Do Female Breadwinners Need Special Relationship Rules?

Woman's hand opening a wallet

According to Pew Research, the number of men whose wives outearn them is in the rise.

A nice car, expensive dinners, owning a home—back in 1996, these were just a few of the expenses that led Alisa Bowman to assume her now-husband earned more than she did. MyDaily: Flirting With Danger: 3 Reasons Women Cheat More Than Men

It wasn't until the couple moved in together that Bowman found out she was making substantially more money than he was. What started as a few thousand dollars in income disparity then has now turned into her making quadruple what he earns through his business of owning a bike shop.

It was a period when her husband was unemployed for more than a year that really shaped their financial relationship. "During that time I became the chief financial officer of the household," says Bowman, who is a writer and author of Project: Happily Ever After. While it wasn't a title she wanted to take on, "It's definitely not one he wants, either."

And Bowman's not alone.

Now more than ever, studies show women are the breadwinners in their marriages and romantic relationships. According to Pew Research, between 1970 and 2007, the number of men whose wives out-earn them increased from 4 percent to 22 percent. And, as we all know, the subject of money -- who handles it and, especially, who makes more of it—can be a minefield for a couple.

While some women (and men) are totally comfortable with dual, non-matching incomes, there's also proof in the celebrity world that men are more likely to cheat on women who make more than they do (Jesse James and Sandra Bullock's messy situation could be a prime example).

When Beverly Hills licensed marriage and family therapist Alisa Ruby Bash sees couples in her office presenting this discrepancy as a problem in their relationship, it runs the gamut. "Is this an extreme case of one person working and one person sitting at home watching TV?" she says, "Or are both people on their career paths, and the discrepancy between their two salaries is minimal?"

Women who make more than men: According to Pew Research, in 2007, 22% of women outearned their husbands, as compared to 4% in 1970. While each relationship is unique, why or how you handle the money issue may be based on more than just who brings home the turkey bacon. Here's how to negotiate a salary disparity with the one you love.

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