There may be a link between your wife’s booming bank account and your poor health. Men who make less money than their wives may be at greater risk for certain health problems, according to a new study from Rutgers University.
For the study, which was recently published in the Journal of Aging and Health, researchers analyzed income and self-reported health data from more than 1,000 couples that had been married for at least 30 years as of 1992.
If women became the primary breadwinner earlier on in a relationship (when men were in their 20s and 30s) and continued to be throughout later life, their husbands faced a significantly higher risk for heart problems, stomach ulcers, and even chronic lung disease than men who consistently brought home the bacon, the study found.
Guys who experienced this transition during their 50s and 60s also had a slight increase in their high blood pressure risk and were more likely to see a dip in their mood.
The link? Blame your ego. Past research has found that losing your feeling of dominance or social influence as the breadwinner may actually weaken your immune and cardiovascular systems, possibly due to the stress it inflicts on your body, the researchers say.
What’s more, some guys may feel threatened and try to compensate by partaking in behaviors that are typically viewed as tough and rugged, like smoking, drinking too much booze, eating whatever the hell you want, or skipping out on your annual visit to the doctor, they note. And that, of course, could hurt their health.
One caveat, though. The study participants were born during the 1930s, and gender norms were a lot different then than they are now. When you look at the most recent stats, 37 percent of wives earned more than their husbands in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This study is just one take on the breadwinner debate, though. In another recent study from the American Sociological Association, men who made more money than their wives actually experienced worse physical and mental health. In fact, some guys may actually feel relieved when their wife starts taking on more financial responsibility, which, in that case, may cut down on health-hurting stress.
So, what gives? Since money is one of the most common strains in a relationship, you’d think having a partner that can help out financially would mellow you out—but that may depend on how you feel about your own career. For instance, more than four in 10 working adults think their job negatively impacts their overall health, especially those who work in a dangerous field, don’t get paid enough, or clock in more than 50 hours a week, according to a recent poll from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
And if you’re one of the 70 percent of U.S. workers unhappy with their jobs, the idea of making less money and suffering through long 9-to-5 days probably stresses you out. An estimated 1 in 5 suicide deaths are tied to unemployment, research published in the Lancet suggests, possibly because getting laid off can throw you into serious depression.
If you’re in an ongoing battle with your career—whether you’ve recently lost your job, earn less than your wife, or can’t deal with your crazy boss—little changes make all the difference when it comes to your health. Here are 25 stupidly simple habits that can make you the healthiest you’ve ever been to keep in mind when you start feeling the pressure.
As for your relationship? Make every effort to be a supportive husband, regardless of what’s in your bank account.