The more income a woman brings into her household, however, the more leverage she tends to have.
In the early years of her marriage, EllenWarwick* sacrificed her own career several times to follow her husband from one country to another. He was finally transferred home to Washington, D.C., where Warwick eagerly resumed her professional life.
He didn’t notice that their relationship had reached a turning point until they filled out their income tax forms. “My marriage changed forever the day my husband realized I was making more money than he was,” Warwick says. “He realized he couldn’t order me around like a servant any more, and he started treating me with much more respect.”
For Julia Jamison, the demise of her marriage also marked the end of her willingness to depend on a man. She returned to law school to finish her degree, and soon had several enticing job offers to welcome her into a different way of life.
But while she hopes to remarry and have a family someday, she does not intend to resume the role of a nonworking wife, no matter how rich or generous her next husband might be. “I’m never going to be in this position again,” she vows. “I don’t want to be psychologically terrorized because I went to Whole Foods and spent money on something.”
The lesson may have been painful, but to Jamison, the takeaway is very clear: “I want complete financial independence,” she says.
Adapted from The Feminine Mistake by Leslie Bennetts, published by Voice, an imprint of Hyperion.
*Name has been changed.