The gender pay gap unfortunately persists in 2018, and women are still fighting as much as ever for equality. But with movements likes #MeToo dominating headlines in recent months, it's clear that traditional gender roles are no longer being accepted as the norm. And if a girlfriend or wife makes more than her partner, does it really matter? Apparently it does for some. But not for me.
When I was a young girl, I dreamed of meeting “the One.” You know, the guy who would sweep me off my feet, shower me with all the comforts, complete me . . . We’d live happily ever after.
As I grew older, I rejected that fairytale version of life. You know, the one in which the man has to make more than the woman in order for them to be happy.
I saw my mother work hard and fully support my dad when he was unemployed. She became my idol, an example for me to live by. I was determined to be self-sufficient — to be able to take care of myself, both financially and emotionally. I never wanted to rely on anyone else.
Relationship Logistics When a Wife Makes More Than Her Husband
When I met my partner at age 23, it didn’t matter to me that I was making more than him. I was working in the nonprofit sector and he was finishing up his schooling.
For a long time, we focused on splitting our living expenses 50-50. It’s what felt right. It’s what felt fair. At the same time, I brought home a bigger cut of the bacon than he did.
When we evolved from “dating” to “partners,” we had to re-evaluate our relationship.
If I earn significantly more, does it make sense to split our expenses equally? It didn’t seem fair to us. We discussed it and decided that I would pick up a larger share of the rent and entertainment. It’s worked well for us since then.
Emotions Surrounding a Wife Making More Money
My partner has no problem with me making more. In the past, maybe he did feel a little insecure. But it’s not because of anything I've said or done, but rather because of his own preconceived ideas about a man’s role.
It’s also important to talk about money openly and make sure that both parties are happy with the situation.
Money is often blamed for breakups. But I would caution you: Don’t just get stuck on that excuse.
Whenever your relationship gets strained over finances, ask yourself, “Is this really about money, or is it something else?”
There was a time when I felt stressed that he wasn’t making much and that I was taking on too many of the household responsibilities. But it wasn’t about the money. The issue was that I wanted help and support. As soon as we realized this, he stepped up in a big way with help around the house. Quite frankly, he’s also a far better cook than I am!
Over the past seven years, I have consistently made more than him. We’ve worked things out so that we feel there is a fair division of labor and finances. We know how we want to support each other financially and share in the household chores. We have similar visions and goals for the future. Money is simply a means to help us get there.
What to Do When You Fight About Money
Money can be a loaded topic for couples. Tension often comes with a difference in income, whether the husband or the wife makes more. But there are ways to defuse it.
According to Judie Stein, Ph.D., director of the Stein Family and Mediation Center and licensed clinical social worker, there are coping methods for couples who find it difficult to talk to each other about money.
The key is honest communication. Avoiding the topic of money isn't sustainable, but if there is a risk of argument, couples often do. Thankfully there are ways to discuss money without the situation becoming heated. Stein has been helping individuals and couples for 15 years.
“The best way to deal with money arguments is to be honest, but fair,” she says. “Use first-person statements instead of sounding accusatory. Rather than saying, ‘You always avoid talking about money,’ it’s better to start with, ‘I feel like you shut me out when I want to talk about money.’”
Being honest can result in a more productive conversation and allow couples to hash out any underlying problems.
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