What happens when women earn more than men?

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I’ve written about gender and money before. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman — for a lot of people, this is one of the greatest taboos you can possibly talk about (even more than people anonymously sharing their salaries).

Yes, men and women react to money differently. Yes, they have different scripts. And yes, I think it’s important to talk about it, instead of pretending money is the same for everybody.

Today, I want to talk about what happens when women earn more than men.

My friend Farnoosh Torabi, who has a new book out — When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women — wrote an interesting piece on women who earn more:

“The fact is, particularly for young ambitious females, the chances of finding an “equal” mate in terms of pay and education is statistically challenging. And even if you do land a first date with this guy, there may not be a second, for certain psychological reasons…”

Also, did you know that most young women now out-earn young men?

“According to a 2012 study by Reach Advisors, the median income of single women between the ages of 22 and 30 is now greater than the income of single men in that same age group in most cities throughout the country.”

I find this fascinating. What happens to social norms when women start earning more than men?

Behind closed doors, in the kinds of conversations my high-earning female friends would never let me share publicly, some of them tell me how challenging it is to find a partner because of their income.

If you’re a 28-year-old woman and your male partner suddenly found out you made 2x as much as he does, how would he react?

What if you’re a guy, and your partner finds out you make 2x what they do?

Is the situation any different if you’re a man or a woman?

I want to hear your stories. If you earn more than your partner, does it affect your relationship? How does gender play a role in your finances?

Share your stories in the comments below.

P.S. I once asked a question about gender and money on Twitter, where all responses are public. 95% of the responses were politically correct answers that made you nod your head. But then I looked in my inbox, which was flooded with private emails from people who were saying the exact opposite thing — only they wouldn’t admit it on Twitter. I want us to have an honest discussion, so if you want to answer anonymously in the comments below, feel free.

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327 Comments

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  1. I earn more than my husband and it is not an issue. We combine money anyway so it is just more for the kitty. He is also aware that the industry I am in pays better than his does. If he had a problem with it, we wouldn’t be married.

    • Same here for us.
      Reading the second comment, we fall into category 2 of having married young and been together forever.

    • Another Stacey Link to this comment

      Same for me. I’ve been with my husband since college and it all gets pooled into the same account. A few years ago I jumped to a higher pay band and he was thrilled!

    • My wife and I are in the same position. While I’m unsatisfied at my own income, my wife’s in the perfect spot in an industry with a higher earning potential than mine.

      She makes big money but she doesn’t get benefits or sick time. Meanwhile, I work in IT for local government so my pay isn’t great but I get great benefits and 6 weeks a year off. If one of us is going to take time off for family, it’ll be me.

      And I’m okay with that. For the $55K in student loans she took out, she better make more than me. ;)

    • Same boat. I was the breadwinner until a few years ago when she switched from non-profit to for-profit. It’s been a rocket-ride for her ever since. I’m still in non-profit, and sometimes I wonder if I, too, should look to make a transition.

      Regarding our shared finances, when it comes to fun money, she earns more, so if she wants more, she gets more. We communicate on our financial goals and often are exactly on the same page, so we just execute on that plan. When we differ, we talk/discuss/argue, but almost always on the merit of an idea. She doesn’t automatically win because she makes more.

      But pragmatically, if it’s about inessential discretionary spending, her whims are satisfied first.

    • I fall into this category too. My wife and I are teammates pooling finances strategically towards the household expenses, side businesses, and investments. I previously earned much more than my wife, then I lost that job, and she gained one and now she earns much more than me, which gave me the opportunity to start a side business. Neither one of us compete with each other.

      Perhaps with married folks it is much different than with single individuals. Once you are married it is a team game, and these differences don’t mean that much, but for the singles scene, I’m sure that it could be intimidating for many men, especially if the same high income earning female would expect the male to pay for everything, or expensive things. That does not seem fair.

      Objectively however, the pay difference should not really be a consideration unless it is so great between the female and male that the lifestyles are wholly incompatible, but that applies in reverse as well.

  2. I am a female earning over $100k per year. I’m also single. Guys do get intimidated when they learn I make more than them. I honestly don’t care if a guy makes less than me, as long as he is hardworking and isn’t a lazy bum. But it seems to be a real barrier for a lot of men.

    I find that my high earning female friends tend to fall into three categories:
    1. Perpetually single, like me
    2. Married young and have been with their partners for years
    3. Met their significant others in graduate school (B-school, Med school), where it is expected that both partners will be high earners

    It’s frustrating…I feel like I’ll never meet Mr. Right. I’m just looking for a nice, loyal, fun guy who won’t be intimidated by my high salary and career ambitions. I do expect my potential mate to have a job, have goals, and have good financial habits, but the size of his paycheck really doesn’t matter to me.

    • I am in the same boat and agree with your comments. I find that most men that I have interests in common with may not make as much as me but they are also not flipping burgers at the local fast rood restaurant.

    • The social dynamics of this topic is very interesting.

      I’m not sure “intimidation” is the right word. I earn over 100k a year and have been doing so for several years. The girl I’m interested in now I would say is at her dream job (as Ramit would say) and most likely earning 200k minimum (300k+ average) per year.

      I’m not intimidated by her pay at all. The more she makes, the better since she’s a friend of mine (okay maybe a little bit of envy comes into play too but the “it makes me happy that she’s happy” outweighs the envy). What I am struggling with, and this is strictly something internal with me, is… will she think that I’m hardworking and isn’t a lazy bum because of the position she’s in compared to the position I’m in? Additionally, I’m also thinking… why isn’t she with another guy that is as successful as she is?

      As for your case, I know plenty of guys in my field making 100k+. I also get the feeling you probably know guys in your field that make as much as you do. So the question is… why aren’t you dating those guys?

    • Well first of all, in my opinion ,any man that says he doesn’t care if his wife or significant other makes more than him is full of crap. It is definitely an EGO thing, we are raised to believe we are the head of the household, the bred winner, the provider, the”MAN” of the house, so if your truly a man like I am, and think like I think, it should bother you!

    • In my experience, relationships with female breadwinners are not as successful as the more “traditional” relationship.

      Women want to admire and look up to their partner while men want to protect their more vulnerable partner. That’s been embedded in our genes (it’s science, not society) since Adam and Eve. Human sexual nature will not be denied.

      Also, many of us learned a *long* time ago to watch how women act and not necessarily what they say. Do you know how many women say, “I want a nice guy” and then date asshole after asshole. (See: aloof, not malicious).

      This case study might be worth a read: Why Girls Never Want Nice Guys — And Why It’s Too Late When They Do

      This quote stood out:

      She may believe she wants a nice guy, but in reality, she doesn’t want a nice guy. In her eyes, nice is weak – it’s boring. She wants excitement. She wants mystery, surprise, drama. She wants a bad boy.

    • High Earning Dude Link to this comment

      Does your income come up a lot in conversation with new guys?

      This year I have tripled my income in a new field due to some unexpected changes and opportunities and I find my opinions changing on females that earn well.

      In the past I may have had the “macho” feeling about income to either wanting or needing to be the breadwinner without actually ever thinking about it consciously.

      Now as I am finding myself around more well educated and financially literate women I am finding it very attractive.

      Maybe it is separating the “I want to take care of you” vibe from the income situation, but I find my priorities beginning to shift to a woman with high ambitions and the habits to go with that.

    • What if the guy earned 20k a year?

    • While it wouldn’t bother me in theory, I would worry about lifestyle incompatibility. That is, at a higher income level, a woman would be able to afford fancier restaurants, different types of entertainment, more expensive gifts, etc. I’d be afraid of not meeting up to her expectations by wanting to live within means. You don’t want to be the guy taking her to Applebees when she wanted the best steak in the city.

      To the women have said they don’t mind what a guy makes, would love to hear an opinion on my comment above.

  3. HA! My husband would love it if I made more than him! As it is his earning potential is much higher than mine (I’m a teacher, he’s a software developer), so I’m currently a SAHM. He would love for the roles to be reversed!

    • Income is Income Link to this comment

      Absolutely! My wife’s a teacher and, if I’m being honest, I think her job’s 10x more valuable than mine – even though I work in engineering and make 2-3x what she does. I could care less who makes more…. any bump in household income is a serious positive in my mind.

  4. I currently make more than my husband, but he’s also in school and not working full time. He also hasn’t have debt while I have student loans. He has more ‘wealth’ than I do. After he graduates, he’ll be open to better paying jobs. He has no issue with the situation. As long as we can pay bills and have a few extras, there are no issues.

  5. My (live-in) BF makes quite a bit more than me. But he’s several years older and has an engineering PhD, I’m just out of grad school (MS).

    We’re both very liberal politically, so every once and a while it makes me feel sorta “anti-feminist,” which is silly! (Especially when I was still in school…he would pay for almost everything and it would make me feel guilty sometimes.) It doesn’t bother me or him (the difference isn’t because of our gender, just our chosen fields), and it hasn’t caused any problems in our relationship. We split bills/rent by percentage, which we both think is fair.

  6. I don’t tell my partner how much I make as I have 2 jobs and one of them is a contractor position so it depends on how business is. Regardless, I give a figure that accounts for my spending and bill paying plus a little bit for saving so that what I make won’t be an issue.

    We share certain expenses, we have enough money to travel and enjoy ourselves and anything beyond that is separate play money to do what we want with.

  7. I think it depends on the lifestyle that each partner desires. If she makes 2,3,4 times what I do, then great, its something for both of us to be proud of. The number itself would not cause any problem for me, but if my partner were to desire a lifestyle that cost significantly more than what I wanted, then this could cause an issue. Even if we made the same amount, there is a certain point to where I would not be willing to pay for a lifestyle that is in my eyes, excessive considering what I make. But if she wanted a higher lifestyle and was willing to pay more for it, then great, just dont say I dont pay for anything simply because you want more than I do. Dont get me wrong I am always wanting to make more and improve my lifestyle, but at each level of income there would always be an amount that I considered to be more than enough spending for me, and anything far past that amount my partner could choose whether or not that higher lifestyle was worth paying for with their own money.

  8. Your friend needs to be very careful in quoting the Reach study, since the finding she’s citing doesn’t control for education level. It makes her look at best ignorant and at worst intellectually dishonest. As a high-earning woman, I’d be very interested in her book, but not if that’s the quality of work she put into it.

    As for me and money: I started dating my partner when we were both broke. The only time it’s been an issue that one of us made more than the other was when one of us was unemployed. I currently make about 20% more than he does. I think part of what makes it okay is that I handle all the finances (thanks, Ramit) so money is my job. When I was the lower-earning partner but still handling the money, it was a little uncomfortable sometimes.

  9. I think it depends a great deal on the professions in question. If I signed up to be a firefighter or a social worker, I can’t get mad when someone working in pharmaceuticals makes twice as much, no matter if they’re male or female. But if I found out that my partner was making more than me for a similar job, or worse, a lesser job, I’d be little pissed. But hopefully that would motivate me rather than just leave me bitter. Single guy problems, I suppose.

  10. I imagine this is exactly what you’d expect to hear — as a high earning female (150+), I have always unconsciously assumed that I would have to marry someone in my field or another similarly high paying field (medicine, business, engineering, law etc) in order to respect my husband as my peer. It sounds astoundingly offensive when you write it out. Is someone who makes less money inherently less intelligent or not my peer? Of course not. And yet, the drive to find a male partner whose intelligence and abilities outrank my own is powerful.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more.

      In my late 20′s making $250k+ a year — its very difficult to meet someone who outranks me.

      And, while I don’t THINK that I need that… I can tell you that my sexual attraction is almost always aimed at people who outrank me, by the measures that I value (intelligence, ambition & power, physical strength)

      And yet, in my experience, those men tend to want someone who balances them (non-ambitious, very supportive, second fiddle-types) — not someone who shares their power and ambitions, or who has the potential to “outrank” them someday…

    • I’m not trying to be snarky, but would you guys mind unpacking this for me a bit? I commented downthread, but TLDR: I outearn my smart, educated, ambitious extremely good-looking and physically fit husband by a factor of way and always have. What is this “outranking” thing about? Intelligence? Physical strength? Money? Power? (What does “power” even mean?) If you had to decide on a date between a Navy SEAL or a hedge fund guy, which would you pick?

    • Lizzie -

      To answer your question for both Emily and Sarah, it depends on the specific NAVY Seal vs. the hedge fund guy.

      Which one is taller?

      Which one asserts himself more?

      Which one apologizes more?

      Which one has more friends?

      Which one is funnier/more charismatic?

      Most men are relatively simple creatures. Is she pretty? Is she physically fit? Does she behave in a “feminine” way? Is she easy going? Does she refrain from cursing all the time like one of the guys?

      Women on the other hand… complicated. For them, attraction goes so. far. beyond. what a guy looks like. His smile. His walk. The way he carries himself. His shoes. For cripes sakes, women care about a dude’s shoes. The insanity. (Okay, so they care that *he* cares enough to wear nice/take care of his shoes, but still).

      If the hedge fund guy makes 500K, but is 5’7″, scrawny, always apologetic, tries too hard, won’t pick a place to eat or a movie to rent (“No, baby, you pick. I want to do whatever you want to do” and on and on), etc. then both would prefer the NAVY Seal.

      My hypothesis, which if I wasn’t at work, I could likely find some scientific support for is that high earning women typically want “more powerful” men (whatever that means and/or entails).

      This is why there are legitimate studies showing that men who do “female” chores have sex much less often.

      Also, from the opposite vantage point:

      1.) Based on societal standards many men are insecure if their partner earns more than them.
      2.) For others it’s not that the they dislike women who earn lots of money. It’s that many of those women have adopted what our society deems to be “masculine” traits in order to succeed in a “man’s world.” (i.e. Men do not like TO MARRY – sleeping with is a different story – high powered, confrontational, always-right, aggressive women).

      And that is why ‘traditional’ marriages where the male is the breadwinner are statistically much more successful in the long run.

      But alas, the times… they are a ‘changing.

    • This is a great thread with some very insightful comments.

    • Just Some Guy, I already know all that stuff. I’ve read the studies. That is why I was asking these two specific women to fill in the blanks, because that mindset is very alien to me; I’m not that way, none of my friends are that way. I get your points, but you yourself admit that you don’t know what is meant by the ambiguous word “power.”

      I used to have a guy reporting to me who was a tank company commander in Iraq when he was 26. That’s a billion dollars of equipment and enough firepower to destroy most of a town. It would be difficult to argue that he was not more powerful, in very meaningful ways, than a 26-year-old working at Google making $300K. (He was probably in better physical shape, too.) John Cena is probably physically stronger than the commander of the 82nd Airborne, but Jamie Dimon makes more money than both of them put together. Who among them is the alpha?

      And for the record, my husband wears Church’s shoes, and he takes immaculate care of them. And I didn’t notice until we had been married for five years.

  11. When we first got married, my husband made considerably more than I did. Since then we have both made career changes and now I make more. It was actually really tough on him to adjust though I was fine with it. He has since learned to be okay with it but I bet he still won’t admit to others that I make more. If I had made more when we first met there is a chance we never would have married since it made him feel inadequate at first. Thank god he got over it!

  12. I earn 3 x my husband but we have combined finances so it just one pool of money really. Sometime he gets upset because I work long hours and he would like to earn more to take the pressure off me but we understanding that each other’s respective lines of work have very different pay grades (me corporate/him mechanic) and that’s just the way it is. We are both more concerned about each other being in a job we love and are happy in than the money it earns.

    • I am in a similar situation. I have a graduate degree while mi husband has a blue collar job…we met when we were both broke but this could be predicted. The situation is not a problem in OUR relationship. However, I find it tough to deal with my parents disappointment about it…as years go by and I try to no let it bother me as much but all I want them to see is that I am happy but all they think is “I could have done much better.” This hurts me so much because My husband has been a huge supporter of my career, he has given me the confidence I needed in the difficult moments, move with me from state to state so I could follow my dreams, he has complement me where I fall short…and I could just keep going. If the situation was backwards there would be no issue.

      So in one sentence. I am more than fine, but my family is not :( and I so wish it wasn’t that way

  13. I’m 29, live in Manhattan, make a 6 figure salary.

    It wasn’t an issue when dating my husband and he had a steady job that he loved that earned him significantly less than mine.

    When we moved in together and got married, I was happy to take care of us financially. I ended up paying for mostly everything – rent, bills, groceries, etc. He decided to quit his job and go freelance, I was fully supportive in him making a career change and chasing something he loved. With not much luck, he was then completely unemployed. Coming home after a 15 hour work day to find out that he had been napping for most of it and making half-hearted attempts to find a job made me very resentful. He had no motivation, no ambition, and no need to be. Suffice to say, we got divorced.

    I’d like to say that this wasn’t because he EARNED less but that he CARED much less to be financially responsible or career-oriented. It was a wage gap that manifested into a gap in effort and appreciation.

    This is NYC, a lot of guys I meet now in their 20s and early 30s are still working in bars or making 60K at a media conglomerate. I don’t share what I make with guys that I am dating. What matters is if they share my level of commitment and passion for my career in theirs.

    Although, I will say that I have been happiest with a man who makes the same if not slightly more than I do. Not for the ease of gender roles but for being understanding of complicated work or travel schedules, how not to take advantage of each other (he had his fair share of free-loaders), and being able to enjoy and give each other dates/experiences/gifts without feeling guilty for spending the money nor stressed about having to afford it.

    All of my other girlfriends with MBAs or make as much as I do are SINGLE. I find that a lot of them are starting to downplay their achievements when online dating, not letting a guy over to their self-bought condo, etc. because they feel the men they are attracted to still have deep-seated traditional values where the man has to be the breadwinner.

    • I think this is super interesting. I am in a similar situation. When I first met my boyfriend, I was 22 and he was 24. He was making more than me, but he was working in construction and I was working at a coffee shop. I had just graduated with a BA and was trying to find a more sustainable career. Construction isn’t really a reliable industry, and so he was laid off of his job. He has been out of work for about two years now, and I took a job at a winery and moved up to the highest position I could. I now make about $30K and am looking for a similar position at another winery which could possibly pay up to $60K/yr, plus am working on starting an online business (I am in Zero to Launch). My boyfriend is working side construction jobs (freelancing, in a way) but barely makes enough to pay his share of the bills. We have been together four years now and I am struggling with his lack of motivation. I have talked to him about my reluctance to marry someone who seems to be so unmotivated (harsh, I know). I don’t see how it can work between us as I am working consistently on my career and improving my salary, but the more I make, the more bills he wants me to take on. Maybe I am his sugar mama, haha.

      I think he likes that I make more than him as it enables him to be more lazy and free with his time. It drives me absolutely crazy and I have become extremely resentful. I get especially angry when I get home from a long day of work and he has been at happy hour for the past three hours but can’t seem to pay our cable bill.

      I would be happier with someone who has similar ambitions to me and is constantly trying to improve. It doesn’t matter as much with income but I do think it would be helpful to live the same kind of lifestyle (ex. I like to travel, so I save money on other things like clothes, going out, groceries, etc. My current boyfriend loves to go out, which I feel like is a complete waste of money). Although things aren’t working out with current bf, I think this has been a fabulous lesson for me.

    • Very interesting. I know a lot of NYC women in exactly the same situation.

      Also, it’s interesting to hear you distinguish earnings from ambition. I wonder how true that is for others.

    • i think you both have nailed talking about ambition vs earnings. I’ve always said he doesn’t have to be king of the world, but he has to want to be. I’m finding many of the comments still very PC (my husband is perfectly happy, we just share, blah blah) and i’m a bit skeptical.
      My sub-question would be – do you have one joint account or do you have mine/his/ours?

    • This is 100% the same situation as me. Husband and I got together in our early 20s when we were both broke. Now we are in our late 20s, both self-employed, but my career & earnings have sky-rocketed, while he has plateaued.

      I now out-earn my husband by about $60k/year. I find that I often resent him (silently) for not working as hard as he could. I see so much potential in him, but he doesn’t put in the effort to grow his career. He is perfectly comfortable making 50k/yr and having a flexible schedule, while I work insane hours to afford the luxuries and lifestyle I aspire to. We used to share finances, but now we don’t, because it didn’t feel “fair” to me after a few years of me contributing so much more. It started to feel like I was being taken advantage of (despite no real proof of that being the case). Now we split everything down the middle and use a joint bank account for joint expenses. I will occasionally “lend” him money or cover bigger expenses (like plane tickets when we travel together), but it always feels icky. If he wants to have x nice thing, I feel like he should have to work for it! If I want something, I have to put in extra hours or pick up an extra client in order to have that.

      Sometimes I just want to feel “taken care of” and I worry that I never will get to know what that is like. I want to work because I want to, not because I HAVE to for the rest of my life. Sorry if that sounds selfish, but I guess I just realized after a few years that I don’t like being the provider. It’s too much pressure. What would we do if we wanted to have kids? We couldn’t afford for me to take time off of work. I wish the roles were reversed. I would almost rather go back to when we were both broke – at least things felt even and like we were “in it together”! I don’t feel like he can even relate to my level of motivation career-wise. I wonder if this is because his confidence has been hurt somewhat by my success? And his lack of confidence has made him hit a wall?

      (As an aside, I do think my resentment also partially stems from the fact that my husband’s work more closely aligns to his purpose and passions in life, while I am a consultant, because I am good at it and it pays well, but it is NOT my dream work. Just a thought.)

    • My situation is similar with my husband. When we met, we were on equal footing financially so we could each “treat” the other on occasion, but as I’ve improved myself and my financial standing, I now make twice what he does in a normal year, and now that he’s been having medical issues, I basically make all the money. When the hubs sits at home all day, playing with Lego or watching TV or napping or drinking, sometimes that’s all I see – that he doesn’t really care to do anything else. Sometimes I just wish I could get into his head. From out here, it looks like he’s overwhelmed with the prospect of having to earn more than me, so he does nothing instead.

      What’s more fascinating to me is the cohabiting and the gender issues that come up there. If I have a 10-hr a day job and I pay all the bills while he is home all day, should I also have to keep the house clean? Shouldn’t that be his “job”? When the house is dirty, which is almost always, hubs gets angry about it (not at me, just at the situation) but I feel guilty. It’s an interesting response. I KNOW in my rational mind that it shouldn’t be my responsibility to “make home” and work full time, especially if someone else is there who can and doesn’t help with keeping the house presentable. But I still feel like it’s my job, that not doing it all makes me a bad wife somehow.

      -Beth: we have a joint account that all of the fun money goes into, but all the bills are paid automatically from my account. This really helps a lot with money troubles, in no small part b/c if hubs wants to surprise me, he doesn’t have to ask my permission to buy me something. The fact that it’s my money never enters into the equation, because the money is just the tool that facilitates the gesture, and that’s the important bit.

  14. As a 26 year old male I earn $60K p/a and my wife earns more than me at $70K p/a (these are approx conversions as we live in UK). I have no problem with this at all. I don’t hide the fact that my wife earns more than me.

  15. My partner doesn’t earn as much as I do. It’s not even close. I don’t earn a huge amount but I earn enough to live the life I want. The problem is that she doesn’t earn that much at all, which is putting a strain on our finances. If she could earn more money, we would be able to comfortably save money. Currently we sometimes manage to save money but it’s really hard to when one of us isn’t earning much.

    I guess my issue is the opposite of the taboo, as I want her to make more money! I would absolutely love it if she made more money than me because that would give me a little more freedom to try and make more money myself. Currently, if I spend time trying to make more money, time will be taken away from my current income which is too much of a risk in our current situation.

  16. Wouldn’t really care to be honest.

    I’d insist she take me out to dinner more though.

  17. I’ve never told any of my partners until my current boyfriend how much I make, I’ve made both a lot less and a lot more than my partners in the past. My current boyfriend and I are both engineers and he makes a few k more than me, which is typical in Canada, but he’s said on more than one occassion he’d love if I made more money so I could be his sugar momma! All kidding aside, he’s man enough not to let money bother him, and I think sometimes it’s more about how both partners treat their discrepancies. If a woman makes more and makes a man feel like this is a shortcoming on his behalf then of course he’s going to feel demasculated. And same vice versa, I work hard and if my boyfriend made a lot more than me and made a point of indicating that my salary isn’t enough I’d be hurt too. Plus, no matter how little you make, if you’re smart with your money it can be miles more important than making a lot and pissing it away.

