Relationship advice: What to do when you make more money than your husband
Will earning more than my husband really affect my marriage?
Highly driven women have become high earners in the workforce, with reports revealing that 40% of women in the U.S. are taking the lead as primary breadwinners in their households. Sometimes even out-earning their husbands. That’s a fantastic step for womankind, but what about for your marriage? The question almost seems like silly, yet statistics reveal you may have reason to believe that out-earning your spouse could lead to problems in your marriage.
One study done by the Harvard Business Review reveals that when women earn more than their husbands, the man’s attitude regarding social issues such as government aid becomes more partisan. Especially if he feels his masculinity is being threatened.
Relationship advice: Should couples talk about money?
Talking about finances is tricky on a good day. And when you’re making more than your partner, things can get especially complicated. Is there a way for couples to avoid talking about how much money they make? The answer is yes and no.
At the start of a new relationship, there is no reason to talk about how much — or how little — you make. But, as your relationship progresses, talking about finances and budgeting becomes inevitable. If you’re getting married to your sweetheart, it is deeply important for you to discuss your finances.
Important conversations to have are:
- Past debts from car/school loans
- Who will pay for what bills
- What your pooled finances amount to
- How your money will be dealt with (shared or separate bank accounts)
- Any investments you have your money tied up in
- What your financial values are (how much do you spend versus save)
These conversations will clear up any questions you had about your partner’s debts, and help you understand how they value money.
When you are moving in together, getting married or getting a loan together, discussing your finances is the responsible thing to do.
Relationship advice: What should I do if I make more than my partner?
If you suspect your pay is causing your partner distress, how do you broach the subject without humiliating them? Acknowledging the awkwardness of the conversation with a little humour can put you both at ease.
Depending on your level of comfort, you may choose to talk openly or in a more professional manner. And remember that the way you broach the subject of money is important. For example:
Instead of saying: “You don’t make enough money to be spending as much as you do.”
Try saying: “It would be great for us to come up with a budget together. Perhaps we should both contribute to an account that is strictly for bills and another one specifically for date nights and personal spending?”
How can I make my partner feel secure when I earn more?
In a perfect world, a husband would be proud of his wife for earning the big bucks. In the real world, we’re not quite there yet.
Ask any female breadwinner and many will tell you there is a certain level of discomfort that comes with earning more than your spouse. You may be proud of your ability to provide for your family, but you worry that you are hurting your spouse or making them feel unimportant in the family/caretaker dynamic.
Relationship advice: Here are 8 ways to make your husband feel secure in your marriage
1. Let him plan dates. Just because you earn more doesn’t mean you should take away his ability to treat you.
2. Ask for his help. It may sound ridiculous, but men like to know that they are needed. Even asking for his help with simple matters like tightening a door knob can do wonders for his self-esteem.
3. Assign him bills/let him pay. Your husband does not want to feel like he is getting a free ride. Remind him he is an important contributor to your finances by letting him pay for dinners and splitting your household bills.
4. Encourage passion projects. If you earn enough that your husband does not have to work or only works part-time, encourage him to pursue hobbies and passions. Your support is important to him.
5. Show him affection. Whether you are the primary breadwinner or not, husbands need affection from their wives. Be physically intimate regularly to build trust and promote an emotional bond. Strengthening these areas will ensure the rest of your marriage runs smoothly.
6. Support his work. Just because you earn more than your husband doesn’t mean his work isn’t important. Make sure you are never belittling the stress he has or the hard work he puts into his career.
7. Create a shared account. Some couples find it beneficial to create a shared bank account specifically for travel and other fun financial pursuits. This way, both partners feel like they are contributing.
8. Make decisions together. You are not above one another. You are partners, so treat each other that way. Make decisions both financially and regarding family together as a team.
Relationship advice: What happens when my position hurts my marriage?
If you have grown to resent your partner for not working as hard as you are or they have come to take advantage of or resent your role as breadwinner, it’s time to take action.
A relationship cannot survive resentment. When you sense a relationship is beyond repair as a result of your success overshadowing your spouse, you must make a hard decision.
Some couples may choose to implement new rules about money, such as: don’t ask, don’t tell. Both of you cover your share of the bills and only discuss finances when you absolutely have to.
Other couples may choose to go through marriage counselling to figure out a better way to communicate with one another. This may also help identify underlying problems that are contributing to your marital discord.
Separation is another option for couples who can’t seem to put money behind them. A legal separation is a good way to see whether or not you truly want to divorce from your partner.
Relationship advice: Is it my responsibility to protect his feelings?
How much responsibility should women feel for the way their partner reacts to their success? The answer is this: it takes two to tango. If your marriage is an unhappy one, it’s not solely on you. Both partners need to compromise and show love in order to make a marriage work.
Women should not beat themselves up for being successful. They should celebrate it and have partners who are proud of their accomplishments. If your spouse cannot handle you making more money than him, that’s his problem.
As his partner, you should have empathy and compassion for his potential feelings of inadequacy and do what it takes to reassure him of your love and admiration. But, you should not apologize for your success.
Female breadwinners are becoming the norm. For those who have a supportive partner who celebrates your success – enjoy it! For everyone else: work hard on the communication in your marriage, have empathy for your spouse’s position, and never make them feel less-than. Maintaining this healthy attitude will do wonders for your marriage.