‘When She Makes More’: 10 rules for breadwinning women

A few years ago, my little brother moved his family to Seattle. His wife had received a promotion and an opportunity to work at her company's flagship location. The offer was too good to refuse. There was just one problem: They moved before Tony could find a job.

Tony's wife enjoyed her new position and increased salary. He pounded the pavement looking for work. He had no luck. When he was in Portland a few months later, he stopped by my place for a beer.

“How are things going?” I asked.

“They're OK,” he said, but he paused a moment, which told me things weren't okay.

“What's wrong?” I asked.

“Well, it sucks,” he said. “It sucks to have your wife be making all the money in the family. I don't feel like a man. I mean, I'm proud of her and everything, but I am the one who should be providing for us, not her. Ever since we moved, I haven't felt good about myself.”

Tony isn't alone. In roughly one-quarter of married U.S. couples, the wife earns more than her husband, up from just 6 percent in 1960. While this fact isn't an issue in many marriages — during the time we were together, Kris almost always made more than I did and neither of us minded — for other couples, this can be a real problem.

This dynamic is the subject of a new book from Farnoosh Torabi. In When She Makes More, Torabi explores statistics, biology, and psychology to explain why relationships often suffer when the woman makes more — and how order and harmony can be restored in this new kind of relationship.

10 Rules for Better Relationships

Torabi cites a lot of research (so much research, in fact, that at times the reading is dry) about how relationship dynamics change when the woman in a relationship makes more than the man. She also includes anecdotes to illustrate some of the pitfalls (and solutions) to common problems, such as shared housework and childcare.

Her book is structured around 10 rules for managing money in a relationship in which the woman is the primary breadwinner. Her rules are:

  • Face the facts. To start, couples have to accept their situation for what it is. She makes more. And because she does, risks of burnout, infidelity, and divorce are much higher than with a traditional relationship where the man is the breadwinner. To deal with the very real psychological costs, each couple must recognize the trade-offs they're making to maintain this dynamic.
  • Rewrite the fairy tale. Torabi says that it used to be that girls grew up “dreaming of marrying a Prince Charming who could provide for them and their children.” To be happy in the modern world, women (and men) must dream of something different. As they date and marry, they have to change their expectations, and look for new ways to achieve an effective partnership.
  • Level the financial playing field. Like me, Torabi believes money management is more an emotional issue than a logical one. It's important to establish a family financial structure that's appropriate for your situation, one that's fair and equitable to both partners. For some, that means joint finances. For others, that means separate finances. Financial chores should be divvied up based on each partner's strengths.
  • Hack the hypotheticals. To make better long-term financial decisions, Torabi says women must consider a series of “what if?” questions. Plan in advance to deal with the unexpected. Consider a prenup (or postnup) agreement. Prepare for the future, including retirement and elder care for your parents.
  • Cater to the male brain. Once you've leveled the financial playing field in the relationship, you need to level the emotional playing field. Don't ignore or trivialize the psychological impact that occurs when men aren't able to act as “providers.” Both partners should be open and honest about their feelings so that neither becomes resentful.
  • Buy yourself a wife. Like it or not, women do most of the household chores — even when they're the primary breadwinners. This can quickly lead to resentment. Torabi suggests a couple of ways of dealing with this. First, the breadwinning woman can change her expectations. If that's not enough, establish clear roles for each partner. But often the best solution is to hire a housekeeper.
  • Break the glass ceiling (but carry a shield). While women balance the needs of their relationships, they mustn't neglect their careers. “If you're a woman making the majority of the family income, you need to create your own ‘insurance policy',” Torabi writes. Acknowledge and embrace the double standards. Be careful to avoid burnout. Learn to compartmentalize the different aspects of your life.
  • Plan parenthood. Kids change everything. Most people realize this, of course, but many people fail to plan sufficiently for the challenges of children. Again, both partners should negotiate roles appropriate to their skill sets. And both partners need to be flexible and willing to compromise as you make it all work.
  • Grow a thicker skin. Everyone has an opinion — and many folks will criticize you for choosing a non-traditional role. Ignore everyone. Do what works for you and your relationship. If you need to, prepare script responses to common questions. Lend each other support during especially turbulent times (such as criticism from family members).
  • Remember to breathe. Finally, remember that your ultimate goal is happiness. Do what you need to obtain it. Get help when you need help. Don't let the haters get you down. Do what's best for your relationship.

I expected When She Makes More to be aimed at helping women level the economic playing field. It's not. There are no tips here about how to negotiate your salary, communicate effectively, or cope with sexism in the workplace. Instead, this book is targeted at women who have already established successful careers.

“This book is not about feminism,” Torabi writes in the introduction. And it's not. She's not trying to push an agenda. Her goal is to provide pragmatic and practical info for couples who find themselves struggling with a specific situation. I think she succeeds. This will be a valuable book for many people.

A Brave New World

Over and over, Torabi stresses the importance of “making it all work.” Framing it like this instead of “doing it all” or “having it all” makes sense. I have some friends who exemplify this notion.

My good friend Mac (with whom I used to write Get Fit Slowly) is a stay-at-home dad. A decade ago, he was a high-school science teacher and a baseball coach. After his wife finished medical school, she took a job as a pathologist at a local lab. She earned more in one year than he did in five. When they had children, the choice was easy: He elected to become a stay-at-home dad.

Yesterday, I asked Mac how he felt about Pam being the family breadwinner. “I'm fine with it,” he said. “It works for us and always has.”

But Mac says the reason it works has more to do with their personalities than anything else. “I'm laid back,” he said. “I don't get jealous of other people. And especially not of my wife for making more money than me!”

Plus, he and his wife have taken turns with the role. During the years she was in medical school, Mac was the primary breadwinner. She plans to retire early, and when she does, Mac will probably resume working.

“You have to remember that we planned this,” Mac said. “We knew we wanted one of us to stay at home with the kids. It would have been stupid for me to have kept working instead of Pam.”

One final note: I think this book can be helpful for other couples too, not just those in which the woman earns more. For instance, after two years together Kim and I have started exploring the world of shared finances. Who pays for what? How often? Do we share any accounts? How do we budget for a shared future? Reading When She Makes More helped me recognize that some of what I'd been asking for tilted the balance of power in the relationship too far in one direction.

Footnote: In semi-related reading, Brett at The Art of Manliness recently published a thoughtful article called “Why Are We So Conflicted Manhood in the Modern Age?” If you're interested in gender differences, this is a worthwhile read.
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Beth
Beth
6 years ago

This post makes some interesting points, but it saddens me that books and articles like this are even needed. (And don’t get me started on the language in title — “rules for breadwinning women”? They aren’t unruly children who need to be controlled.)

IMHO, there’s just one rule: “let go of your egos and work together towards your family/financial goals.”

End rant 😉

Vanessa
Vanessa
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

ITA. It’s not the women who need the rules. They aren’t the ones with the issue.

I’d like to see a book for men titled “She Makes More, Get Over It.”

