From The Heart

When You Earn More Money Than Your Man

August 10, 2016

First let me say that if I offend anyone by what I’m about to say, please leave a comment and chime in on the conversation because I’d like to hear your side too. But this is my side, my opinion and I’m basing it on my own conversations with women all over the world – not just Americans or Germans or women you think I’m mostly referring. ALL women from ALL over. So with that being out of the way, I shall begin my essay.

When You Earn More Money Than Your Man

Money. It’s never been a hard topic for me to talk about even though I grew up watching my parents fight over it pretty much daily. I don’t understand why something that can be such a bridge in your life can be so bad or so hard to discuss. I’m married and when we get low on funds my first reaction isn’t to fight, it’s to discuss the situation and get crackin’ – do what we can to make it and make it fast. I always tell my husband that he married the best wife in the world when it comes to this topic – I would flip burgers or clean bathrooms if all the chips were down and we needed to pay the rent. I have been close to broke before, I was broke once, and I will never go there again if I am healthy enough to work. No way. My ego will never stand in the way of me going forth and getting a job, any job… I’d perform nearly any (legal and moral) task on earth to support myself and my family financially. I am that woman who would (and has) worked 2-3 jobs to make it. I’m not lazy and my father gave me one thing that stuck – work ethic. I may not always be realistic about money and earnings, but my crazy strong work ethic means that I won’t go down without a fight.

Yet there is something I have to say about money that may make some of you feel a little awkward after I say this. Please don’t. I have earned quite a bit of it in my lifetime, before blogging and especially after blogging. There is no limit to the amount of money a creative person can earn online these days if you work your ___ off and have a few good ideas and are willing to sweat blood to get it. I remember the first 8 years of my online career very clearly because I worked 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, or more. I remember staying up until 4am to write on my blog and to turn assignments in to magazines and newspapers on time. I worked in my sleep. Then I got pregnant and cut back but I couldn’t take a maternity leave, so I took off two weeks leave after I had my baby. I wish I could have taken 6-12 months like most of my German friends (I live in Germany now in case some of you missed that I relocated overseas from Boston) but I couldn’t because my money keeps our family above water.

I have a real love/hate with that last sentence.

I love it because I never in my life thought I could earn more than, let me just say it, a man. When I was growing up, men were the ones earning all of the money and women had part-time jobs or, if working full-time, were definitely not in leadership roles as they are today. So I’m very proud of myself that women have broken the glass ceiling in some parts of the world and can potentially earn more than a man based on their TALENT not on their GENDER. I never understood and still don’t, why a women can do the same job as a man but earn substantially less. But that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

So I love that I can earn money without my gender being part of that.

Yet I also hate that I earn more than my husband. Mostly because I know that it causes stress in our relationship. I have a lot of pressure to keep earning and sometimes I want to just pull back and go on vacation for a month and blog from the French Riviera. But I can’t because blogging isn’t the only way I earn this living, there is so much more and so many hours are needed to accomplish all that I do.

I believe that the truth is, at their core – men do not like to earn less money than a woman. Do you agree? I know lots of men will say I’m wrong, and I’m sure in some cases I am wrong, but in most cases I’m not wrong. I’ve seen it. I have blogger friends who have divorced over money relating to her earning more than him. I’ve researched this topic ad nauseam and it’s the same across the board. Men don’t like earning less than their woman. I’ve heard it has to do with male pride, I’ve heard it has to do with feeling like they are competing, I’ve heard it has to do with ego. I’ve also heard it has to do with feeling guilty.

But I haven’t really heard WHY THE HELL IT MATTERS so much. I love the idea of pooling cash and both partners dive in and view it as money THEY are making together. Not HER money, not HIS money. THEIR MONEY. If he is helping with the children, and cleaning the house, and doing laundry, and cooking as much as his woman, and he is also being supportive and helping her to be a top performer through his love, then that works, right? Yet, I hear just the opposite. That men don’t want to be known as “house husbands” and they don’t want to stay home and do domestic things while their wife earns the family income. One guy I interviewed when I was writing this article bluntly said to me, “I don’t want to be her bitch!”.

Eek.

I have a male friend, he is working in restaurants mostly until he finds a job in his profession, and he hates it because his partner is some kind of manager at her job and earns more money than he does. And he doesn’t like this at all and has confessed this to me. And to make it worse, she rubs it in his face that he doesn’t have a “real job” and actually declines dinner parties because he isn’t very interesting for her friends and family to be around since he’s not working. It’s not looking to good for appearances you know, that she is the big manager and he is the lowly waiter. This makes me absolutely sick. But there are women who shame their men and I find this disrespectful and a real sign that their isn’t real love in a relationship like that. And when this happens, I get why the man would hate to earn less than their woman.

But I’m not talking about those cases.

I’m talking about female friends that I have who have largely internet-based businesses and they make so much money that their partner could never earn that – even if they were a brain surgeon or a top engineer at some amazing firm – some earn more than half a million a year and up… The ladies I know who aren’t partnered get great dates but never get long term relationships because of the MONEY. Men are intimidated the moment money comes up and they realize their cute girlfriend earns more in one year than he earns in 3 years… And other woman I know are newly divorced and get lots of dates but when it gets serious, and the guy learns of her income, forget it… She hears crickets too. You know the expression ladies… When the crickets come, the man is done.

All of this also leads me to think that some rare couples must exist out there where the woman is making more than the man and the man is cool with it. Right? But I don’t hear those stories. I know Oprah earns more than her man but the media also has had fun at his expense throughout the years letting everyone know it.