  18. I’ve always been on the fast track, career wise. My husband, not so much. He stays at home with the kids because it would be silly to give up so much potential family income. We knew that would be the situation from the get-go, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our challenges.
    He perpetually feels like I don’t pay close enough attention to our kids.
    I perpetually feel like he doesn’t pay close enough attention to our finances.
    Both of us are a little wrong, and a little right.
    I know he feels internal pressure to start working again, and gets discouraged when I tell him we don’t need the [read: his] money. At other times, though, he revels in the idea of being ‘retired’ at 30. It does get stressful though, when I look at the expenses and see that 90% comes out of his pocket, but out of my paycheck. Our paycheck…right, our paycheck. I often wonder if that’s what working dads experience too.

  19. My husband and I both work commission jobs, I sell commercial real estate and he sells life insurance. His checks are small and consistent while mine are big and inconsistent. I’ll probably bring home $100-$120k this year which is about double his pay. This gap in pay has never been a problem between us since it all goes into the same pot at the end of the day. However, I have noticed that he contributes more to domestic duties. As I gain more clients and my pay increases, I could easily see him taking the role as a stay at home dad.

    I’ve noticed a much bigger change in our friend circle due to pay differences. We live in a small city in the South where the median income is around $35k. We have a hard time relating to our friends since our lifestyles seem to be so different. Cheap outlet mall vs higher end shopping, nice dinner out vs Applebees, local camping trip vs Caribbean vacation, etc.

    • I don’t think it’s finances separating you from your community…

    • agree with sheena — making (a lot) more money than my friends doesn’t keep me from relating to them .. or enjoying a camping trip with them.

    • i do understand what Stephanie is saying…I make considerably more than most of my friends. At times, it is a strain because they never want to/can do things that you would like to do and you wind up doing things alone.

  20. This is interesting to me because I’m just out of grad school and looking for work. Historically, I have always made more than my husband at several timepoints even when we weren’t together. So, I personally feel inadequate at times having to be so dependent on him. On the flip side, while he’s confident that at some point I will earn more than him (and supposedly very excited for me about it), the current expectation is that I manage all things household while he earns our keep.

    I don’t know if this is progressive or pragmatic thinking that while I don’t work we have very traditional gender roles. Additionally, I’m not quite sure that going forward I can expect him to be as supportive as he indicates when his current behaviour suggests otherwise.

  21. I find this thread really interesting. I’m seeing some people say they don’t talk about money, others say they pool finances.

    I was always taught to split expenses straight down the middle with my partner, because that’s what seems fair. If I make more than my partner (and I have in the past), that’s because of the effort I put in.

    I work for myself and make significantly more than my former partner did working for a company. It did affect our relationship, but what it honestly came down to – and he’ll admit it – is that I bust my ass to be the best at what I do and he’s content to just do the bare minimum.

    As far as the future goes, as long as a guy is able to pay his own expenses and I’m not expected to foot the bill because I earn more, I don’t really care how much he makes. I don’t think money should be a major factor in relationships, other than thinking about are they able to maintain their financial share of the lifestyle at which you find yourself most comfortable? If you travel a lot and your partner can’t afford to, probably not the best match, because you either end up paying their way, leaving them behind, or not traveling at all.

    • Splitting expenses straight down the middle might work if you make roughly the same already, but if there’s a larger disparity, it’s not straightforward.

      For example, I make $45K and my wife makes $80K. If instead my wife only made $60K, that might affect what kind of condo we’d choose to live in, so in effect we have higher housing expenses *because* of her extra income. If we split costs down the middle, that means I’m shouldering a proportionately higher burden for expenses we only took on because of her extra income.

      I was taught to pool the money and pay the household expenses proportionally — if she makes 30% more than me, splitting costs 50/50 usually means I’m spending disproportionately higher than she is.

    • I see the splitting expenses down the middle thing when you’re dating and still technically an individual, I wouldn’t invest my hard earned money in a relationship that may not last. However, when my boyfriend and I marry we’ve agreed our funds will be pooled regardless of who makes what because marriage means we become a team.

    • What if the man makes 20x more. He makes 1 million+ a year. And woman makes 35k a year. Do you think that man is going to want to live in a dump?

      Or visa versa. Woman makes 1m and man makes 35k. Will that woman live in a dump?

      No.

      Splitting it doesn’t make sense when it comes to income disparity.

  22. Been Married 20+ years. When hubby and I met, I made twice what he did. We had lots of fights about money. He is more of a spender than I. He was not willing to go bare bones to pay off credit cards. after 10 years, he decided to go back to school and get his bachelor’s in Engineering. Then I took a job in higher education that payed less than my consulting positions. After a couple of years he started to surpass me in income as he has made a quick rise in the ranks and now he makes almost twice what I do. While he is now more careful about spending, especially whipping out his credit card, we can afford the splurges.

    Early on we had yours, mine and Ours – bank accounts. (Legally they are all joint). That helped a lot.

    Now, most of his paycheck goes to the “ours” account with a certain amount going to his account. He spends freely from “his” account and the Ours account pays the household bills. We are now at the point when my pay is his school loans, insurance, our children’s school tuition, music lessons, etc.. We have managed it this way for over 15 years and it works for us.

  23. When my wife and I were first dating, if I had found out she was making significantly more than I was, I think my reaction would have been to do backflips of joy. Then again, I was (and am) comfortable in my career and the compensation I /am earning.

    I think the challenge comes when a male partner is dissatisfied with his career trajectory and/or salary. The fact that his significant other earns more than him could then be seen as a constant reminder of that fact.

  24. My fiance makes 3x as much as me. I have no problems with it, I just feel guilty sometimes my money only covers bills and she is the one doing all the saving.

    28 male, toronto, ontario

  25. I saw that spot on the Today Show and made sure to watch.

    Up until this past year, I had always made more money than my husband. He loves it though, because it is all part of the package of “me” that he says is intimidating to most men. In other words, the fact that I make a good bit of money is not the only thing that men find intimidating about me.

    In our famiily, it doesn’t matter who makes more money. We talk openily about our finances, and we both own our own businesses, so we both make variable income. Some months I make more, some months he makes more. Whoever has it, pays it. Done.

  26. When I met my now husband, I was making more than twice his salary. We had a conversation about salaries about a month into dating, and he was a little surprised at how much I made but wasn’t freaked out. Since we’ve been together, I’ve taken a lower paying job, been able to primarily support us while he was in grad school and now we are making about the same.

    When we were living together before we got married, we created an elaborate spreadsheet that tracked how we each contributed to our joint expenses, which included rent, groceries, utilities, going out money, etc. We each contributed the same percent of our take-home income (after taxes and student loan payments). This felt really fair and meant that our spending habits affected both of us pretty equally. Over the long term, he might end up earning more than me, which would be ok too. Now, all of our money is “our money.” We have joint accounts that cover all of our spending and saving, though of course our work-related retirement accounts are separate.

    I think if we had the attitude that the money that we earned as individuals should first and foremost benefit us as individuals, we might have different feelings about our finances. One thing I enjoy is that because we view our money as benefiting our family, we push each other in salary negotiations, asking for raises, etc. for me, it actually feels easier to ask for more money when it’s for my family, not just for myself. (there’s a gendered issue for you, Ramit!)

    • I’m surprised how many comments here mention switching roles of who earned more. Sometimes she earned more, sometimes he earned more. It makes sense reading it, but I didn’t expect it since I haven’t encountered this in my career or among my friends yet.

  27. I am a 24 year old girl. My boyfriend is younger than me by a year, still finishing his undergrad and STILL somehow makes more than I do. And it’s always been this way (we met when I was 20 and he was 19).

    He’s always been ambitious and a self-starter, taking part in various startups, do lots of side-gigs, etc. That’s one of the reasons I was interested in him in the first place– his motivation.

    In any case, I’m happy I am with a guy that earns more than me. Looking ahead, I think this will always be the case (that he makes more). I know for some women it doesn’t matter. But I know me and my personality.

    I hate to say it, but I think I was with a guy that earned less than me I would… undervalue him.

  28. I’m a 29 year-old woman. When my fiance and I first met, I was 26 and he was 29. I was in the process of finishing up my masters, while he had just sold a startup to a fortune 500 company and was “taking some time off,” which meant going to yoga and getting massages until his next job started. I was earning $30k and living in San Francisco – it really wasn’t fun, financially. :)

    Later, he took a job in academia, and I took one in industry, and I earned more than him for a year. Then he got more funding, and we earned about the same for another year. Now, I have a steady upward trajectory for my earning potential in my line of work (current salary = $80k), while he has fairly little room for growth in his salary in his “day job” (though his salary is about $125k now, which is great). However, he is likely to continue to be involved in tech startups, and there’s a non-zero chance he would make huge money someday — although, this is of course very uncertain.

    I have always been insistent that I pay for 50% of things in other relationships, and in our relationship thus far. We got engaged a few months ago, and our perspective on money and our relationship has started to change, but I’m honestly kind of terrified that eventually my salary will only be enough to pay his taxes, and I am not sure how I will deal with that without feeling like I’ve failed as a feminist. Of course, I have another part that would love to not *have* to work. I will admit to having Googled “is it acceptable to be a SAHM if you don’t have any kids?” It’s all very confusing…

    • PS: He’s Indian (also born in the US), so your jokes about bargaining and driving four-door practical sedans always crack me up, Ramit. :)

    • “feeling I’ve failed as a feminist”

      These words make me sad. Why would earning less, however significantly, mean you failed as a feminist? I’ve always considered feminism about empowering women to make their own choices. If your choices and actions lead you to X income or to making the decision to become a SAHM for your family, then congrats! You are a success and have made your own decisions!

      Only when someone takes that choice away do I feel that they have failed as a feminist.

  29. I currently earn about 4x what my husband of 2 years earns. He is in the arts and despite his college education and hard work ethic he doesn’t make that much money. I run my own company and have an MBA. We keep our finances separate which seems to work well for us. We are both pretty good about not judging purchases that the other makes (other than the occasional roll of the eyes about a new handbag or pair of shoes- which has little to do with the money actually spent).

    The only time me earning more is an issue for us is in terms of vacations and dining out. I can get a little bitter from time to time about picking up the bill most of the time. It also stings when friends have husbands whisk them away on fabulous vacations, and I’m stuck footing the bill for two.

    I think on some level, every woman wants to be taken care of. Not all the time, and not so much that she needs to downgrade her career, but sometimes it’s nice to know that things are covered by someone who is not you. We have pretty much worked this out in our relationship, but it still causes ripples every so often.

    • That’s really interesting, Anne. I’ve been happily married for 8 years and make 3x my husband’s salary (he’s in grad school). I manage our finances, but I make sure to discuss our financial status and savings goals with him often, so we are on the same page and can plan our life together, based around our mutual goals. I’m the one who gets nerdily excited about savings goals, and he is glad I handle our money well because then he doesn’t have to worry about it.

      That being said, I would actually be upset if my husband tried to “whisk me away” on a vacation, because we view all our money as joint. If he spent hundreds of dollars behind my back to surprise me with a cruise/plane tickets without discussing it with me first, I would feel betrayed, like he was “stealing” from the plans we had made together for how we want to use and save our money.

      Interestingly, though, I think he’d be pretty pleased if I surprised him with an expensive trip or gift! He trusts the way I handle our money, so if I spent a lot on a surprise for him, he would just assume I had the financial aspect of it under control, and he wouldn’t worry or be resentful.

      Another interesting note – when we are eating out/buying something, our habit is that he pulls out his credit card to pay. It’s actually a joint credit account, so I have the exact same card in my wallet, but I think he likes to “be the man” and take charge of paying. Even though I earn 75%+ of our income and am the one who pays the bill online every month.

      If he out-earns me someday, I would be happy for the extra money, and we would probably still operate the same way, because we have a great system in place that fits our personalities, our marriage, and our goals.

    • I agree with Lisa. I make 100k more than my husband but we have a very similar setup as hers and have never fought about money issues due to earning. Also we try to spend his salary and save all of mine… That way he knows he is providing for the family while mine goes for loans, big ticket items, vacations and retirement saving.

    • My financial setup is more akin to Lisa’s here, where I manage the finances, and would be dismayed if my husband discarded my carefully built plan, just so he could “whisk me away”, but I see where Anne’s coming from, too. In my mind, the idea of him splurging and surprising me with a large vacation is far more pleasant, because it means he has planned and schemed and kept secrets, all in an attempt to pamper and delight me. It’s, again, the gesture that matters. But the reality, I think, would be awful. Even if it weren’t our joint money, which may be ear-marked for elsewhere, but his own, that he earned and saved, independent of my influence, I’d still want to be in on the decision-making process.

  30. Making more starts a domino effect into day-to-day life – and it’s much more tangible than only the psychology of how women and men feel when women make more. “Traditional” roles change – and it can work beautifully and be positive, but this shift can also bring a lot of internal conflict since this is all so new.

    For example, I’m a female management consultant and travel several nights a week. There is a lot of potential in my career for a significant salary, and it makes sense for me to work and keep moving up. Since my husband and I have two young kids, this means that he is at home with them during most weeknights, cooking their dinners and giving them baths. We have a significant shift in “traditional” gender roles. My husband and I are ok with me having the potential to make more, since it goes toward OUR family, and he is comfortable with it because we will all benefit – that is not where the conflict is.

    I have a conflict because I feel like I “should” be doing more traditional motherly responsibilities, like being at home when the kids get home, making after-school snacks, and helping them with their homework. I know this sounds so old-fashioned, but it is a thread that runs through my mind and all the other ambitious, successful female management consultants I know. We are very career-oriented and know that we are not doing anything wrong – but we feel guilty for not being a bigger part of the kids’ home life. The thing that keeps us going is having supportive husbands and/or family who are comfortable with taking care of the kids and household while we are away and do a great job at it. And though my husband is extremely supportive of my career and even encourages me to grow it further, there are times when he feels relief when I am at home in between projects and expresses that it doesn’t feel right for him to take care of the kids so much.

    I think the psychology of making more is one aspect to a much larger conversation. I heard Farnoosh speak today on the Today Show and she did an excellent job of bringing up the conversation of the impacts of women making more. Just having this conversation is a real movement toward feeling more comfort and security in the shifting roles of men and women, instead of feeling guilty.

    • I hear you, Nagina!

      My husband was a stay-at-home dad for 2 years when our children were first born for similar reasons. He was amazing at taking care of the kids, making dinner, keeping the house running…and yet there’s something very primal that happened for me when the kids ran to dad instead of mom when they were hurt or scared. It took a lot for me to get over that.

    • I have travel in my job as well (and earn more), and my husband picks up the slack. He is the more visible parent to the school. My contributions are stuff like making sure permission slips get signed and tuition checks are written on time. I pick up so infrequently that they ID’d me one time I was able to.

      He is definitely the lead parent now, and she will ask him to do something even if I am closer. That hurts my feelings sometimes, but then again I was lead parent while she was younger, and I’m making up for lost time in my career. I’m glad she is so comfortable with him. We both like that she has an example of a working mom being successful.

      Basically it is just hard to be a 2 working parent household no matter who makes what. There’s never enough time. All the women I know with really big jobs and kids tend to have stay at home or more casually employed husbands. (like writers or other more creative/flexible professions). Or they have no kids at all.

    • Great comment, Nagina. Very insightful and honest. I’m sure a lot of high-earning women feel the same way, especially the guilt part.

    • I have a conflict because I feel like I “should” be doing more traditional motherly responsibilities, like being at home when the kids get home, making after-school snacks, and helping them with their homework.

      …and yet there’s something very primal that happened for me when the kids ran to dad instead of mom when they were hurt or scared.

      <blockquote?He is definitely the lead parent now, and she will ask him to do something even if I am closer. That hurts my feelings sometimes.

      I commend all three of you ladies for your honesty in this thread. And for doing what you feel is *best* for your happiness and your family.

      I’m drawn to Abbey’s notion of ‘something primal.’ As a man, I can merely speculate, but I suspect that same guilt and shame women in the workplace feel about chasing their high-powered careers is very similar to the guilt and shame many men feel when they’re staying at home and making lunches for their kiddos when they feel like they should be out providing for their family.

      I’d contend that this is science at work (hence ‘primal’ feelings), but there are plenty who would argue that societal norms deeply embedded into our culture over the last 100+ years.

    • Our parenting is generally split 50/50, but when the balance slips, it slips in favor of my husband doing more. He’s a teacher, so when the kids are home for school breaks or summer vacation, he’s home with them. I don’t feel guilty or sad at all. Both my husband and I were more or less afraid of our dads when we were growing up, for various reasons (many of which were tied to the fact that we both had traditional breadwinner dads who didn’t spend much time doing stuff with us and who didn’t want to be bothered with any tasks related to childcare). So it means a lot to both of us that our twins are just as attached to him as they are to me, and that they look to him for help or comfort.

      It’s not a zero-sum game. Their love for and attachment to their dad doesn’t mean that they love me any less.

    • Just Some Guy, I think I’m on the social conditioning side of this argument. I think we may be using the term primal here, but if it were really scientifically embedded that mothers should be the ones kids run to, the kids would have run to mom from genetic instict, regardless of the fact that dad is the one who cares for them in their little society at home. I think it’s more likely that we have grown up expecting that, one day, our children would run to us as moms, because thet’s the image we see proliferated. I ran to my mom; I see commercial after commercial after movie after television show telling me that kids run to mom, when they’re hurt or scared, so seeing the kids run to dad, or defer to dad, does affect me emotionally, on a gut level, but not necessary a genetic/evolutionary one.

      That said, psychology, anthropology, and sociology are all sciences, so you’re not wrong.

  31. When my wife and I first started dating she made more than me. I was making $42k and she was making nearly $55k. The gap didn’t stop there – I was coming off a failed startup, I was paying off a few thousand in credit card debt, and I lived with 4 roommates in an apartment sorely needing some renovations… oh, and it only had 1 bathroom. She had graduated with her PhD with the same amount of student loans I had graduated with after earning just my BS, lived in her own apartment, and already had a decent amount saved up.

    By the time we got married I had closed the earnings gap a little – but the company I worked for closed when we got back from our honeymoon. We lived well within our means and could easily get by on her paycheck plus my unemployment. She even let me try to start my own consulting business (which started to take off after I took Earn1K).

    Sounds picture perfect, right?

    There were conversations about what I was going to do long-term. We wanted to have children and buy a house. Someday unemployment would run out and there were no guarantees I’d consistently make what I had been making doing consulting work. My wife talked with her mother regularly about my situation, because her parents had gone through the same thing when they got married. Eventually her father found a new job and his career took off.

    I also felt stressed about not bringing in a steady paycheck. We didn’t do anything drastic financially, but having children was going to make our lives far more expensive – we’d eventually need to either buy a house or move to a larger apartment, and neither option looked doable without my paycheck. Going from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom would cost an extra $1000+ per month in our area. It bothered me and I knew it bothered my wife. I had “potential” to do better financially but hadn’t.

    Now everything is different – I make far more than my wife ever did, we bought a house, and she only does some part-time work on the side while raising our children. I’ll never forget those years where things were NOTHING like this. I’m sure there were a number of times she wanted to say something to me to urge me to get a job and stop pursuing my consulting, or to get a better job, and she held back. That’s not to say we never had tough conversations. We did. I know that it could have been far more uncomfortable for me, and I know there are a number of women who hold their tongue about things like this. I know many of my friend’s wives EXPECT their husband to make as much or more than them, because they’ve said it to me or my wife. These aren’t power couples with BMWs, these are mainly people with good professional jobs and a good life but nowhere near high rollers.

    I’m not sure I’d want it any other way, to be honest. I want to make more than my wife and I want her to be able to pick and choose her part-time work while our children aren’t in school. I love it and I’m proud of what I earn now.

    • “…I want her to be able to pick and choose her part-time work while our children aren’t in school. I love it and I’m proud of what I earn now.”

      I feel this way about my husband, even though we don’t have kids. He’s too sick to work right now, but when he re-enters the job-market, I make enough for him to really pursue what he wants to do. If he wants to take an unpaid internship, we can afford that. I want him to do something he loves and is passionate about, not some “job.”

  32. My husband and I have been married for thirteen years, we have two kids, and I have always made more than he did. Sometimes it’s by $3K, as when we were first married, sometimes it’s by over $100K, as it is now. (That will change next year when he is hired full-time by the school district where he’s working part-time now.) He’s a teacher – a very good one – with two master’s degrees and I’m a consultant/researcher with a Ph.D.

    Growing up, my parents inculcated my sister and me with the idea that supporting ourselves was nobody’s business but our own, and that if we wanted to live a certain way, it was up to us to earn the money to make that happen. That’s still how I feel today. It’s both of our job to support our kids, each other, and ourselves; if I decide I want a big house or a fancy car, then it’s on me to earn the money to get it. Not on him, just because he’s a man.

    I absolutely cannot relate to women who feel they need to find husbands who outearn them. I don’t mean that in a snarky way; I seriously do not get it. All my friends from college (Seven Sisters school, so they’re all women) are exceptionally high-achieving, and frankly, if they restricted themselves to men who were as or more high-performing than they are, they’d probably still be single. But all of us were happy to marry guys who are smart, ambitious, educated, kind, and good fathers, and who have selected professions aren’t as well-remunerated as ours.

    I’d have married my husband if he was an Army Ranger, a venture capitalist, a factory manager, or a scallop fisherman. His personality and character are important to me, not his earning potential.

    • I feel this way about guys who are taller than me. I am 5’11″ and the average height of men in America is 5’10″. At some point, it just felt foolish to eliminate half of the male population based off of something that was so insignificant to my happiness, in comparison to all of the other traits I was looking for.

  33. So, I recently left my fiance whom I was with for over 7 years. We were planning to be wed in July. I left her because after she spent over 7 years getting her bachelors degree she still didn’t know what she wanted and was okay with being a waitress. I suppose the biggest reason was because I work day shift and she worked nights and we never saw each other. But her lack of motivation was disheartening.

  34. I would be happy as hell if my wife made 2X more than me….She’s great at her job, and someday it might just happen. Just means that the massages I give her will be a little longer I suppose! I find it hard to believe that a high earning female partner would be intimidating. Us guys need to sort out our insecurities.

  35. I have outearned my husband since we met. It was twice as much initially and the gap has closed more recently and is now 30-40% depending on my bonus. We’ve had spats about money like everyone else but income disparity has never been an issue, beyond a brief period he was unemployed; although if I wasn’t contributing I am sure I would have been as narky too. He tells me he’s proud of what I make regularly, which on the anecdata of my friends and family, male or female, seems to be very unusual and certainly makes me feel good because god knows I work my ass off for it.

    I was lucky enough to earn great money right out of college. I have always gravitated to work-with-their-hands type of guys (firefighters, tradesmen, bartenders) as my family background is blue collar and many of those guys definitely DID have an issue with my earning more and were very clear about it. Dates and boyfriends in professional jobs cared a lot less, in my experience, or at least never made it an issue or something requiring Heavy Discussion.

    I have three male friends/acquaintances who are stay at home dads. All are university educated and had professional jobs, and their wives outearn them by a lot.

  36. I’ll be honest: my first feeling as a man would be to be with a woman who makes something similar to me. A little higher is fine. A lot lower is fine. A lot higher is weird.

    But I believe that value are all about rising above our feelings. Feelings are just natural reactions to various situations. They’re not right or wrong. It’s the way we respond to those feelings that’s right or wrong, and beneficial or harmful to us. The right response to that feeling is love: let her make more and love her. That’s what love means. It’s not the pleasant stuff you like that makes love, because that’s obvious and easy. It’s the stuff you don’t like.

