Men are twice as likely to feel financial burden in a relationship than women, a critical report on the pressures facing men in 2016 has revealed.
While 31% of men feel they should be more responsible than their partner for financial matters, just 14% of women feel the same.
What’s more, men are twice as likely to feel they must be “emotionally strong” and three times more likely to feel they must take “practical charge” in a crisis, than their female counterparts.
The research, carried out by CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) Is part of a wider report investigating the mental health and male suicide in Britain.
The findings on relationships come as new UK-wide statistics compiled by CALM and HuffPost UK reveal suicide remains the single biggest killer of British males under the age of 45.
The data shows that more than 4,500 men kill themselves every year in Britain, with men three times more likely than women to take their own lives.
The research highlights an inability to discuss depression as a contributing factor to high levels of suicide among men.
In the survey of more than 1,000 people, 67% of females who identified as “very depressed” said they’d talked to someone about their feelings, compared to only 55% of males.
Financial strain in a relationship was identified as one of the potential triggers behind male depression.
Men are more likely to feel pressure to be the main earner in families, with 31% of men surveyed saying this compared to 19% of women.
In addition, a quarter of men said losing their job would make them feel less of a person, compared to 17% of women.
Keith Grinsted, 64, has been made redundant six times during his 20-year marriage and understands the repercussions on mental health all too well.
“Even though my wife worked throughout this time, I felt particularly responsible for putting us in difficulty even though I had no control over the redundancy situations,”
He’d been earning £100,000 per annum the first time he was made redundant, just two days before Christmas in 2000. But with hefty bills to pay things hit rock bottom and he worried how he was going to put food on the table.
“It took three months to get a job on a third of my original salary,” he said.
According to Relate counsellor Gurpreet Singh, if men are feeling overwhelmed by finances in a relationship they must first take time to “understand and process what is going on”.
“Once you’ve done this, it’s important to talk to your partner about your money worries,” he said.
“Conversations about finances can be difficult and can bring up strong emotions but it’s important to be open and honest.”
He stressed that unmanaged financial worries can lead to bigger arguments, which are likely to impact negatively on the relationship.
“Learning to address any concerns about finances early in the relationship – no matter how uncomfortable it may feel – can set a good precedent for the future,” he advised.
Men can have ideas about what they lack, why they’re a failure. And yet it may not fit with reality.
“Some men may commit suicide, without having checked in with others about their problems, which may not be so big.”
Mark Rowland, director of the Mental Health Foundation, said the new report echoes research carried out by the charity last year on the links between relationships and mental health.
“Relationships are crucial for both physical and mental health. People who are more socially connected to family, friends, or their community are happier, physically healthier and live longer, with fewer mental health problems than people who are less well connected,” he said.
“It’s not just about whether or not you’re in a committed relationship, but it’s the quality of your close relationships that matters. Living in conflict or within a toxic relationship is more damaging than being alone.”
He added that the new report “sheds some light” on the reasons men refrain from opening up before reaching crisis point.
“We need to create a culture where men feel able to open up, knowing that far from it being seen as weakness, it is recognised as strength,” he said.
“It takes real courage to be open and honest about when we’re feeling vulnerable. But when suicide is the leading cause of death for young men, we all have a responsibility to push for change.”
The positive news is both Lee and Grinsted are proof that you can feel trapped by expectations in your relationship, but come out the other side.
Lee got through his period of financial stress by focussing his energy on his young son and the free joys in his life. Meanwhile Grinsted found salvation by surrounding himself with positive people and setting up Launchpad – a scheme to help people who are unemployed or facing redundancy get their lives back on track.
But whether you’re feeling overwhelmed due to finances, or any other factor in your relationship, the first step in defeating a problem is talking about it.
As Singh pointed out: “Being a man doesn’t mean having to go it alone.
“After all, being in a relationship means that a problem that affects one person is bound to have an impact on the other.”