It’s great when couples operate as a team, truly being “all in” together. This includes handling income, regardless of who actually earns it.
Now, there are plenty of people who don’t really care – or at least don’t think it should matter who makes more money. After all, should stereotypes about gender roles and money guide our attitudes and decision-making? We are evolved people to some degree in this day and age, and have the capacity to use reason and logic.
Of course, there are people who simply have strong emotional feelings about certain things, one way or another. This does include who makes more, and who is the breadwinner. I think many of these hangups are silly, and based on illogical thoughts. In some cases, a woman might quiety (or not quietly ) resent making more than her husband, feeling that as a woman she shouldn’t be leaned on to provide. At the same time, a man might quietly (or not) resent that his wife makes more than he d oes – feeling like she’s callously taking away his masculinity and taking away a big part of his importance.
The latter example, the insecure husband, is one that comes to mind as I share a story about a couple we knew. Haven’t seen them in a few years, and fell out of touch. But I knew them in college before they were married, so in retrospect I could have seen their actions coming.
Anyway, he was always a highly competitive sort of guy, a persuasive sort. The type of person who could sell blocks of ice in Alaska, convincing someone who was freezing that they needed to be colder. And, doing so with some sort of competitive goal in mind – to win.
She was a more humble sort of person, coming from a modest family background yet being very academically oriented. Certainly more reserved than him, and very book smart versus his street smart nature. While he stopped his education after earning his undergraduate degree, she went on to earn a doctorate. He worked in a sales capacity, she was in the health care field.
So, it was clear that she was more successful in her career early on. She had some truly impressive accomplishments, and people seemed to respect and admire how she got to where she did. You know, the type of person who you can’t help but root for. Therefore, occasionally a little bit of conversation would touch on what she had been doing lately. I always sensed that her husband felt uncomfortable with those conversations. After all, they were about his wife’s success, and nothing was being said about him.
One day while out at dinner with the group, there was again talk about something she had accomplished. Some kind of award, if I recall. Anyway, she nicely discussed it, then politely brought up a big accomplishement her husband just had. Some kind of big sale he closed, or something of that sort.
Someone in the group made some kind of ill-timed joke about how he’s trying to be a super-achiever like his wife. He didn’t like it, and blurted out this comment: “if I want to, I can make her income superflous“.
There was an awkward silence, a few stunned smiles, and a not-so-happy expression on his wife’s face. Thankfully, someone changed the subject.
I know that the other person was trying to push his buttons, but I really wondered why this bothered the guy so much. First of all, if he cares about her, shouldn’t he be happy for her success? Second, if she makes more money, how in the world should that he a negative reflection on him? After all, whatever she makes is just as much his money as it is hers. Just as wives who have breadwinner husbands have equal right to that income, so do husbands who have breadwinner wives. In the end, if people have joint finances, it’s all shared anyway. Each person wins, since they’re a team!
It’s fascinating to me how people can find ways to view such things so differently.
My Questions for You
Do you think it’s understandable that the guy was bothered so much, or was he being silly?
Should people care about who makes more, or is it truly irrelevant?
What would you think if you saw a scene like this?