The rise of the sugar mama

photo via IMDB

A recent study by the Pew Research Center, comparing marriages in 2007 with those in 1970, found that husbands whose wives earn more than they do jumped from 4% to 22%. This is partly because, for the first time ever, in the under 44 age group, more women than men have college degrees. Make no mistake, women still earn 77c to the man’s dollar, so things aren’t exactly coming up roses. But still, plenty of women are bringing home the bacon while hubby contributes a few Bacos.

So what does this mean for marriages? It depends who you ask. Vera Farmiga’s mid-30′s character in the movie UP IN THE AIR tells a twenty-something woman that it’s “a recipe for disaster” if he earns more than she does. This is in the context of a speech about how you learn to settle as you get older — she says she doesn’t need the whole package anymore, just a good guy with a nice smile and, hopefully, a bit of hair. But definitely a big paycheck. Her character is clearly a high-flying (literally), big-earning career gal, and we are to assume that her sex (or love) life has suffered as a result.

Or perhaps her speech — and others like it on ladies’ nights and in book clubs across the country — says as much about the woman as the man. Sure, we know many men who’d feel a bit emasculated if their paycheck bought “the little extras” while their wife’s covered the mortgage. But we think that just as many women probably need to get over the idea that it’s unsexy to out-earn one’s spouse. Or that out-earning your guy is an excuse to [serious Up in the Air spoiler alert here; leave now if you haven't seen the movie] cheat on your spouse on the road like a stereotypical high-flyin’, high-earnin’ dude.