Sunday, September 30, 2007

Becoming the Bread Winner

Madame X and Meg posted great commentary about the affect of disparate salaries in dating relationships article in the NY Times here and here. This caused me to think about the earning history of my husband and me.

In my relationship with my husband, we have flip flopped several times in who was the bread winner. When we first began dating, we were both students. I was impressed by his economic resources with his part-time research job and his upcoming (& lucrative) summer internship. Soon thereafter I graduated and began working in my first "real" job. That allowed me to be the breadwinner for about 3 years. In that time we got married. My husband then became the breadwinner again once he began working full-time.

Due to our career paths, we had a feeling that I would surpass my husband's income. He works for a non-profit. I work in a fairly lucrative industry. He gets really good benefits. I get sub-par benefits. Recently with my raise, I surpassed my husband's income.

Before this happened, I thought about how it would change the dynamics of our relationship. My husband is similar to the author of this post. He would rather spend the extra money to get more of his time while I am always looking for ways to save money. I wondered if my husband would be more willing to listen to my money saving schemes. I wondered if he would feel uncomfortable or threatened. Money is a form of power and I wondered if it would have an effect on how we relate to each other.

Well, aside from some light hearted teasing, the income change has not affected our relationship. My husband is not likely to spend of any more of his time machinating with me on how to increase our net worth through savings. Nor does he seem to feel insecure about my earnings. However, now when he tells me not to waste money on things like doing surveys or cutting coupons, I can tell him that I am focusing on both the offense and defense part of our net worth strategy


MEG said...

I think as long as both members of the couple are earning income, the effects of any disparity are minimal (assuming both people have relatively stable self-esteem and open communication). If your husband wasn't working, though, he might be more inclined to feel insecure. And if you weren't working, you might be more likely to feel powerless.

But in any event, good for you two for having such a great relationship! I hope if/when my BF and I reach that stage that we'll have a seamless transition when we merge our finances

Shadox said...

In a loving relationship there really is no reason for one partner to feel bad about the other partner making more money. It's a team effort. What one is making both enjoy.

My wife and I both had periods when we were making the majority of money. We flipped and we flopped, but money never became a source of tension between us. If there's more money, who cares who got the actual check.

Marriage is a partnership, no?

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