“Marrying Down” Benefits Men But Hurts Women

Very real reasons why some women may look to “date up.”

Vanessa Torre


Photo by Boris Ivas via Pexels

When I entered back into the datingsphere after my divorce, I struggled to find a quality relationship. No, really. It was a well-chronicled hellscape. Routinely, men would tell me that the reason I wasn’t finding an amazing long-lasting relationship was that I was looking for the wrong guy.

They recommended that I stop looking for a man who made six figures (a attribute I never mentioned) and start going out with the “average guy,” maybe blue collar, who was nice but made a modest income. The problem? I myself was making just under six figures and it wasn’t long before I passed that threshold.

Data tells me that ignoring that advice was a solid decision.

The likelihood of a woman outearning her partner and being happy is slim. Yet, men who outearn their wives benefit in areas where women experience threats to their happiness.

Currently, in 45% of US marriages, wives make as much or more than their husbands. A decade ago, that number was only 38%. Look ma! We’re decreasing the wage gap! Women are the breadwinner in 16% of marriages and 6% are the sole income earner.

The numbers are probably much higher. When couples report their household income and the woman actually makes more, they’ll often decrease the woman’s reported income and increase the husband’s reported income. Basically, they’ll lie to make the man feel better. Yikes.

The reality for breadwinning women is that the extra income, no matter how small, comes with some serious downsides. As a twice-divorced woman who outearned both her spouses, I can attest that the struggle is real.

Breadwinning wives get the least amount of rest of anyone

I can tell you for certain that bearing the brunt of the paid labor and domestic labor in my marriage was one of the main contributors to my divorce. Simply, I was exhausted. I was not alone in that feeling.

Wives of breadwinning men get roughly one more hour of…



Vanessa Torre

Top 10 feminist writer. Writing, coaching, and relentlessly hyping women in midilfe. linktr.ee/Vanessaltorre Email: vanessa@vanessatorre.com