When She Makes More Than He…

Heart in the cold snowA recent NY Times article has created a lot of buzz. Young women, working in major cities, are surging way ahead of men in terms of earnings. This is a great news for a gender that’s long been on the short end of the income stick.

Still, this trend is bound to play havoc in some relationships. For centuries, men’s self esteem has been heavily linked to their financial success…just as women’s sense of femininity has been connected to being taken care of. Sure times have changed radically…but some egos are having trouble making the transition.

And it’s not just men who are having a hard time…women are too. I’ve talked with a lot of women, ambitious as they are, who secretly resent their husband’s inability to bring in the big bucks.

Jean Chatsky wrote a terrific article on keeping your relationship intact when your man earns less. She offers 5 tips:

  1. Talk and listen
  2. Be his biggest cheerleader
  3. Open yours, mine, and ours accounts
  4. Focus on the endgame (i.e. your dreams and goals)
  5. Recognize that marriage changes things

Excellent advice. Of the 5, I believe #1 is the critical piece. Especially the listening part. We all know it’s important to communicate. But fearful people can be vicious. Not because they’re mean-spirited, but because they’re scared. Make no mistake—role reversal can be scary because it threatens the status quo.

Successful communication means allowing anger, even rage, to be expressed…without taking it personally. It requires the willingness to tell your truth, blow off steam, express your fear and anger without the other person getting defensive, but listening with compassion and nonjudgement. Not easy, by any means.

I’d love to hear from those of you who have had these kind of discussions…what’s worked and what hasn’t??

Filed under: News & Updates

Comments & Feedback

  • Hi Barbara,

    I just came to check out your blog after the comment you left on http://www.dinksfinance.com

    Great blog and great posting subject! We DINKs have certainly faced this as an issue, but all and all it hasn’t been so hard to deal with. As readers of our blog would know, James is currently in his third year of grad school working towards his Ph.D. While I’ve been the bread winner for the last three years, we recently upped the ante with my recent assignment to a job in Afghanistan.

    Now I’m making a significant amount more than I was and giving money to James for living expenses rather than just paying for household items. As you can imagine, it feels a bit different to be on an allowance of sorts rather than just having things taken care of.

    We’ve treaded lightly around this and James has actually been far more supportive then most men in his situation.

    In the long run we figure that it is a give and take. James made more initially and took care of a larger percentage of household items, now I take on more financial responsibility. Later we never know.

    In terms of feeling resentful, I think that might be the case if there wasn’t the potential or drive. In our case James is working hard towards his Ph.D. and I have all confidence that he will regain his earning potential after he is back in the job market.

    One last note that I find of interest, many of my girlfriends joke that they would love to find a sugar mama like myself. I find it interesting, as they would likely have as hard of a time being supported by a man as James does relying on me. Just food for thought.

    Again, great post!


  • Tam

    This has always been the case in my marriage, that I earn significantly more than my husband. The time of biggest strife was when he decided he needed to go back to school, but realized he couldn’t fund this himself. He didn’t want to ask for “help”, but schooling is necessary for him to contribute in a significant way to our family’s financial picture.

    It took a lot of cheerleading on my part to make this okay for him. The focus on the endgame made the decision easier for both of us, to invest some of our savings in his education, so that our financial picture can improve in the long-term.

    It does take effort on my part to be inclusive and not weild all the power simply because I contribute more to the family coffers. Our marriage is still a partnership, regardless of incomes.

  • barbarastanny

    I love the responses generated by this post. Thanks to all for your comments…I really enjoyed reading them.

  • This is a big consideration for women starting relationships later in life. My husband and I ran into this same issue. Earning wise, he had peaked, I was just hitting my stride. It made more sense for him to stay home with our son and take care of the farm and let me bring home the bacon. It really takes a confident guy to handle that kind of role reversal. Thankfully I have one! 🙂

    Love the blog. I’m sending it to all my girls!

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Meet Barbara Huson

When a devastating financial crisis rocked her world, Barbara Huson knew she had to get smart about money… and she did. Now, she wants to empower every women to take charge of their money and take charge of their lives! She’s doing just that with her best-selling books, life changing retreats and private financial coaching.

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