Johanna
Johanna
6 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Seriously. It’s not actually the case that every time there’s a gender difference/conflict, it’s because there’s something weird (and therefore wrong) about women.

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Vanessa (and Johanna and others). This book makes it abundantly clear that it’s not just men “with the issues”. When women earn more, the women have issues too. Torabi goes into this quite a bit, covering thoughts of “Why do I even need a man?”, infidelity, divorce, and more.

I agree with Beth. There should just be one rule: “Let go of your egos and work together towards your family/financial goals.”

Johanna
Johanna
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Maybe I just need to read the book, but why is not needing a man an “issue”?

Maybe this is an unusual perspective, but I’d rather my partner and I be together because we both WANT to be, not because either of us NEEDS the other (i.e., has no other options).

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

???? Seriously? If you’re married (or in a committed relationship) and you decide you don’t need your partner and should just leave (or that it’s okay to cheat on him), that’s not an issue? Look, neither Torabi nor I are saying that every time there’s an “issue” with gender differences that it’s the fault of the woman. You’re putting words in our mouths. What we’re saying is that problems do arise, and regardless of who has the “issue”, we need to be aware of these problems and solve them in a reasonable matter. Ignoring the problem and placing blame aren’t… Read more »

Johanna
Johanna
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Uh, yeah. Seriously. Cheating is obviously not OK, but if anyone is in a relationship that’s making them miserable, they should be free to leave. Or, if they don’t want to enter into a relationship in the first place, that’s also an option. I’m not sure I understand why that’s so shocking.

Working through problems to improve an otherwise good relationship is all well and good, but nobody should feel that they HAVE to do that, if what they really want to do is leave.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Maybe I’m off on this, but there are two ways to take the thought, “Why do I need a man?” I took that statement and thought from women breadwinners as, “Why do I need a MAN?” In other words, why is a man even necessary? I was born in the 70s to two working parents and never equated a “man” to “a person to provide me with money.” Men who are married to employed women may have that same thought–but only if the man thinks a woman’s role is to birth children, clean, and cook. I don’t need a man–but… Read more »

CandiO
CandiO
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

I agree with Johanna. I dont “need” a man. I dont “need” my spouse. I need oxygen, food, shelter and water. Im with my spouse because I want to be. I love him, respect him, like him and choose to be here. But I dont need him. And I dont ever want to be in the space that I”need” someone that way. Must be awfully limiting. And to the other comment that suggested that not needing your spouse would lead to cheating and leaving, all I can say is huh? I’m quite happy and I dont cheat or feel the… Read more »

Miriam
Miriam
6 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

What about “She Makes More, So Pick Up the Slack”?

Sheesh – being a wife is so bad that it’s unreasonable to expect men to take on some of those duties when they shed their role as primary breadwinner?

Give me a break, guys.

Hmphh
Hmphh
6 years ago
Reply to  Miriam

JD- I think you’re missing the point about the “needing a man issue.” It’s predicated on the idea that marriage is about financial support or security for women…and that therefore, if a woman makes her own money she no longer “needs” a man/marriage. It plays into the insecurities that some men still harbor about their wives making more money than them, and that they “should” be the breadwinners because if “she doesn’t need me to take care of her, why would she stay?” The truth is, most modern career women don’t “need” a man to support them financially anymore whether… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

I agree that men need to get over any egotistical need to be the breadwinner. HOWEVER, women who make more than their husbands also need to take care that they don’t make their husbands feel inferior, like the hired help. In talking with my boyfriend about what our financial lives would be like if we got married this is something that’s become apparent to me. I would be the breadwinner, and add to that the fact that I’ve been single for 20 years I would be prone to leaving him out of the financial decisions. I would have to be… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

Ooops… I can’t edit my original comment, but I wanted to add that the point about hiring help is a really good one. When both my parents were stretched to the limits working, they hired a “wife” (house cleaner 2x a month) and a “husband” (someone to mow the lawn). My siblings and I did a lot of the cooking, grocery shopping and errands.

The extra help really took the strain off relationships.

Kate
Kate
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Actually, in my case, I’m pretty sure I *am* the one with the issue, and I’m the woman. If I’m being completely honest with myself, it bugs me that my husband doesn’t make more than I do. He’s happy with his job, and we aren’t hurting for money, so I should theoretically be happy. But it still bugs me. Growing up (I’m in my early 30s), I don’t think there was ever any discussion of who *should* earn more in a relationship, but my mum really pushed the idea that I should at least be financially independent. Get an education,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
6 years ago
Reply to  Kate

Sorry, that was supposed to be a response to Vanessa’s comment.

Sheri
Sheri
6 years ago
Reply to  Kate

Maybe I am just old-fashioned, but I thought that people got married for reasons other than money. Yes, you can take care of yourself financially, but isn’t there more to marriage than that?

I also wonder about your expectation that, regardless how much money you earn, your your future spouse should make even more. What is the point then of women who fight for equal pay? Sounds as if men are damned if they do, damned if they don’t, at least in this regard.

BrentABQ
BrentABQ
6 years ago
Reply to  Sheri

I think that would be the very opposite of old-fashioned. Marriage has for a long time been about money, alliances, and legacy.

Mrs Random
Mrs Random
6 years ago
Reply to  Kate

It’s true that if you are the primary breadwinner, it means you bear greater responsibility. Your choices at work (and what comes of them) are very important to the family unit’s well being. That may be something some women didn’t expect, not in that way. It’s pressure, for sure.

I have always been the major money earner. My husband is fine with that. Planning is more my thing. too. Also, I’m a better sharer than he is. 🙂

Kathy
Kathy
6 years ago
Reply to  Kate

Kate – I’m with you but with a twist: I love my man, and he has just as much, if not more, earning potential than me even though he has less formal education. But it kills me that he doesn’t try to make more. And he could easily do a side gig or two (day job is law enforcement). On the bright side, he’s a natural parent,truth be told, he’s a better mom than I am, a great cook (does all of it) and a fair maid (also, does 95% of it). The problem: It costs us more for him… Read more »

Kat
Kat
6 years ago
Reply to  Kate

I’ve talked about this topic with a lot of my friends. Our consensus was that it doesn’t matter who makes more, it’s about pulling your own weight. Regardless if you’re a man or a woman, no one likes to be busting their buns day in and day out, only to see their partner lounging about. Nobody likes carrying around dead weight. In my view, I don’t care if he’s the janitor or the CEO. (In fact, my husband did clean floors for a year while finishing up his degree.) If his life ambition is to make the world a cleaner… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Kat

Kat, if I still wielded the power to mark “great comments” with a special border and color, I’d mark yours as one.

Great comment.