So what about a woman who is self made? Who earns several hundred thousand a year in her sleep because she’s an “Influencer”? How do these women get anywhere with men long term? Because all of the men I know are really insecure dating these power women. And how do these women not get used when they do partner up? How are they not becoming burdened with the pressure of being the sole provider? And how are these power women dating men who make less not getting used by these men – how do they know if the man loves them for them or their money?

So this is my essay and now I really need to know what YOU think, all of you, men and women. Because I’m curious if some of you are earning more than your man and if so, how do you deal with this at home? How does HE deal with it? Do you fight over it? And single girls, has your income prevented you from him putting a ring on it? And men, do you have any thoughts on this topic?

(Photography: Holly Becker)

 






50 Comments

  • Reply kei August 10, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    The majority of today’s couples need a two-income household to survive with increasing costs. Why is this even an article here? Many of my girl friends make more than their partners. If you run across a guy that can’t deal, why care? It’s like dealing with a Trump-supporter. This article speaks more of the owner’s insecurities and possible upbringing than a reflection of what is happening now. BTW, I cringe when a favorite design blog starts going off-topic; ie. personal rants.

    • Reply Holly Becker August 10, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      @Kei – I think just the opposite as you do, that this is completely on-topic because of what I do for a living, plus many of my friends are talking about money lately and I’m open-minded to talking about money publicly on my blog. It’s a good discussion to have. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns and most of my readers enjoy having a space to talk about this stuff, and I enjoy it too. If you cringe when blogs go off-topic then I don’t know what to say, never heard that before!

    • Reply Reader August 10, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Seconded!

    • Reply silje August 10, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      Word! This makes me want to unsubscribe from this blog. Not only is it off-topic (I’m here for interior design, not personal ‘research’ on money and gender issues), it reflects a worldview where the idea that women are inferior to men is supported rather than challenged. I don’t want to follow such a blog. Discussing whether it’s a problem that women earn more than men (and even stressing that it IS a problem!?) will not lead anywhere. Taking women’s rights for granted will. That means earning whatever you like without having to have a discussion about it, letting go of insecure men who can’t take it and fighting fiercely and loudly for equal salaries whenever necessary. Peace out.

      • Reply Holly Becker August 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm

        @Silje – You obviously didn’t read the post because I feel like you are talking to someone else and not us – nothing you have said applies here.

        Also, whether you want to believe it or not, in much of the world it’s still not considered normal or even right to earn more money than a man, so much so that there are many men who won’t date women who are more successful and those who are married to successful woman can start to become bitter and jealous. And I do not support any of that, I think it’s unfair and odd. I hope that someday this changes and by talking about it openly, then the conversation is out there publicly.

        You said, “That means earning whatever you like without having to have a discussion about it, letting go of insecure men who can’t take it and fighting fiercely and loudly for equal salaries whenever necessary. Peace out.” I had to laugh because you claim on one hand to earn what you like without discussion and on the other hand to fight fiercely and loudly for equal salaries whenever necessary. Don’t you see this post, this discussion amongst women wanting those things, to be good then?

        • Reply Reader August 10, 2016 at 10:41 pm

          It seems that there are two different discussions happening simultaneously: one about gender-based income inequality and another about men making more than their female spouse or partner.

          It goes without saying that men and women doing the same job should be compensated equally. That’s a no-brainier.

          I think that by discussing possible insecurity of a man whose female partner or spouse makes more money (doing DIFFERENT work than he does, but brings home more money) fosters the idea that we still need to discuss traditional stereotypical roles, which to me, does feel antiquated at this point and sort of silly. Perhaps that’s where the disconnect is happening with this post.

          • Holly Becker August 11, 2016 at 9:13 am

            @Reader – “I think that by discussing possible insecurity of a man whose female partner or spouse makes more money (doing DIFFERENT work than he does, but brings home more money) fosters the idea that we still need to discuss traditional stereotypical roles, which to me, does feel antiquated at this point and sort of silly.”

            Yes, in many ways it is silly but it’s also very real. Just like ironing the breasts of girls in Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa so they aren’t viewed as “sexual” and therefore may become less of a target for rape, or more locally – that we have to even have discussions about public breast feeding… It may seem cruel or silly to you or to me, but it doesn’t mean that turning a blind eye and going back to binge watching Netflix in our cozy apartment will change it. These discussions need to happen whether they feel old-fashioned or not.

            Just because we don’t want to believe something doesn’t mean it’s not there.

  • Reply Allison August 10, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    My husband and I are American, and I think for the entirety of our dating and married relationship (4 years) to date, I have made more money. We haven’t talked explicitly about it in a long time; I think there was a little awkwardness a few times when we were first married. But we do pool all our money and look at it from a total vs his/mine. Additionally, two years ago he started grad school and works part time now (if his job was full time, I’d make just ever so slightly more). I think we would both like for him to make more than me once he graduates…but ultimately I think that’s less about who makes more than it is abou giving me the option to stay at home when we have kids vs having to go back to work regardless of my preference at the time. (For what it’s worth, my job is in IT, not blogging, but it is a lot more flexible than most)

    • Reply Jess August 10, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Oh man Allison. This is my life! I earn more than my husband and honestly its not a big deal right now. It only becomes a big deal when I get frustrated that even though we both work full time, I’m the one who’s expected to come home and clean, pay bills, manage the budget and make dinner. Like,really?? We’ve had multiple conversations about it and he does try to do more but he honestly just doesn’t see everything I do that needs to be taken care of (like you said about your husband). We’re talking about having kids in the next few years and I have started thinking about this. I can’t keep working full time, doing the lion’s share of the domestic duties, manage my chronic health problems and take on the majority care of our kids. I also realize that when we do have kids we will reevaluate where we’re at and work to make things work so I may be getting ahead of myself with worry lol. I am incredibly grateful that my husband is open to talking about stuff like this and reevaluating it but man is this frustrating!

