With women earning more college degrees than men according to the U.S. Census Bureau, don’t be surprised by the bevy of wives who make more money than their husbands.
Count me in this group.
I’m the breadwinner, and it isn’t always easy
Statistically speaking, one spouse will always make more than the other since the odds aren’t exactly in favor of a couple making identical salaries. That being said, I question my own difficulties with being the primary breadwinner.
There is a huge gap in my marriage’s finances, with me bringing in more than two thirds of the income. I admit that I feel a sort of resentment that my husband gets to reap the benefits of the years I spent working up the corporate ladder while he got to have fun and only began working on his career six months after we got married.
But, truly, our salary disparity issue is rooted in they way it upends others’ expectations of which roles my husband and I are responsible for in our marriage.
As a feminist, I’m an advocate for equality among the sexes. As the partner with the bigger salary, I’m constantly stumbling upon this shift in traditional gender roles. I often find myself asking, “Why can’t my husband make less than me? Why not?” Our society, despite the great strides we’ve made in gender equality, still, in some way, clings to the belief that men’s value comes from their financial net worth while women’s value comes from their domestic capabilities.
Does society judge women who are breadwinners?
When visitors come over and our house is a mess, they assume I didn’t do my job of cleaning. If there isn’t enough food in the fridge, it’s my fault I didn’t go grocery shopping. No one looks first to my husband to explain the domestic disarray. Rather, it’s placed on my shoulders, as the wife (never mind that I am working a full-time job as well as training for a half marathon). And while men may also have traditional household duties, theirs don’t tend to require as much attention on a daily basis—such as washing the car or mowing the grass.
It’s clear, from my own personal experiences as well as what I glean from the media at large, that women are still held primarily responsible by society for the household and childcare duties, despite the fact that we may be breaking gender barriers by out-earning our husbands. Having the men be the bigger breadwinners helped to keep the score even; they earned and we made up for our financial lacking by taking care of the household responsibilities. But the game has been altered, the rules have changed, and society is still adjusting.
I’m still trying to get a grip on how to manage this disparity in our marriage without letting it turn into a long overdrawn ordeal. But I will continue to stay true to myself and push for equality for women–both inside and outside the home.