  37. I earn more than my husband, but not by a ton; I’d say our salaries are comparable. I’m at $64K and he’s at $50K.

    When we started dating, we were both fresh out of college, with zero income. Then we got jobs, and he earned more than I did for quite a few years. In fact, he supported me when I was “earning” negative income going to graduate school. At the time I felt guilty because his paychecks were what I used to buy groceries for us, but he was happy to support me during that time in my life.

    Since then, my career has progressed and his really hasn’t, but it’s partly the result of conscious choices we’ve made. For instance, he works crazy night hours on the weekends so he can stay home with the kids during the middle of the week. Because he’s never around during the day, at the same time as management, no one notices him and he doesn’t get promoted.

    Me outearning him is not a problem for us. We regard ourselves as a team. It’s not the two of us against each other: it’s the two of us against the world. :)

  38. Yes, I earn more than my husband, that is not an issue and he has been happy for me. The challenge I have is that my job has moved me to several different countries and that is a non-traditional family pattern. I am in a company where several of my female colleagues and I have been the lead career and the lead salary. In the past “trailing spouses” were women, more and more often, the “trailing spouse” is the man. This leads to husbands seeking work in new cities and countries which can cause stress on the relationship. Some companies can help with these transitions, but it is still never easy.

  39. LOVE discussing this!!
    A yes ago, just about to finish college, I was reading Sandberg’s book “Lean in” on my way to an interview and decided to take a risk and negotiate my salary.

    I was offered 17K and said no, I was offered 20K and said no. After I left, the owner of the company asked how about 23K? So I agreed. Later we all got a raise, except for the only other female designer. I decided to be curious and ask around. I found out I was earning the same as the male designers that had been in the industry for 2 years, but she had been in the industry for 3 years and was still on 17K. I told her to go ask for a raise – she still hasn’t had the guts, and she will probably not get it anytime soon. That makes me upset because like Sheryl says we get in the way of ourselves.

    Now my story is different. I started going freelance and am now making 5 times my salary, 4 times what my boyfriend makes. He jokes around that he always wanted to be a stay at home dad anyway but I wander how much of that is true. However, he suddenly is much less lazy and is working to help me grow and now we’re starting a business together. He has found some offices, sorted out my accounting, my marketing plan etc. I hope he doesn’t feel inferior for starting a business out of what I do – but he seems happy, so I’m happy. :)

  40. I earn about 2x what my boyfriend of 5 years earns. When we first started dating, I was in school and he earned more than I did, but after graduation my salary started to grow and I am now the primary bread-earner. I don’t think it bothers him much (or at all), but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me a little. We split our bills down the middle, and he has no problem paying his half, but I can’t help but wonder… Is he doing something wrong? Is he not trying as hard or working as I am? Or am I the one with the wrong mindset, and I should just be happy that I have as great of a job as I do?

  41. I make 2x what my husband does – it works great for both of us with no stress on either of our parts. I ask him about it every now and then just to test the waters and make sure we’re good, but he’s never given any indication that it bothers him. It allows him to do what he loves and build up his career to be a football coach – not something that happens overnight when you’re starting out. The joke between us is that he married me for my money now and I married him for his potential money.

  42. Most of the issue stems from the persons tendency to get jealous. My husband allows me to be myself and doesn’t mind that I flirt with friends or make more money, both within limits as to how I go about it. Now, that being said, he has been trying out earn me for the past 7 years and he is getting pretty close. I used to make 1.5x and now it is pretty well neck and neck. We had some issues when determining how much would go into our “fun funds” (every working couple should have 3 accounts), but we were able to work it out.

    Financial problems are almost always just a symptom of a more deeply seeded problem.

  43. I’m 30 years old and was raised by parents where my mother made significantly more than my postal worker father. Both my parents didn’t finish their college education and my mom found success with equal parts ambition and being in the right place at the right time. There was never any concept in our family of four that what we had was different from the norm. Our house was loving and my dad seemed to enjoy taking swing shifts (which you can do in large postal hubs) so he could stay home with my sister and myself in the mornings when my mom was already out of the house.

  44. I’m in my 40s. Long story short, in my 20s and 30s, I wasn’t good with money. Earning it and saving it. I’m reversing that trend now, but hey I was never cougar bait and I’m now older than some cougars. When I see women’s OKC profiles and they post photos of their great trips, I get concerned that they won’t want to be with someone who maybe can’t afford the trip or other things, because while I have a job (that I hate), it doesn’t pay much, and I can’t afford to keep up.

  45. My wife earned more than me for the last 10 years. Still does as I am looking for a position to replace the income my restaurant had. Sold the restaurant. It does eat at me in a strangely traditional provider way. She is cool but would like some of the pressure off of her on the breadwinner thing. I would like to provide that for her and will soon enough. She is a better parent than I am. Sexist me, yep, I believe most women are better at that most men, so less time at work for her and more parenting time are waiting for me to make it happen.

  46. Right now, my husband makes more than I do – almost double. He’s a web developer with a few years of experience, I’m an office admin doing accountancy training in the evenings.

    We expect it to switch over the next few years. I’m much more of a go-getter than he is, and his salary will probably top out in about 5-10 years because he’ll be at a level he’s happy with. Whereas I have an interview with a Big 4 firm next week, zero illusions about the hours I’ll be working, and am incredibly excited. Long term plan is for me to go as far as I can in audit (oh my god I would love to make Partner someday) and for him to scale back to stay home with the eventual kids.

    We’re both pretty happy with that plan now, but I do kind of wonder if he’ll still be as happy with it when I actually start out-earning him.

    • Also worth noting: Yeah, I admit, I do judge people who aren’t making even as much as I am. Even in this economy and knowing that a lot of my friends are just out of college, it’s still… I mean, I’m not making that much right now. So there’s this little bitchy voice in the back of my head just going… “seriously guys?”

      It’s true for both men and women, but yes, I definitely judge men more for it. Which makes me hate myself a little.

  47. My fiance and I are both in the startup industry. Some years he has made more money, and some years I have made more money. When he is making more than me, I struggle a bit because I’m very independent and grew up with a single mother; I don’t want him to support me. He doesn’t have a problem when I’m making more, but the lines are drawn at being a stay-at-home dad. He always wants to work as an entrepreneur.

  48. When I was first with my husband, I was in school and working at an internship at Walt Disney World that made barely enough to pay bills and he was working a slightly more than minimum wage job in Indiana. When we got married, I was still in a school and he was working in retail. Within the next year, I had transitioned to a better than minimum wage fully beneficial office job and he was at a different retail job. Over the next 3 years, I moved up in the company and my husband changed jobs pretty much every year.

    This ended up working well for us since we got pregnant and we decided to transition him to be a stay at home dad. This just made sense for our family because of each of our personalities. It became even more apparent when our daughter was 1.5 years old and he had a massive stroke. I cannot even begin to imagine the lifetime issues we would have if either the roles were reversed.

    Our relationship transformed from one of equally low paying jobs to me making the majority of the funds to now me making and having complete control for our entire household. He is fully disabled and paralyzed on the right side, so everything is in my hands.

    I know that we are in the minority though. Talking to friends and family and strangers too, I’ve been asked everything from “How can you handle having your husband stay with your child all day” back when he was a SAHD to “Wow, is he okay with you having the control?” to right about now. It’s been interesting to see people’s emotional and strong reactions to our situations.

  49. When I met my wife, I was making more than she was. Then, 10 months later, I got laid off and when we got married I was unemployed. I haven’t earned what I would call a “decent” salary since before we were married and she has consistently out-earned me.

    I’ll be honest and say that it has lead to most of the troubles in our marriage. Sometimes it’s because she’s frustrated with me. Other times it’s because I’m frustrated with me.

    I’m thankful that we are able to life on her income and my additions are just a bit of icing on top but my being underemployed is the largest detriment to our marriage.

  50. I am a single (never married) 28 year old female, Asian-American, Christian who was born and raised on the West coast, currently a second-career student in health care (back to school for a second degree). I have never made more than 50,000 salaried or 60/hr freelance.

    My preference is to marry a guy who makes more than me because it symbolizes that he may probably have the ability to provide for his family whether I worked or not. (Note that I don’t make much to begin with). However, rather than a number, it’s more important to me that he understands his role as the provider and that it is primarily the husband’s responsibility to provide for his family’s basic needs (which is God’s command that comes from the Bible). Also note that I said basic, not extravagant. I’m not talking about a situation that takes advantage of hardworking men.

    Other random thoughts:
    - When I dated a physician, he asked me what I wanted for my birthday and it was a necklace that, in hindsight, I would never have asked from another guy who made the same as me (different relationship at a different time). The price tags of things psychologically start to take on differing amounts depending on how much one makes. I think this plays into how we view our partners and how much they make and what we may be willing to accept from them or not.
    - Rather than how much a guy makes, it is more important that we share similar values on money and how that drives where, when and how we spend/save it. Some questions to ask are what do you invest your money in? Why? What do you save your money for? What are the psychological motivations behind saving money? Where do you ultimately put your trust? Money or God or self or your job or social status or connections etc.?

    To me, I think my preference is that he makes enough to primarily support the family because of my personal beliefs of the husband being the main provider and my desire to possibly be a stay at home mom for a period of time in the beginning (which would be something both partners need to be okay with). This may mean sacrifice on my part so that I am not unrealistic on the kind of salary he needs to have.

    I think my opinion is the minority on this blog, but I just wanted to share this perspective.

    • Just wanted to add that I understand life isn’t straightforward and sometimes downright tragic… If I were in a situation where my husband became disabled or for whatever legitimate reason could not work, I would never say that he wasn’t fulfilling his role as provider. We would work through it together with the means we have at that time.

  51. Whenever someone complains to me about not getting a date,
    I ask the guys “have you tried dating fat gals?”
    I ask the gals “have you tried dating unemployed guys?”.
    …I’ve never had one say “yes”.
    We often assume that the ‘inferior’ party that’s to blame, but maybe it’s the ‘successful’ party who’s really the barrier.

    • I understand your point, but it sounds like you’re advocating that people settle for something as opposed to just adjusting their expectations. There’s a lot of gray area between fat and modelesque. There’s also alot of gray between Mark Zuckerberg-wealthy and unemployed. I suspect that if most people would adjust their expectations slightly, they’d be fine.

  52. My girlfriend just got a great job and could very likely be making more than me within a year. Personally, I think this is VERY EXCITING, and I can’t forsee it making a strain on our relationship–are you kidding?? This is going to be amazing. It’s foolish to see more money as a bad thing!

    Another thing–of the two couples I’m closest with, who are doing the best and whom I have the utmost respect for, the women both make more than their counterparts.

    Let’s be real, women are generally more disciplined also, so I think this will only lead to more wealth in couples with female breadwinners. Exciting indeed! Swallow your pride, gentlemen! You’ll be glad you did.

  53. I have almost always made more than my husband, and for a good chunk of our relationship I made 100% of our income while letting him persue dreams. For a while this was becoming a professional athlete, now he is back in school.

    He’s a hard worker, but money holds basically zero importance to him. I know that he wants to make enough that we can both live on his income, though, so that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to and if we had kids I could devote a lot of time to raising potential kids.

    I pretty much hate it right now (though he does have some income). It’s been too long and I start feeling resentful that I have to make most of our money for about 2 more years. It’s not that I don’t want to make money, because I do, but right now I have to do things I don’t want to do to supplement income, which sucks.

  54. My wife, who stayed home and raised our kids for the first six or seven years of our marriage, recently graduated college and just got a job making 2x as much as me. AWESOME!! She’s doing her dream job and I get to spend more time being creative and less time trying to figure out how to make the money work.

    It just so happens that I love to create revenue streams and will likely balance the pay scale on and off, but with zero pressure to be the main bread winner. Totally fantastic. Who wouldn’t love this scenario?

  55. My husband and I were married young right after we graduated college, but I had fairly high-paying jobs throughout college and had always made more than him except for a brief period of time. We are both pretty competitive, so we always try to out-earn each other, but it’s toward a common goal of us collectively making more money. Right now I earn more but I fully expect him to surpass me as he finishes his master’s and certificates. We have separate finances and split the bills by percentage i.e. o whoever makes more pays more of the bills, and the other takes care of the little bills. It’s worked incredibly well for us and I would say the only struggle I have is that I want to work more and am incredibly career-driven, and he would like me to not work so much so he can spend more time with me (not because he doesn’t want me to earn more than him). Neither are bad, but it does take work to balance everything.

  56. What happened when I made more money than my ex? I ended up paying him alimony.

  57. When my wife and I met, she made $45k and I made less than $20k. When our first daughter was born, we cut her hours to 75%, and then she told me that she really wanted to be a stay at home mom. (We were 32 at the time). I found a different job, and six years later I make 74k and she has been at home since last July. I feel like an awesome provider and she has the job she has always wanted! I guess you can hear my IS regarding being a provider coming through. I can honestly say that the only thing that ever bothered me about her earning more was the fact that she couldn’t quit the job she disliked. Oh yeah, and it made me feel like less if a man. Truth.

  58. I wonder if there is a threshold for where is seems to matter when the woman earns more than the man. And I also wonder if there is a wage gap that matters. For instance, one man posted that he earned over $100k and his girlfriend earned over $200k. $100k is already a good salary, and most women aren’t going to think the man is a bum if he earns that. Would a man earning $100k be intimidated by a woman earning so much more?

    Or say a woman earns $100k and a man earns $90k. Does that gap bother people much? I’m sure if the man earned $35k, there might be a different feeling in the relationship.

    I don’t have the answer – I just thought it would be interesting to pose these questions.

    I’ve outearned my husband for most of our relationship, and it does bother me. For various reasons, I would love for the dynamic to flip.

    • well, like stated here before… a difference from $100k to 250k or even $350k is not a big different because 100k like you say isnt bad! Now, let say a man makes $100k/ yr and the women makes 1 million a year ( usually is highly rare to make more than a million a year.. there are only a few thousands of women making that anyways. ) That million dollar person may want to buy things that only a person with a 100K salary dreams about… I mean It can workout perfectly.. but huge differences in income maybe means something.. ( to me I wouldnt care.)

      Now if you made a million dollar a year vs the other partner 10 million a year.. then I dont see much difference… while there are many things that you can buy with 10 mill vs 1 million most houses cost less than 5 million dollars so a salary of 1 million potentially pay for it. And also what kind of trips or vacations can a person making 1 million afford vs 10 million. SO, there is a point where money really doesn’t matter.

      Also, if one makes 50k and the other one 70k then thats not that much difference… or 90 vs 100 … or even 90 vs 150k is not much.

  59. My wife earns more than I do, always has. The only problem I have with it is that sometimes I feel I am not pulling my weight.

  60. My girlfriend is about to complete her degree to become a Psych Nurse Practitioner. We are both 30 and she will, within the next year, out earn me. This doesn’t bother me. For most of our relationship, she has out earned me. This year I will out earn her, but it is not the norm. We split things like rent and bills evenly, but when our incomes had a larger disparity, the rent would be skewed in that direction so it had the same percentage effect on our respective incomes. As we get older and earn more, we will be able to continue to split and share things. Our interpersonal relationship with one another is far more important than our income. As long as we both contribute a fair share to each other and our relationship (ie: no ‘freeloading’ or taking advantage), I don’t foresee an issue with this. Dual income will allow us to provide a good life and future for our kids (when we have kids) and family. As long as we both are contributing to this outcome and our relationship remains constant, it’s more about the family and kids than it is about how much She or I are earning. It seems foolish and silly to me to allow machismo get in the way of a good relationship with someone who has a shared vision and a good personality. Good relationships are about two people and how they get along on a number of levels. Not about how much you make (after a certain point) vs. the other person. Those guys who prioritize this or become intimidated are forgoing some potentially (intrinsically) rewarding relationships.

  61. I am married to my wife for 8 years now; and in last 8 years we have been switching back and forth in terms of who makes more. The difference is always in range of 10% to 15% of gross income. We both are fine with this fact, and appreciate the fact that we can afford to pay off mortgages and cars. We both are quite ambitious and ambitious about each other’s career as well. So, who makes more doesn’t come into picture much, we rather focus on potential of making even more.

    I can imagine it being an issue of self esteem and perception if the difference would be 200-400%. Particularly if one is in extreme low income bucket in their own profession

  62. It’s not always about money, exactly. In my field, I know quite a few straight couples where the woman is in industry and the man is in academia. Usually she’s technically the “breadwinner” because industry pays a lot more, but the academic job is more prestigious and seems to be treated as a higher priority. I don’t (personally) know any couples where the reverse is true.

    (Incidentally, in straight relationships between academics, the woman tends to be younger, which often means she’s less far along in her career when the man decides to go on the academic job market. This means she usually has to take a less ideal position in order to follow him, and her future career prospects are therefore limited because you have to move institutions in order to move up. I’ve seen a lot of talented young women get screwed this way.)

  63. I am female, earning in the mid 200s , and he earns about 190 (depending on bonus payout). He was psyched to have more money coming in when I got my most recent position and surpassed him. Prior to that, he historically made about 20k more than me, except for a period where I took time off to have a baby.

    We’ve always pooled finances (married 10 years), so it’s never been a my money/your money thing. More money in the household = more opportunities for experiences for all of us. We only live on one income for all basic needs as a rule (why I could afford to take time off), so the rest is gravy. It goes to savings or travel or things that make our lives easier.

    He does most of the child wrangling and the grocery shopping and cooking and errands. I do logistical planning and money management/bill paying and laundry because I like that. We’re both doing things we’re best at. We have a housecleaner for the rest.

    I’ve seen a couple get divorced because the husband does not understand why his wife still “needs” to work because he makes “plenty.” He felt like her dedication to her job that produced the higher income somehow detracted from her commitment to their family.

  64. What happens is, everybody grows up and gets over it, I hope.

    The man is happy that he has a good loyal wife who can contribute so much to his well-being, I hope.

    The woman is happy and pretty darn busy, I know.

    My mother’s career took off in a big way about the time my dad took an early retirement. Never seemed to be an issue for them. Not even at all! By then they had been together for 25 years and they had both surrendered to the marriage long ago.

    • Get real. How many women here would stay – or even get into a relationship with – a guy who made $9 per hour?

    • Terry, My last boyfriend was from a third world country and before that a student. I told my friend Benny who is single and a 37 year old student (but lives in a city with lots of hippy minded people) that by that age, most chicks have dated an arsehole so are looking for qualities such as a nice guy that understands them

  65. I make more than my boyfriend, almost close to 2x more, and I have a lot more potential for earning more. It’s not an issue at all. As he says “I want you to make even more so I can stay home and take care of a dog.” We’ve been together for a while, so when we first started dating he was making more than me, but I’ve surpassed him now in income.

  66. Single female, with high standards Link to this comment

    What I’ve seen in my life is a desire to be with someone who shares many of my characteristics – ambitious, driven, intelligent, engaged with people and life, doesn’t settle for less than what they want, willing to take calculated risks.

    What this leads to is wanting someone in a similar position as myself – not because of the position they’re in, but *because of what got them there*. I dream of meeting someone who has already created something for themselves (biz-wise) instead of just talking about it, someone who’s really into diet and fitness, takes care of themselves, someone attractive, financially comfortable, doing something they enjoy.

    My last relationship was with a much younger guy who was going to school part time, working part time for $10/hr, and still living at home. His best qualities that attracted me to him are that he’s really chill, very open, caring, supportive, sweet, and a stable counterpoint to my ever-evolving life. The relationship ended when he had a decision to make – to take the hard path and go for what he really wanted, or to take the easy path and settle for what’s comfortable. He chose the easy path, and I lost a lot of respect for him. So much that our relationship ended then.

    What frustrates me is that the kind of guy I’m after is probably also busy with a full life – not just work, but fun, friends, and whatever makes him feel alive. A major fear of mine is that I won’t ever meet a guy I want to be with because we’re both so busy that our paths won’t cross often enough. Unless it’s a love-at-first-sight scenario, I worry it won’t happen.

    I’m 29, female, and making $150k

    • Hello high standards,
      It seems we are in the same situation. My last relationship ended because her lack of motivation and it was “easy”. I have always been ambitious and that will only lead me to higher income.
      I know this is anonymous but where are you located?
      -28yo From CT

    • SINGLE FEMALE, WITH HIGH STANDARDS Link to this comment

      I’m in Philly. Why do you ask?

  67. I make more than my husband because I’m working 2 jobs at the moment. I lied to him and told him that no, he’s still out-earning met. It makes him feel better and I can do this because I manage our finances. What’s the harm, particularly since this a temporary situation? Frankly, I dislike outearning him, however marginally, and look forward to this part-time side gig ending and things returning to normal.

  68. My very long term girlfriend makes way more money than I do currently. She’s a pharmacist and I’m a software architect – location plays a role here, there would be a lot more parit if we lived in California instead of central Illinois, but we’d still be poorer due to COL differences. Ultimately, no shits are given about the subject. I “manage” (see automate) all our finances and it’s just not a big deal for us. Just means we can retire earlier and gives me the flexibility to take some risks.

  69. As a single guy who makes under $100K, I won’t mind if I woman who makes more. For me it’s about motivation. I’ve been taught to work hard on something your passionate about. For me I’m passionate about being relatively wealthy, not on income. It means for me that I want to be debt-free no matter what b/c there are plenty of women making over $100K who are awful with finances, same thing for the guys. In addition my experience through my co-workers who are much older tell me that they used to make well over $200K and now earn my pay due to factors outside of their control.

    Finally, any real guy wants to know that he is the man no matter what happens b/c life can change in an instant on who is the breadwinner…btw I really gotta read more on this site.

  70. As a guy, I wouldn’t be interested in being with a woman who earned significantly more than me. Frankly, when looking for a wife, I specifically looked for a woman who was comfortable with a limited career/ stay at home mom.

    I don’t have a problem with women in the workplace at all, and those that are making more than me don’t bother me. I just wanted to get married to a woman who would raise children and take care of the house. My wife loves that there is no pressure for her to bring in any income; we’ve got a good thing going.

    I’m 28 and she’s 25. We’ve got 2 kids. Been married 3 years.

  71. I don’t think it would really affect me all that much (I can’t be sure because I haven’t dated any woman who makes more than me yet). For me, so long as she doesn’t make a big deal out of it I won’t either. I would never use how much money a person makes as a way to define a person. I make more than a teacher would make but I have all the respect in the world for anyone in the teaching field. To be able to put yourself on the line and hold yourself responsible for in some way shaping and molding future minds is very respectable despite being paid not enough for it. I would only have an issue if she decides to lord it over me that she makes more than I do and that means I’m not as good as she is.

  72. I make more than my husband. He’s generally stuck to min-wage type jobs, whereas I have a career. It’s not an issue for us.

    I seem to remember that there was a study that showed middle-class women married to working-class men were the happiest, but I don’t remember what it was called or how valid it was, and it may have been one of those things that got told to me by someone else.

    I’d probably be pissed off if my partner earned more than me, I can be pretty competitive (heck, I am mad that my friend earns more than me)

    • I am happiest dating blue collar / working class people. They share my same values of hard work, valuing a dollar, having fun with no money, understanding that poverty isn’t due to lack of effort, etc. They tend to share my political views and my most important values. It is hard for me to enjoy spending time with someone who likes to spend a lot of money on things when there are starving people in the world. I’d rather have a solid person who works in a coffee shop and plays in a band (for free) than a no morals hedge fund person. No offense, hedge fund people with morals.

  73. My boyfriend earns a little bit more than me, and I’d feel comfortable earning a little bit more than him (about 20K more at the most). But honestly, I’d be terrified to much more than that because I’ve seen a lot of relationships break up because of the power shift in a relationship. Women don’t associate self worth as much with the earnings the way men do. And men feel like they don’t have the power once a woman out-earns them by a lot.

    When I moved to the US from Europe with my parents, there was a short period of time when only my mom worked. My parents almost got a divorce because my dad couldn’t handle it. Granted, not the same issue but it does portray how men feel the power balance works against them in such situations…

    One of my best friends earns about 2X what her fiance does, and it’s obvious it bothers him. He’s gained weight, smokes weed all day, and is substantially less ambitious than he was when they got together. She calls all the shots in that relationship because she feels she deserves to.

