the happiness of loved ones. If you or your loved one is suffering from any kind of mental disorder, consult Sovereign Health to know about our mental health treatment centers in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-954-0529 or chat online for information regarding our state-of-the-art mental health centers in the U.S.