It seems women who are more successful relative to their husbands have happier marriages.
This is according to some new research - the New York Times article is also interesting - which I've been periodically thinking about ever since feministe linked to it a few days ago. My first thought was, naturally, "well, of course that's true. Successful women are more likely to be happy."
Now, this in itself is very important. An enormous number of people are quite terrified at the prospect of women being the primary earners in a household - they insist that chaos and broken families are the inevitable result. These results make them look positively foolish.
It's even more important than that, though. For years, we've been insisting that society would be a better place with more equality and power for women. But not everyone agrees with that. I can't count the number of times that I've tried to explain why feminism is still important (Women can vote and own property now, can't they? What else do we need?) to someone, only to be told in no uncertain terms that it only benefited women, that families (i.e. men) were being made miserable by feminist actions. One answer to this, of course, is that it's hardly fair for men to achieve their happiness at the expense of women, but research like this essentially bypasses the question.
If successful women actually improve families and marriages, that strikes at the central argument of those who insist the opposite. The so-called 'decline of the family' is one of the most pervasive bogey-persons today; it seems to be being systematically dismantled (other recent research about the effectiveness of homosexual parents comes to mind). Feminism is finally changing, not just laws and regulations, but the culture itself. This is a very, very good thing.
Which is not to say we're anywhere near finished - just look at the tagline of the LA Times take on a study about the increase in women who earn more than their husbands (22% to be specific). 'Researchers say marriage may be a path to economic stability for men.' It's still all about teh mens for so many (and the article was apparently written by a woman!).
We just need to go further. Real cultural change is the answer.