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What is a Modern Family?

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

The PEW Survey Released on Marriage and Family

“In a Growing Share of U.S. Marriages, Husbands and Wives Earn About the Same"

This was the headline in a significant survey release by PEW on April 13th of 2023.


According to the new Pew Research Center, in nearly half of all U.S. marriages, both the husband and wife have similar levels of education and earnings. This marks a significant shift from the past, where male breadwinning was the norm.


The study also found that couples with similar education and earnings tend to be more satisfied with their marriages and share household and child-rearing responsibilities more equally.


Our role as husbands and fathers is as essential today as it has ever been. It's just changing.


What is a modern family?


“77% of adults believe that children are better off when their mother and father both focus equally on work and home life.”

Our parents and grandparents might tell us that the only responsibility of men is to be the provider, which might have been the case in their world.


As you will see, this is not the case in ours.


Fifty years ago, 85% of households had one partner focusing primarily on caregiving and caring for the home, and the money math to do so added up.


For most of America, that's simply not the case anymore. Today, most American households have dual incomes, and women make around the same or more in 45% of households.


Even if you prefer to move forward with perceived gender norm roles after having a child, the modern economy does not allow most of us to make this choice.


The modern and practical approach to providing for a family is for couples to do so as teammates.


Let's look, using today's dollars, meaning apples to apples dollars, to compare the cost of living.


Most of our parents and grandparents didn't need two incomes to pay for the average cost of a new home, car, or college (see illustration below). But that was their world. This is ours.


For many modern families to flourish, spouses and partners must draw strength from each other as teammates, working together as providers and caregivers.


Career advancement opportunities, career flexibility, earning potential, tax incentives, and employer services that didn't exist decades ago… These are the factors that drive career and home management choices in marriage, not gender.


Most couples are happier when they plan their modern lives based on the modern world. When husbands contribute equitably to the household chores, husbands are happier.


When couples manage money as a team, communicating regularly and using their hard earned dollars on what they need and value most, they are happier.


When fathers have more time with their children and do not feel burdened by being the sole breadwinner, they are happier.


Insight from Dr. Kate Mangino


Dr. Kate Mangino, author of Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home and Modern Husbands Advisory Board Member, weighed in beautifully in her post Fantastic New Data From Pew. I highlight her points below, and encourage you to read her full post.


“Pew has given us fresh data to confirm what we already knew: the United States still has a gender problem. CBS MoneyWatch reached out to me for comments on the Pew data yesterday morning. I was happy to share my thoughts, but I can’t help digging in a little deeper…


First, all data is collected from married, different-sex couples. This study does not collect data on same-sex or queer relationships, nor non-binary people. And I feel this lack of representation is worth calling out.”


To be clear – Dr. Mangino’s position is our position at Modern Husbands.


“...in egalitarian and breadwinner wife marriages… women are still doing more physical labor and caregiving work in the home than their husbands – according to Pew, an average of 4.5 more hours a week. Over the course of a year, that means husbands have 234 more hours of time than their wife. And this isn’t even capturing cognitive labor!


“... This is also a problem for men. What can happen to women during those 234 hours of additional housework and caregiving work during the year? Stress, anxiety, and perhaps growing resentment towards one’s spouse are likely. But those hours of caregiving work also create space for women to develop stronger emotional bonds with family - and more meaningful relationships with kids. And the absence of those 234 hours for husbands can mean the absence of those relational opportunities.


And it is the following that is of particular importance for husbands to understand:

When we collectively push men into the breadwinner space, we rob them of home space experiences.

Our mission is to empower husbands to support the modern family.


How to be a better husband


What follows is a list of nine articles or resources to help you be a better husband.

 

Learn More


Couples who learn more, save more, and spend more on what is important to them.


For engaged and recently married couples who want to manage money and the home as a team.


Self paced online courses for couples designed by national financial therapy and financial planning experts


Winning ideas from experts to manage money and the home as a team. 2023 Plutus Award Finalist: Best Couples or Family Content


A course for students ages 13-22 to learn research-backed homework hacks and independent learning strategies.


Winning ideas to manage money and the home as a team delivered to your inbox every two weeks. You'll even receive a few free gifts!


Modern Husbands Monthly Newsletter (engaged and newlyweds)

Everything you need to know about transitioning to marriage. The first gift you will receive is a guide to tackle the seven most asked questions about budgeting as a couple.

 

Citations


Chavda, Janakee. “In a Growing Share of U.S. Marriages, Husbands and Wives Earn about the Same.” Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project, Pew Research Center, 14 Apr. 2023, https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2023/04/13/in-a-growing-share-of-u-s-marriages-husbands-and-wives-earn-about-the-same/


Miller, T. (2007). “Is This What Motherhood is All About?”: Weaving Experiences and Discourse through Transition to First-Time Motherhood. Gender & Society, 21(3), 337–358. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243207300561


Walzer, Susan. Thinking about the Baby: Gender and Transitions into Parenthood. Temple University Press, 1998.

Nguyen, Janet. “Money and Millennials: The Cost of Living in 2022 vs. 1972.” Marketplace, NPR, 17 Aug. 2022, https://www.marketplace.org/2022/08/17/money-and-millennials-the-cost-of-living-in-2022-vs-1972/.


“Multiple Jobholders by Selected Characteristics.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25 Jan. 2023, https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat36.htm.

Kahn JR, García-Manglano J, Bianchi SM. The Motherhood Penalty at Midlife: Long-Term Effects of Children on Women's Careers. J Marriage Fam. 2014 Feb;76(1):56-72. doi: 10.1111/jomf.12086. PMID: 24904185; PMCID: PMC4041155.


Rodsky, Eve. Fair Play: A Game-changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live). First large print edition. New York, Random House Large Print, 2019.


Mangino, Kate. Equal Partners: Improving Gender Equality at Home. Illustrated, St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2022


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