Budget Girl
Budget Girl
6 years ago
Reply to  Kat

Great comment Kat. It’s completely about character — it doesn’t matter if you’re the man or woman in the relationship. It’s about pulling your weight no matter what combination that may be of caring for the kids, earning the bread, maintaining the home, cooking the meals. My parents raised me this way and they’ve both held combinations of all those roles while we were growing up. Granted mom was better at some things than dad and vice versa, it didn’t matter who was doing what as long as it was getting done cooperatively. I’ve asked them about this in the… Read more »

AB
AB
6 years ago
Reply to  Kate

In the interest of fostering a bit of unity, and cheering JD up, I’ll share my experience with this. Sorry ahead of time for the long post. For the first 6 years of my relationship with my wife I earned more. We leap frogged eachother, she’d get a raise, I’d get a raise and so on. She recently switched companies, went off contract and got a huge promotion. All in, she now makes about 20-30k more than I do. At first I was like, sweet!! This is awesome! Now we have even more money. I was cool with that. Then… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago
Reply to  Kate

@Kate,

Perhaps this is just me, but why does a woman want an ambitious man? I want a man with a good work ethic and good character, but I know SOOO many men who are ambitious and they work all.the.time. They are never home and have such a hard time leaving the office at the office.

One of the best things about being a woman is I think we can balance work and home better than men. It all goes back men putting their egos into their work, and there is a real dark side to that.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

Amen.

I had a boyfriend who made FIVE times what I make, and that was ONLY his base salary. He was bright, interesting, and caring, but he was a workaholic and that’s what eventually killed our relationship. If we had married, I would have been very comfortable materially, but emotionally? I probably would have started eyeing the pool boy…

Patti
Patti
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Hiring help is good advice, regardless of who the breadwinner is.

The problem here is that women are expected to work the second shift at home and men are not. This is why it’s proposed as an option here– where men may be the ones at home or with more time outside of the workplace.

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  Patti

…As opposed to men learning to pitch in?

Why are none of the points in this article about men changing their behaviors? It’s “cater to the male brain” and “buy yourself a wife” and so on and so forth.

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  imelda

The book talks extensively about how men too need to change their roles, attitudes, and behaviors. None of Torabi’s “rules” directly address this, though, because I think that she (like me) believes that people will be more successful if they have an internal locus of control. Instead of trying to change (or control) others, you’ll be more effective if you take charge by managing your own thoughts and behavior. The book isn’t about making other people do what you want; it’s about being able to do what you want.

Marla
Marla
6 years ago
Reply to  imelda

What concerns me is that the into was about a male friend that was upset with his situation, and then the rest of the article flipped to how women need to fix it. No responsibility on the other half (you know, the one who is bothered by the dynamic). hmmmmm

Miriam
Miriam
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Someone to clean and mow the lawn is great … but what about all the other household management chores that generally fall to women? Such as REMEMBERING to call and schedule the cleaner, NOTICING when the lawn needs mowing, plus PLANNING the meals (and grocery shopping) for the week, plus family events, plus healthcare obligations, plus pet care, plus … plus … plus …. The life of a dual-earning couple contains a lot of invisible logistics that have traditionally been managed by women. As my career continues to outpace that of my husband’s, and as I start to realize where… Read more »

Milissa
Milissa
6 years ago
Reply to  Miriam

I agree Miriam. I make double what my husband earns. I also do 80% of the housework and all the household planning.

It seems that women have continued to manage the household (traditionally) and now finance it as well. (This is from me and my friend’s experience).

Sharon
Sharon
6 years ago
Reply to  Milissa

I agree. My husband doesn’t work and he also doesn’t do the housework. It has caused huge problems but he won’t budge on the issue. I shouldn’t have to hire someone to do the housework when he is perfectly capable, he just doesn’t want to!

Kate
Kate
6 years ago
Reply to  Milissa

I’m combining two answers here, but this is exactly it.

I’m bringing in more of the money, and doing most of the housework, and doing the vast majority of the planning…

Marriage (today at least) isn’t all about money, but I seem to have taken on WAY more of the responsibilities. Disproportionately so.

Louisa
Louisa
6 years ago
Reply to  Milissa

My suggestion to those who take on the responsibility of housework, planning, etc. while also finances?
Stop. Stop doing some of it. I understand if children are involved, that makes it much more difficult, but when you’re dealing with another adult, there’s a lot you can NOT do without damage. You may have to sacrifice some standards, but that seems a small thing compared to resentments.

Monica
Monica
6 years ago
Reply to  Milissa

From experience: As long as you continue to do all the housework – then you will be stuck doing the housework no matter how unfair you think it is. Draw a line in the sand, put your foot down, delegate, and stick with your plan. The lazy people in the house will continue being lazy as long as someone else comes along and does the work for them. I’ve had to teach my mother this concept because everyone was piling their responsibilities on her and she simply took it. She felt that if she simply complained, people would take it… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Miriam

In my family’s case, my siblings and I were teens when my parents were stretched to the max (one was self-employed and working 60+ hours a week and one was travelling a lot.) My siblings and I did a lot of the chores (looking after younger sibling, cooking, shopping, cleaning, looking after the pets, etc) in addition to working part time to save for college.

That little bit of help was one less stress. It wasn’t a cure-all.

Treo
Treo
6 years ago

Great read, thank JD. I’ll have to say that as a man, I do enjoy providing for my family. It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction that I am allowing my wife to be a stay a home mom and raising our son. I used to be a in a different position, my now wife made more than me when we where dating. I can’t say it didn’t bother me. It’s not a gender thing for me though. I feel that it is my role in life to provide the financial security. I leave 90-95% of all decisions to… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Treo

IMHO, couples should make working/stay at home arrangements that work for them. It isn’t wrong for either partner to say “I want to stay home with the kids” or “I want to work to support the family.”

I think society has a long way to go yet, but I like that both men and women have more choice. I think there’s a difference between saying “I’m a man and you’re a woman and this is what we’re supposed to do” versus “We’ve weighed the options and this is what we want to do.”

Johanna
Johanna
6 years ago
Reply to  Treo

“I leave 90-95% of all decisions to my wife, all I care about is where I work and what car I drive, other than that, I am happy to have someone else choose.” See, the thing is, making 90-95% of all decisions – i.e., keeping track of the day-to-day details of running a household – is actually a lot of work. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep track of everything that needs to be done, decide how to do it, and make sure it gets done. I wonder if this is what it comes down to in… Read more »

Treo
Treo
6 years ago
Reply to  Johanna

Johanna, I appreciate your viewpoint, and I and I do very much appreciate what my wife does, I realize that it’s not easy to do the work she does (I know, I did it for a while while she finished her doctorate and I worked full time at the same time [albeit, from home]). I’d say that my wife and I have different priorities though. I care about food on the table, she cares about “healthy” food on the table. I’d often get dinner done, but on the quick, which wasn’t necessarily what she’d approve of. I am a very… Read more »

Naomi
Naomi
6 years ago

I’ve always earned more than my husband. He has been a stay-at-home dad now for 3 years while I’ve worked full time. And I am so pissed off when I see advice like this that appears to think we’re all daffy women and manly men from the 1950s. It’s time for people clinging to traditional gender roles to realise that the world is changing fast – perhaps those traditional roles are offensive and outdated – or perhaps they simply aren’t affordable any more. Move on. If you need therapy to handle the fact that your wife isn’t dependent on you… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
6 years ago
Reply to  Naomi