    Very interesting indeed…

  74. As a male, I don’t understand these male insecurities.

    I’d be happy to find a girl to date that wasn’t:

    A) Pretentious
    B) Flaky
    C) Afraid to get dirty

    (Who am I kidding, I could have stopped my sentence at the word “date”.)

    High income is the least of my worries. Another favorite male insecurity of mine is height. I’m 5’9 and once dated a woman that was 6’1. I got more questions about how I felt about that than the fact that she was a figure model. lol?

  75. I don’t care. I am a man who makes a 6 figure salary. Female members of my profession sometimes make more money depending on the position that they have and in no way does it bother me. In fact I have found that females often are better at what we do.

  76. I think its a problem as much as you make it one. I have some female friends who go on dates and theyre like: “Hi, Im Susie, I make 150k a year, and a I have 2 master’s degrees.” Then she comes home and complains about men being “intimidated”. I don’t think they’re intimated, just turned the hell off. My husband and I ebb and flow. It’s a team effort. He isn’t bothered either way.

  77. Just a Woman with a Thought Link to this comment

    There was a point where I made substantially more than my husband. It only became an issue, if money was being spent unwisely (on both ends to be fair). My husband never expressed a concern with me making more money, in part because I believe that he is secure with himself and also because I didn’t throw it in his face (my money this, my money that). My husband encourages me to make more and do more, as I him. I am working on my doctorate while my husband has a bachelors. He was the one who encouraged me and has continued to be a support. I think he also recognizes that being a provider is not only about bringing in more money. Money becomes an issue in a relationship when one party is insecure and/or the other party uses money as a means of control.

  78. Stats:

    Me: 32, $100k, Bachelors and Masters in Engineering
    Wife: 33, $125k, Bachelors in Engineering, MBA

    We started dating at 23-24, the difference in our pay has fluctuated over the years but she has generally made more. She just got a raise and the gap is now the biggest its ever been. It has always been “an issue” and she has always wished that I made more money than her. However its really just that she wishes I made more money, and no matter what women say here I’m sure most of them wish their husband made more money. However its not a big issue, we love each other and together we make PLENTY of money. I think its interesting that Ramit seems to have focused his post on how guys have problems with this situation. For us it is a non issue for me and a minor issue for my wife.

    We have two very young kids, and I am a very active and engaged Dad. I would be that way even if my wife made half my income but I will be honest that it is in the back of my mind that I should kick @ss on the home front since I am bringing in less money. I also handle the home finances, investment account, etc. and generally take care of all major issues with the cars/house. Since having kids my wife gets stressed about work, some times she wishes she could quit her job and be a stay at home mom (which really she could do if she wanted). She has “mom guilt” about days she has to work late, or times she has to go on work trips. Occasionally she’ll make a comment about “if I made more money she could quit.” These are realities that many modern families have to deal with, but it’s pretty “rich people problems” type stuff.

    Lets be honest folks, social norms are strong forces that are built into our phyche. We should not ignore them or pretend they don’t exist. We should realize they are there, understand them, and deal with them. This is how you have happy and healthy families both emotionally and financially. It takes work, and it is not easy, but it is the most rewarding work you can imagine.

  79. My partner makes about twice as much a year as I do, and I really don’t care that much. We split costs on bills, etc in about the same proportion, and what I lack in terms of cash I bring in spades in the form of tech support, organising the housework and “practical” things like flatpack furniture.

    We’re both men, however, so I’m not sure what that says.

  80. When we started dating my boyfriend was making less than me (working at an IT management job he’d had for several years that wasn’t paying anywhere near market rate). He wasn’t bothered by the disparity in our wages, but he did notice that I enjoyed my work much more than he did.

    I’m self-employed and in addition to making more than he was, I was working fewer hours and doing what I love. It led him to examine his situation and decide that he was unsatisfied and wanted a change. A couple months later he changed jobs, got a sizable raise and is more satisfied. Not completely satisfied, he’s been at the new job a couple years now and I think he will want something more challenging soon.

  81. Andrew Slominski Link to this comment

    I LOVE that my fiancé makes more money than I do! It’s more money for us!

    But seriously,
    We’ve been together for seven and a half years now and we’ve had some good times and some difficult times, but money has always been tight. Sometimes she has earned slightly more, other times I’ve earned slightly more or had more steady employment.

    I have a steady job that pays ok, but she got her masters degree and is now a public school teacher. Her take home pay after benefits and taxes is roughly double mine. I think that’s great! She’s smart and she deserves every dollar and it means we finally have the money to take vacations and go on better dates, which is strengthening our relationship.

    The best part is I’ve had a chance to make true on my promise that I wouldn’t be jealous. In fact, I’m sure she believes me now that I really want to be a stay at home Dad, perhaps with a ZTL style online business on the side.

    Equality means more diverse ranges of relationships. I’m sure we’ll continue to see traditional style relationships, but guys that are threatened by the idea of their woman making more need to get some therapy before they get married.

  82. My wife earned more than me for a few years. It was a little weird.

    She took some bad advice from a family member during that time: “you make more money- put some in a bank account he doesn’t know about and use it for yourself!” During that time she also ran up credit card debt I didn’t know about.

    That was almost a dealbreaker, but we stuck together and got it worked out. Now we’re credit card debt-free.

    Since then I’ve grown my business and added side income. She transitioned to a lower paying job with great benefits that support our growing family (and my penchant for self-employment.)

    I’d love for her to boost her income, money IS money after all. But yeah, things got really weird there for a minute. There’s definitely comfort when the salaries line up with the traditional roles.

  83. I’d say woohoo and move on to other things. Money is only one part of a whole list of things that have to work out.

  84. I was doing high paying consulting and he had never had a job, always living off his parents. At first, the dynamic was fine – he thought it was glamorous to date someone who’s at the Firm and constantly traveling, and I thought he was cute and sexy.

    I taught him a thing or two about life and careers as he seemed pretty naive and inexperienced. We were the same age – but it seems like more development is expected of women, or it just happens like that.

    Eventually he started acting in ways that were aggressive and dominant. He exercised power over me whenever he could (e.g. denying to lend me things that were his, although weren’t an issue before) and started watching PUA videos to assume more dominant body language. So I had to cut him off.

  85. casey bartlett Link to this comment

    Hey Ramit,
    I knew when I decided to study theology and become a pastor it was very likely that my wife will end up earning more than I do. I am ok with that. My career is not about the money, if it was I wouldn’t be a pastor. Which is why I love how you use the word “earn” instead of “make”. What I make does not have monetary value- it is priceless. What I earn is not much but what I make is worth it.

  86. I think it depends a lot on what the income difference is. If it was minor, then it’s not a big deal. However, I make significantly more than my husband and it can be a point of tension for both of us. I think it may have less to do with typical gender roles than it does contributing equally to a common lifestyle. For example, I want to go on nice vacations and not feel like I’m picking up the tab for two of us.

  87. I’m single/male but recently had a career change resulting in almost a tripling of my income.

    Before, I was fairly unsatisfied with my job/salary and I feel like it might have bothered me if my partner’s salary were higher than mine but I think mostly because I was already unsatisfied with my own compensation. Now that I feel like I’m doing something commensurate with my abilities/skill and compensated accordingly, I don’t find a woman with higher salary than me intimidating/unattractive.

  88. I make more money than my husband…and, I have to admit, it doesn’t have as big an impact as I thought it would. Perhaps the key difference is that our careers started on the same pay scale, but after our daughter was born, my career went in a different direction.

    We make spending decisions together and he handles our investment decisions. We both come to our relationship with different strengths. And, whatever the issue is, it’s us against the problem.

  89. I make 5x more than my wife, and I manage all the finances/bills. In many ways we both have “traditional” gender roles in our relationship. Sometimes I get frustrated by that, it would be nice to not have so much pressure on me. I worry that our lifestyle hinges almost entirely on my income.

    Thankfully we’ve been moving forward to remove that dependence, such as getting additional side businesses started, and convincing my wife to apply for regular part time jobs.

  90. What happens when men earn, say, $9 per hour? Do women even WANT to have a relationship with them? Not with the guys at my workplace.

    • I’m a woman with a decent income of my own and I would rather date an ambitious, hard-working $9/h guy than a spoiled trust fund kid.

    • women who make a lot of money (i am one) may not care about how much you earn but they DO care about what kind of person you are. if you find a really smart, funny, awesome person who makes your heart thump making $9/hr, hell yeah, you date him.

    • I agree with the other two comments. The awesome person who happens to earn 9$ an hour, awesome! I care about how you spend your time, what your passions are, whether you will go hiking with me.

  91. I make significantly more than my husband. My salary makes up more than 85% of our income. It’s not that I make so much money, but that he works for a “cause” that isn’t paying much at this time–a non-profit Chinese TV network that broadcasts uncensored information into China and produces technology that helps people there jump across the Great Firewall. We both believe in this cause and decided together that he would full time there while I would work part time there and get another full time job in a well-paying industry so we could survive in our very expensive city.

    Sometimes we joke about how I’m the breadwinner of the family, but i know that it still bothers him a little bit, even though he is doing the more “meaningful” job. Mostly it’s guilt about not doing enough to “provide” for our family, even though we are doing fine. But if he were to get a higher-paying job, he could probably out-earn me, so I think knowing that helps him not tie his self-worth to his salary. He’s also not an insecure person. I have noticed that he never says anything about how much money I spend (which is not excessive).

    Meanwhile, I sometimes envy him for being able to do the meaningful job, while I’m stuck doing something I don’t really care about. So there’s pros and cons to both of our situations.

  92. This always seems like the weirdest thing to get bunched up about. You’re a couple, not competitors. Don’t you want strong people on your team?

    Personally, I perceive a woman who is making more money than I am as MORE attractive, because that says to me that she’s competent and successful, both things that I look for in a partner.

    I wonder if the guys who are threatened by high-pay women are also threatened if their (male) friends make more than they do. Either way, it seems like it reflects pretty poorly on the guy’s character.

  93. I find these responses interesting because most of them go against what I have experienced. I’m a female who has out-earned in every one of my relationships.

    1st relationship – we were both in school. he graduated and started making money. i graduated a few years later and got a better position out-earning him. Our relationship didn’t last much longer than that. He didn’t feel like a man anymore.

    2nd relationship – i was earning money while he was in grad school. he knew that once he graduated he’d make more than me – no problems there.

    3rd relationship – he was in the same field as me. we were both making about the same (he was making a few extra K and had investments that paid him – so overall he was making about 30K more) in a short period of time my position changed and i got a big bump to the point where i was out-earning him. He was happy at first but then started to resent me for it. And although nothing had changed in our relationship he felt that he was being controlled but he had no specific incident to point to where i controlled him. He just kept saying it was a feeling he had.

    So, based on history, i think men definitely feel intimidated when their female partner makes more than they do. This could just be the types of guys i have been with – maybe they felt they had to be the ones providing.

    On the opposite end, I have dated someone who was making 600K+ a year and that felt unnatural to me as well. I didn’t like the fact that i made 10% of what he made.

  94. I run into this issue all the time. My two most recent serious ex-boyfriends both made significantly more than I did. But that I graduated from an Ivy League school and they didn’t (they came from top second tier schools), combined with my earning *potential* (something that Torabi talks about, too), threatened them.

    It was the most bizarre thing ever to me. From my perspective, they were both geniuses in their field. The most recent ex in particular was truly wealthy and one of the all-around smartest people I’ve ever met, but even he was threatened by my “success” and that eventually ended the relationship.

    It’s truly a statistical black hole for women who make more than men to find a guy who isn’t threatened but instead genuinely appreciates what the woman has to contribute.

  95. Wow, a lot of “politically correct” responses here…

    I really like reading the “anonymous” responses, or the ones of people with no pictures and just their first names, because they seem to be a lot more honest (and speak from real world experience).

    At the moment, my girlfriend and I are both freelancers. She’s got HUGE ambitions for her business, and has had some huge months… she’s definitely, at this point, making more than me.

    And it is very intimidating.

    She would likely tell her friends (or post on here) that I’m “man enough” to not care if she makes more money. I’m very progressive and claim I don’t care. But, honestly, it sucks! I have big ambitions too, and to be honest, I’m feeling more and more like what I want is a woman who is less ambitious and more of the “stay at home, simple living” type.

    I always feel very competitive with her (internally). Every time she has a huge month in her business (bigger than any I’ve had), I feel like I’m a failure.

    I wish this weren’t the case, but it’s just how it feels. And I’ve tried to “turn it off” and really not care, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

    • I agree. This is exactly what happened last time. I like the specificity of what what “intimidating” means to you, like when you feel like a failure compared to your girlfriend’s big months. Thanks for your candor.

    • But this is awful! I’m not trying to be politically correct, I’m being honest. I DO think my husband is “man enough” to be okay with me earning more. He’s led me to believe it’s not an issue, that he wants me for me, regardless of whether I make enough money to support us both or not. He’s told me he’s proud of me, and this makes it sound as if I’m naive to believe him.

      If he has feelings like these, and keeps them internal, instead of mentioning them to me, or trying to work through them like an adult in a serious relationship, our relationship WILL fall apart. But it won’t be because I made more. It’ll be because he lied to me for however many years, secretly resented me, and then allowed a lack of communication put a gulf between us so large it couldn’t be breached later.

  96. I live with my boyfriend & make about $1K more a month than he does. But I have a daughter & more student loans, so our mutual bills (rent, insurance, utilities) are split 50/50 and we have a separate bank account just for this. So the majority of our cash is kept separate & we trade off with groceries, etc. I imagine the tides will shift when we get married. But for now, it works and it’s fine.

    But what interests me more is what other ladies have noted as well – the AMBITION GAP. I am very ambitious, always figuring out my next move & very future-focused. He, on the other hand, has worked for the same company for 7 years and is really going nowhere. While I’m certainly not at the top of my game, he is the one who could make a big change, really skyrocket his income and create a better life for us all. He KNOWS this, but on his days off (during the week, no kid in sight) manages to just sort through random papers around the house or do dishes or go to a coffee shop, but rarely does he apply for a new job. I think it’s part mid-life crisis (he’s 10 years older), part realizing what being with a woman with a child means, and part not knowing what direction to take. And while what we have is 10-fold better than where I was 5 years ago, knowing it could be better but having the ability to do very little about drives me insane.

  97. I am a 30 year old female software engineer that makes about $80-90k. Most of the men I meet make around $15-20k. They talk about how broke they are constantly. I don’t tell them what I make, but after a while they pick up on that I have more assets and nice things than them and I don’t talk about being broke all the time. Even if I was broke, I wouldn’t talk about it all the time. If someone tells me he’s saving up for a PS3/XBox360 for months now but can’t manage to hang on to the funds, then it’s a huge turn off. I don’t like hearing about your credit card debts all the time either. I had a guy tell me that when he pays with cash he’s spending real money and when I buy with credit card I’m not spending any money since you don’t really have to pay that back. So he’s spending more than me on our dates since my money is not real.

    A lot of the men I know my age make nothing and sit in their parents houses playing video games all day. I am not interested in these men. I live in an area of poor lazy man-boys. These men tell me that I am shallow and I should want to marry them so they can move out of their parents house and live in my house and play video games all day while I go to work. I don’t find this attractive. I would feel like I’m their new mommy. They tell me I am being greedy to let my nice theater room go unused all day while I am at work.

    I think I don’t care if a man makes less than me as long as he makes enough that he is living comfortable enough to not bring up lack of money all the time. Most of the software engineer men where I work have SAHM wives. I guess I could also have that too if I want to marry a SAHG husband. (SAHG = Stay At Home Gamer) At leas the SAHM are raising children. Most women with SAHG husbands have to drop their kids off at daycare because hubby is too busy gaming or sleeping to provide childcare to his own kid during the day.

    • Totally agree on the disparity when dealing with $. I know this is not men vs. women. I have plenty of female friends who are crap with money too. Very good points. (Also feel lucky I haven’t dated a SAHG yet. :))

  98. Hi Ramit, what a great topic. I think I might have a different viewpoint than a lot of people, since I was raised in a household where my mom made more than my dad did. Because of this, I have no problem making more than a guy I date. Whether the guy cares or not, is a different story.

    My first serious relationship out of college, I ended up getting a really great job, while my boyfriend at the time was still struggling to find something. I truly believe he broke up with me partly because of the success I found so quickly while he was still unemployed.

    My current relationship is three years, and he and I are very open with communicating about money. I know he’d like to make more, but he’s happy that I do as well as I do. We’ve even talked about him becoming a stay-at-home dad when we have kids in the future. We both know that my income is too important, so it makes me feel more comfortable that he’s okay with it.

  99. As a guy, I think I’m fine with it up to 5x the income. But, this is just theoretical :)

  100. I make about three times as much as my husband, when we first started dating I think this was a problem mainly because he felt he was not bringing enough to the relationship and that I did not “need him”. I had to work on letting him know that his loving, funny, caring personality is what I needed not another paycheck. Also from my own experience I think women can act more masculine in high-powered jobs and when we get home we need to tone that down and be more of a feminine mate. Sometimes my husband will tell me I need to get out of boss mode and get into wife mode, I know exactly what he’s saying and I try to loosen up a bit. All men want to feel needed it’s part of their DNA, when the woman is the main bread winner she has to make sure that her man feels needed in other ways.

  101. I would be jealous, but to a point. The number I calculated out for my ideal lifestyle would be roughly $100K a year. Until I got to this point, and my GF was earning significantly more, I would be jealous. Once I got to the income I was comfortable at, if she earned more, it would only marginally bother me, like if she earned half a million I’d be a bit intimidated.

    I suppose if I dated someone always looking to spend on fancy dinners, expensive travel, and high end fashion, then yes I would feel pressure to earn more, but this is not what I look for in a partner. In the end if I was doing a job I love, earning enough to live in a decent enough safe place, could afford to go out to eat and not care what I spend, and occasionally travel, the money issue would be minor.

  102. I out-earn my husband by quite a bit.

    On a day-to-day basis, there are no problems. We actually do budget so we both know where the money is going to and how our savings are growing. We’re aligned on future monetary goals, so, there are few ‘big ticket’ issues.

    At times though, it can be annoying. He is a lot more frugal than I am – which is great for our bottom line – but I have found myself thinking things like “I didn’t bust my butt all week to earn this money just so you could worry about whether or not we can afford the fancy cereal!” I’m not sure how related that is to me earning more vs me just not being nearly as frugal. There’s a chance I’d be thinking the same thing even if I earned less.

    The main times that I feel bitter are when I see other women with more freedom and flexibility than I have because their husbands are the main breadwinners. I have a friend that spent years pursuing acting (without have to wait tables every spare minute) because her husband had a sweet corporate gig. I have another friend that was able to leave a job that turned crappy immediately, simply because her husband’s earnings were more than enough to support their family while she found a new field. I see other women quit their jobs when their kids are young so they can be home with them full time. I wonder if this would even be an option for me. It seems irresponsible to quit a job after having a child when your job is paying the bills. :)

    It’s not like it would be more fair the other way around. If my husband was the main earner, he would have been able to quit his job to work on building his own business. He would have been the one stuck. Which would be better for me, because then I wouldn’t be that one, but there wouldn’t be a net gain of joy in the world.

    I wonder if I’d feel differently if I had grown up in a place/time that didn’t cultural expect men to be the primary earner. It never occurred to me that it was unfair that my dad spent 35+ years working in an auto factory while my mom was able to stay home raising us. I’m sure dad had dreams that didn’t involve bolting the wheel assembly onto cars, but the job paid well so he did it. I guess that’s similar to what I’m doing, just without the kids so far.

  103. I’m a female in my mid-twenties. I earn double what my partner earns, and with a promotion in sight, I’ll earn triple what he earns.

    The result is that he takes more initiative to show his affection by doing “free” things like making dinner for us, picking up flowers, fixing up our place, etc. I tend to show mine by buying concert tickets, paying for hotels on a weekend get-a-way etc.

    We don’t pool our money and I don’t want to. Sure I’ll probably contribute more to common things like a house, car etc. But we have made lifestyle choices that result in him pursuing his passions and not having the newest clothes and me building a strong career and ‘needing’ more expensive clothes.

    There are some sticky points around travel. I like to go on big trips and can afford it, he prefers stay-cations. But at the end of the day, we enjoy spending time together and living within our means and when I want to go on an expensive trip to Vegas, I go with my girlfriends and he’s happy not to have had to wear a suit.

    I find the most stigma comes from my male friends who are single. They seem frustrated that my partner didn’t woo me with a big fat pay check and are shocked neither of us are bothered by our differences in earnings. I remind them that a big pay check may not attract the girl they want to be with, and that we both are happy for the other person and understand that our careers enable us to enjoy different things. He has a bit more time on my hands to make his own coffee, I have less time and spend more money on lattes. But at the end of the day, he’s happy to make me a coffee if I don’t have time and I’m happy to buy him one if he’s contemplating the price.

  104. My uncle was born around 1940, and was an extremely masculine (dare I say macho?) man who spent years as a well-paid advertising executive (imagine a Hispanic Don Draper with green eyes.) He married a woman became a powerful executive assistant (those days called the secretary the boss can’t live without) at a very exclusive retailer. Later in life, he started a business in an unrelated field and almost lost his shirt. He candidly told me one day in front of his wife how much he admired her career and was glad for her income that permitted him to live in the style to which they had become accustomed. That is what you should be looking for in a husband, a man secure enough with who he is that he’s not only ok with you earning more, he’s really appreciative. OK- I know this guy did at one time earn more than his wife, so he knew that he could. But… these statistics about men who collapse when their wives earn more are statistics. Forget the statistics and find a red-blooded man who is man enough to applaud your success. It is possible.

  105. My husband makes twice as much as I do, which is fine for both of us as we expect that I will be the primary care for our kids. It’s a pretty traditional division that we are both happy with. I expect to work part time, but the financial blow from my reduced salary will be paltry compared to what would happen if he stopped working.

  106. It really depends on the industry – there are just different expectations. Plus, you would hope that your significant other would be supportive and excited that you are making more, considering that it will still impact both of you in the long run. My boyfriend is ALL FOR me making more money. He wants to be a stay at home dog dad! haha Thanks for an interesting post! xo

    Best,
    Brittany
    http://www.soultiply.com

  107. Here’s the unvarnished truth about what often happens when a woman out-earns a man.

    It starts out roughly the same — the man and woman both have decent paychecks. Then they become committed. Within a couple of years at most, the man somehow gets laid off and/or begins “pursuing his dream.” He often continues to buy expensive things. The woman continues to earn and quietly picks up one bill and then another.

    The woman gets a promotion. He tinkers away at whatever he tinkers away at. Eventually, it becomes clear that no matter how much self-loathing the man feels, he has come to terms with the comfortable arrangement.

    It can stay this way forever. It happened to me, twice, and it’s also happened to I can’t tell you how many women I know who work professional jobs. I know at least 10 cases personally.

    It all comes down to the man’s character. If he doesn’t have a sense of responsibility for himself and the relationship, this is what happens. If he’s a good man, he’ll do whatever it takes to be able to look at himself in the mirror. There are a lot of good men out there, but I’d say 60-80% of guys in general would fall into comfortable sloth, given the scenario I describe, and most of them will fight bitterly, even in court, to maintain that status quo if you try to change things.

    Women, real advice: no matter what the financial situation is before you marry, try to find out what your man might do in this scenario given the opportunity, because this scenario happens all the time.

    This advice could be applied to both sexes, to some degree.

  108. I’m married and my husband’s base salary is lower than mine, but thanks to perks and commission, he makes a little bit more than I do, and has the potential to make much more (about double) my salary. When we met, he had quite a bit of debt and was making much less than I did. I wasn’t as concerned about the salary as I was about the debt and lack of financial discipline. When we got serious as a couple, I helped him with his finances and helped him get a better job. He’s not a type A personality, so he’s happy at his current earning level. I wish that he would exercise the potential and earn more….mostly so that I could leave my job, which I absolutely hate. The reason I haven’t left yet is because the child care benefits are good. If he made more, I wouldn’t have to worry about the benefits, but since he doesn’t/won’t, I feel like I’m kind of stuck for now.

