There is a shift going on in marriage today. The rise of the beta husband. As a man, I know you might not have expected to be in this distinct group, but let me help you understand you aren’t alone.
The last study done in 2013 by the Institute of Family Studies showed that among married, heterosexual couples in the U.S., a quarter of wives, or about 15 million, are the primary breadwinners in their family.
There are many challenges that can come with this marriage dynamic. For one, we as men are taught to hang our badge based on what we do in life, not on what we do at home, as well as women who don’t usually get rewarded from bringing home the bacon. In our society, it’s the exact opposite.
Another issue is the assumption that the other partner may have a better situation. The husband may think his wife is going out enjoying lunch and happy hours with fellow co-workers, but not see the stress getting those same co-workers to take her leadership seriously. The woman may feel he’s just hanging out after he drops off the children, but in reality, he is struggling with his self-esteem and identity.
One thing we do know, this new dynamic isn’t going away. As women are given more opportunities to excel corporately and as entrepreneurs, husbands, if you have the ability to stay home, or take a lesser role at work for the benefit of the family, you will have to identify the best way to excel individually and in the marriage.
If you are having a hard time figuring it out, here is a Ten-Step Beta Husband’s Guide to loving a Type-A wife.
- Identify your comfortability with your role reversal. I’m sure when you got married, you didn’t expect that you would be scheduling playdates and managing the home. If you don’t like it, or if you are struggling, then be honest. Tell your wife, but even more importantly you will have to come up with a plan. If you don’t you will be stuck in an untenable situation.
- If you are comfortable with the way the relationship is going, find something you are passionate about and pursue it while managing your other duties. Your alpha wife doesn’t care so much that you aren’t the primary breadwinner. What she does care about is that you’re actively doing something to make you strive to be the best person you can be.
- Make sure the relationship doesn’t become parental. If you hear phrases like, “You’re like my 3rd child!” or “Do I have to ask you again, Can you please…” then sit your wife down and ask her, “Do you feel like you’re my parent?” If she says, “Yes, sometimes,” then it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship because if she feels this way then you know that sometimes, she’s going to treat you like a child. And the needs you have as her husband are not going to be met.
- Avoid being isolated. Having a social network is critical to being a beta husband. You just don’t want to feel that you’re managing your life alone and you totally on your wife for support. If you were ever in the situation where your wife is now, remember how that felt. Most of the time, you needed some space just to relax and you wished she had friends to talk to. You need to find the same people in your life that will do the same. And to top it all off your wife is still probably doing more work around the house than you are. So you can’t get angry when she falls asleep from exhaustion.
- Appeal to your wife’s feminine side. Your wife may be kickin’ ass and taking names outside the house, but she is still a woman and needs to be reminded of that from time to time, so it’s up to you to do it. So what does that mean as the beta husband you have to put your wife first. Be spontaneous, buy her a gift, or schedule a date for lunch at her office if possible.
- Push back when warranted. In the office, an alpha woman doesn’t exert her will onto men as they cower in the corner, she is constantly being challenged, but stand up to their beliefs. At home, they want the same thing. In other words, she wants you to have an opinion. Being a beta husband doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice. Remember marriage is about a partnership, teamwork. If you have a conviction about an issue, share it so you can discuss it together.
- Remind her that you are dependable, responsive, and supportive. In other words, you are there for her, something that her more alpha fantasy man might not be.
- Figure out the best way to get more chores done. It’s no secret that even when women make more money than us, they still do more housework. That has to be corrected. If you don’t it will cause your spouse to become resentful because in her mind she will say, “You’re not pulling your weight around here.” So figure out the best tool that will help you get projects accomplished. Either create lists or use a project management app whatever works.
- Create an atmosphere of romance. If romance and sex are important to you, you’ll have to make it a priority. So she makes more money than you, that doesn’t mean she is also going to be the aggressor in the bedroom. You will still have to do those things that put her in the mood. Take note if she is no longer doing those romantic things you need as a husband you should let her know that it’s important to maintain a healthy sex life.
- Step up so she can step back. No matter what the situation is, whether she has expressed her displeasure in your current situation or not, she is just looking for you to take the pressure off.
In the end if you can figure out some of these details you and your relationship will be headed in the right direction.
Keith Dent is a certified relationship coach and the author of In the Paint – How to Win the Game of Love . If you need help regaining the respect you have for your spouse, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.