“Get over the bullying, it’s just some teasing, it’s not a big deal.” Wasn’t that how it was ten years ago? So thanks for trivializing honest emotions many people from many different backgrounds may be facing. I’ll keep your comment in mind next time I hear some woman say they want to date a “nice guy” and then end up in bed with a “bad boy” or when some man says they want a woman with a nice personality and then chase after some “hot looking” nasty lady who treats them like dirt. Rationalization beats emotional feeling and millions of… Read more »

Louisa
Louisa
6 years ago

I have always found it strange when I hear about men feeling vulnerable about their wives earning more. I want to say, “You have a good life, you’re not on the streets, you have your needs met. And you’re complaining? What’s wrong with this picture?” Fortunately, I have not actually met many men like this. The men in my life, whether my husband, my male relatives, or friends, are all practical and intelligent. It’s too bad Torabi has to defensively proclaim her separation from that dreaded bugaboo word “feminism.” I’m afraid I’m used to women doing this (“I’m not a… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
6 years ago
Reply to  Louisa

If you know a lot of men who earn less than their wives, I am sure a lot of men feel vulnerable about that fact. Whether they tell you that feeling is a different topic. (Frankly, I’ve never heard a man say he feels vulnerable–about anything! This doesn’t mean men don’t feel vulnerable, though) Men are raised to be “men” and it has a distinct clear meaning to men. I don’t think the same can be said for what it means to be a “woman.” I rarely ever hear the insult that a woman is not a “woman,” but it’s… Read more »

Louisa
Louisa
6 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

Back in the 70s, my father took early retirement so my mother could pursue a Ph.D. program and develop her career after being a trailing wife for 25 years. My brother-in-law gave up a tenured professorship to move across the country when my sister got an offer that was exciting and financially rewarding. Another brother-in-law was a stay-at-home dad for three years until the kids were all school-age. He loved it. I’m sure it was hard for my brother-in-law to give up his tenured position, and he did sacrifice (the economy collapsed, and he never found another tenured job), but… Read more »

David.Paul
David.Paul
6 years ago

My wife took a job about 3 years ago resulting in her earning about 10-15% more than I do (depending on whther she earns the quarterly bonus). She also works roughly 50% more hours. her paycheck is nice; it’s the complaints when I am enjoying my weekend and she is plowing through a stack of reports and performance evaluations I could do without.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  David.Paul

Dude! Maybe she’d complain less if you made her a sammich. Seriously.

Anne
Anne
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

OMG, thank you El Nerdo.

Lizzie T.
Lizzie T.
6 years ago

I’ve outearned my husband for a decade now, to varying degrees – twice as much, three times as much, now six times as much. (It will go down to twice as much next year, when he gets a different job.) Honestly, I bridle at the idea of there being “rules” for breadwinning wives. He and I have equal responsibilities to ourselves, to one another, and to our children. It’s both of our responsibility to be able to support our kids. If we want a certain lifestyle, it’s incumbent upon each of us to be able to pay for it. My… Read more »

Jon
Jon
6 years ago

My wife’s salary passed mine up perhaps a dozen years ago. It’s never really been an issue. We both have worked hard to support our family and lifestyle, and we share in the big financial decisions, though she lets me deal with the details, since she doesn’t find the enjoyment in playing with figures that I do. If her salary ever got to be six times that of mine, like the situation described by Lizzie T above, it would just mean we could slam away that much more money in savings, and retire much earlier. No conflict there.

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

My wife makes twice as much as I do. I do all the cooking, laundry, lawncare, and housework. We’re not tied into our gender roles and see ourselves more as a team just trying to get things done; we’re making it work. I think the problems arise for men when their wives or partners don’t make them feel appreciated, don’t respect them, and in subtle or not so subtle ways, make it clear that they don’t really need them. You have no idea how important this is psychologically to a man. I suppose ‘breadwinning’ was traditionally how men fulfilled that… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  Rob

Indeed. My wife and I have joint finances and share all the work in the household. We’re a team. Some times she makes more, some times I make more, some times we make the money together, and we may have our areas of specialization, but we’re here for each other and we both put our shoulders to the wheel. It’s about cooperation, not competition.

Kat
Kat
6 years ago
Reply to  Rob

Totally agree with you. It’s important for couples to appreciate and encourage each other, period. This applies to both men and women. Oftentimes, if someone doesn’t get the appreciation they want at home, that’s when they start looking elsewhere for that type of attention. It’s when we feel unappreciated, especially for the menial or daily tasks we do that usually go unnoticed–that’s when resentment can start to build. Even if it’s my responsibility to drag myself out of bed every morning at 6am for work, I still appreciate it when my husband says “good job being a trooper this morning.”… Read more »

MikeTheRed
MikeTheRed
6 years ago

I honestly don’t know what I’d do if my wife made more than me. I’d like to think I’d be OK with it, but who knows? I think the most likely conflict would come up if either of us had a great opportunity come up that required relocation. Who would sacrifice their career in the short term? Would it go with the higher earner? If both of us were high up on our respective career ladders, how would we deal with that? Honestly, I bet a lot of the struggles are the same if you had two career-driven people in… Read more »

KMZ
KMZ
6 years ago

Tony sounds like he needs to deal with his insecurities.

Jessica
Jessica
6 years ago

I think it takes a strong man that is secure in who he is to appreciate and not feel threatened by a woman who makes more than him. Luckily, living in Boston, I know many women who make more than their husbands and do not have “traditional” family structures. I make a lot more than my husband and we honestly share the household chores and caring for our son equally. He has never been unsupportive and has always appreciated my ambition. I really was annoyed with the points made within the book. It is not women making more that leads… Read more »

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

As someone who grew up in a home in which my mom made more than my dad, and now I make more than my husband, I have to admit: I don’t get it! It just doesn’t seem that complicated to me to have the woman makes more. I can’t imagine needing an entire book about the subject!

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
6 years ago

I think I file this “problem” under the general advice, “Don’t marry a douche” and Wil Wheaton’s law (“Don’t be a dick”).

Agree with previous commenter (Louisa) that the slam on feminism is unwarranted, either by the author of the book or by J.D. Roth.

Patti
Patti
6 years ago

For JD to say that the book isn’t feminist and then say — it’s true, it doesn’t have an agenda is a problem for me. Of course the book has “an agenda” it’s not a feminist agenda. And like many commenters, I wish it WAS a feminist agenda. The advice would be very different than what’s here. It bothers me that the list includes so much advice for women about how to deal with men’s feelings. I’m not saying there aren’t relationship dynamics when the woman earns more. (I have been the top earner and have in both my adult… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago

Whoa whoa whoa. Who slammed feminism? Not me and not Torabi. She and I both strongly support feminist ideas. Her book (and this blog) are informed by feminism. But we’re both trying to keep politics in the background because we recognize that readers of all stripes need this info, whether they agree with our political views or not.

Patti
Patti
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Hi JD–

I’d say that if a couple is facing challenges because the woman earns more, what they need IS feminism.

Patti

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Patti

🙂

AGREED!

