Female breadwinners are an emotional strain on macho partners

Heterosexual relationships between a macho male and breadwinner female are not necessarily happy unions, as it has been revealed a woman's high salary might put an emotional strain on an alpha male partner. This is according to a new study by Patrick Coughlin and Jay Wade from Fordham University in the US, which will be published online in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

By contrast, men who are not as conservative in terms of traditional masculine roles are less concerned about a difference in income and therefore have a better relationship with their other half.

The old-fashioned notion that males earn more than females can still lead to a gent feeling emasculated if he is not fulfilling the breadwinner role, but the reality is the gender pay gap is narrowing and more women are earning equal to and more than their partners all the time.

"Our results demonstrate the importance of masculinity ideology in understanding how and why men with higher-earning partners will have low or high quality romantic relationships," the authors concluded.

Dr Almuth McDowall, a Chartered Psychologist, said: "This study underlines that society stereotypes are changing, but everyone needs to adapt.

"Earlier US research had shown that is serves men well to have traditional macho beliefs - if they have these beliefs, they earn more. But circumstances are changing, as in many families in the US women are now the main breadwinners.

"Psychological research tells us that couples do better if they talk and negotiate - so don't dwell on it and sulk if your partner earns more than you do - talk about it!"