      Also Holly, blog posts like these are one of the reasons I follow your blog! I love these pieces. Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Reply btransatlantic August 10, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    This is such an interesting topic, Holly, and one that’s so rarely discussed from personal (rather than more academic) viewpoints! I’m definitely going to check back in on the comments through the day :)

    I outearn my husband by about 40%, and we share all of our money; we have one joint bank account and that’s it. It doesn’t bother my husband at all that I make more than he does. I probably outspend him by about 40% on “wants not needs” so I think he feels it evens out anyway! But I’m starting to worry about the salary imbalance because we’re thinking of having children in the next few years and I know that I’m going to be bearing the brunt of the emotional labor at home regardless of how hands-on he wants to be (and, without a doubt, will be) once we have kids. I already do most of the cleaning and the cooking and the dog care and those sorts of domestic things, but I know I’ll also be doing most of the child-rearing as well. And it’s not because he doesn’t or won’t want to do these things – it’s because he doesn’t notice when initiative needs to be taken and how. (I do think that’s a man thing, for what it’s worth.)

    And I’m scared because I can’t give up or give less to my job because we need that 40% more that I earn, but I have no idea how I’m going to do everything I do now plus take on the majority of child-care responsibilities without something suffering. If my husband out-earned me, I wouldn’t mind letting my career slip a little, despite loving my profession and knowing that I don’t want to ever leave the workforce. If he made more than me, I could go part-time for a little while or consult or – well, there would be more options. But because I outearn him, the only option (assuming we want to maintain the quality of life that we have) is that I stay on the professional track I’m on while doing more at home. And that’s an exhausting thought.

    • Reply Betsy (@btransatlantic) August 10, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      by the way, I have a traditional desk job – I don’t work for myself or participate in the online/social economy!

    • Reply Meghan August 10, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      Betsy – I literally am in the same circumstances as you. I earn double (and then a bit more) what my husband makes and it does not bother him one bit, but sometimes I feel resentful that he does not see if that I were to lose my income, we would essentially flail on his given our accustomed living we have created for ourselves. And when children come into play in 1-2 years, I fear that even though he may have the more flexible schedule, I will essentially be taking on the brunt of not only the financial lead but also the motherly responsibilities as well.

      We communicate with each other over these fears / challenges and ultimately my husband has decided to switch careers in the hopes of earning a better living. Right now he LOVES his industry but the money just isn’t there. I feel guilt that I am “asking” him to give up something he loves for the sake of income, but our future family plan involves children and therefore sacrifices on both ends need to be made.

      I also feel like it is a luxury for him to love his job but not be as concerned on the income factor. While I do enjoy mine, I am acutely aware that I cannot quit and become something else due to what my income means for our family. I feel so proud of the career I have made for myself, working so hard over the past 10 years to establish myself within my field and market. I wouldn’t trade that pride for anything else, I just sometimes wish for a bit more recognition. I now sometimes empathize with husbands who maybe have resentment toward their stay at home wives as the brunt of the financial responsibility only falling on one person can be immensely taxing.

  • Reply dalbertson328 August 10, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I make more money than my husband, which will no longer be the case when he finishes his nursing boards but this is not a point of contention. It is our family that benefits whenever either of us makes plenty to keep us afloat, regardless of who it is. I just dont understand why this would be an issue at this time in history.

  • Reply Irene Serafini August 10, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Holly, I loved reading your article.
    I can’t say I am or have been in the same situation but I do relate to when you’re saying that WHO makes the money shouldn’t make a difference as long as both partners are collaborating even if in different ways. My partner recently took up a job, working 10-12 hours/day monday thorugh sunday and it is earning more than before, also more responsabilities, etc.
    Because of him working such long hours, I’ve become the only one responsible for all house works in the house, etc. At some point I felt like we were falling into the typical man-woman relationship where the womas is doing all the houseworks and men don’t (I also work and am a manager at a language school). But then my therapist made me realise that he’s working for BOTH of us in a way…and that made me change the way I see things completely…instead of feeling like I HAD to do the houseworks now I simply see it as a way to take care of him and us at the same time and that I’m supporting him to be a top performer as you said and I’m not bothered at all, the opposite, it makes me feel good to be helping him because I’d love him to do the same thing if I was in the same situation and if you really love someone you should want them to be happy, right?
    But I guess men are not used to being the “caretaker” in the relationship…they have been used to be the provider and maybe that’s where the problem lies…

  • Reply Aline Muller August 10, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    In a relationship there is always someone who will make some more money than the other. Expecting that this one is the man is expecting women to always be in a beneath and possibly financially dependent position, as if you were not worth of your success, whereas such success is taken by granted as a right of men. It is expecting to fulfill conservative roles. Does not making more money makes your man feel less of a man? What defines masculinity and gender roles for you? Men are intimidated because they always have a privilege that can now disappear due to equality of opportunities. Amazing that women can more and more rise to the top, sad so many men feel threatened by the possibility of equality of opportunities, terrible terrible terrible that you yourself hate the possibility of doing financially better than your partner and thus are perpetuating gender inequality and conservative gender roles.