Emily @ evolvingPF
Emily @ evolvingPF
6 years ago

I remember an example from a class my husband took in college – I think it was from The Second Shift – that illustrated that as long as the couple was in agreement about who should be the breadwinner their marriage would be OK, even if that was not the reality. That is, a marriage will be strong if the couple shares the same values regarding career and earnings – doesn’t matter if they want a male breadwinner, a female breadwinner, alternating, or irrelevant. I haven’t had to face a “she makes more” situation in my marriage yet – my… Read more »

Leslie
Leslie
6 years ago

The language bothers me a lot here. “Buy yourself a wife”?!?! I’m completely on board with hiring a housekeeper if it helps make things easier, but using the term “buying” a second wife suggests:
1. A wife’s true job (and purpose) is to cook and clean.
2. Women can be purchased. (!)
3. Any married woman who doesn’t cook and clean to the husband’s liking is failing in her duties as a wife.

I’m disappointed that an normally intelligent blog like this would endorse a book or a viewpoint that is so demeaning to women.

Kale
Kale
6 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

I agree with the language comment. This book is addressing an unfortunate reality that is the fact that people get bent out of shape when they have expectations about who should be earning more. We may not like it but it’s true. But to say “buy a wife” or “cater to a man’s brain” no matter how tongue in cheek it’s meant to be is just reinforcing all the stereotypes/expectations people are trying to break away from. It seems like she should have known better.

Sheri
Sheri
6 years ago
Reply to  Kale

I know for certain that I’ve heard women proclaim that they need a wife when they find they have too much on their plates. So, with some quick Googling I found a business, owned by a woman, called “I Need A Wife Services.” Part of her pitch includes the phrase “No one can take care of you like a wife not even a personal assistant.” To her, and to me, too, the term wife describes someone conscientious and hard-working and it is not meant to be an insult. You can continue to let the language enrage you, or you can… Read more »

Cal
Cal
6 years ago

Good grief, JD!
What advice would you give to same-sex couples? I shudder at the thought!

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Cal

You’re missing a pronoun there, so I don’t know how to respond to this comment.

That said, you’ve made a great point. Often when I hear discussions about gender different, I too think, “What advice would we give a same-sex couple?” Kind of removes all the baggage and makes it easier to see what’s best.

Emmy
Emmy
6 years ago

I’m not married, but my mom ALWAYS made more money than my dad. To my knowledge, this was not a big issue for either of them. I don’t think my dad ever felt like less of a man, or that my mom felt like she didn’t need my dad. This is not to say that they didn’t fight about money; they had this idyllic suburban dream and, I now know, were seriously over-leveraged in order to achieve it. But, their roles as spouses and parents didn’t really depend on who brought home the bacon.

Leslie
Leslie
6 years ago

The language in this article really bothers me. “Buy Yourself A Wife”?!?!? I’m all for hiring a housekeeper if it makes things easier, but phrasing it in such a way implies: 1. A wife’s primary duty and purpose is to cook and clean. 2. If she’s not doing so satisfactorily, she is failing at being a wife. 3. Women can be purchased. A wife is the female half of a marriage. It’s absurd to think that because she is making more money, the marriage needs a second wife. I’m truly disappointed to see what is usually such an intelligent blog… Read more »

ONE EC
ONE EC
6 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

Yes. This language bothered me as well.

The entire article is absurd, but that use of “buying a wife” is so misogynist.

Monica
Monica
6 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

Agreed. “Buying yourself a wife” implies that the role of a wife is to do all the junk no one else wants to do – as in a servant/hired hand. Someone to dump the unsavory and undesirable responsibilities onto(cleaning the toilet). I don’t know if I agree with hiring a housekeeper in all situations. If you live with someone lazy – this is just shelling out money to enable their behavior even further. All in all, if a man (or woman) is insecure – they need to do the work to resolve that. My parents have a marriage with a… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

Nice problem to have! 🙂

Lindsay
Lindsay
6 years ago

This book must be geared towards people middle-aged and up because the idea that couples should need a book of advice when the woman makes more money is laughable. Most young women are not growing up with a “Prince Charming” fantasy anymore. And it’s quite obvious that this book “isn’t about femninism” because the idea of “buying a wife” is ridiculously offensive. Household chores are a reality for any adult, male or female. Maybe once upon a time they were divided by gender but most young women today certainly don’t believe that housework is solely their domain. This book sounds… Read more »

Mrs PoP
Mrs PoP
6 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay

An older target audience was the general vibe I got too, in terms of the timeliness of the book. Think of the number of middle aged men that lost jobs and couldn’t get jobs of similar stature or pay (or any jobs) in the last recession. Hasn’t it been called a man-cession for the fact that most of the recovery went toward women more than men? That probably changed dynamics in many relationships – relationships that might have been set in their ways for 20+ years (as is the case of my own parents who experienced their own man-cession). I… Read more »

Milissa
Milissa
6 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay

I do not believe it is my domain, but unfortunately, I am the only one that will do it.

Elissa @ 20s Finances
Elissa @ 20s Finances
6 years ago

Yeah – while this article is great and gives great tips for a legitimate problem, in an ideal world there wouldn’t be books like this because we wouldn’t need them. The pressures of masculinity can be very problematic.

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago

This discussion has been on my mind all morning. I’m frustrated by some of the responses to this review. Why? I’ll tell you. For one, there’s the response — explicit and implied — that Torabi and I don’t support feminist ideals. This is nonsense, as anyone familiar with our respective bodies of work will attest. We both support strong women and gender equality. But that doesn’t mean that either of us are willing to ignore real-world realities. We can’t write personal finance advice for some idealized future in which there are no differences between men and women. These differences exist,… Read more »

Leslie
Leslie
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

I agree that we need to address the issues of the real world and not the ideal one. It’s true that not everyone is a feminist and that marriages can have real trouble if there’s a sudden shift in who is earning more money- especially if the shift goes against cultural norms. The sentiment behind that is appreciated, but I maintain that the author’s way of addressing the problem is damaging and demeaning to women. Instead of “buy yourself a wife” how about “find unconventional ways to resolve common tension spots”? Instead of “cater to the male brain” how about… Read more »

Danielle
Danielle
6 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

That is my problem too. This book may have some great concrete advice but the language used immediately leads me to the conclusion that the author believes that it is up the woman in the relationship to ease the transition in gender roles.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Danielle

The language is where I fell down too, starting with the title. I noticed that the title was “rules for breadwinning women” but the actual advice was “rules for better relationships” — the latter indicating the give-and-take of a relationship while the former implied behaviour modification for the woman. I think the issue is important worth talking about, but the language geek in me wonders how much the word choice is polarizing people. I wondered if the language was meant to be inflammatory — why “buy a wife” rather than “hire help”? I also wonder if couples who are homosexual… Read more »

