Stay-at-home-mums believe they would be earning more than their partner if they hadn't given up their jobs to raise their children.
A new survey found that 21 per cent of full-time mothers who left jobs had been their family's main earner.
The report also showed that another one in five women who are their family's biggest earner are unhappy about it because it makes it harder for them to leave their jobs to bring up children.
The latest survey was carried out for the investment company Nutmeg.com by Opinium of more than 2,000 people. It found just under half of women in a relationship give up work or go part-time to raise children.
Fewer than one in 12 men left or cut down on work to be full-time fathers. Women who are the biggest family breadwinner are often less than pleased with their status, the report found.
"The responsibility of earning more money has a negative impact on just under one in five female breadwinners who say that it makes them feel more restricted and they feel less free to change jobs or take maternity leave," it said.
Men were less unhappy about a wife or partner earning more than them. Only 14 per cent of those whose wife earned more said the discrepancy caused tension between them.
Author on the family Patricia Morgan told the Mail: "Women are prepared to give up high earnings because they want to bring up their own children rather than dump them on someone else.
"The overwhelming majority of mothers want to look after their own children, but nobody cares about them. That is reprehensible.
"When they are asked, the majority of working mothers always say that they are working not out of choice but out of necessity. It is time we challenged the idea that it is better to be in an office or a factory than raising your children."
The findings underline the sacrifices made by mothers who give up careers for family roles.
At the weekend academic Dr Aric Sigman said prejudice and ridicule directed against stay-at-home mothers has reached the point where it should be labelled 'motherism'.