  • Reply ninetyone17blog August 10, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    I found this article extremely fascinating… I am not in that situation….yet [I earn peanuts compared to him] but society tells me not to rely on him and I somewhat agree HOWEVER that being said I believe that woman being the breadwinner takes away from the hero type values that men live for. It does depend on your partner though. For me, I will avoid letting my bank balance be higher than his… atleast until we are both much older.

    Kirst xx | http://www.ninetyone17.co.za

  • Reply Her Indoors August 10, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    My husband loves the idea of me earning more than him but, I have to say, he can’t handle being beaten by me at tennis… if I did start earning more than him it would be interesting.

  • Reply Yvonne August 10, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Bo and I are both self-employed and we have one bank account for the past 19 years and everything we work for and earn goes straight in that account and pays for all the stuff we want to do. We trust each other in making money so we both can live (well) and we trust each other in spending it. There’s no “this is mine, or this is yours”. We are married without a prenuptial agreement, if we go up, we go up together and if we go down, we go down together. I have been earning quite a bit more the last 3 years, which in our relation means that Bo is able to work less, which he enjoys. It doesn’t matter who makes the money as long as it allows us to do what we both want to do. It’s never an option and we never discus it either. If you 100% share your wealth you don’t have to think about who made more or less. We are both dependent on one another as together we earn more than two people alone.

  • Reply No Apathy Allowed August 10, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Nearly all of my close, highly educated female friends in their early 40’s earn more than their partners and/or are the primary breadwinners for their families. It’s not a dramatic topic of discussion that causes difficulities, it’s not something my friends rub in, it’s not something their partners feel inadequate about — it is simply reality, a non-issue. From my own experience, I think this is more and more often the new norm.

  • Reply Becca August 10, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    This is interesting. I have always significantly out-earned my husband, We keep our finances about 70% separate and though we talk about money and plans and expenses a lot, we’ve never had a single fight about money in 20 years.
    But when you talk/write about potential stress, it doesn’t sound like it’s the stress of making more, it’s the stress of carrying the financial weight in your family. Don’t men have these same stresses? The feminist movement has brought us close to being on par with men, which is great, but isn’t this just another instance of how there is always some bad that goes along with the good?

  • Reply Amy Ehmann August 10, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    We’re neck and neck. Some years I make more and some years he does… We joke that I make the “fun” money and his money pays for the boring things like the water and electricity. =P But honestly, we’re of the OUR money camp. I do find that men in general find their identity in their jobs above all. It is THE measure of success for them. Whereas most women will be more likely to sacrifice their career goals to take care of family. Our measure success is not necessarily tied to our job. To say men and women are created different is a major understatement. I think the key is communication and NEVER make it a competition in a relationship. Like you said it a touchy subject for most and it should not be a public conversation without both people’s consent.

  • Reply Pam August 10, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    We are a double income household with 2 young kids. We both have traditional desk jobs. When we started dating, we made about the same. By the time we got married some years later, I was making substantially more than him but I was also working a whole lot more too. Money and me making more has never been an issue, it all goes into the same pot and we both enjoy equally the fruits of our labor.

    Before having the kids, I told him that i was burning out and feared having kids would make it extremely challenging to continue at the pace I was going. We crunched the numbers to see what we needed so i could take a much less stressful role at work that pays less than him, but not that much less. He’s been completely supportive through it all. He’d be happy if I was making what I used to make so he could be a stay at home dad.

    It boggles me that in this day and age, we have guys that don’t like it if their lady makes more, it seems like a silly fight, its all going to the same pot, why would it matter who makes more, it’s a pissing match.

  • Reply live laugh love August 10, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    When I was married I made more than my husband by about almost 40%. He had two children from a previous marriage and after child support what he contributed to our household was roughly 25% of total expenses. When I first met him he earned more than I by quite a bit but his job had terrible hours and was hard on his body. In the beginning and for many years it didn’t bother either of us that I earned more. We combined our income. As time went on though, I started noticing how much more I did. I worked 40+ hours a week AND cleaned the house, AND made most meals, AND he spent more than I did on non essential items, AND I took more responsibility for his children when they were at our house. I tried to speak with him about this but to no avail. This particular situation partly contributed to our divorce. I’m not saying that it was a bad thing I earned more. I know where my personal fault lies in the situation.

    I have been in another relationship for the past three and a half years. I earn more than him by roughly 15%. We keep our finances completely separate. He owns the house we live in and I pay my portion of rent/utilities. When it comes to items we share like groceries etc we keep a stack of receipts and at the end of the month we go through them. We have roughly the same spending habits and stay pretty close to 50/50 on expenses. When one person spends a little more the other ramps it up the next month. It’s not a perfect system but it works for us and we have NEVER had an argument about money.’

    I agree that women should not feel terrible about out earning their male partner. That is one of the things the women’s movement worked so hard for. I think every situation is personal and if you have worked it out to the best that you and your partner feel works for you then good. Neither my partner nor I have children and we share very similar plans for our future. We each take on what we can as far as household duties.

    thank you for sharing your personal story.

  • Reply francetaste August 10, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Very interesting. My husband lost his job when his employer when bankrupt, so I am the sole earner, and not hugely paid. Before having a child, I had a different job that paid quite well. And many of my colleagues there, lovely women all, are forever single because they are “too successful” for the guys they meet. I hope this will change with future generations.