Patti
Patti
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Hi JD, I think the challenges to this post about the book and feminism are more nuanced that you are allowing here. For instance, I don’t doubt your personal commitment to equality. I have been reading GRS since about 2008 and your work in other areas– you write honestly about your relationships. I am not questioning whether or not *you* care about equality by raising these challenges. Those of us who are addressing the issues with the book are not denying differences or pretending they don’t exist as you state above. I acknowledge the issue exists and is a problem… Read more »

Anne
Anne
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

JD, I think you inadvertently highlighted the biggest problem with your post when, in your comment defending it, you said that we need to play to “the strengths of both genders.” Genders don’t have strengths or weakness, not even statistically. PEOPLE have strengths and weaknesses. Many people who are in marriages where the woman out-earns the man ARE playing to their personal strengths — as the comments have made obvious, there are plenty of men out there who are awesome at managing a household and a family, or even are awesome at something career-wise that just doesn’t make a ton… Read more »

Marcella
Marcella
6 years ago
Reply to  Anne

Anne +100 on this comment: “JD, I think you inadvertently highlighted the biggest problem with your post when, in your comment defending it, you said that we need to play to “the strengths of both genders.” Genders don’t have strengths or weakness, not even statistically. PEOPLE have strengths and weaknesses” This also bothered me: “They’re not feminists, not by any stretch of the imagination. If Torabi were to overtly push a feminist agenda in addressing this issue, she’d not only be ignoring what works in the real world, but she’d also alienate her target audience” JD, what, exactly, are you,… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Marcella

Marcella, if you think I find feminism and feminists offensive and potentially alienating, you haven’t read a thing I’ve written. This comment goes to exactly why I find so many of the comments on this article so very frustrating. A group of you is putting words in my mouth, words I’ve neither written nor believe. Also, I happen to believe that Anne is wrong that genders don’t have strengths and weaknesses. Are you trying to tell me that you don’t believe women, as a group, don’t possess different qualities than men, as a group? And that some of the qualities… Read more »

Beth
Beth
6 years ago
Reply to  Marcella

I think, J.D., that there is are as many differences within a group as there are between groups — and therein lies the difficulty. I do agree that women as whole have certain qualities — we can bear pain far better, for instance — but the danger with saying that “women have these qualities” and “men have these qualities” is that it can reinforce stereotypes and overlook the experiences of individuals. For example, women are seen as being more nurturing so people make fun of a man who is nurturing for being effeminate, and a woman who isn’t nurturing is… Read more »

Louisa
Louisa
6 years ago
Reply to  Marcella

“This comment goes to exactly why I find so many of the comments on this article so very frustrating. A group of you is putting words in my mouth, words I’ve neither written nor believe.” JD, here’s an alternative perspective. You could view all this feedback as helpful and generous, and be grateful for it, rather than reacting with a tone of irritation and defensiveness. Who knows, maybe it’ll generate a best-selling sequel. You (and Torabi) are responsible for the language and concepts you use. If we don’t understand you, then maybe you weren’t clear enough. Maybe for future readers,… Read more »

Brenton
Brenton
6 years ago
Reply to  Anne

You just made me roll my eyes, Most of comments today are rather ironic given the content of the post.

Emmy
Emmy
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

JD, I understand your frustration, but I think you’re being tone deaf here. I know that GRS tries to be as politics-free as possible, and I think that’s helped the community have some really interesting discussions. However, I think there’s a difference between knee-jerk politics, which DOES shut down discussions, and exploring the history of gender roles and how they have changed over the last century, which can be immensely helpful. I feel like what you’re perceiving is the former, and what people are for the most part talking about is the latter. This is a very contentious area, and… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Emmy

From my perspective, many of the comments here have been knee-jerk political and have ignored the history of gender roles in our society. It’s precisely because of that history that Torabi disavows feminism in her intro. Can’t you see why that strategy is important for reaching an audience that, for whatever reason, finds the feminist movement negative? If Torabi were to have declared, “This book is based on feminist principles, etc.” she would have alienated a large portion of the population that needs to read this. Just the other day, I was interviewed by a fellow who asked me about… Read more »

Louisa
Louisa
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Torabi doesn’t have to “proudly proclaim” she’s a feminist. But there’s no need for her to carefully distance herself from it, either. She (and you) are the ones who brought up the issue, after all. Why say what you’re not? It sounds defensive and raises the shackles of many, as is obvious in this dialogue.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

The problem is that for many feminisim = feminnazism because too many self-proclaimed feminists think that in order to raise up women you have to tear down men. And THAT, IMO, is why writing the book from an obviously feminist perspective would turn off a lot of people, women included. (Why women? Because of the brand of feminists who criticize and ridicule women who want to wear pretty, girly things.) As for the language – I am not turned off by the “hire a wife” phrase. For starters, I remember my mom declaring that she needed a wife because she… Read more »

Marcella
Marcella
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

JD, come on. For a guy that has spent a lot of the discussion on this topic complaining that people are misunderstanding you, I can’t believe you just wrote that. What we’re saying is knee-jerk, politic reaction? Did you actually write that with a straight face? Why not consider that we have thought long and hard about these issues. We are well aware of the gender roles and norms society places on us; we’re often on the losing end of these. Many of us are saying that as feminists – yes, people who believe that genders are equal – we… Read more »

Hmphh
Hmphh
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

JD says “This book is targeted at people like my brother Tony, whom I mention in the start of the review.” But, no, it isn’t. It isn’t about Tony finding ways to deal with the “issue” of his wife making more money. It isn’t about he can find ways to deal with his insecurities or his fears. It isn’t about how he can find ways to untie his self-worth from his salary. It isn’t about how he can see himself as part of a partnership where WHO makes the money is insignificant so long as you have shared goals for… Read more »

Rob
Rob
6 years ago

Thanks JD for comment #54. I have been getting frustrated with the responses as well, and couldn’t put my finger on it.

betsy22
betsy22
6 years ago

When I was dating, it seemed that the topic of money would come up on the first date only in two very specific contexts: 1. The guy made a LOT of money and was hoping that would impress me, or 2. The guy didn’t make a very high salary and was asking how much I made, hoping that I didn’t make more. Personally, I thought that discussing salary on the first or 2nd date was always a bad idea, and I was kind of weirded-out by both of these situations. However, I did find it interesting that salary ratio was… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  betsy22

I figured that eventually he was going to have to either change his dating criteria, start making more money, or just limit himself to dating interns.

Wow, I don’t know what to make of that.

betsy22
betsy22
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I meant that literally, though not that I thought that he should be out chasing teenagers. It’s DC, so there’s plenty of mid-to-late 20-somethings who are doing internships while working part time at a paying job. My point is that it’s rather limiting to deliberately chose to work in very low-paying (but rewarding) field and then feel insecure when potential dates make more money than you.

