Relationships can get tricky when one partner brings home a bigger paycheck than the other.
Money conflicts result in some of the most intense and destructive arguments in any relationship. Money is a topic very few people are comfortable talking about, and issues concerning spending and saving are deeply personal. The additional variable that's been silently added to the mix is the turning of the tides in many relationships for who is the primary breadwinner. The Rise Of The Sugar Mama
The Pew Research Center recently reported that women represent nearly 60 percent of students holding advanced degrees in areas such as medicine, law, business and graduate programs. To boot, more women are starting to out-earn their spouses, a trend that will surely continue to rise. Society has long held the belief that the man should be the breadwinner in the relationship. Therefore, when this societal norm is challenged within a couple, a man can often feel inadequate. The consequence in many marriages is that the emasculated male has been left without the satisfaction of providing for his family, and the under-appreciated female feels both at fault for her partner's situation and helpless to fix it.
Feelings of uncertainty and under-appreciation exist in traditional male-breadwinner-female-homemaker relationships, too. Resentment simmers, monotony mounts, accusations lay dormant... until it feels like the relationship will break.
Here are five tips for keeping a breadwinner relationship tension-free:
1. Remember: relationships need more than money. The true value of what you and your loved one contribute to the well-being of your relationship is priceless. It's far more than the value of any paycheck and that simple fact needs to be remembered. To navigate these waters, couples must learn to communicate about their financial feelings in an open and honest manner. No relationship can truly become great until the issue of money is discussed and a plan of action is agreed upon. As A Stay-At-Home Mom, Do I Have A Say In Our Finances?
2. Talk about your finances. To start, agree to sit down and talk about your shared finances. Establish a financial plan that allows for input from both parties. Keep the lines of communication open, especially when there is disagreement and when times get a little tough.
3. Get comfortable with your roles. The non-breadwinning male must learn to become comfortable with who he is just as the breadwinning female needs to feel confident in her role outside the home. Engaging in a self-discovery program through a coaching relationship can help. Your self-worth should not be tied directly to how much you earn!
Next, find two index cards and two writing utensils. On one card make a list of five contributions you make to your relationship, and on the other card have your loved one do the same. One of those five can be a paycheck, but that's only one. Now, on the back of the index card, list five contributions your loved one makes to the relationship, as he/she does the same about you. Now compare and contrast.
Common ground? Surprises? Feel appreciated in some areas and under-appreciated in others? Did your loved one mention something you've overlooked? Talk about it. Stay open to your partner's input. No one wins when we get defensive.
4. Don't slack off. Just because you've cleared the air on something once doesn't mean the issue won't arise again. Be vigilant and proactive within your relationship to ensure you stay on the same page. A few tips for keeping a breadwinner relationship happy:
- Ladies, pay attention to the things your guy brings to the relationship and household. Highlight his contribution and appreciate the things he adds to your family's well-being.
- Guys, remember she needs support, too. Her achievements are wonderful and deserve to to be honored as well.
- As a couple, be proactive in your relationship by having routine discussions (rather than falling into assumptions) about each of your responsibilities in the household.You can do this by having a written financial plan that is transparent and agreeable to both individuals in the relationship. Any potential resentment will be minimized by both feeling they have a voice in the overall spending habits in the relationship.
5. Appreciate your differences. Remember to embrace and celebrate the differences that you each bring to the relationship! It is expected that you will each have different money experiences and opinions. When a money conflict arises (as it does for all couples), try to find your humor and remember that your partner is your best friend, partner and lover. That's the real currency that makes the world go 'round!