  • Reply Karen, BC August 10, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    The problem with couples who fight about money is that they believe their income is their ‘worth’, rather than just this country’s, state’s, province’s or city’s compensation level for that particular job. Who’s to say what a fair compensation is, whether we’re talking about caring for children or ailing parents or developing a rival app to Pokemon? For over 35 years, my partner and I have pooled all of our resources for our family and made decisions together about budgets and large purchases. It’s not money itself that is the root of all evil; the evil is in aligning it with self-worth instead of seeing it purely as society’s payment in a work hierarchy.
    By the way, I totally agree with working hard in lean times. My husband and I have been creatively industrious in tough times and this has instilled a sturdy sense of fearlessness over the decades. I would recommend managing with next to nothing for everyone!

  • Reply K August 10, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    I don’t think that the money is the issue. I think that women have made amazing advances in education and the workplace, but the problem in my mind is that society has yet to build the support structure around it that supports them. I would wager that most of my girlfriends earn similar amounts or more than their husbands, but what we constantly discuss is how to manage it all. As a whole, I think that men are getting better in helping to split household responsibilities, but I think that women are still carrying far more than 50% of the household responsibilities (cleaning, cooking, taking care of kids, laundry, shopping for groceries, diapers, etc) while still trying really hard to be good moms, employees, and wives.

    There are simply not enough hours in the day to be a rock-star at all of those things.

    So, what’s the answer? Better support systems (easier said than done, I know). Society (men and women combined) need to catch up with how the modern family is structured. If both adults are working full time, then the rest of the tasks need to be also split. It is unreasonable to ask women to work full time at home and also full time behind a desk. Eventually something will have to give. I sometimes hear my mother or my mother in law criticizing my sister in laws over the lack of home-cooked meals that they make. It annoys me every time as the criticism only falls on the ladies…who worked just as many hours as the men and who both have longer commutes. In order for it to continue to be the norm (and I’m so happy that it is becoming the norm!) for women to have successful careers, they need the support on other levels of life to do it.

    I think that honest communication with potential partners is also crucial. I was extremely upfront with my (now) husband while we were dating. I asked him how he felt about me potentially making more than him (he thought it would be great – more collective money), we spoke candidly about how we would split chores, etc, amongst a whole list of important topics. How these things have played out has evolved over time (I still end up cooking most nights, but he almost always cleans up the kitchen, takes the trash out etc). I’m lucky in that he truly helps split household and children tasks – if he didn’t, we couldn’t make two full time careers work (regardless of who is making more).

    Lastly, I have very little patience for men who can’t handle women who make more than them. I find it demeaning, actually. There was more than one occasion in my single life when men clearly lost interest once they found out where I worked, but I was fine with that. I always figured that if that was the nature of their character, then it was time to keep looking.

  • Reply Georgie August 10, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    I’ve thought about this issue a lot and think a lot of the problems stem from thinking about the negatives of the situation. Firstly, I am lucky enough to be married to a man who is brave enough to admit when it gets him down & we talk about it. Life is never simple. And I struggle sometimes with the same fears as other commenters that the responsibility of doing it all is too much. But then I remember how lucky we are as women to be in this position. Money gives use choices and freedom to be with the man or not, have the family or not. Previous generations did not have such freedom, as the recent movie The Suffragette reminded me. If you don’t like the balance of your lives do something to change it because at least you have the money to enable you to.

  • Reply Kelsey M. August 10, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    I got my MA in sociology and studied this very phenomenon in a gender seminar. Simply, it sucks. Men, on average, will either take on extra work or emotionally abuse their partner in order to feel “even the scales.” Personally, even when I was in grad school I had a larger stipend than my partner, and he took multiple jobs to even out our salaries to the point where he works a crazy amount and I work regular hours. This way, I wouldn’t expect more out of him at home. It’s ridiculous, and as long as we are both contributing and the house is clean at the end of the day I don’t mind, but it’s a fascinating topic built upon centuries of gender roles and oppression of women that still rears its ugly head today.

  • Reply adarling575 August 10, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    I just had to chime in here! I make more money than my partner, and as long as we both do the jobs we love, I always will. Purely because my job is as a corporate lawyer and his is as an academic. It is not an issue between us and has never been, my boyfriend is entirely okay with it and actually thinks it would be ridiculous not to be. I think we split household chores equally, he would try to claim he does more. He does all the cooking whereas I do all the admin stuff. I think you need to be careful with your generalisations in your above post – although it is true that it is an issue for many men, it’s not all – and let’s be honest, it is NOT okay for it to be an issue and I think men who care about it need to grow up :)