    I grew up in a household where my mom made more than my dad, for my entire life. My mom always told me that if a guy didn’t have formal education, as long as he had a useful skill (and/or hustler’s spirit), it didn’t matter. I think the money my parents saved because of my dad’s handiwork around the house definitely made up for the shortfalls in salary on his part. Before getting married, I almost routinely dated people who made less money than I did. Once they heard that I was an attorney, they started making all kinds of assumptions about the kind of personality I might have or the amount of $ I earned. I stopped telling people about that very quickly, but they’d still catch on when I didn’t talk about being broke. I have lots of single, high-earning demale friends in their late 30s/early 40s. They say they’re trying to meet their mental and financial equals or superiors. Not sure if that’s really possible at this point.

  109. My girlfriend earns more than me, I brag about it to my friends! I’m proud of her!

  110. When my husband and I first married we both made under $55K, I made roughly 20K more than him. It did create problems for us, but not in the way I think most people would think. He was actually really happy about my increase in pay. When he was laid off from his job he actually thought that I could be the bread winner longterm. He could stay home,take care of everything including any kids that came our way, he could work part time, whatever. I was the one that didn’t like that I made more. Nor, could I stand the idea of EVER having a husband that stayed home and didn’t work and let me be the bread winner, no matter how much money I had the ability to earn. We have since worked through it all and by chance, he makes MUCH more than I do now, over 5 years later. He LOVES his work more than I could ever imagine he would. He is with a great company.

  111. I earn more than my husband and have always expected to. But he works way more hours (probably double mine) and way harder (mostly manual), and has way more in assets (land, etc.). I do more second-shift work (childcare, cooking) – and we try to split cleaning. I don’t think either of us has felt weird about the fact I make more – it’s just been an accepted thing (but we’ve been together since we were 19, so maybe that’s why?). For a while we contributed equal amounts to our household spending acoount and I put extra in savings. After baby #1, everything goes in the joint account.

    I think ideally right now we’d both like him to make enough so I could stay home, have more kids, and work part-time with him, but it’s not realistic right now. I’ve got another year-long maternity leave coming soon, so I’ll get another taste of the stay-at-home life, but I would not be comfortable being out of the workforce entirely and being completely dependent on someone else’s income for the rest of my life.

  112. I am truly inspired by ambition, dedication on hard work. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the gym, in the work place or in athletics.

    If I had a girlfriend/wife who made twice as much as me, I’d be inspired, thrilled and supportive. Anyone who pursues success in any arena needs support and encouragement, especially from those closest to them.

    So to all you successful ladies out there, continue to push forward, aim higher and earn ten times as much. And may you find a mate that embraces your success.

  113. I make more than my husband – always have. We didn’t marry early and I knew what I was getting into when we got married. I’d dated enough rich guys who were jerks, that I had no problems marrying a really GOOD human being. Occasionally, I’m a little resentful, because I make so much more than him that I daydream from time to time about what it would be to have the really nice house, the really nice car, etc. But I think that would happen no matter how much we have – everyone wants more. I waited a long time to find someone I was so compatible with on a personal level and with whom I so consistently enjoyed myself. Money isn’t as important to him as family, and he’s been both an amazing husband and father. That’s worth more to me in the long run than granite counter tops and a late model car.

    I think it appealed to me to be the breadwinner, because I never wanted to be in the position where my lifestyle depending on someone else. I’m sure it’s a control thing. If something happens to his income, we’ll be OK. If something happens to mine, I’m the one who can fix it.

    I did have to counteract the control issue on a personal level though. So we have a joint account, transfer the same amount for each of us into a personal account every two weeks, and decide together how to spend the rest. I recognize that control is important to me, but I didn’t want it to be one of those “I make the most money so I get the most say in our decisions” and that would have been really easy if we’d had separate accounts. I want our marriage to be a partnership and this helps that happen. He still defers to me on most financial decisions and I have to do some arm-twisting to get him to participate in retirement planning,

    He owns his own business and he works hard. So it’s not that he’s lazy. He just didn’t make the same choices I made early on and his family didn’t either. So it’s not like we had the same starting line to begin with. But his business is continues to be more profitable as time goes on. I think he genuinely believes that at some point, his income will match mine. And he very well might. In which case, we may get those granite counter tops after all! In the meantime, we’re both happy and while I sometimes wonder if being with him has made me less ambitious and more easily satisfied, I’m also wonder if that would be such a bad thing.

  114. I earn more than my boyfriend of many years. It’s intimidating for him and he’s not willing to commit because he feels he’s holding me back. I stopped sharing with him my promotions or raises. And I let him pay when we’re out to help him feel better.

  115. A woman or man can earn as much as they chose (please take as read that involves a consumate level of drive and commitment). But why do you need to tell anyone how much you earn?
    Earning money is important – it pays the bills and can allow you to have some fun, but, in real happiness terms finding the right person to share your life with is way more important. To do that we need to put down the to do list and goals list, we are not shopping here, we cannot buy this. The only thing that can take us to the right one is our heart and gut instinct. If you meet someone and like them, have fun and a little way down the line, if you feel the love and trust is there, ask a couple of questions of yourselves, these are the deal brakers… 1> If the ‘you know what’ hit the fan in your life and major trauma ensued would that person be there for you or would they walk away and would you want them there? 2>do you want to have children? 3>Where do you want to live? IF you can agree on these three things then you have all you need, these are the only major questions.
    The only person that knows what I earn is my accountant, no one else – not even my husband of 18 years knows what I earn. He has no need to know, we share a bank account (and have our own ones). We share bills, a home, a child, a mortgage, a big extended family and he is there for me and I hope i’m there for him on every level. But, we rarely discuss money, if we want to do something we talk about that and if either of us has a money problem we talk about that and we’ve bailed each other out endlessly over the years, but our incomes are not relevent (our household income is of course important,but, I deal with that mainly). Space exploration has more ‘talk time’ in our house than our incomes ,,, yes really.
    So in short – don’t talk about your income it is not important in a relationship and throw away the shopping list – just look for someone who is kind and loving and trustworthy and togeather you can do anything and survive anything- good luck.

    • You’re like the third or fourth person in this thread who doesn’t tell their partner how much they earn. Please don’t think I’m judging – how other households manage their money is none of my business in the slightest and lord knows there are things in my life people could judge – but this is insanely interesting to me and honestly I find it more boggling than anything else in these comments, much of which is predictable.

      On a practical level, I suppose it’s no different not knowing whether your spouse make $10k or $20k per month than knowing they make $20,000/mo but not how his or her non-bills and savings money gets broken down between socializing and hobbies and other things. But for the sake of my sanity (and having dated some real schmucks) I would need some confirmation that they are actually contributing to bills and investments from a paycheque and not running up lines of credit or something. And I would be uncomfortable with an accountant or lawyer holding the keys to the kingdom, rather than my spouse, should I be hit by a bus in the morning. Maybe that means I am a suspicious person, I dunno.

    • Totally agree. I’ve never seen this. It really surprised me.

  116. I currently make the money in our relationship and my wife stays home with our son but I sure wish she made more money than me when working.

    Then I could be the stay at home Dad I was meant to be! :)

  117. I’ve been in this situation myself. It was no big deal at the time and I can’t imagine it being a big deal for me now. In the past, my wife had incredible skills as an office and contracts administrator. I was struggling to find my way. The reason I think it was no big deal is because I was doing anything and everything it took to bust my ass and make a living. From all types of construction to cleaning toilets to whatever. There was NEVER a question as to if I would do what it took. I was able to stand proud on the work I did. Now I make more than her but it isn’t any more of an issue than it was then.

    In my opinion, the dudes who have a problem with this are at heart questioning their own efforts. This might also be a script that the ladies have as well. “Is he doing all he can?” For some friends of mine in law enforcement who have spouses or partners that make more than them, it also doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. The dude risks his life now and then, she makes a quarter mil a year as an ad exec or whatever. Big deal. At least in my circle of friends.

  118. I’ve thought about a few times. My wife and I work in the same industry and there’s a real chance she will earn more than me. I’m a little bit old fashioned so in my mind, it’s my job to make us ‘glide’ (ie. we should both be able to live on my income and achieve some basic savings goals), while my wife can make us ‘soar’ (her earnings make our savings go into overdrive and will probably go into a down payment for a mortgage down the line as long as my income is enough to make the mortgage payments etc.). In that context, if I was making enough in addition to our passive income from investments to support us in a lifestyle that makes us both happy then I’m fine no matter what her income – the more the better!

    I would definitely feel the pain if what I earned couldn’t support a lifestyle which made us both happy. I would also feel the pain if I didn’t enjoy my job in the first place :).

  119. I do well for myself, late 20′s and making 150k+ in a not terribly high cost area. I would feel emasculated by a girl that made more than me.

    More importantly – I think the underlying qualities that would cause a girl to make more money than me would make me not attracted to her. Like, I think she would need to be so cutthroat, ambitious, or one-track-minded that I wouldn’t be interested in her. She’d almost certainly need to be a doctor or lawyer – general personality types I want nothing to do with.

    Basically I assume the personality traits of a comparable earner are what would make a relationship not work, and not the income itself.

    • Thanks for the comment. Both men and women are making great points about the underlying attitudes, not necessarily the money itself.

      Your comment reflects what I’ve heard from some male friends more than the old canard that men are just “intimidated by women who make more money.”

    • babyshower

  120. I’m so glad you sent this e-mail – I’ve had two types of experiences with this. I own two businesses at this point, and am now in my mid-30′s and I typically find that guys are either very put-off by the fact that I am ambitious and independent, or – and this is equally bad – they suddenly see me as their “ticket” to the life they imagined but for whatever reason can’t seem to achieve through their own life choices.

  121. Huh… I’ve never tracked this or been in relationship long enough to really dive into this so I can’t say much. I will say though that instinctively I prefer to lead the woman and would like to make more and be a provider. I make between $30 and $50/hour currently depending on the kind of job I’m doing.

    With the last 2 women I dated I do recall them wanting me to make more money than them, both encouraged me to go rock that domain while they were both not making much themselves. My experience with money is that there are internal scripts and issues with self esteem that seem to hold me back with or without women. In fact if I have a good woman and a healthy relationship I make more money because of the connection and love going on make me even more of a giver! Relationship with women can also bring up issues of self worth and unfinished business so it seems to not be a black and white thing for me.

    My 2 cents… hope that wasn’t too far out of context and worthwhile.

  122. I earn more than my husband. He’s more or less my “housewife” so I can put in the longer hours and push my career for supporting both of us at this time.

    When we started dating, he earned maybe 10-15K more, then got laid off. Sticking by him when a large part of his identity was related to his job/title and reminding him of his other positive attributes helped.

    He got a new job a while later, we got married, the company he worked for went bankrupt. Was great to be able to put him on my health insurance.

    I feel the burden of being a traditional single salary earner for the household. Couple of years ago my role changed and I stayed with my same company but now travel and am away from home during the workweek, but still coming home weekends to spend time with my husband and to visit my aging parents. He’s holding down the fort and being there to take care of not only our house but my aging parents not too far away.

    Always thought I’d be the one doing that and working locally, but, well, life happens.

    I haven’t read every single response, but does initial socio-economic background matter for either side? I grew up in what I consider a lower to middle-middle class household… he’d say he was middle class, but I’d say his attitudes are more upper-middle class. I knew he had expensive tastes when I married him, but he was and is still worth it.

    With that being said, I feel a stronger drive to have a successful career and be able to support myself and my family so that’s one of the reasons I’m working a low six figure job and still in the fledgling stages of E1K/ZTL so all my options aren’t in my mostly DJ basket, if you will…

    • The class aspect is a really good point. I’m from a working class background (working class on a good day; scratching a living from subsistence farming on a bad day) and my husband is upper-middle class. I’m definitely a lot twitchier about our finances than he is. He just sort of assumes that we will have the money available to do whatever we want or need.

  123. My wife will always earn more than me… she’s a physician and I will be lucky to earn 6 figures one day. I do not think it has changed our relationship much since the days when she was in medical school or a resident and I made more than her. I guess because we always knew it would happen.

    I had coworkers previously who all were men and all earned more than their wives. Some of them made it clear they would rather earn more than their wives than have wives who earned twice as much as them…. I find this bizarre. Then again, these are the same guys who were shocked my wife didn’t take my last name.

    I like to think that if I hadn’t met her until now I wouldn’t be bothered by her salary.. I do think it would bother me if she was a spendthrift with her money… but that has never been indicated by her actions.

    She’s never used it against me- we playfully tease each other about how much one of us spends on clothing or the other on alcohol, but in the end it’s a partnership and it is our money, our house, and our lives. That said, I’m pretty grateful she bought me a new car (only ~27K w/ TTL). :)

  124. I was in a relationship with a man for several years who made about half as much as I did. Money was never important to me since I always reasoned that I make enough to take care of myself and therefore could look for love and not worry about whether or not the person could support me financially. After my experience though, I don’t think I will ever date someone who makes significantly less than me such that his lifestyle is very different than mine. It was always an issue for this particular boyfriend and he resented the luxuries I was able to afford. For example, he hated that I could afford to travel for leisure on a regular basis when he couldn’t. I would always offer to pay or use frequent flier miles (so it didn’t seem like I was actually paying) so he could join me but I think his ego/pride got in the way and he would always refuse to allow me to pay (and therefore also refuse to go). If I chose to travel without him he would resent me for it and if I chose not to travel since he couldn’t go, I would resent him. I think when the difference is income is such that it causes a difference in general lifestyle is when problems can occur. For example, the difference between one person making $50k income and the other making $100k income is much more significant and can cause bigger problems than if one person is making $150k and the other $200k.

    • Going to have to up-vote this one.

    • This also seems like it would be more of a problem when finances are not joined. When working towards a common goal/account, it seems to be more of a situation of “our” money, “our vacation”, not “my” money and “my vacation”.

    • ^^seconded. I’ve been on both sides of the equation (pre-MBA and post-MBA) and it’s painful. Pre-MBA, I briefly dated a guy who made 30K more than me. I could pay all my bills, so his extra 30K was 100% available for the “fun” and “optional” things in life. He got mad when I asked him to prioritize which of the 40 different $$ things he wanted me to do that summer – because he wanted me with him, but not enough to just buy the tickets for the two of us. None of the things individually were all that expensive, but collectively it was quite a bit of money when we were in the first couple months of seeing each other.

      Post-MBA, I probably earned 30-50K more than the first couple of guys I tried dating. Having been on the other side of the equation, I came up with a good rule: whoever does the asking should pay for it. Especially when it comes to travel and things that one of you wants much more than the other. When I wanted to attend an out-of-town wedding then I would decide whether we’re serious enough to pay $300 for his plane ticket, or whether I should go alone. It’s definitely unfair for one partner to ask the other to pay $$ to attend an event where one of you doesn’t know anyone or have any motivation to be there.

  125. The Big Lebowski: “What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski? …Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost?”
    The Dude: “Um, sure–that and a pair of testicles.”

    Within the next several months, my fiancee will have a new job and be making substantially more money than me for the first time in our relationship. My honest reaction: AWESOME. I wish she’d be making 200% more than me instead of just 20%. There’s nothing strong or “manly” about holding down your woman’s prospects in life because you’re insecure about your role–if you are worried she’s going to somehow move beyond you then use her paychecks as motivation to do something bigger or better in the world than you’re doing now (whether that new thing pays you well or not–she won’t care either way if it’s worthwhile and she’s worthwhile).

  126. Jerome Harrod II Link to this comment

    As a 22 year old male with a small local biz in real estate, I could care less how much money my girl makes in a relationship. All I care about in a woman is how she takes care of her body, what her principles in life are, and her emotional maturity towards men & relationships.

    Infact, if it’s a gun to my head choice, I WANT her make more than me.
    Usually, if she’s making more than me, she either understands one or both of two things.
    1. She knows what hard work is and is not expecting to be lazily taken care of and/or …
    2. She understands the concept that just because someone has money, that doesn’t mean they’ll spend it on you.
    Personally, I like spoiling my girlfriends, but there is a danger with spoiling people with poorly trained mindsets.

  127. I earn significantly more than my husband and it has never really been a problem. We have been together since college when we were both poor and then right out of school I only made a little bit more than him. Over the last few years I’ve gotten large pay raises and he is nothing but thrilled for me each time. Like other posters have said our money is pooled so it never really is much of a problem. He has always been a better saver than I so it is nice having someone to keep me in check, otherwise I think I might spend all of the money I earned anyway. We often joke about how I am his sugga momma. While I’m not sure how his friends actually feel but they often comment that they would love if their girlfriend (imaginary and real) made more money than them.

  128. I came back to your Web site when you started talking about dating. Hah. And I remember that Twitter discussion about gender and money.

    My sister is a doctor and her husband stays at home to take care of their toddler. He still works very part-time in an artistic/teaching occupation. It works for them though it’s in the minority. It seems to me that the man has to identify with his role that he is bringing something other than money, more valuable than money. He makes her happy. Money cannot buy that for either of them.

    Incomes change. Things happen. I’m curious if the young women still going to be slightly out-earning their male counterparts after age 30. Do men and women’s income rise at the same or different rates? Do women’s incomes stall or decrease after they have children? So what happens if your current relative income levels affect your relationship or who you date and it changes or flips later on?

    Previously I was a decently earning software engineer expecting that I would probably marry someone with about equal earning power, maybe slightly more. Then I got sick and haven’t been working so my own identification with earning power has changed. I picture myself now with someone who earns more than I pictured previously to make up for my lost income and extra health-related expenses. However, it’s likely that I will regain or exceed my previous income since my earlier experiments with making money online while bedridden got me into 5 digit income in a short time. I just put it aside to work on my health. So what happens… relative incomes could flip every couple years… but the people are the same or are they….

  129. I make more than my husband and have for a few year but we have gone back and forth over our 16 years together. We combine our money from the picture perspective (everything linked in Mint) but keep our money in our own accounts. My husband likes it when I make more because he feels a lot of stress when he is the primary bread winner.

  130. we manage for it not to be a problem. I keep my money separate from his (he has spending issues) save for my own expenses. I’m a total miser so he rarely actually has to deal with me spending it

  131. I think the issue of which spouse makes more can hurt the most in the case of a divorce. We know that statistically a married couple in the USA faces pretty much a 50% chance of a divorce. Now, in each state the law is different, but in some states the higher earner owes a big chunk of his/her earnings to the lower earner even after the divorce. For how long will depend on the length of the marriage. I personally know people who have been burned by this in the State of NY. The moral of the story is marry someone who earns pretty much the same as you. No wonder so many people don’t get married these days – the law has unintended consequences and a reasonable person wouldn’t marry! A 50% chance to me sounds like almost a certainty! Maybe I am too skeptical… Or perhaps this WAS intended – it creates more business opportunities for divorce attorneys and divorce tax accountants. One way to keep the economy going! Marriage has become a business, unfortunately.

    • That marriage statistic is very, very coarse. Factor in things like education, race, 1st marriage only, and the number drops WAY down. I include those stats in these bookmarks. Stop throwing around 50%!

    • This is a bit undeveloped really. The distribution of financial assets after a divorce takes into account way more than how much each partner makes, not to mention the fact that alimony is generally not of infinite duration and can be altered when circumstances change. The divorce laws were certainly not established to make more money for divorce attorneys – they were established to take into account the different contributions made by each spouse towards the setting up of a life. People who bandy about divorce statistics rarely take the time to investigate what’s behind them.

  132. It’s funny how the androcentric view is so powerful in our world that many women don’t feel comfortable with a partner who is smaller than them, or who earns less money than them.
    Inconsciously, women feel that they have to choose a partner who dominates her by height, or by income. It becomes a very important criteria for many.
    Same thing from the men’s side, they might feel uncomfortable if they are not the “leader”, the “protector”, in summary the one who dominates. And even though many are aware of this, it doesn’t mean that people will change their opinion as this social pressure is so much ingrained in our minds, and repeated in so many ways in all institutions.

  133. I am 28 and do not have a college degree.

    I have split up with several girlfriends who had a college degree.

    I know it was because I earned less then them.

    The war against boys and men continues as evidenced by the college stats of attendees at college and graduation figures.

    The feminist movement went to far.

    It is time to find some equilibrium!

    • Wait, what? Why don’t you have a college degree? Why did you break up with them? I’m curious.

    • H.M., I fail to see how you not getting a college degree, and you breaking up with girls that had them, has anything to do with the feminist movement or some “war against boys.”
      If your supporting evidence for the feminist movement going too far is the fact that these ladies earned more than you, I have to wonder if you breaking up with them is also your idea of equilibrium. I’d love to know more about the psychology of why them earning more was a turn-off.

  134. My wife makes 3x what I make, and she’s well on her way to making almost 5x what I make. I don’t feel bad, because I’m writing her cover letters and doing her applications for her. I feel like I’m contributing.

  135. As a man in this situation, I have to say that I find it both challenging in terms of the traditional, “I’m supposed to be the breadwinner,” yet I find peace in knowing that I’m working to provide in the best way I’m able. Something else to consider: in Proverbs 31, we have a picture of a blessed woman who provides for her family with work from her own hands as well as through shrewd investments, such as real estate–& her husband praises her for it! As well as earning a good reputation for herself, she gives a good name to her husband. “Men Work. That’s what they do,” –Pastor Paul Washer. In living in Light of the Gospel of Repentance from sin toward God, & Faith in Jesus Christ, I still believe that both provision & child-rearing are ultimately on the man’s shoulders. They’re his responsibility. So long as a man is committed to providing that stability, how that plays out can be varied. Willingness to provide and persevere in doing so is more important than how much you make doing it. I’ve been blessed with a wife who understands that a man needs respect for who he is apart from his performance as much as a woman, in general, values love for who she is apart from their performance. Because of sticking it out even when things get tough at work, I’ve been blessed to earn even more respect from my wife even though she earns more than I do. She has mine as well, she’s earned it. She’s been far more mature, resulting in fairing far better professionally than I have.

  136. My wife earned 2x what I earned $130,000 vs $60,000. She’s also in a very stable industry (pharmacy) working for a national brand with great benefits and I am in a much less stable industry (homebuilding). When we started dating she was in grad school and broke. I found her earning potential to be a great quality in a partner and was never intimidated that she’d earn more.

    When she was pregnant with our first child it wasn’t really a serious discussion as to who would stay home. My employer let me adjust my schedule, work from home most of the time and be in the office the week days she doesn’t work. It’s made great sense from a family perspective and is working financially (the 40% salary reduction I took is really only a 20% reduction when factoring child care).

    However, now that I am primarily a “stay at home dad” I find the emotional factor a bit more difficult. Every month when we sit down to look at our finances together and move money around I am constantly amazing at how much she earns. I’m worried this 2 year shift in my schedule has killed my career. Time will tell…

  137. When my husband and I started dating, I had a job and he was finishing school. I fronted the money for us to move in together and kept track of our expenses so he could pay me back.

    Then he got a job and earned more than me (which he has done ever since). Then we got married and got a joint bank account (I’m the household bookkeeper, and I like my job to be easy). When we both went back to grad school, he was the first to finish and supported me for several months while I finished my thesis and got a job. At one point, he earned almost twice what I did.

    So, we’ve both taken turns being the breadwinner, and we both accept that he will probably always earn more than me because, personality-wise, he is more bent on world domination than I am.

    At times, we’ve fought about spending on toys vs. long-term goals like a house. The elephant in the room is, of course, if he earns a lot more, does he have more of a say in how we spend our pooled earnings? We settled on a dollar amount that either of us could decide to spend on a toy without having to consult the other, and we eventually got on the same page about long-term goals.

    Even if he earns more, I spend time and energy covering duties that allow him to focus on world domination. Things like laundry, making eye doctor appointments, paying parking tickets, yelling at the cable/electric/credit card company about billing errors.

