Helping women gain confidence
when dealing with money

Marriage and Money: I Make More Money Than My Husband

by Erika Torres on April 16, 2012

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.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim Gaxiola April 20, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Erika,
Ask yourself if it is you who assumes your friends are judging you when they come over for dinner. It’s possible you are being more critical of yourself then you need to be. Most likely your friends aren’t judging you and understand it’s tough to do it all!

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2 Newlyweds on a Budget June 19, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Oh I know my friends don’t care if my house is clean or not, but would the mother in law ever blame her son for not cleaning the house? Of course not! The finger is always pointed at the wife, even if she holds down a full time job too.

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3 maria October 4, 2012 at 10:18 AM

I completely understand your situation since I am also the breadwinner in my family and struggle with this issue. I was just wondering how you handle the financial responsibilities of the household. Since you make 2/3 of the income are you also paying 2/3 of the household expenses, vacation, family outings, child expenses, etc? And if you are do you ever feel resentment? I was taught the husband should take care of the wife and family so its hard for me not to feel resentment since I do pay a higher percentage for most things. In addition to keeping myself fit, doing thing to maintain my appearrance, handling the childcare, and keeping up the home.

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4 Erika Torres October 8, 2012 at 4:47 PM

HI Maria! Thank you for your comment.
Actually, all the money goes into one huge pot since we believe that everything is “ours.” However, this did create some resentment on my part especially because I was making 2/3rd the income, but my husband (because of his schooling) was spending about 2/3 of the discretionary income! It’s been a while since I’ve written this post and things have gotten better because a) he’s starting to make more money (still not 50/50 but it’s a step in the right direction!) and b) we hired a cleaning lady to take some stuff off my plate. I do find that men’s worth has often been linked to their financial contribution–so when they aren’t contributing as much, and the woman is still in charge of all the household work even though she’s working full-time too, resentment builds up FAST. I would find ways within your marriage to distribute the workload evenly. For example, my husband does his own laundry. And while I still manage way more than he does, I am happier now that we work harder toward equality.

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5 Babar November 25, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Basically all your feminist ideals go out of the window when you find yourself married to a husband who is not taking care of you financially. Sweet.

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6 Erika October 22, 2013 at 5:40 PM

I think you completely missed the point of the post.

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7 OC Budget January 23, 2014 at 10:43 AM

My salary counts for about 3/4 of our combined income. My husband’s still trying to get his career together at this point with a couple of failed forrays into two different fields in the last six years that we’ve been together. Now, hopefully, he’s found his career path and will finally finish with his degree in …4 years..

It’s hard to swallow and it’s definitely caused us many fights. I’m so glad to see that I’m not alone in feeling resentful at times towards my husband. I’ve had pressure from friends and family members and although there are parts of it where they are right, I also know that my husband has been trying and does alot around house/yard (i don’t really do anything lol). It’s hard to ignore what society has instilled in us since childhood…but It’s been something we struggle with and are trying to work on.

Who knows? He just got promoted and taking on three classes this semester so this is definitely a step in the right direction for us too.

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8 Erika Torres July 31, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Best of luck!! I hope it works out for both of you

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