  • Reply Rochelle Greayer August 11, 2016 at 12:00 am

    I used to be competitive with my husband over salary (in a flirty fun way, not in a way that was destructive to our relationship). We had a few years where we were neck and neck with income and both doing very well … but then I changed careers and have never made as much since. Add in having children, and though my goal is to get back to that place where we compete again (which BTW is way harder now as he has progressed in his career to a level that seems impossible to catch up), I wonder if I ever will make it. He chides me to hurry up all the time… and is totally supportive for me to earn more than him. I think, for us, there is more stress on our relationship because we both know that if I went back to a career that I hated (but was good at and which was lucrative) I could be making A. LOT. MORE $$. We have to constantly remind ourselves that flexibility, and not having 2 parents who work outside of the home is something that we are lucky to be able to have. I am happier, and I can be here (home), and work from here and make things run smoother, cheaper and happier for everyone by granting myself flexibility in a career that isn’t 9-5. I do however sometimes struggle when I can see so plainly what stepping out of the corporate career track has meant financially (I mean, what if I didn’t have a husband?!? – I know – I’d go back (I’d be a toilet cleaner if I had to, too… but ugh, those thoughts can really stress me out!.). I wonder though – given your work ethic (something I can relate to) – what would you be like if you had a husband who made a lot more than you – made enough for you to live comfortably so you didn’t have to work at all? I find I struggle with this all the time… I feel like my hunger for reaping the profits of what I sow is less than I know it would be if I were the lead earner and things depended on me. I find myself less focussed sometimes, or undercharging, giving things away that I might not have, if my income was more needed. I am well aware of it, but have a hard time stopping it. This is a funny place to be, and not one that I enjoy – I work hard, and I want to work harder (but honestly would find that exceedingly hard unless we give up the way we have our lives set up now) – and I think it is a place where a lot of talented women seem to be – they don’t have to earn so much so they sell themselves short with what they are able to do. Or maybe we do this for other reasons (probably, yes) but I think necessity plays a significant part.

  • Reply Renata August 11, 2016 at 1:04 am

    great article Holly, very honest. I stand 100% with you. That kind of attitude, either from men or women, makes me sick. I am not that type of person and like to think that in our marriage, even when money can be an issue for other reasons, we think of money as OUR money. At the moment I am at home because I look after our kids but in the past, I worked jobs way below my skill level just so we could stay afloat, and I would do it again.
    But I do think in the whole world we have a loong way to go in this respect. We are very tied to those traditional roles, and unfortunately, us mothers raise men to be the tough, wage earners rather than the caregivers; and this is part of why us women always get stuck with the bad paying jobs and most of the responsibility at home. We are bringing this onto ourselves with our attitude. If we both (men and women) participated equally in a homes responsibilities, no matter who raises the kids, no matter who brings home the bacon, we would aee money as ours, and realize that we need each other to keep the boat from sinking. You should read “Unfinished Business” by Anne Marie Slaughter. It deals with this issue in a really interesting perspective.

  • Reply Alicia August 11, 2016 at 1:23 am

    Thank you for bringing this topic to life in your blog post. I have been married, divorced, and single and have always made more money than my significant others. With good jobs, my own companies, and through hustle. And yes, I think it is hard with dating. Not because of my expectations (I am really not a fancy person) but because it’s hard for a man to accept.

  • Reply Mary August 11, 2016 at 4:11 am

    Thank you for this post, Holly. I hesitated before opening it because it is a very sensitive topic for me. I was glad to learn that you discussed the realities you’ve experienced and seen through others and you were open about the problem. Part of the reason I’ve been following you for the past ten years is your positivity- but I’m glad in this case you included the negatives. I made more than my husband which was further worsened by the fact that my job required moves every 3-4 years, so not only did he make less, but he would continue to, and would have to fight for a new job every few years. After 11 years together we divorced. It wasn’t our only issue, but it is probably the one that highlighted or worsened the other issues. I’ve been on my own for about 20 months now and have not dated. I live in a city with a troubled economy so there are not many potential dates because most men earn less than me and there are just not college educated single males in my age group(late 30s). It’s ok for now, I’m enjoying being independent, but it does make me sad that I have to take earnings into consideration. The good men who don’t compare earnings are rare. I wasted at least 4 years trying to save my marriage- I wish I had bailed years ago. I now see there were warning signs early on. I worked a very demanding schedule of nights AND went to law school part time. I literally lived off McDonald’s because I didn’t have time to shop, cook, or eat. We lived together and he never went grocery shopping or offered to make meals for me in those difficult 2 years.

    On a related topic- I worry about how honest I should be with the young women in my (male-dominated) career field- how best to mentor them? I don’t want to scare them but I also want them to be informed and prepared.

  • Reply Kathryn August 11, 2016 at 6:11 am

    I have always been incredibly open about money and have no issues discussing it with people who ask. I make more than my husband and it’s honestly not an issue. We have separate accounts but I pay more for joint expenses and on things for our little girl because it’s fairer that way. After all expenses and savings have been taken out of our salaries, we’re left with the same money to spend on ourselves. We’ve always made decisions together based on what makes the most financial sense. So when I had my daughter I took 6 months parental leave and my husband took 9 months because the parental leave entitlements offered by his company were more generous than mine. We also split most household chores equally so there’s not one person doing more than the other. I think the writer has made mass generalisations here. In my circle of girlfriends and my mother’s group, far more than half earn more than their partners. I can’t obviously speak about their relationships but I sense they have the same views as us. At the end of the day money is simply a return for the work you put in (a transaction of sorts). I really don’t understand people who are uncomfortable with their partner earning more. Having more money to enjoy life surely must be a good thing? We both grew up in families where our mums had no clue what our dads earnt even though they were responsible for the family budget. There’s no way I would want my daughter to experience that. The more open we are about money, the more likely we are to narrow the gender paygap.

  • Reply Lauren August 11, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Me to Man-person just now: “Would it bother you if I made more money than you?”

    Man-person, laughing: “No, you can be my sugar mama!”