Leigh
Leigh
6 years ago
Reply to  betsy22

I’ve had similar reactions on dates in the past. I’ve never disclosed how much I make unless it was a serious relationship, but the guy has. And it’s weird. They were so proud of making X thousand dollars per year and I just didn’t have the heart to tell them how much I make. It definitely did not impress met at all when a guy made $100,000 less than me, but he was so, so proud of it. It just boggled my mind. I dated someone a couple years ago who really did not like that I made more money,… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  betsy22

I saw that type of thing, too, when I was on the online dating site. For those commenting that income and man as the breadwinner is irrelavant in this day and age I don’t see that happening. Among my close circle of friends, yes, but enough of our society is still tied into that notion that a book attempting to deliberately bust those notions is needed. My current boyfriend also noticed that when he went on first dates it was sort of expected that he’d at least offer to pay for the entire date. He would also get the cold… Read more »

Carla
Carla
6 years ago

I’m from the school of ‘if he asks me out, he pays’. I also never, ever asked a guy out. If he’s interested he will ask, if not, then no. I was taught that but I also learned the hard way. I’m a late GenXer but was raised to “let men be men”.

Its a bit ironic given my mother was the one to carried the load at home but maybe that’s why she wanted something different for me as unpopular as it may be.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I was raised the same way!! Mom told me that girls do NOT call the boys… Having these different schools of thought floating around can make things funky when dating. “If I don’t offer to pay will he be miffed?” “If I offer to pay will he be insulted?”

I went with the rule the the person who asks pays. But, having those traditional dating rules in flux can lead to some awkwardness.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Carla

I think age and generation has a lot to do with it as well. My DH was raised by a Depression Era, WWII vet and he would spin in and levitate out of his grave if my DH were to ask me to “pay my share” while we were dating. ‘That’s not he he raised his son.’

lmoot
lmoot
6 years ago

Thank “hey Zeus!” I am single. I agree with what one commenter said about younger people not being as anxious about who make more than whom. Everyone is just trying to survive and if you are lucky enough to find someone who makes that goal easier (whether because they earn more, or bring something else to the table), then that is enough. Personally I don’t need to make more than a spouse. I just am the type of person where I feel like I need to make at least enough to support myself. I think it makes a little more… Read more »

Sylvia
Sylvia
6 years ago

There’s only one rule and men need to follow it: Man up and realize women are your equals.

Jane
Jane
6 years ago

Like J.D., I have to admit I am a little flummoxed by the turn this conversation has taken. I know there are multiple commenters making multiple comments, so I can’t necessarily claim this with absolute certainly, but it seems to me there are a lot of contradictions floating around. On the one hand, we just want men to “get over it” and their feelings of insecurity; yet on the other, several women have freely admitted that they secretly or perhaps quite explicitly are frustrated with their lower earning spouse and his supposed lack of ambition. Turn your expectations around and… Read more »

Rail
Rail
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Thanks Jane! I try not to ever take life to seriously(Groucho Marx is one of my hero’s) so when everyone’s undees get in a bunch about something that is NOT life or death My inner Groucho comes out. Yes men and women do have physical and mental differences and we do react to outside stimuli in different ways. Why are some people flapping their arms and doing their best Jackie Gleason imitation about that? In modern society, as a man, I cant speak about my view on womenkind without the PC police getting on my case. Yet, daytime TV, print… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Yes. This. Exactly this.

Emmy
Emmy
6 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Seriously? This?

Leslie
Leslie
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

“…we appear to expect sensitivity to issues of femininity and feminism yet don’t appear to want to give men the same courtesy. There might be centuries upon centuries of reasons for this, but it nonetheless is halting the discussion rather than moving it forward.” The two things (sensitivity to feminist issues vs. masculinist issues) are not the same precisely because of the “centuries upon centuries of reasons.” History matters! It matters so much. Any group of people that have been systematically disadvantaged for centuries (as have women in the workplace) should be treated differently. Criticizing a man for “just” wanting… Read more »

Jane
Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Leslie

As a student of history myself, I agree with you, Leslie, but I was nonetheless disturbed by the oft-touted “get over it” tenor of many of the comments, as if men’s insecurities and problems are just all in their heads and not at all related to the outside world and the expectations they face in daily life both from women and from society at large. This is especially galling when there is ample evidence that certain wives do actually look down upon their lower earning husbands. It’s clearly not just in their heads. As women, we can’t have it both… Read more »

J.D.
J.D.
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Thank you, Jane. Well said.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Jane

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!

Just because you’re part of a historically oppressed group doesn’t give you the right to categorically dump on every single member of the historically oppressive group. you’re just swapping out one form of bigotry for another.

Rail
Rail
6 years ago

Wow J.D.! I cant believe the s#%t storm that this thoughtful post brought up. You did right in your initial post and I don’t understand the great maelstrom that it has touched off. Everyone please take a deep breath and settle down, me thinks thou doth protest too much. J.D. and I are off the first generation where women started to really work outside of the home and speaking for myself I though many of the issues that we are talking about were hashed out 20-25 yrs. ago. I guess I’m lucky I don’t care if I don’t make the… Read more »

ZP
ZP
6 years ago

Thank you, J.D. for this post today. It really means a lot to me and came at the perfect time. I have always earned more than my husband and he is wonderful around the house (sharing in the cores, etc…), and I was even fully suportive when he wanted to quit his well paying job and get a $10/hr job to fulfull some creative passions. Even though I was completely burnt out at my current job (still am and fully understand the burn-out situation in the post), I was some what resentful that I had to be more careful about… Read more »

Kat
Kat
6 years ago

I have to admit, when my husband surpassed me in earnings this year for the first time since we both started working, I had a moment of existential angst. I guess it goes both ways.

Cath
Cath
6 years ago

Wow!! Obviously a whole lot of smart people who read this blog must live in a bubble. These are the opinions expressed by two people, an author and a blogger. But to weigh in. When hubby and I got hitched I was a single mother with no degree of 2 tweens. He was a professional, but junior in his field. We made about the same salary going in to our marriage. He had more debts than I, we both owned our own homes. His worth more – bigger mortgage, mine not worth as much, but lower mortgage. We sat down… Read more »

Sharon
Sharon
6 years ago

Good article, but I take exception to the comment that the female breadwinner needs to hire a housekeeper. If the woman was a stay-at-home mom, she would be doing the housework. Why is it STILL her responsibility when a husband is staying at home? Shouldn’t he do the housework since the roles are reversed?

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Sharon

If the husband is staying at home, yes. But, if he works a fulltime job then expecting him to do all the housework is also unrealistic.

Ideally both should do a fair share of the housework in that situation. However, this isn’t an ideal world and there are husbands who simply won’t do the housework. Similarly, there are wives out there who feel that unless the housework is done to their exacting standards then it isn’t really done. Either of these could lead to tension, and sometimes the easiest way to get around it is to hire a housekeeper.

Babs
Babs
6 years ago

Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
It makes me sigh to see it referred to as a political agenda, rather than a basic human right.

ONE EC
ONE EC
6 years ago
Reply to  Babs

+ 20 million to this comment.

Hope
Hope
6 years ago
Reply to  ONE EC

Yes. THIS. This is what I don’t think J.D. gets. Feminism is not just ‘politics’, and an author claiming their book does not espouse its principles is not going to make me think better of said book.

