Study shows men are happier when mums stay at home

stay at home mum

We’ve come a long way since the 1950s. Bit by bit, women are breaking down the gender barriers in workplaces, and it’s widely accepted that mums can and do work – whether by choice or necessity. But it seems not everyone’s overjoyed about it – and it may not be who you’d expect.

Australia’s biggest household survey has found that men whose wives work are less satisfied in their relationships than those with stay-at-home partners. And that’s whether the women work full time or part time, according to the annual Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey.

Report author Roger Wilkins, of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research tells The Australian the survey result indicates that traditional gender roles are hard to extinguish.

“When you look at men’s ­relationship satisfaction, it’s at its highest when their wife is not in the workforce,” he says. “I guess all things being equal, men would prefer their wife at home and managing the household.”

In another nod to men’s traditional role as the family breadwinner, the survey also found marriages are more at risk if the male loses his job than if the woman becomes unemployed.

But in brighter news, the survey suggests that working long hours – more than 50 hours a week – isn’t as harmful to relationships as you may expect.

“People who work long hours may be doing it because it’s a ­family decision … and they’re doing it to increase the family ­income,” Prof Wilkins says. “If they’re doing that successfully then that obviously makes both parties happy.”

And a partner’s income has little bearing on relationship satisfaction. The annual HILDA survey has been tracking households since 2001.

How do things work in your family? Are you a stay-at-home mum or do you work? And what would your partner rather you do?

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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