    • Reply Holly Becker August 11, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Lauren – He’s a keeper! Love it! :)

  • Reply Sib August 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I mean no disrespect, but my initial reaction was to think this post was a little “silly.” I had to ask myself why I felt this way because the topic is an important one, but maybe it was the way it was written that was making it not resonate for me. I think it made it sound more of a rant than a discussion. Of course this is you space and you should treat it as such with your thoughts and ideas, so mine is just a well-intentioned feedback possibly shedding some light into previous posters’ angst – I don’t know. Anyway, as for the topic. I wholeheartedly agree with someone who said that where I live we need 2 substantial salaries to make it work. I have a regular job and in all our 12 years together have made more than my husband, even though he has a higher level position than I do – at least 2 steps up from me. I have a hard time imagining that those guys who can’t accept a woman because of her higher earnings, don’t have something else “wrong” with them. Trust and respect are pivotal to a relationship and money is fleeting – life is fluid; higher earners become less higher earners and vice versa, but it takes maturity and life experience to get someone to understand that. Some families have too little to go around, so this conversation becomes insignificant in light of that. It is important not to ignore the opposite phenomena also and that is all the able-bodied men that could be earning a living, but live on the shoulders of their women financially and in other ways – I know too many of those! I will stop here because for every argument, I can come up with a counterargument or different angle for myself, evidence that this is a multifaceted topic with lots of variables and nuance. And please know that I don’t mean any disrespect by my comment on the writing, just hard to convey feedback on a blog post without sounding harsh.

    • Reply Holly Becker August 11, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      @Sib You make some great points but remember that just because someone sees a topic that they view as important that you don’t doesn’t mean they are silly. It’s just a different focus. :)

  • Reply lbpv August 11, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    This is a really interesting topic. And I appreciate you bringing it up. Based on your readers who responded there is no gender wage gap. Almost every female that commented makes more than her partner. I must not be your typical reader. I have the privilege to be a sahm. Before I got married I made more than my soon to be husband who eventually passed me in wage earning. During the time that I made more than him it bothered him a little in respect to him feeling like he wasn’t pulling his weight (still training for his career as a firefighter). Eventually he surpassed my wage earning and we decided to have children I left the work force. We had always known that I would be home with our children and I feel so fortunate that I have a husband that takes pride in providing for his family outside the home and I take pride in providing for our family inside the home. As a firefighter he has many full dayss off and knows what is required of being at home with small kids and respects the work I do here. Many times he has stated that I have the harder job and brags about my homekeeping to anyone who will listen. He appreciates that he comes home to a happy well cared for home with happy well cared for kids and constantly reminds me that he can focus and do his job better knowing that our kids are safe and happy with me at home. He hears other men that are unhappy because their wives don’t make enough/more/any money and he just doesn’t get it. This works for us! But like I said it appears Im not your typical reader or they are just not adding to this discussion. By the way women or men who demean their spouses are inexcusable. Im curious how this works in same sex relationships.

  • Reply Emma collins August 11, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    I earn about three times more than my husband, and he is totally cool with it as we view everything as ours. He works four days a week and cleans on the 5th so we can have the weekend free to relax. Money has never been an issue and I didn’t realise how rare this seems to be before reading this. I’m proud of his achievements and he is of mine. It just so happens what I love to do, is better paid than what he loves to do. I’m not sure why it should be an issue for men, if they think rationally about it. Thank god I have never had to experience that kind of sexism (which is what it is at grass roots).

  • Reply Tammy August 12, 2016 at 6:23 am

    I earn a lot of money. My husband is the stay-at-home parent because it makes more sense, money-wise, for him to be at home than me. We’ve had this arrangement for several years, and I think it works for us for a few reasons:

    1. We love and like and respect each other.
    2. We’ve been together since we were students and had zero money. We were poor together, and now we’re well off together.
    3. We run our home like a business. We’re co-founders and partners who share a vision and “mission statement” for how we want to run things.
    4. My husband is a strong, confident guy who is proud of my career-related achievements.
    5. We both consider parenting to be an important job. Personally, I think it’s more meaningful than any office job. I have so much respect for stay-at-home parents, because I used to be one when our kids were babies.
    6. If our situations were to change tomorrow, and he were the high earner and I were the stay-at-home parent, our dynamic wouldn’t change. I know this because when I was the stay-at-home parent, our dynamic was no different than it is today.
    7. We see money as a means to an end — a tool for building a good life — not a status symbol.
    8. We value honesty and communication above everything. Neither of us is perfect by any stretch, but we’re not afraid to talk (and talk and talk) through tricky issues and get to a place of understanding.

    Money is a funny thing. It can make life so much easier in so many ways if we let it, yet it so often becomes yet another barrier to happiness.

  • Reply lula August 12, 2016 at 6:40 am

    This is such an interesting topic …. my man is waiting until I get rich so he can do nothing and have fun all day long … ok, talking real now. I can divide the problem in two main different cases: 1) Woman working and getting really well paid + man working getting less and 2) Woman working and getting paid + man having working problems (not getting a job or having bad jobs). I know some of the number 2) cases and I don’t think is a good situation. It’s a heavy bag for the woman, especially if they have kids. Sometimes the man helps in the house and do a lot of house work and takes care of the kids but still the women fills something is not fine. I am not talking about people making a conscious decision about man doing house work, I am talking about man that couldn’t get good jobs and then, as a consequence, they stay at home and the woman go to work. In all the cases I know, they do have couple problems because of this situation. It is a lot of stress for woman and the man is not prepare for this, he thinks his role should be another one.
    I am not sure if I know people in the number 1) case, but I think it could work if both feel they are doing the right thing.