The Wallet Doctor
The Wallet Doctor
6 years ago

I think that any situation which challenges societal norms can cause stress. Although it is becoming more normal for the woman to earn more, it is still part of the traditional fairy tale to have the man bringing home the cash. I think you are right, it may help to re-write this misleading fairy tale. Ultimately, I think the key is communication. Both parties need to be honest with each other and willing to modify things as needed to make the other person more comfortable.

kiki
kiki
6 years ago

You have GOT to be kidding me. Is this The Onion???

Christina
Christina
6 years ago

I have a totally different take from this article. I’m a pathologist, wife, mother, and all that. I didn’t just find a job in a local lab after medical school. I completed a 4 year residency and 2 years of fellowship and worked my butt off to find a job at all – eventually in a different state. Then reimbursements are cut by the government, and I’m laid off. 18 months later I am now making more than my husband, but I’ll bet it’s much lower than the pathologist mentioned in the article. The way medicine is now with huge… Read more »

nobody, really
nobody, really
6 years ago

I think….this is the consequence of Gen X. It’s rather new and requires conversation, regardless of what labeled generation we are on. I get it, it will get easier as generations establish and move away from feminism as a goal (because it’s just here), but we Gen. Xers do have some subtle hostility towards it and we have huddled over campfires with bottles of wine to try to define and amend it. The author must be a Gen Xer. Believe me, many a girl-chats about this exact topic have been had amongst mine, because mine is the perfect example of… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  nobody, really

I agree with you that GenX seemes to be on the edge between old-fashioned ways of thinking and being completely liberated from those ways. I have a some friends who are my age who feel that the husband should make more, but then I have other friends my age who are completely done with that type of thinking. And I think that being raised by Boomers (or older) who might still have those notions affects how we feel about things. For example, my mom believes in equal pay for equal work, but she thinks men should do yard work. And… Read more »

Wandy Rodriguez
Wandy Rodriguez
6 years ago

In my views this is Good article, but I take exception to the comment that the female breadwinner needs to hire a housekeeper. right?

Brenton
Brenton
6 years ago

I do too. Its not like cleaning up the house is a difficult thing to do. Mostly it just involves cleaning up after yourself and then some home maintenance once a week. Divide it up and you are talking 1-2 hours per person each week.

If you think you cant do that because you are working too much, then you need to either work less, or admit to yourself that you just dont want to.

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
6 years ago
Reply to  Brenton

Trust me, not everyone finds housecleaning an easy thing to do.

Beth
Beth
6 years ago

The more comments I read, the more I wonder what would happen if we stopped talking about “men” versus “women”. Whether we like it or not, money = power and control. We equate income with self-worth and the worth of others. (An engineer is “worth” more than a teacher, for example.)

The bottom line: If there’s a situation where one partner feels their contributions are worth more or less than the other, that’s something they should work through.

Carla
Carla
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Beth, I feel similarly. This is an interesting subject though it does not apply to me. I’m not one of the growing statics of high earning women so even the subject can make me feel “less than” if I let it. Money will always equal strength, power, intelligence and control. If you don’t have money, there’s something wrong with you. Even many PF blogs affirms that.

Your last sentence hits the nail on the head and it should apply to both parties.

KC in ATX
KC in ATX
6 years ago
Reply to  Beth

“If there’s a situation where one partner feels their contributions are worth more or less than the other, that’s something they should work through.”

So true. Feelings of inequality or inadequacy can come from either person, in any work arrangement, and you need to address them.

Nobody is immune to insecurity.

Brenton
Brenton
6 years ago

I would be delighted if my wife started earning more than I do, but since she is a public school teacher and I’m an engineer(exact scenario described in a post above), that will never happen. My wife often makes comments about how she feels she does not contribute to the family, etc, etc, etc… and I have to assure her that she does plenty. I’ve also had to have the “I need you to help with the household chores more” conversation with her. I’m pretty sure if my response to her in these situations was “get over it, and then… Read more »

Alex @ Credit Card XPO
Alex @ Credit Card XPO
6 years ago

Interesting topic and apparently quite controversial based on the number of comments here. Thanks for the good article.

Nick
Nick
6 years ago

Personally I found the day that my wife suddenly got a high paying job to be incredibly liberating. In fact, we both were offered steps up in our careers in the same week – and mine would have involved a move, while hers meant staying in place (and me still having the job I had but hated). In the end there was no real need to debate. If I had ‘insisted’ and we have moved, any career unhappiness that she faced would land right on top of our relationship. Instead, she started making more than me, and that freed me… Read more »

Babs
Babs
6 years ago
Reply to  Nick

Good advice! I’m a little jealous of your wife.

Erica W.
Erica W.
6 years ago

Most women I know who are in relationships earn much more and work more hours than their husbands/boyfriends and they also do the majority of the housework. Some are stressed out and some are happy with their partnership. To each their own, I guess. What must be especially difficult to adjust to is if both partners enter the relationship working and earning about the same and then the husband loses his job, quits his job, or his hours are greatly reduced and then he never gets back to the equal footing. Especially if he doesn’t do any housework while he’s… Read more »

Marie
Marie
6 years ago

I’ve found a very reliable litmus test for predicting which couples will have problems in this situation: if the woman is working and the man refers to his time alone with their children as “babysitting”. Sorry, buddy, but in that situation, it’s called “parenting”. Guys that do this seem to be the ones to pitch a fit when the wife surpasses them in matters of career.

I’d also love to know the dynamics of this issue when dealing with a child-free couple. Without the gender-based dependencies that pregnancy and parenting cause, would it even matter?

Kristin
Kristin
6 years ago

How about when your husband was laid off several years ago and has been under employed (20-30 hours a week) ever since, making 1/4 of what the wife is. Although he’s frustrated and embarrassed, he doesn’t try to pick up a pt retail (or other job) to help out and sporadically applies to jobs via email only, not utilizing his network (out of shame/embarrassment). He also won’t see a therapist to work thru his shame issues. Wife is tired if missing out on things because of husband not pulling his weight.

ZP
ZP
6 years ago

I think that everyone commenting here, needs to go watch this Portlandia episode that parodies exactly what everyone is talking about here (starts after the credits/ghost skit and continues through out the episode):

http://www.ifc.com/full-episodes/portlandia/3267235885001/sharing-finances

B
B
6 years ago

It is stupid that this is even an issue. Why would you ever date someone who takes your accomplishments as a personal slight or who fails to do their fair share of the chores? Those are basic minimum expectations for me. I have zero interest in someone who’s not emotionally supportive, has hangups about my career, or is childish about housework. You’re partners, you’re supposed to cheer each other on and help each other out, fer chrissake!

Jessica
Jessica
6 years ago

This book isn’t a helpful guide for dealing with this at all. If you have any insecurity about your relationship, be it gender role, monetary, or otherwise, one or both partners should be seeking counseling and working on communication to resolve those issues. It’s certainly not an easy task and no one should give the impression it is, but it’s really all that can be done to keep the relationship together and growing. The advice outlined here is advice for how a woman with an insecure partner can enable him until the whole thing implodes.

Fumika Misato
Fumika Misato
6 years ago
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