  138. I had the opposite problem… When she made more than I did, she acted as if her vote weighed more when it came time to finances.
    The month I started earning more than her she started competing, in an unhealthy way, to try and gain that advantage again. Then I started earning over $100k and she pouted and became unsupportive.

    Please do not generalize guys just because of some. I never minded if a lady made more, only if she was fun, smart and confident. Happy is priceless.

  139. My male imperative to provide and protect (which are less important now than before but still hardwired) make it difficult to be attracted to someone who makes a lot more than I do. It’s like, what’s my purpose to her then?

    I had to break up with my ex because not only did I feel more and more neglected over the years, I’d found out she was making 6 figures precisely by neglecting me and putting money first, while I tried to juggle both grad school (i.e., making no income) and her worries about our drifting apart. Turned out to be a classic case of chasing two rabbits and losing both.

    It’s interesting to see you mention that 2012 study because I have believed that women make more than men these days.

  140. In my case its totally opposite. My girlfriend makes more money than me. But I am always supposed to pay for dinner & outings. I mean I understand we are still dating. But she told me that if we ever get married then I have to pay for most of the household expenses. I don’t know what will happen but we have been dating for just over one year now. I don’t know what future holds.

  141. I earn 2x more than my husband does, and while I can’t speak for him it seems like he is pretty cool with the situation. For me however, I’ll admit it was a real struggle releasing what I felt like was my right to decide how the majority of our money was spent. I mean, come on, I made most of it didn’t I?

    I would get mad when he made big purchases that didn’t coincide with my desires and I felt like he had no right to to even ask about big frivolous purchases I might make. So not healthy.

    It was a huge relief for our marriage when we were able to let go of the idea of his and her income. My paycheck now exclusively goes towards bills, rent, groceries and savings. We budget what we can afford to spend on our lifestyle from this stable check and then automate all our bills so we don’t have to think about it again. His check is split 50/50 between the two of us for frivolous purchases and spending. This way, we always have the same “income” to spend on whatever we like, while knowing all the big important stuff is taken care of.

    I might not have as much money in this system as I would if I hoarded my earnings (which I will admit was a hard thing to let go of).. but if I’m honest with myself I do want my husband to have the same as I do and this way has been much more relaxing and better for my marriage.

    • How did you get to that point? Because I am feeling much more like the first half of this, and would love to be able to let go of “my money” vs “his money”.

  142. I moved in with my girlfriend about 6 months ago and our wage gap makes it difficult because we are in different stages of our careers. She is 23 and just graduated whereas I am 28 and have been in my industry for almost 10 years.

    It’s hard because she wants to split everything 50/50 which I respect but then I feel bad when she’s just scraping by and I’m living comfortably.

    I’d love if she made more than me because I’m completely comfortable with what I make and more importantly my earning potential, and I’d love for her to have the same outlook.

  143. I think there is a presumption that the man would be embarrassed or somehow feel inferior, but I honestly do not think (hopefully) that any of my friends would feel that way. I would be happy because after all, I get to enjoy the fruits of the labor too.

  144. I am a 26 year-old woman and I earn about $10k more than my partner – he makes $49k, I make $60k. Not a huge difference, but my earning potential is much greater over time – he’s a teacher and will always be locked into a salary scale, while I have the freedom to switch jobs and make huge gains (for example, I negotiated my salary up $11k last year. He will never have that option). Also, he’s in one of the highest-paying school districts in the country, in Chicago; if we move elsewhere, he could easily be set back.

    This is the single biggest issue in our relationship right now (to me, not to him). I love that he’s passionate about what he does, but I hate that his career doesn’t adequately reward him for the amount of work he puts in – and I hate that he’s okay with that. I’ve considered breaking up with him over this many times, because I worry that his limited income will hold us back from larger goals down the road if we get married. I worry that I’ll never have the freedom to leave work for a year or reduce my hours to spend time with kids, or travel, or whatever. I also worry that I won’t be able to reach my longer-term financial goals, like being able to support my mother in retirement, without a partner who has higher earning potential.

    For me, the problem isn’t really about gender and social expectations, because the fact that I out-earn him doesn’t bother him. The problem is that my partner and I don’t share the same financial aspirations.

    On a side note, I can NEVER say this sort of thing out loud. I have a partner teaching urban disadvantaged kids, and it would come off as bitchy and greedy for me to be anything less than supportive of that.

    • “because the fact that I out-earn him doesn’t bother him” – reading this I have to say that it is fairly clear it is bothering YOU.

  145. I’ve earned more than my husband pretty much always. He’s never cared. It’s all “our” money anyway and we tend to splurge on each other regularly. I never feel like he doesn’t “measure up” and I don’t think he feels like he falls short or anything. I certainly don’t think he falls short considering what an awesome guy he is. We’ve been together 15 years but we are young. I hope this attitude extends into our future when we have kids / I may not earn more anymore.

  146. I find this really interesting because I recently starting dating a woman who is more inline with my personal values and at the same level of education (slighter higher – she has master’s and I have a bachelor’s), career development, and financial stability as I am. Previously (since I was in college) my other partners all made less and were less financially astute and stable in their careers than I had been. In order to set a precedent and start the communication early about what I believe is, and how I want my relationship to be, equal (at least financially in this aspect) I made it clear that I would not pay for everything, even if it came down to “small” things like lunch or buying tickets to a movie. Some women, and even men, may call me cheap,and I think this is because of societal misconceptions about old-fashioned values and that they should still apply today, I don’t believe that it is necessary anymore. Personally, the type of person that I want to be with is independent and stable on their own and thus I feel doesn’t NEED me to pay for all of things that were previously paid for by the man during the 80s, 70s, and prior. I don’t mind – in fact, I prefer – that a woman makes as much, or even more, money than I do because it means that I don’t have to take care of them. I think a relationship should not be founded on the basis of men buying women things, or vice versa, but on a values- and goals-basis, and beliefs. While it may be difficult to accept an imbalance or overcome the feeling of significance in a relationship when it comes to finances, on either side, if there is a solid foundation for the relationship, non-financially-based, and each person brings something unique to the relationship then it provides for a much stronger relationship and doesn’t create feelings of insignificance or resentment towards each partner

  147. Wife and I got married before either of our earnings potentials were established (though we both believed I’d be a much lower earner w/ my lib arts degree), but since then we’ve passed the highest earner baton between the two of us over time. So we’ve never established identities as the high earner of the relationship.

    At first, wife pulled the vast majority of the weight for about a year (while I worked at a much lower $ level) and then I eventually almost closed the gap (just a couple thousands below her). Then, she quit her thing and started freelancing, so I was the consistent breadwinner for awhile.

    Now we have moved to a new city where she has HUGE potential to outearn me once she climbs the industry ladder – and it’s pretty much just a matter of time – but for now I support us both while she’s in between gigs.

    Whenever either my wife or I is the lower earner, that person DOES feel more stress during lean times (she’s expressed this too), because naturally any “I don’t know if we can afford that” moments cause the lower-earning person to feel like they’re to blame. Which is a good impulse, I think.

    Here’s why I think it HASN’T been a problem on any big scale:

    * We think of our incomes as one combined income, and us as one financial entity – we’re in it for the long haul. No divided accounts. Which means we can think of each other’s freelancing/jobs as streams of income that diversify our total income and protect us from being too dependent on one income source… instead of as”his job/her job.”

    * We didn’t have separate “financial identities” before we got married because our earning powers were not clear until after our first full time jobs. So neither of us had to overthink our identity as “the breadwinner/the loser”

    * We communicate very well, which allows us to have completely merged finances and few money conflicts

    * We have switched between being highest earner a few times so there’s a general feeling of equity

    * We both are ambitious and aspire to earn more/do better at any given time. If I were not as ambitious as my wife (or didn’t act on that ambition), especially if she was the higher earner, I know she’d be hugely frustrated. She has said as much.

    Fascinating comments here! So many different from our situation

    • To add to my comment above – just thought I’d add that both wife and I had families where the father was the primary earner and the mom raised kids at home.

  148. I’ve been on both sides of the table in my current relationship–right now I make a little bit more than her, but not long ago it was significantly less.

    To be perfectly honest, maybe there was a pride issue somewhere in there, but mostly it’s just practical. We needed the money and it wasn’t there, so I had to step up.

    We live in London, keep a flatmate, don’t have kids, plan, save, and still struggle for money. I’d be happy if she leapfrogged over my earnings–if nothing else, just to have the boost in income!

  149. I do actually earn about 3x as much as my boyfriend. It’s not a big deal at all – he’s actually more psyched about it then I am most of the time. More money is more money, no matter who makes it.

  150. Hi Ramit, I have been on both sides, and the first time I earnt less I was a bit taken aback – mainly because I knew I had been slack in developing myself and there was no way to avoid that truth!

    Leaving that first instance aside, I am OK with any earnings ratio but if a guy is struggling with this then the question really should be – how fragile is his sense of masculinity?

  151. When I started dating my now-husband, I made $25k as much as him. Now we’re married and I make $75k more than he does. It bothers him that I am the breadwinner, especially now that we’re looking to start a family and I would love the option of cutting back to PT or being a stay-at-home mom. But there’s not much value in being frustrated by it and not doing anything about it, so he’s building his career and we’ll see where that goes. And regardless of what happens with his job, we both strive to not have our identities based on our income and focus on working hard, using our abilities, growing, and doing meaningful work…and we’re both doing that. It’s about respect, not income. It helps that we pool our money and enjoy the different “perks” that each of our jobs brings to our life (e.g. his job flexibility makes it much easier to work my vacations and lets us be more spontaneous, my income can pay for the spontaneity).

  152. I was working hard while my wife studying medicine. Now she’s making x3 my income and I feel pretty comfortable, so I can afford study ZTL ;-P

  153. When I met my partner, I was making 2x his income in California, but no one batted an eye because I had a degree in a specialized field. Then we relocated to the South for me to grad school, and he got scathing comments from all around because he made less than me. Fast forward three years, I am now unemployed and disabled and the same people, especially his relatives, will talk on and on about how patient he is with me. The gist of it seems to be that I was a fool for being with him before, but now he’s a saint. Strangers no longer say a word. The discrepancy has made both of us a little bitter about public opinion.

  154. Most of these comparisons involve men who make 10k or 20k less than their wives. The disparity with my last two relationships was 100k. I make 140k.

    Mostly our worries are different- their worries are what mine were in my twenties- not enough money for groceries, not enough money for the concert tickets they want. They make poor money decisions. I’m wanting to get to the next level at work- they are worried about clearing enough money to come up with $400 for their share of their rent.

    I can’t have conversations about tax returns or investments with these guys. In the last relationship, (because I’m rocking IWT) I can buy whatever I want and go out to eat whenever I want. I felt guilty opening a nice Amazon box of little stuff I wanted when they are complaining about gas money to get to work.

    BUT I do agree that it comes down to ambition and wanting to be great at what you do. When you are ambitious you learn how to take it to the next level to get what you want and have a success mindset. The last guy actually turned down a job making 3x his current job because they kept pushing his start date and he couldn’t handle the unknowns.

    I wouldn’t mind about the money or the disparity in worries if I had something to gain- if they were great at working out and getting me motivated or helping me cook better. “Never contract friendship with a man that is not better than thyself.” I don’t think it’s just money contribution that would make a great relationship for me- but a passion to excel.

    However, I have been thinking of trying out a salary range requirements for online dating sites. Ramit, why don’t you just start your own dating site?
    Morgan, TN

    • Really good point about how, at a certain point, lifestyles are just very, very different.

      Also, an IWT dating site? Do you think we have enough attractive people? I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised at meetups. I’m like, YOU read IWT?

    • I think when you look at the sheer volume of single readership alone and then people with the combined interest in personal improvement and financial stability- I’d bet I’d have a lot more interests in common with those men than my current dating pool here in Nashville (I’m 40, btw). Yes.

  155. As a man, I would care, but I don’t think I’d feel majorly emasculated by it unless it were used to attack me — in which case the relationship’s likely not long for this world anyway. If anything, it might motivate me. I don’t mind if I am not the sole breadwinner, but I do want to feel successful and integral.

  156. I’m a single woman and earn a fair salary ($79 000). In my dating and relationships, the only time what I earn has been an issue is when the guy I’m dating consistently wants to go out on expensive dates and I have to explain that it simply isn’t an option for me. Then, most of the guys say they like treating me and that they feel they should because they earn more. I don’t think they should feel that way just because they earn more. I used to fight it and insist on splitting costs because I thought there was potential for a reciprocation-power-dynamic thing but gave up because the fight was more effort than it was worth…and I’ll admit it, it’s fun being treated like a little princess once in a while. The standard that I maintain is that if I make it clear that financially, I can’t keep up with what they want to do and they persist in wanting to do those things rather than find more affordable alternatives, they will have to pay my way. Having said that, I have also dated men who are earning less than me. In some ways, those relationships can be more fun because we’re both interested in finding more affordable dates and we end up coming up with some creative options. I don’t know, it’s fun to date a guy who can treat you to things you wouldn’t be able to treat yourself to but it’s also fun to date the guy who is broke but loves what he’s doing. Clearly, what I earn in relation to what the man I’m with at the time earns hasn’t been a deciding factor because rich, poor, I’ve dated them all and am still single.

  157. My experience has been that the issues between unequal incomes are really NOT at all about unequal incomes, but about not matching to a partner with similar values.

    I’m a very high income earner and even before I wasn’t, it was clear I was ambitious and had my shit together. I dated lots of different types of men. Some hated it because they had different values (I dumped them), some loved it so that they could mooch on the money/excitement (I dumped them too) and others hated it because they had their own insecurities or control issues (I ran as fast as I could). I found that a lot of guys I dated loved my ambition and supported it. Having grown up ultra-poor and in a family of women financially burned by deadbeats, it was a deal breaker if a guy had issues with me taking care of myself.

    I made a lot more than my husband when we married, though he is now catching up. He’s Nordic, so gender equality is kind of his norm and he’s both uber-masculine AND deeply supportive of me and my career. It’s been important that we live below our means so that we can insure one another’s career bumps. I’m considering a move that will triple my income, and he’s just… damn proud of me and excited for the life we’re building together. I can’t tell you how good that feels after coming from a crappy childhood and lots of years of hard work.

    So I really think it’s about having the right match on values. The guys and girls on here with all the talk about the natural order of attraction to male superiority can go be happy with people that agree with that (for myself, I couldn’t disagree more with the “biology” argument after seeing how gender plays out in Northern Europe). I think we still live in a world where successful men with a preference for successful women are finding that there aren’t enough of us. But since there are so few of both, it’s harder to find each other.

    • How does it play out in Northern Europe?

    • @Ramit, I’ve seen it play out similarly in, Asia, Latin America and Australia as well as in Europe. It still causes stress on the family when husbands are forced to quit jobs to follow the wife’s career. I have seen cases where the husbands have happily become house husbands, but more times than not, there is guilt in the female spouse (i.e. me or my peers), when husbands are trailing and having a hard time finding work -even if the move meant doubling income. If the husbands don’t have a sense of contributing, there is stress associated with these moves.

  158. I really didn’t know before that this is an issue with my hubs. A few years ago, I earned more than my partner. Until one day, my friend told me that my hubs told him that his ego was hurt because of that. I talked to him immediately about that problem and told them that there’s no competition between us.

  159. Equality loving hetero men would like to think they don’t care how much their mate makes, that they’d be proud of her if she made more, etc., but I have never found this to bear out in real life. In my experience guys start acting weird if they learn this (they start being kind of rude, aggressive, macho). I have also found that it’s easy to counteract by overdosing them with pretend weakness “Oh, I just don’t know how to use a screwdriver, would you please hang that for me?” “I couldn’t possibly carry that big, heavy box, please would you rescue me my knight?” If you have patience for this, its an easy fix. I do not have patience for this. Same sex relationships are easier if you are into that. Dudes, read a few books – I understand you want to feel needed. You are needed. We don’t need your money, we need your attention, your caring, your listening ear. Throw your idea of manly out the window and give us what we want – your companionship, your hot sex and your time. Flowers every once in a while.

  160. I’m a bit older than most if your readers (43). In 2013 I earned $45K more than my husband of 15 years. When we first got together in our 20′s my career was a mess. Right when we got married I left a low-pay but secure nonprofit job for one in sales. Sadly, I sucked and earned no commissions. Eventually I learned that product development was more my speed. Last year I landed my dream job at a large successful company. Hubby’s pay as a bank branch manager has stagnated a bit since onset of the recession. He enjoys managing our money so I know he knows the amount I earn to the penny. I don’t rub it in but I do feel like it gives me leverage on some decisions like our child care choice (a nanny rather than a day care center which is more expensive but delivers a better value – more convenient, better quality of care). Also I don’t rush home after work when I know he has already arrived home from his office. In my mind he can manage the twins on his own for another hour and if he gets annoyed I can gently remind him that my job delivers more income to our family. It has never come to that but that is what is in my mind when I take a late meeting at my office.

  161. Read this comment from a guy friend who is currently making (140-160k) in his late 20s : “If the wife makes a little more (10-30k), good for her and the family but I’d feel like I’m lost in a head-to-head competition; however, if she makes significantly more (>=100k), I wouldn’t care a bit. On the other hand, if she constantly makes 100k less than me, I’d feel a bit uneasy. We might have different goals.”

    In other words, this guy’s most comfortable range of difference is the wife makes 0k-100k less. I just love how he quantifies ambitions=)

    Personally, the income disparity has definitely affected my dating choices. I wasn’t lucky enough to nail the Mr. Right in college when we were sharing the same humble beginning. Now in the adult world, I consider myself fiercely independent. There is just something in a high roller’s attitude that puts me off instantaneously (e.g. flexing out his black amex, let me take care of this, etc.). Not that I’ve gone out with many of them, but I’ve yet to find a smart rich yet humble guy. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong field or maybe I’m too self conscious.

    I guess when you have an equally egoistic, competitive female partner, she’ll be extremely conscious of the income disparity too. This may sound stupid but I purposely choose not to be with the guys that are too rich(!?), as this would make me uncomfortable. I’m not domestic at all.

    I concur that ambition and earning are two different things.

  162. My wife and I used to have similar incomes, but now she makes significantly more than me (even before I recently quit my job). The important thing for us is that we support each other (I’m home more now, so I take on a bigger load with regards to taking care of our son, handling home logistics, etc.). She also doesn’t think less of me because she only cares that I’m pursuing something I’m passionate about, and that I have ambition to succeed. As long as I’m moving in that direction, she’s fully supportive and proud of me. And I of course think it’s fantastic that she earns a lot because it’s a pool of money that helps my family as a whole (and takes pressure off of me!). I feel bad sometimes for my friends who are sole breadwinners because of the pressure that comes along with that. I’m never scared that if I lose my job, my family will go hungry. I can’t put a price on that.

    Finally, a smart, successful woman is super super sexy.

  163. I am going to be completely blunt and non-PC. Based on my own personal experience dating or otherwise being with a man that makes less than you is awful. All this talk of “its the same pool of money blah blah blah” makes me sick. Ok I get the rent is paid, but honestly, how is your sex life really? Is it amazing? If you are a woman do you feel “swept away”? If you are a man do you feel like “the man”? Or is sex more like brushing your teeth? Paying for a man is about one of the most unsexy things I can think of, and beyond that I truly beleive that for the man it is emasculating. The bottom line is if you are in a relationship and you make more than he does, you are going to pay for more. Period. For the married couples I have in my life, those with stay at home moms are fine, happy and functional – stay at home dads, divorce. I personally am sick of all the PC niceties and would never again consider a serious relationship with a man that didn’t make more money than me, that’s right not the same, more. And its not about the money, I have my own thank you and am just fine; it is about the sex. And for all those whiny women that say “my income makes my dating pool smaller, I intimidate men” : do you want quantity or do you want quality? Go buy some sexy lingerie put on some lipstick, relax and quit talking about work so much. And please let him buy you a drink.

  164. Hello Everyone.
    This is a very nice topic to talk about.

    I went thru this situation, Mi Wife was earning more than me, and it did hit me.

    Psychologically speaking, We as Men are programmed to be the bread winners, the providers and when that was taken away from me it really bothered me, and now that I think about it at the time it was also knowing that I could be earning more but I was in a comfort zone (low pay, nice benefits), don’t get me wrong I did not hate my wife for earning more, I was really happy for her and to be honest she deserved every bit of it, but again the fact that something you were programed to do being taken away from you does hurt at least it hurt me..

    Also we never had or have a problem with money, we are very organized in that matter, (and yes Ramit you are part guilty of this, lol).

    This was more about me and my bruised ego.

    Regards.

  165. When my fiancé and I first met, he was making $11/hour doing labour jobs. I was making $0 as a med school hopeful. For a time, We were making even money when I was a waitress and he was a kitchen manager. When I got in to medical school, he enrolled in trade school. He now makes a $17/hour doing entry level electrical, but he is set for pay raises every year until he gets his ticket, and he’s portable so we can go where the biggest bang for our buck will be when I graduate. I’m still making $0, but it’s safe to say I’ll be making ALOT more than he does when I’m a doc, and with my line of credit to cover my expenses, I have a lot more right now, in terms of cash flow, at my disposal than he does.

    I’m all for not being PC, so here’s the truth- It doesn’t really bug us. Honestly. His favourite joke is that “there’s nothing wrong with being a kept man as long as you’re a well kept man.” He’s a 6’1″ blue eyed Adonis and I have to say (for the benefit of previous poster “Anon”) that the sex certainly doesn’t suffer because I’m in med and he’s in the trades. If anything, it’s a boon that we don’t have the same things to gripe about at the end of the day.

    I’m marrying the guy. He’s going to be the face I wake up to every morning, the father of my kids. I don’t see why me having a higher earning potential should emasculate him, because frankly, neither his character nor his penis size vary with his income. We’ve been poor together, we’ll be well off together. So far so good.

    • Caveat: We don’t actually have kids yet. I’m sure that’ll open up a whole new world of gender role, breadwinner, primary caregiver fun.

  166. I wouldn’t care how much the girl makes. Once we’re both financially secure and comfortable, that’s all that matters to me.

  167. I’m a male who significantly out-earns my partner and probably will for the foreseeable future. My goal is to make enough money that she can do whatever she wants without feeling the pressure of needing to contribute significantly to the bottom line.

    That said, if the shoe was on the other foot, I would be more than happy. Or at least that’s my initial reaction. I do feel a little uncertainty in my chest when I think about my partner making more than me, but I think I can say honestly I don’t perceive it as a threat to my manhood and I think I’d be just fine with it.

    • in all honesty I want to say what you wrote in the first paragraph but replacing “male” with “female”

      you know how WEIRD that would be? …but I truly feel that way

  168. I’m somewhat perplexed by many of the responses here. In many of the comments from guys, it seems to be that a woman who’s making more than her partner is then judged by how frugal (or not) she chooses to be with the money that she’s potentially worked hard to earn (I only say potentially worked hard because I don’t believe in making anything “hard…” Having worked “hard” for much of my life, I now go toward ease in all situations and am better for it.). Many guys here have said if she’s making money and spending it, it’s either:

    -willy nilly with no regard for the future and/or is potentially amassing a mountain of credit card debt. In this regard, she becomes undesirable. This even though several of the women here have commented that they manage the finances and pay the bills, or

    -she’s spending lavishly on vacations, clothes, and meals out…maybe a nice car. This is always said as if it’s a bad thing, like good people would never, ever spend their money on such trappings. Good people live frugally (apparently).

    It leads me to believe that in addition to gender roles, balance of masculine and feminine energies, and egos, some of the men are running into their inner limitations about money, what it means, and what kinds of people have wealth (seemingly not good people). Like wanting to enjoy your money is indicative of some type of character flaw that should be avoided at all costs.

    I say this as a curious observation and potentially something that gives insight to my own situation, and it makes me wonder about the influence of the socio-economic conditions in which people were raised, as other commenters have remarked.

