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In America, the New Economics of Marriage

Also: A question from Vietnam about professional wrestling in the U.S. And new music from Lyle Lovett. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. Today on our program, we report on the money makers in a marriage ...

We answer a question about professional wrestling in America ...

And we play music from country artist Lyle Lovett.


Economics of Marriage


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In the past, a majority of American college students were men. As a result, men held higher paying jobs than women. For most families, the husband was the top earner. But this is changing. Women now represent a majority of American college students. And they are earning more money than ever. Mario Ritter tells us about a recent study that looks at the new economics of marriage.


The study was released in January by the Pew Research Center. It found changes in the way that American wives and husbands share economic responsibility for their families.

The study found a big increase in the percentage of married women who earn more money than their husbands.

The researchers studied information about married couples from nineteen seventy through two thousand seven. The study centered on couples between the ages of thirty and forty-four who were born in the United States. In that group, twenty-two percent of the wives earned more than their husbands during the most recent year of the study. Thirty-seven years ago, just four percent of wives were top earners.

Emily Mendell cheered the news in a blog she co-writes called Miz Mendell supervises communications for a financial industry association in Washington, D.C. She earns more than her husband, Dave, who is a school teacher. But she says their unequal incomes are no reason for tensions.

Emily Mendell says she and her husband have separate bank accounts. This helps avoid arguments about spending money. Money is considered the number one reason for arguments between married couples.

Job satisfaction for the lower earning partner is also important.

Emily Mendell says her husband Dave really enjoys his job as a teacher. He knows he is doing something important in their community.

Miz Mendell also says it is important to look at family life as a whole. She says both partners have to give their time, effort and, in many cases, income for the good of the family.

EMILY MENDELL: "If your marriage is equal, holistically, in what you contribute it makes very little difference as to who's earning more money."

Much of the discussion about income has focused on one person in the marriage earning more than the other. But Emily Mendell says that good marriages bring together the skills and ideas that make a family work.

EMILY MENDELL: "I think the best marriages do that on equal footing across the board even though in certain areas one person may be contributing more than others."

She likes to point out that cooking is not one of the skills that she brings to the family. Luckily, her husband Dave has that covered.


Professional Wrestling


Our listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Dang wants to know about professional wrestling in America. He says he watches World Wrestling Entertainment programs on television. He can see that tens of thousands of people attend the W.W.E. matches in America.

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Professional wrestling is a sport with a lot of acting. It features exciting men and women often wearing unusual costumes. The Undertaker, Hornswoggle, and John Cena are some of the male wrestlers in World Wrestling Entertainment events. The female wrestlers are called Divas. They include Maryse, Savanna and the Bella Twins.

The wrestlers have long-standing conflicts with each other. The writers for W.W.E. programs create stories about what goes on among the competitors outside the ring.

During a fight, the wrestlers use moves that would never be permitted in a real wrestling match. For example, you might see a W.W.E. wrestler jump off the ropes and land on top of his opponent. Or the wrestlers might pull each other's hair. Sometimes wrestlers will jump into the ring to help one fighter against an opponent.

The crowd cheers and claps for all the wrestling tricks and misbehavior. This is exactly what the audience comes to see.

And the fans are many. The Nielsen Media Research company shows almost sixteen million people in the United States watch W.W.E. programs every week. Almost eighty percent of the viewers are over eighteen years old. And thirty-six percent are female.

W.W.E. programs are shown around the world on the Internet and television. The programs are broadcast in more than one hundred forty-five countries and thirty languages.

Last week, W.W.E. officials reported the company earned more than one hundred seventeen million dollars in the fourth financial period of last year.

The W.W.E. chairman and chief is Vince McMahon. Mister McMahon's grandfather, Jess, started the company under a different name in the early nineteen fifties. It was more wrestling than acting back then. Vince McMahon got into the business against his own father's wishes. But Vince McMahon is good at it. Under his leadership World Wrestling Entertainment has grown into the huge business it is today.


Lyle Lovett


This is the song "She's No Lady" from Lyle Lovett's nineteen eighty- eight album "Pontiac."



The Texas musician sings, write songs, plays guitar, produces records and even acts. He won his first Grammy Award in nineteen eighty-nine for best country male vocal performance. But Lyle Lovett does not fit the part of a cowboy. Nor does much of his music. It is a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. Some of his music sounds like feel good folk and some sounds like down home blues. There are also bits of jazz, pop, big band swing and even gospel. Barbara Klein has more.



That song, "Church," is from Lyle Lovett's nineteen ninety-two album "Joshua Judges Ruth." It is considered one of his most successful albums to date. A year after its release Lyle Lovett enjoyed a different kind of fame. His marriage to actress Julia Roberts made him an instant celebrity for reasons completely unrelated to music. The couple met while filming the movie, "The Player."

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While their marriage only lasted two years, Lyle Lovett's music lives on. He has released fourteen albums during his career. They include a greatest hits album, a live album and an album of songs he wrote for movies. Lyle Lovett's newest album is called "Natural Forces." We leave you with the title song.



I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Mario Ritter, June Simms and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to You can also post comments.

Do you have a question about people, places or things in America? Send it to us through our Web site -- click on the Contact Us link. Or write to We may answer your question on our show.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.