  • Reply Sabine Alba Valdes August 12, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I am German and was married to a Cuban during 24 years. I always earned 3 or 4 times of what he got. And, it was a big problem during all my marriage. He was expecting me to pay everything for our son, the house and the cars and he to stay with ALL his income just for himself. The result was that I had less money for me as he did. Every time I urged him to also contribute some of his income, we had a discussion. I really hated that. And, he had a big inferiority complex due to this as well. From his home in Cuba he was used to his father to earn the big part of income and his mom to contribute only a little money. I will never ever take a man that is not – more or less – equal to me financially!

  • Reply Charlotte August 12, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    I’ve just finished reading your article and the comments and now feel like I’ve caught a unicorn. My better half knew right from the start that I would eventually go on to earn more than him. I’m simply better educated. And he is man enough to take that. It wasn’t always an easy road to get to this point in the beginning of our relationship the difference in upbringing and education really got to him but we worked through it. The money issue on the other hand never ever bothered him. In fact he is proud of my work accomplishments and even is my biggest cheerleader. That may be because he was raised by a single mom in the former GDR. The only thing we want is to make enough room in our career driven lives for our daughter. I see him rushing home from a meeting if she is sick and I have a close deadline. He never grunts when I tell him that he needs to pick her up from school for a few days. And when his boss asks why he needs to leave work early to pick up our daughter and why I don’t do it, he simply says: She is working. And yet I try to be just as supportive with his career as he is with mine.

  • Reply Jessica Hicks August 13, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Nice article! I’ve known a few women to be the breadwinner in their marriage and I myself have also been in relationships were my career and financial situation slightly advanced my partner. Those relationships did not work out in the end, but I wouldn’t say that they failed due to this. I think in most cases it really just depends on how the man and woman are. Whether they are open with each other and whether both are secure in themselves. I think men that would have an issue with their woman earning more money than them are either insecure or extremely traditional in their thinking.

  • Reply emmajeanne16 August 15, 2016 at 11:18 am

    I do and have always made more than my husband. It isn’t really a big deal. Maybe I just got lucky and found someone more sure of himself. I think one of the things I find is that women who earn more also happen to be more direct and forceful in what they want and how to get there. It is that personality that intimidates men more so than the money. Society is still adjusting to women in power positions which needs to be more progressive but I think it is less about the money and more about the stereotype of women and their roles in society.

  • Reply mariaeugomez August 15, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I have always earn about 60% more than my husband and he is completely fine with it and supports me fully. He is not a competitive guy. He is well educated (engineer + master), but he is free-spirited. Family and enjoying the kids is far more important for him that a job. An these are some of the reasons why I married him. I always knew I could substain myself, but I wanted to find someone funny, loving, free-spirited, family-oriented and with the abilitiy to substain himself financially and jump-in to help me in case I, or the family, needed support. On the other hand, I am more competitive and ambitious. I am also a lot more political and can navigate the corporate world better. I am constantly looking for challenges and changes. Usually the one that has a problem with him earning less is me. Because I expect him to be as competitive as I am. And then… something hits me all the time: Would you have married him if you knew he who would always be on business trips and working 50+ hours a week? and the answer is no. That is the role I wanted to have, so I am embracing it. He recently quit his well-paid job as an engineer and is focusing two years long on getting his pilot license. That is one of his dreams. Happier boy, means happier woman and kids… at the end our family is better-off when we embrace our real roles, the ones that we are meant to have, not the ones that society imposes on us.

  • Reply nicolenicol August 19, 2016 at 8:59 am

    We have always pooled our money over the years and have both earned different amounts. We hope that I will become the primary breadwinner very soon and hubby would love to stay home more..even though I work from home. We consider ourselves a team. But I do have to occasionally remind hubby that if the surf is good on my ‘workday’ he has to wait till I’m finished work ..lol and that I CANNOT work and mind kids. But in terms of inequality I totally agree that the old fashioned ideas persist and since having children I can see how unfair it is to so many women. I definitely think that your essay has a point..Ive been doing a lot of work on removing money blocks lately and was recommended a book you may like The Abundance Code J. Cairns. I related to many ingrained attitudes towards money that a prevalent in society and have held me back. (ps I don’t know them or anything ..lol) I don’t think i’d care to go it alone if I couldn’t find anyone..and the issue about women being used well its a non issue really cause its the same the other way round too. I enjoy your life posts so don’t worry about being off topic. x

  • Reply Kerstin September 19, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Holly, I love that you are posting more personal stuff on here! Not sure why people would take offense at that, to me it adds more depth to who you are and also makes your blog more interesting. And I agree with you, I think it’s an appropriate topic too since you make money through your blog.

    This is an interesting discussion! I have never earned more than my partner but I WANT to! Because my husband has worked so hard for much of his life and then he lost everything in his divorce and I want him to be able to slow down and not work quite so hard anymore. I think he’d be ok with it, too, we’re very much a team, and I think he’d be proud of me if I ever got to that point. By the way, he is American, I’m German and we live in the States :)

    Keep writing! xo

  • Reply jhonhussy November 14, 2016 at 6:28 am

    I do and feature continually made more than my husband. It isn’t without a doubt a big deal. maybe I simply got lucky and located a person more certain of himself. I suppose one of the matters I find is that women who earn extra also occur to be greater direct and forceful in what they want and the way to get there. it is that persona that intimidates guys more so than the cash. Society remains adjusting to women in energy positions which desires to be more progressive but I think it’s far less approximately the cash and extra approximately the stereotype of ladies and their roles in society.

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