    I’m 43, female, single, attractive, feminine, athletic, and an entrepreneur with a solid 6-figure business. I’ve dated men who made significantly more than me and significantly less than me, but somehow never someone on my level. The men who made more than me often wanted the SAHM-type and I can’t envision a time when I won’t want to be working. I LOVE what I do. They often initially said they wanted an ambitious woman and clearly enjoyed that I could go out with their friends and bosses and hold my own in a conversation, but the longer the relationships lasted, the more threatened they seemed to be by my ambition and success, almost as if my drive triggered a competitive response in them. The ones who made less than me often felt emasculated or intimidated because–since I firmly believe in enjoying my life now, not waiting for retirement or until I have a life-threatening illness or death scare–they often “couldn’t keep up” in terms of the vacations, travel, types of homes I like to live in, dining out, even if I saved it for special occasions, etc. they just couldn’t handle it, especially if they were older than me.

    Anyway, not sure where that leaves me. I’m still searching for a partner when I thought I’d be settled way before now. I can see why some of the 20- and 30-something’s are wondering if they’ll find a guy where they don’t have to diminish who they are in order to keep him.

    Oh, and for the record, 80% of my girlfriends are in the same boat. I HAVE noticed, this seems to be more of an issue in NYC and larger cities than smaller ones.

  169. My girlfriend has an MBA, and I just switched careers (starting near the bottom of the totem pole), so it’s not surpsing she earns more. Amazingly, I still manage to save more, have a better credit score, and worry less about money – partial thanks to Ramit. That said, money isn’t a major factor in our relationship.

  170. No one here talked about the influence of their peer groups.

    A friend of mine makes more money than her boyfriend. About twice as much.

    I listen to her girlfriends all the time:

    “OMG, what are you doing with him? You deserve so much better!”

    “That guy you work with is so hot.”

    And my personal favorite – “I’m so jealous that you found the right guy. My problem is that I’m just such an idealist.”

    Who he is doesn’t matter. Her opinion of him doesn’t matter. The quality of their relationship doesn’t matter.

    Her friends simply aren’t going to let her date him.

  171. I earn a very small amount, while my wife is on a very good income. We pool incomes and always have. I look after her and the house, which she loves and it allows her to concentrate on growing her career. The wage difference worries me more than her, as our ability and earning potential is very similar. She does well in a mainstream work environment whereas I don’t, so have struggled to realise my potential. Recently we’ve both been a lot more accepting of my low wage, job jumping, lack of direction. Any issues with my income have revolved around what other people might think, but now we don’t care and the pressure is much less and were more content.

  172. I have a somewhat unique situation (meaning probably not unique at all) in that, as an actor, I came into my marriage expecting that I was going to make less money than my wife. I’ve never really thought I’d be rich (though I also think the whole ‘starving artist’ script is BS) and so having a wife with a ‘real job’ that has health insurance and everything has been a great boon!
    That being said, I do have the occasional crisis of masculinity about not being a good provider in my own right, but landing an acting gig tends to wrap those up quickly (coincidentally, my freak outs seem to crop up when the auditions are going poorly. Weird.) The fact that the money from these jobs comes in big, sudden bursts, along with the whole nature of going out and hunting them down myself definitely helps any wounds to my manly pride and has me feeling like the mighty hunter bringing down the wildebeest when I bring home the check.
    On a more pragmatic level, I mostly handle the cooking and laundry around the apartment, as my day job permits me more free time, and I’m frankly just better at it than her. We also have a joint account. Earlier in our relationship, we had separate accounts and I was holding her up financially. This put some strain on the relationship as she hated taking money from me and feeling like a burden. Now, it’s all our money and we’re just happy we finally have enough!

  173. Technically, my boyfriend earns more than I do. But, he has student loans and a mortgage so he hardly has cash. On the other hand, I don’t have loans and enjoy a tax free job, so I have the cash. We rarely argue about money and while I can sometimes tell that it bothers him, he’s always been supportive and proud of the fact that I bring in the big bucks. Men are taught to be providers and it does bother them (deep down) when their women have more money. But, its not always a bad thing and they don’t always make a big fuss about it.

  174. It has always been an issue for me in relationships (I am 47)and it is a horror fascination thing. Men are excited not to have to support a partner and how can you not want to go on fabulous trips, not have to worry about money, etc., but the men I have been in relationship with often felt inadequate. Sometimes I ended up feeling like I was pulling way more than my share of the weight.
    I found what worked best was for me to date classic men who were great at guy stuff, like construction, vehicles, guns, etc. That way we both had a realm that we were successful in and there was no perceived competition or failure.

  175. I earned less than my husband (then boyfriend) when I just started out in my career. Eventually my earnings outstripped his by about 10k-15k per year including bonuses. We held separate accounts for a while and 5 years ago started putting money into a joint account from which we pay for bills. While I don’t care about the $ amount he pulls in, I grew resentful of paying for 70% of the household expenses for the first 4-5 years of our marriage. At the same time, I was getting in debt to pay for the household while he had savings on his end. I emptied my substantial bonuses to fund our lifestyle (which isn’t extravagant but my country is one of the most expensive in the world to live in, especially with 2 kids). This was not the life I signed up for when I married him. I wanted to walk away but told myself that I was also responsible because I allowed it to happen. I owed it to my kids to make this marriage work.

    I did my sums tabulating our respective contributions to the household and showed it to him, hoping to have a discussion to trim our expenses and get on a healthy financial footing. He BLEW up! So I left for a holiday (it was a really cheap holiday which I had budgeted for). Before I left I asked his brother to ‘educate him’ because I certainly wasn’t getting through. It worked because he started contributing more to the kitty when I came back.

    Now he earns slightly more than me. I would’ve still been earning more if I was working regular hours, but I negotiated flexible work hours with my boss in return for a slightly lower salary. We trimmed our expenses dramatically and things have been a lot less stressful since. In fact he contributes about 2/3 of his monthly packet to the household while I pay for some miscellenous expenses and sock away money into our rainy day fund.

    This is a great question Ramit. To sum up, me earning more than my partner wasn’t the issue. I was perfectly ok with it. Maybe he wasn’t because when I got my pay raises, he would be happy for me but also say something along the lines of ‘my wife earns more than me’. I never once complained about his relatively lower earnings. However, I was bothered by his somewhat free-loading and passive behaviour. I shared your pay negotiation strategies and techniques with him and it resulted in him landing a higher pay package in his current job, and I’m forever thankful to you for that Ramit : )

    • What about contributing to expenses in the same proportion as your income? If you make 60% of the total income, you pay 60% of the household bills. Everybody pays for their own personal stuff. It’s pretty objective that way and it eliminates hurt feelings. Everybody knows what’s expected of them.

    • I think Rebecca’s idea is a good one though ultimately you need to come up with a solution that is acceptable to both of you. I find it hypocritical that when you were paying 70% of the expenses you were resentful but now that your husband is paying more you’re ok with that – aren’t you the freeloader now?

      It seems that with women earning significant incomes it’s not just the men who need an attitude adjustment. Women can’t have it both ways – earning equal income AND having the men pay the bills.

      To sum it up, yeah, earning more than your partner is the issue, at least for you. Earning more than him meant you paid more expenses than him and that obviously rankled. Now that he’s earning more, you’re fine. The change was the money, not you.

    • Thanks Rebecca.
      Yes, contributing according to the proportion of our income works and that’s what we have been doing. This has worked very well for us and we’re happy that we now have buffer funds in case of emergencies. I really wish we had talked about finances before we got married so that all this could have been avoided.

      Kara, he is not paying more now. I earn just a little less than him (about 5%) and we split the bills and savings plan about halfway between us. I never expected him to pay for most the bills while I earn my own income. But thanks for your comment. Splitting the load could also have in the form of child – minding and chores as others on this thread have share. If someone earns less and as a byproduct has more time at home, then that person could help around the house a little more.I just think we gotta pull our own weight whatever form it takes,and whatever your income is.

    • I keep seeing this percentage of contribution thing, which is great when it works, but I do want to point out that if one person doesn’t contribute their amount, the bill still gets paid. It’s my home, too, so if myhusband wasn’t paying his 20%, and the power got turned off, it doesn’t get turned off to his 20% of the house, it’s my power, my shower, my alarm clock, and my job on the line if the bill doesn’t get paid. So the one with the extra money pays the unpaid portion, and that’s me, because I make more and am better about managing it. This is why I pay all the bills now, automatically, and his money goes directly into our joint fun money account.

  176. Currently I make more than my wife, but that is because she works part time. We are getting ready to move cross country for her dream job and I’m not at all concerned that she is going to make more money than me. I’ve heard that this is an issue in relationships and unfortunately this points to how far we have to go as a culture. Gender roles and expectations have matured a great deal but we have more good work to do. I’m also really glad that these types of conversations are happening.

    • I am really glad the conversations are happening too…this is not something we bring up out in the open and it is nice to read people’s opinion..specially those that share our current situations

  177. I earn and have earned less than my wife since we started dating…7 years ago. It used to cause anxiety in me, since I wanted to be the big breadwinner who could lead us forward into a comfortable future. Now, I recognize she is more driven and focused on making intentional progressive steps to better her career. Every job decision she makes, and additional responsibility she accepts move her toward her Dream Job, while I grope for more decisions and responsibility just to get more in hopes to earn more (it hasn’t worked). When I identified these differences, and began honing in on my job focus, my sales and subsequent pay have more than doubled. I will likely continue to earn less than her until I pass my second actuarial exam and find a career in risk management, but I have found joy knowing she will continue to press into her dream and help me toward mine.

    • Isn’t it funny how well a marriage couple can do when they can support the other’s dream without feeling like they have to give up their own? My husband and I are both engineers and have been married for 7 years. He wanted to get an MBA and take the managerial route, while I wanted to get my PE license, maybe a masters and dominate technically. We are now both PEs, he is halfway through the MBA program, and I am leading my local engineering society. We have a 3 yr old and a 1 yr old. You would think we never saw each other or fought all of the time, but we don’t. We spend at least a couple of nights a week at home with the kids, I cook more at home (thanks Tim F.), we spend most weekends together, we have date night at least once a month and we are going to Hawaii in 3 weeks. (But I still want to win Ramit’s Hawaiian vacation http://awe.sm/cJXnN ). When we stopped looking at how much “weight” the other one pulled in the relationship and focused on what each persons needs were and how to accomplish both goals, we found that we were happier and more awesome.

      Good luck on your second actuarial exam and good luck to your wife on her career. I hope you continue to enjoy being awesome and becoming even more awesome together.

  178. I’ve always made more than my husband. I think he’s OK with it, most of the time. We have two young children and we both work part-time so that one of us is home with them, but I work more days than him. When I was pregnant with our second I worked 5 long days a week while he was at home with our son, because I could earn more. I really resented the situation as I wanted to be more of a ‘mum’ in a traditional way and not have to work so much. I resented my husband a bit too, and the fact he was earning less than me. I still feel guilty for being away from my family so much.

    My husband’s great with the kids and generally enjoys looking after them and the house. But I think he would prefer to be the main breadwinner, and it’s been an issue in our marriage too.

    It doesn’t help that some friends and family can be really negative about it. Some think my husband’s a failure for not being able to provide enough so that I could work less. Others think he just has it easy: he doesn’t have to worry about work so much and he can just ‘relax’ at home while I do all the hard work. But I think it’s people who don’t have a clue about how hard it can be to take care of young children!

    • I suppose the issue between us is not the money itself, but our roles. I’d love to be able to stay home more and he’d like to be ‘away’ more. So one way to resolve it would be for him to make more money… or for me to make even more money and working less hours. Hmm, hello automated income? ;)

  179. Because of my upbringing, I find it very difficult to respect a man who is less well off financially than I am. He can earn less, but he has to have as much or more in property or assets. It doesn’t make sense rationally, but deep down, that’s how I feel.

  180. I make more than 2x my husband’s income. We pay household bills in proportion to our income. I think there are two things that make it work: One, I NEVER pay any of my husband’s personal bills, or buy him big stuff, so I don’t undermine him with money. Two, we each have a separate joint account at different banks. I don’t touch “his” and he doesn’t touch “mine”. They are joint accounts for emergencies only. Works for us.

  181. Hi Ramit, in my case my partner is making 10x my salary. Not very difficult because postdoc researcher are poor! While doctors in Québec are well paid by the government… In our case, she pick me and how much I was making money was not important for her (because she is financially independent), what was more important was education background (?) and for that I had 6 more years of university “training” than her to get my phd and postdoc to do what I do…research.

  182. I read and never forgot this quote: Financial inequity leads to spousal abuse.

    • From reading these comments, where lots of people have a partner making $20K or $50K or even $100K (with no mention of “spousal abuse”), do you still agree with the quote?

  183. “The fact is, particularly for young ambitious females, the chances of finding an “equal” mate in terms of pay and education is statistically challenging.”

    So the primary interest of “young ambitious females” is merging bank accounts (or is this just some attention grabbing headline to sell the book)? I would hope there’s more to dating than dollars.

    So is the issue with your high-earning female friends that they are too demanding or that the men are wigged out about their incomes?

  184. When I married my husband at 23, I made 2X his income. Since then we have passed the bread winning baton back and forth. The only time it was an issue is when we lacked the funds to make ends meet.

    Honestly…. I’m not sure how higher income women find guys. My husband and I met in college, so our decision had little to do with projected earning. He’s brilliant, a great companion, a perfect father, and a very pleasing lover. He’s not the type to make us rich. I don’t care. In fact, I’ve found many of the financially ambitious men to be bores. If all my time was spent with them, I’d be single. Thank god I found my husband young.

    As far as being emasculated by a wife who earns more… Only if he’s insecure… And a good sex life can fix that. When does a man feel more like a man than when he’s penetrating his wife?

  185. Older & Single Link to this comment

    Wow – this is a rich topic. I feel compelled to weigh in. Up until about 10 years ago, men I met and dated always earned more than I. However, over the past decade, this is not the case. They typically earn about $20-30k less, and have much less in assets. Has this been an issue? Sometimes … Typically, my BF will share similar life experiences with me. Previously married, one or no children, and a love of travel. But when it comes to money, the similarities end. In general, I think women want financial security. And many of us have sacrificed somewhere – expensive trips, clothing, cars – you pick – as a trade off to purchase a home and invest. All good things. However, I am finding men at my age that instead took on ex-wives debt, or pulled their 401k savings to invest in a start up, and now have few assets and less income.

    The result is my awareness that my financial independence is “attractive” to them, and that I need to proceed with caution. I hate this. I try to see the potential and innate positives in people in general. This would be very touchy to raise in a relationship. My current BF and I of 4 years live together in my paid for house. We share all expenses, however have both been through layoffs in the past year. My assets helped keep us going, but now I find myself resenting the fact that he is paying me back slowly. In all other ways, he is a loving partner and good soul. But, his lack of a financial back up plan and income are constraining and a real source of conflict. I see the potential in him, but at times drift to the dark side and doubt he will ever really get his financial shit together. He agonizes over it, and sometimes feels like a failure because of his circumstances. And, as other commenters in this blog have stated, he “doesn’t understand why I am not with some rich guy” instead of him. So, overall, I think it is a difficult issue for both men and women, and particularly for those 50ish.

  186. I make 4x more than my fellow – he’s disabled from an accident that ruined his back and earns a pittance a month in disability. We’ve been together for the last 15 years or so. It really doesn’t bother us – I know if we go out, I’m paying – we don’t fight about money at all. Asked him about your prompt last night, he said it doesn’t bother him I make more, he’s happy and grateful I have a job and although we don’t have enough to go REALLY crazy, we go to dinner and events a few times a month. He says most women only care about the bottom line and he appreciates financially struggling isn’t a deal-breaker for me — most of his friends are surrounded with gold-diggers. (Being a nice person, who can put up with me and let me BE me, is a lot more important!)

    I have a bad back as well and have a two-hour commute, so weekends are generally low-key affairs for us. I grow a lot of food we enjoy and we are raising a puppy together, in fact, I call him my Puppy Daddy since we are too old to be boyfriend/girlfriend.

    He picks up odd jobs and painting, which helps supplement his income; and I’ve used your Earn 1K tactics to earn a few thousand extra over the last 2-3 years in a side business. If I devoted more time to it, I’m sure I could do more; but I’m happy with status quo for now.

    He does sometimes make a comment about the price of things, but it’s more of the Hey-Kids-Get-Off-My-Lawn variety.

  187. My husband says he wants me to earn more. However he still considers it my place to take care of the home. His job earns more so if he had to move for a job we would, but not for mine. I know that if the rolls were reversed this relationship would not survive. I think a lot of men and women under 40 are a lot more free of the old stereo types and balanced in their relationships.

  188. My wife doesn’t work (it’s actually a choice that we both ‘cherish’) and I’m really happy to be the one who economically provides to the needs of the family. It gives me purpose. She takes care of the other immaterial (read: spiritual) needs of the family, channeling in it her energy and time. It is, by all means, a job.

    I suspect that the other way around wouldn’t work for me. Partially because I would feel less fulfilled (call the genes, the society, whatever you want… that’s the way it is) and mainly because a woman who is strongly career oriented has a different attitude towards family and would not be a good match for me.

    Me and my wife are not two individuals who share their life together and split things down to the half. We complement each other and so we are one whole.

  189. My partner does make more than I do. She even makes more than I do while staying home one day a week to be with our daughter.

    I don’t mind…much. I think it’s good that women can earn more and I’m very proud of my partner for doing so. She’s very good at her job and has a doctorate. It also means we live in a nice house close to work and can afford a nanny (just!)

    It does change the power dynamic a little. She doesn’t think it does but I certainly do. I’m not the boss of the household; I don’t, sexist phrase here, wear the pants in our relationship. I end up doing a *lot* of the housework so that she has less stress. (I’m often up to 1030pm getting things done – if I can’t run into work then I would probably then get up at 5 to get a shower before my partner).

    In my weak, down moments I might wish for a young, subservient wife who did my bidding such as the fantasy ’50s housewife; but realistically that would be rather horrible. I like intelligent mouthy women who have some ambition!

  190. I am the “breadwinner” and my husband is the stay at home parent to 4 kids under 5. I bring in the salary (almost 6 figures) and benefits. However, he has a side business that pays our mortgage and utilities so he is certainly pulling his weight financially. Plus he entered the marriage with significant assets (out of our combined net worth, his contributions are about 80% to my 20% although my retirement accounts are growing at a much higher rate than his at this time, he just funds his Roth while I have a Roth and 401k). The fact that he takes care of the kids, all of the cooking and housework except decor and the bathrooms (my chores) AND pays the mortgage means that I have a very hard time mentally thinking I “outearn” him and I am really just trying to keep up being his equal with just one job. In my mind, he works two full time jobs with kids and his business even though the business doesn’t take anything near 40 hours a week. It’s certainly not a race, if you asked him he would say I contribute more and he’s trying to be my equal. We each concentrate on being grateful for what the other does and try to improve ourselves instead of moaning about what our partner doesn’t do. Honestly, if he was making 0 I would lose respect for him because I am incredibly amazed by how hard he works and what he gets done. He does admittedly look down on most stay at home parents, especially if their kids are in school all day or if they just have one kid, since he does it all PLUS pays bills. I admire him so much. He plans on going back to work once the kids are in school and I don’t think he plans on trying to match my salary but he certainly doesn’t plan on slouching either. We do combine most of our money in joint accounts but we have our separate accounts as well, and a prenup which I think was fantastic for getting us talking about money from the get-go and plan carefully. And I don’t think that just by marrying someone that I am entitled to a single cent of what he brought in, although if I were a stay at home parent and managing a home and entertaining duties for a high powered career earner I would reconsider. I am certainly happy the money will benefit our children at least as a safety net but I can make my own way and we hope to leave as much as possible to our grandkids.

  191. I don’t care who makes more as long as both parties are ambitious and passionate about what they’re doing. Current income is not necessarily an indicator of future income, particularly when you’re beginning to build momentum.

  192. Currently, my fiance makes more than me since I am not working (I am an American living in Europe and my current visa situation doesn’t allow work), but I am more educated than he is, and I will be pursuing even more education and then entering quite a well-paying industry. So my projected salary would be quite good when I start working. I hope this plays out ok.

    He seems quite happy about my salary prospects, but sometimes I feel like he is intimidated about the education. Especially, when I start talking about something in my field. But I didn’t agree to marry the guy just to debate high-level concepts all day. And what is 5 minutes of me getting carried away on some topic compare to a lifetime together?

    Otherwise, he has been very encouraging so far that I continue studying. And we have agreed that if I get the better job and need to relocate he would be willing to.

    Judging by his family background, I think he would handle my earning more well. His mother earns more and is more educated than his father (the mother has a PhD and the father a bachelors), so this dynamic is not a foreign concept to my fiance. In their family, I see some give and take in other areas. This leads me to believe that as long as there is some equality at home or in the heart of the relationship, it works out just fine. His mother doesn’t give this air of “I make the money, do what I say.” They’ve been happily married over 25 years and both came from conservative and non-urban backgrounds, so there’s hope. :)

  193. I make more then my boyfriend, who is a student and does freelance work. It definitely is uncomfortable for him when I pick up the check for meals, buy groceries, concert tickets, etc. – to the point where he’d prefer not going out to a show or nice meal if he can’t pay. It actually took a long time before he admitted that was the reason behind not wanting to do these things, and no matter how much I offer or tell him that I don’t mind paying, he still feels bad about and wont let me.

  194. I’ve read through some interesting comments and especially ones around women differentiating between a man’s motivation/ambition vs. income.

    I’ve always been attracted to successful women and it never bothered me if they earned more or were more successful than I am. I’ve dated a few that easily earned 2x or 3x more than I did. What was interesting to me was that it didn’t matter how much I spent on dates. What mattered was what we actually did.

    I’m no dating guru but I’ve found out that women appreciated thoughtful dates rather than expensive ones. And yes a woman will always tell you that a dinner at a fancy restaurant is nice or a shopping spree every weekend courtesy of her man is the dream. But in my experience, it was always in those times when I invited a woman over and cooked a meal in front of her and for her that she appreciated it most. “Nobody has ever done this for me before.” was a comment that I truly remembered.

    I think that most men take the easy way, and yes it is easier to try to “buy” love or affection than earn it. Much like the teachings of Ramit, guys have to front-load the work. Whenever I took the time to find out what the girl’s dream is or what she always wanted to do and plan a date around that, the date would always turn out great. As an example, I dated someone that had this dream of going to India. So one day I took her to an Indian temple in my neighborhood. She was so happy and thought it was so thoughtful. It also helped that the temple was huge and it gave you a sense of being “transported” to India. We were both new and both asked how to pray and how to be respectful inside the temple (I’m Catholic by the way, but that’s not the point). It was a great experience for both of us, and guess what, it was all free!

    In the end, I think women desire loyalty, thoughtfulness, affection and love. Heck I think men do too! We tend to be so caught up with the material things and having ‘status’ that we sometimes forget what is important. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ambitious and a top performer myself. My income isn’t there yet and in fact, my position is a little unstable due to my industry. But my girl still keeps me around because she knows I’m working on it, she knows I’m up at 3am every day (yes including weekends) applying for better jobs, going through Ramit’s courses, staying fit and heavily investing in myself.

    I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it and I think that’s what my girl likes most about me :)

  195. My husband and I used to work for the same company, that was how we met. We were married very quickly, a little over 6 months of meeting each other, due to certain circumstances. A few months before we were married, my husband quit his job and was unemployed for about 7 months before he found employment. Before he quit, my income was a little higher than his, then after he quit, I was the only one bringing in any income.

    We didn’t immediately combined our finances once we started dating and when we did, we both have savings to rely on along with my income to cover expenses when he wasn’t working. During his search for employment, he was under a lot of stress. I know he feels less of a man as he was not bringing in any money, especially as there were some large expenses on his part that we need to pay for. My husband is a all around nice guy and treats me very well, he likes to clean more than me so most of the household chores fall to him, even now, after he found employment at a great company and he makes twice as much as me.

    Now, this is the interesting part, our positions are basically switched and I definitely notice a change in his behavior. What he makes now is twice as much as me, and as I’ve mentioned above, he still does the majority of the household chores (because a dirty floor to him is a clean floor to me, our tolerance levels are just different). However, now he would bring this up more and more often about how he does most of the work around the house, and that it’s not that he minds, but he would like to see me make more of an effort as well.

    I currently have an Associate degree and I will be going back to school to get at the very least a Bachelor. Before, he would say he wants to help put me back in school, now, he says the same thing, but the way it was said it seems as if I should be grateful to him for his generosity and that it’s a burden to him. There are also some things/services I buy which he questions, he would say if I don’t have his income as well, I wouldn’t be willing to spend so much on this item/service (I would, because these are expenses I am willing to spend on, I can cut back on other stuff). After hearing this one too many times, I am now considering separating our finances (I am the one who handles all of the finances) and buying my own place with my sister.

  196. As a male who makes about $90K a year, I personally don’t think that I would have a problem being w/a woman who makes more than I do, however to be fair I have yet to be in that position. I don’t know if it’s because I just haven’t had the opportunity to date a woman who makes that much, or if subconsciously I have been steering clear of them. On a logical level, I would like to believe that I (and any man, really) wouldn’t have an issue dating/marrying a woman who makes more than we do, though at the same time I won’t deny the fact that my upbringing has somewhat conditioned me to more ‘traditional’ gender roles of the man being the breadwinner and head of the household while the woman plays more of a supportive role as a wife and mother. That’s not to say I think that is the iron-clad way it should be. Just looking back at how I was raised, I can see how things have shaped and molded my opinions such as this.

    Regardless, I think that if a guy is secure in himself and what he brings to a relationship, it shouldn’t matter who makes more. Even if your man is more traditional, if he’s threatened by your ambitions, goals, and drive, you can do better.

  197. Hey Ramit, I love your questions!
    I am in my 60s, been married for nearly 30 years, and have always made more than my husband. We put the money into one pot, I pay the bills.
    He is working class; I am not.
    I was unemployed for a couple of years and that’s when I realized how valuable his steady contribution to the household is!
    It all is a part of the dance. i have had to learn to not take myself too seriously just because I get paid more!

  198. Frustrated Woman Link to this comment

    Well I am a 30 year old woman and I earn 3-5x as much as my partner (it varies week to week – I wish I could say I earn this money as some sort of intellectual professional but I don’t get paid for what my intellect does [which is music] so I have to be a stripper because $10/hr telemarketing jobs don’t cut it). I believe that he could find a job that would pay more than $300 a week if he was open to the possibility, but he can’t even wrap his head around the concept that it could be possible. It is beyond frustrating because not only do I earn most of the money, I also seem to do most of the housework. Why am I still with him, you ask? GREAT QUESTION. When will my patience run out…..

    When we got together, he fronted himself as a computer professional who was earning tons of money and could take care of me so that I wouldn’t have to dance naked anymore. He proceeded to sweep me off my feet…. and it was only after I fell hopelessly in love with this fantasy man that he revealed that his income came from more questionable sources. I’ve been with him through a prison sentence and a jail sentence on a parole violation. So just to have him working a normal, non-criminal job seems like a blessing.

    I’m sure most women aren’t dealing with this kind of situation, but at the same time I bet there are a bunch of women who ARE!!

    Now, three years into the relationship, we are BOTH depressed. Although he won’t admit it, I’m sure he feels emasculated and inadequate because he can’t support the household and has to depend on me. (And he has to depend on me being a STRIPPER which makes it about a million times worse.) I have lost a lot of respect for him because he isn’t living up to the image of himself that he portrayed when we first got together, and he complains all the time about being fat and not earning enough but won’t do anything to change it.

    Furthermore, I feel like I am BOTH of his f*king parents because not only am I the one who makes sure all the bills are paid, I also have to nag him to get him to do ANYTHING other than smoke weed and play video games. And I HATE nagging, so most of the time I just silently fume at his laziness, and let the house be dirty because I resent that I am the only one who cares enough to work on cleaning things other than dishes. Why can’t I find a guy like Ramit, only a little closer to my level?? (Ramit, of course, is a demi-god and I am but a mere human who could never hope to earn the respect of someone so accomplished.)

    I feel frustrated, angry and hopeless because it is taking me much longer than I would prefer to achieve my own financial, career and lifestyle goals due to the fact that I have to do F*KING EVERYTHING and half the time I’m so depressed and pissed off that I can’t even find the motivation to work (as a stripper, you kind of have to be in a good mood when you go to work otherwise the douchebag pervo creeps can sense that you would rather murder them and take their wallets than get naked and let them maul your tits). And because I fear that it will ALWAYS be like this. I hate feeling trapped in my role as a stripper, but I am not willing to be poor — and we are close enough to being poor even WITH me stripping so god knows if I quit dancing and accepted the same $300/week he is getting at HIS crappy low-wage job….. well, it isn’t even an option in my mind. I want to invest this money I am making while I am still young and fit enough to earn it; I already wasted three years of making money indulging myself and also making up for his bullshit which has cost us (me) several thousands of dollars.

    In case you were wondering after reading this post, yeah…. I am pretty close to breaking up with him. But then, I have been pretty close to breaking up with him for like a year or more. SIGH.

  199. I make approaching twice what my fiance makes and I can honestly say it causes very little, if any, friction between us. Contextual factors:

    1) When we met I was applying to grad school and working as a lifeguard/tutor while living with my parents, and he had an entry-level job he got straight out of college, so the start of our relationship wasn’t particularly influenced by finances; we were both comfortable enough but sorta broke like most 22 year olds.
    2) I was able to earn a great salary right out of grad school, but not without first taking on $30k in student loan debt. I’ve managed to pay all that off within a few years, but accomplished that by putting at least $1k toward my debt every month, so I wasn’t exactly living large in those first years of full-time employment.
    3) Now that I’m debt-free and do have a lot more disposable income than he does, I put more toward our shared living expenses (versus splitting them evenly, though I still think he pays more in terms of percentage of his income). I don’t have a problem with this because we’re moving toward a permanent state of shared finances with our marriage and this arrangement allows us both to live comfortably and relatively stress-free, which is obviously a happier state for our relationship. It’s also helping him pay down some small consumer debts more quickly, which lines us up for a more stable financial future together.
    4) He actually cares more about money than I do, so would he like to make more? Absolutely. The reason he hasn’t moved on to a more lucrative position with another organization since we met is that he’s been involved in a promising start-up with his current boss and has some ownership in that company. He won’t stick with it forever if there’s no payoff, but I respect his decision to sacrifice short-term earnings for potentially long-term ownership and career success with an enterprise he believes in. 5) He’s incredibly comfortable with himself and has been nothing but thrilled and supportive as I’ve continued to earn more over time. By the same token, I don’t treat him with less respect or diminish his needs because he earns less, and if I were to be the sole or primary breadwinner in the future I would enormously value his decision to stay home and raise our kids. We’re a team; either of us earning more is good for both of us. That may be a “politically correct” statement, but if I felt like he were actually threatened by my income then we would never have ended up together.

  200. I’m a man. I kind of dropped out of the whole making-money thing as soon as could (i.e. when I got out of student debt), and as a web contractor now I’m picky about my clients: I only take on non-profits or small businesses I feel good about. I make a decent hourly rate, but I work far below full-time hours. I just like having more off time for cooking, art, volunteering; living in a relatively cheap city; and yes, not having so much money. It’s how I’ve chosen organize my life, and I feel like it was a great QoL decision (which was enabled in part by applying principles I picked up from Ramit’s book, emails, and blog!!! Thank you!)

    Sometimes I perceive, from more professional women, a sudden “oh.” drop in interest as women when this comes up. It could just be my perception, as I still occasionally struggle with really *owning* my choice as it definitely pushes against the male identity I grew up with. It could also be real :) whether it’s because it makes me seem to them less serious about life and career as a human or as a “man”, I’m not sure.

    In any case, despite the occasional frustration, it’s definitely good filter for what would probably be serious values mismatches! Some women don’t seem to mind at all.

  201. Most important to the relationship is how you both carry it. I feel that the bigger the gap, the more of a problem it could become. Primarily though, it’s a signifier of status, and there are other signifiers (letters after name, Family name, beauty, titles, job title, company working for, et cetera)

    Not been in the situation of a woman earning more than me, or in an account-sharing relationship yet, but I can’t say any change in earnings doesn’t affect perceptions – both how I view her or me.

    Yes, I feel guilty about that. Why? That status matters to me. However, before I paint myself as a monster, I do think this is what a pirate might call ‘more of a guideline’. ie. I’m quite happy to say that this might *not* matter when I do fall for someone.
    But falling for a millionairess might be challenging, though.

    I’ve got scripts as to how much I want my future wife to earn minimum (but as signifier as to what it would mean re:status) – but I’ve also got scripts as to what I expect myself to earn – and yes, it’s *slightly* more. Yes, the ‘look after’ vibe/script/expectation. It’s conflicted, though, because I’d obviously want her to earn as much as possible, and would always be happy for her.

    Hypothesising – but I think I’d be happier my significant other getting a big raise in salary to a huge amount easier than simply pulling a millionairess from the get-go.

    Urgh/Sigh/Vomit. *smiles*

    PS. Yes, on twitter, no chance I’d discuss this. (Why? I think the Ted talk on ‘Shame’ holds the answer.)

  202. I suppose right now technically my wife does make more than I do since I’m trying to start a business and have essentially no income while she has a job.

    However, we have never merged bank accounts and I honestly can’t foresee ever having a joint account because she is so wildly irresponsible with money. She can’t seem to differentiate between what she feels she needs and what she can actually pay for. Fighting over how to spend money and what she feels she is “owed” just because I am a man and my job is to earn and she is a woman therefore she doesn’t have to do anything but sit back and be provided for is a never ending battle, but I digress.

    Anyhow, her “making more money than me” is not really an issue right now except for when she blows up the credit cards and needs a bailout I can’t provide. I mean, psychologically I still feel like she is earning a pittance. While employed I was making 4-5x her current salary. And I could easily rejoin the regular job market and get a job earning at least 3x her salary.

    Honestly, I don’t know how I’d react if presented with a woman who could bonafide outstrip my earning power. I think I’d be okay with it. Honestly, I think I’d be more concerned about her opinion of me. You always hear that women who have more want men who have even more. And would she have time for me amidst her presumably busy career?

    But if I’m being really honest, more than a few times I’ve been tempted to leave my wife and find someone who is at least closer to parity with me in earning power.

  203. For our first 12 years together, I made literally twice what my husband did. However, all his schooling was paid off, my grad school still isn’t, and he saves FAR more than I do out of every paycheck. He also has side contracting jobs. I have one job. (Yeah, Earn 1K calls) We have most of our benefits through my job, and I am the one who pays more attention to our overall financial situation, and retirement planning. Due to industry changes my hours were cut in half, Due to health issues attendant upon some of this, I have not found more work (I have Dream Job paid for) so my husband pays for the “extras” now. We both understand that life can surprise you at any time, pleasantly and unpleasantly.

  204. I am a 34 year old male. I am single so this topic really does not matter to me. I hope you are right Ramit, but frankly, I don’t care, and it does not matter to me.

    Thanks,

    Waqar

  205. If I learned that a woman I was really interested in made more than me it would be a turn on, but it would make me want to earn more than her. I know it’s not right, and I know it’s fueled by pride that I’ve inherited from our culture, but I’m just being honest about how I would react.

    What’s even more interesting is that I would absolutely see it as an attractive quality while still reacting negatively to it.

  206. As long as I feel good about what I am doing and have something I can point to as my own, then having a partner who makes more than me or is garnering more success becomes a source of pride and inspiration in a “Yes, I found a really special girl here. Go for it!” kind of way.
    It’s when I’m not satisfied with how my own efforts have turned out and am left with that hampster-wheel feeling, while simultaneously seeing my peers surging ahead, that the tinge of jealousy starts to creep in. (It’s also when I know it’s time for some introspection and either do something different, or find another way forward). For me, the self-satisfaction is the difference. Her success only enhances whatever I’m feeling already.

  207. Wow, this thread touched a nerve in quite a few people. Me included.

    As a formerly middle-income, now high-earning woman who wasn’t fortunate enough to find her partner in college or grad school – money plays a role in whether a relationship ‘gets off the ground’ almost every time. But salary and assets are often just a visible symptom of underlying attributes and behaviors. Most high-ambition, successful women realize they want a partner but many guys are more like an “adult child”

    What’s the formula for the right partner?

    Ambition + Drive + Persistence [Work Ethic, Discipline]+ Get Stuff Done [Follow Through, Not Just Talk] + Awareness of Time [Sense of Urgency] + Core Values

    When I tried dating guys who earned less than me, the biggest frustrations were that they were very wasteful with their time and couldn’t simply “get stuff done” in a reasonable amount of time. I was traveling week-in, week-out for my job, and would have to do all my basic errands and chores plus find time to have fun in a 48-hour window. Saturdays I’d have to get up early, hit the gym, shower, grocery store, pay bills, fill prescriptions, shopping, get dry cleaning, schedule appointments, whatever… because I did not have the free time to handle any of these tasks Monday-Friday. I learned to be very efficient about handling this so that I could be done by noon and get on with the more fun parts of the weekend. My work ethic can not stop just because it’s Saturday.

    One guy would sleep until noon, lay in bed until 3pm, then maybe get up and watch TV and thus more or less miss the entire sunny part of the day. He didn’t care. He had a good guesstimate of my income, and thought that dating a high earner meant one day he could drop his day job as a paralegal and focus solely on being a DJ. He had the intellect to become an attorney, but not the drive – he could never make the decision on whether or not to go to law school. He had a dream but no discipline to go after it. Taking all of that together, I quickly realized he’d never be able to take care of the ‘essential life tasks’, let alone support a household – my income would simply support his natural laziness, and I’d still have to do all of the chores too.

    Another guy was very sweet – he would bring flowers, cook dinner, etc. – but I about lost my mind the weekend that we were supposed to meet for breakfast. After he was already 40 minutes late, I called to find out where he was. 20 minutes later, he returned my call to say he was on the highway and “almost there.” Another 30 minutes later, he actually showed up. He was an hour and a half late for breakfast!! I asked him where he wanted to go, and he said I could choose because he had already eaten! Being late is one thing, stuff happens; being an hour and a half late and not even realizing it is totally unreasonable. I ended things a couple days later.

    Current relationship? He’s got good values and is very caring and supportive of my professional ambition. He does what needs to get done for his career, but doesn’t bring the same level of GSD to everything else outside of work. That’s probably the biggest source of frustration. Whether you want to or not, groceries have to get purchased, laundry has to get done, etc.

  208. Ramit, How messed up is this? I used to make a little over twice what my significant other made. I began feeling she didn’t really love me but only my earning potential (I may have been right). I tried a new venture controlling my own income instead of working for someone else, my income dropped, she left and I got depressed. In my brilliance I decided to make an average wage to “make sure” the next love wanted me and not my money. Now I’m average and bitter. So if I did meet someone who made more than me I would probably run them off. The mind is a powerful thing. Mine obviously needs a tweak.

  209. I make not quite twice as much as my boyfriend of 3 years, and I think it doesn’t bother him for a couple of reasons: he’s just an unusually secure person (not that that’s remotely useful in terms of advice :) ) and he doesn’t have any worries about me not needing him because he makes my life so much better. He’s just freakishly, relentlessly nice to me all the time. I could probably find someone with a higher salary and more ambition, but what are the odds that guy would ask me what I want for dinner and then make it for me every single night? Or make all of our travel arrangements because I hate doing that? Or let me catch him “planning” a decoy party so I won’t suspect that there’s a surprise birthday party in the works?

  210. My husband and I are both in the military, and I outrank him, although because of time in service and differences in housing allowance, we make almost the same amount of money. Seriously, it’s like a $30 difference. For us the money/rank isn’t an issue, but I think it really depends on the kind of person your spouse is. He just isn’t that kind of ego-driven guy. He grew up a laid-back, liberal Alaskan. I’m from Texas, and frankly, it was really refreshing to be with a guy that wasn’t caught up in insecurities over traditional gender roles. Money-wise, we have everything combined, so it doesn’t really matter who makes what. We talk about our longterm financial goals together, and then I put together the actual budget. He thinks it’s great that I’ve done well in my career, and brags to people that I outrank him. He is extremely talented and ridiculously good at what he does, so the dollar amount attached to it isn’t so important to me.

  211. I earn 1.5x than my husband. When our nanny left us, we decided that I should continue with my job and he will stay home and take care of our kid. He didn’t mind it because he is very open minded about what is best for the family. Even while we are dating, I earn more than him so money is not a big issue in our relationship. And guys should not feel threatened by a lady earning more than him. Most guys I know who marry a rich woman or married a woman who makes more than him works twice as much just to prove to himself that he is worthy of his catch i.e. his wife.

  212. There is a lot of shallow thinking on the thread.
    Look down on those that don’t make as much or more then you?
    That says as much about a persons character then anything else. Not everyone values the almighty buck and places it above all else.
    My SO and myself make enough to do well, however we don’t have fancy cars, have a small house and are focusing this year on paying off back debt.
    She makes more then I do, but she has no retirement and I have over $500k in my retirement fund. Does this mean Im better then her because I can save? or shes better then me because her job pays more? I tend to not focus on such pettiness and only focus on our overall quality of life. If she were to get a million dollar pay raise tomorrow I would celebrate with her, because her wins are mine and vice versa.

  213. My wife and me are also in same position. Sometimes she gets good money thru blogging and other resources which exceeds my salary and blogging income. But I feel there is no issue regarding that.

  214. Wow, what a great conversation! I’m late in responding, only because I printed all the responses and went through them – yes, seriously. The reason why is that I’m a coach and my niche is … ta dah…. female breadwinners! You guys have generated some awesome research for me, and it seems the issues are much the same the world over (I’m currently in Australia). The challenges are wide-ranging but there are some common themes. The biggest thing I find is that its kept pretty much under wraps and for that reason FBs are not getting a whole lot of support. I’m hoping to change that – so thanks Ramit for starting the conversation – let’s keep it going!

  215. I am loving the comments as much as the article! The standards around men being breadwinners are based on a LOT of things — science, history (cavemen!) and society. It’s both their nature and how we were nurtured.
    I believe that for a relationship to work, its a healthy balance of ambition, success and respect for both the man and the woman. Success being subjective of course.

    Ramit, hope you don’t mind sharing some link love :) http://www.benu-group.com

    • Any yes the situation is the same the world over, I was born and raised in Southeast Asia and have female friends all over the planet who experience the same situation.

  216. I only read about half the comments, but wanted to chime in. Years ago, my cousin married a blue collar guy. Our family is Asian, and her mom recently confessed to me, had she (mom) known that husband was not college educated, she would not have approved. I think there have been struggles in the marriage because there are times for example, when it’s obvious his values towards education is not as obsessive as typical Asian education values.

    On paper– he doesn’t seem like a “good prospect” _at all_. But it turns out… in all the ways that matter, he’s been really good, to my cousin, to their kids. They agree in many areas, including how finances should be spent. She is a SAHM, he may be blue collar but he’s several years older and has been working since graduating high school, so he did significantly outearn her, since the beginning. The kids think the world of him. I’m still single, and while cousin-in-law is not the kind of personality I want in a partner (thank goodness, right? no coveting), it makes me hope I can be open minded enough to look past the education and the socio-economics of a guy. I hope. Because he’s a great partner in all the ways that matter.

  217. I am 27 and currently live with my boyfriend of a year and a half. I make about 2x him but our situation is a little out of the norm.

    We met while we were both Environmental Scientists at an Environmental Consulting company. We worked together on the same level for about a year. About a 3 months after we started dating our company did a huge round of layoff (11 out of 14 of us) and both of us made it through. I was promoted to Manager at this time and shortly thereafter made the Head Manager. So within about 1 month my salary nearly doubled.

    Now I am not only making 2x what he does but I am his boss. We discussed not being together due to the complicated and frowned upon nature of our relationship but decided that we cared more about eachother then about our current jobs and would take the risk. He now lives with me in a house that I purchased about a year before we got together.

    Now that we live together I don’t worry about him knowing my finances simply because I have nothing to hide (Thanks to Ramit’s advice!) and am being able to save. I feel guilty sometimes asking him to pay equal rent even though I know how much of an income gap we have. I think the difference in money is something he struggles with (though he has never said this) because he will freak out if I’m even in the same room with him while he is checking his accounts online. I find this strange because I am definitely not after him for his money and it makes me nervous that he is hiding something big. I know he has good credit though so I don’t know what big money problem he could be hiding…

    I do have one comment for JUST ONE GUY though. in regards to the comment “Women want to admire and look up to their partner while men want to protect their more vulnerable partner”. Maybe I am backwards but I find that I am more attracted to a man that is strong and can protect/support me emotionally and physically. I like a man that will let me take care of them (cook dinner, pack lunch, grocery shop). Looking up to the guy never really comes in to play.

  218. I think it’s pretty cool when women earn more. I don’t buy that all guys have have insecurities about earning less. I think that is a very old way of thinking current issues.

  219. I agree with George above but have some additional thoughts to share based upon my personal experiences. I was divorced and single for many years and live in a highly educated major Northeastern City. I found that while in the dating scene, there existed a very unique double standard about income inequality that would would often get under my skin. On several occasions I was told by highly successful women that I was the nicest guy they have met out in the dating world but was not long term material for them because my income was below that of theirs. No matter how much money they earned, they still had it ingrained in their mind that they needed to find a guy who would take care of them. Don’t believe me? Go take a spin on Match and read profiles. Whenever a woman states her income, then check what she’s requiring for her potential mate. 90% of the time, she’s seeking someone who either makes the same or more. It is a rarity when they will accept someone who earns less. Then compare it to the actions of their male counterparts and you’ll see a very different story. Maybe things have changed for the younger generations but as a male in my mid-fifties, women have expectations about a man’s income that explain why so many women have never found successful relationships later in life.

  220. My wife makes about 40% more than I do. (Before this I supported her while she was climbing the ladder; paid off student loans etc…) I may close that gap in the near future, but given her career path, she’ll (most likely) make more than me for the rest of our years. And…I don’t mind.

    I can honestly say this because (over our 10 years together) I feel there has been a lot of give and take, a lot of sharing of responsibilities and I feel we are both doing our share in this relationship. So regardless of how much we make, combined we are a great team.

    HOWEVER….if I were to meet a “new” woman that made (considerably; 75%-100%) more than me I’d probably feel a little insecure about myself. There are a whole host of reasons why I’d think this would be the case…all of which I don’t want to get into right now. :)

  221. My wife who I just married makes 2-3X what I do. I thought we were first dating it may be an issue. It was not for either of us, and we happily pool our income and pay all our bills together.

  222. Many of the women make way more than men do these days, and they’re very Independent too. But the sad thing is that many women now Can’t Accept us men for who we are.

  223. I am on the fence. I make more than my boyfriend does and It just seems that I am more driving and motivated as opposed to him being “comfortable”. We don’t pool money. We share expenses but not from the same checking account EVER. Do I resent that he makes less than I do? Yes. As my partner I do expect equality to a degree. That degree being financially successful and can “take care of things” should for any reason be taken care of without me. I do feel that men get comfortable very easy and for a woman like myself, with my ambition, finding that partner to balance me is very difficult. When a man can take me out and I don’t have to feel as If I should go into my wallet for anything, yes, that’s sexy.

    When he and I became a couple I put blinders on as most woman do. Now, 7 years later starting to sprout some wings, I don’t feel that need to own a condo with him, because let’s face the % being put down would be by me. So I feel jaded that he does not make as much as me, and the lack of skill, motivation, ambition and drive is true turn off.

    With that being said, will the relationship last. Who knows. But, should I ever become very ill, as my mother did, the questions is: “Will he be able to pay all the bills, groceries, dog food, medical costs, rent, cable, electric, car payment, insurance, on his own”? No. that leaves me feeling used.

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