Monday, March 8, 2010

Who should be the breadwinner

Does it matter who the "breadwinner" is in your relationship?

It's a question personal finance guru Suze Orman asked her audience over the weekend. She was directing the question specifically at men, positing that when men say "it doesn't matter", that typically means it does bother us.

I disagree: I think it really doesn't bother most men if their SO makes more cash than they do. Anyone 40 or younger has certainly grown up in an era of high-earning career women, single mothers and, when people get married, two-income households. I can say with certainty that every man I count among my friends wants a woman who works -- at least while they're a childless as a couple. We're all fully aware dating a working woman means she might make more than we do, overall income disparities notwithstanding.

What men will resent is being disrespected because we make less money than our partner. I don't know anyone who would tolerate that, or who should.

What's your take? Men, do you prefer making more money than your girlfriend or wife? Women, does it matter to you at all?


KJ said...

In a day and age when women are earning a significant amount of money BEFORE they are in serious, committed relationships, this should be the norm. Why are (some) men still surprised when women announce how much money they earn annually?

But the term 'breadwinner' gives way to the notion that only ONE person is earning the most. The definition: "the member of the household who earns all or most of the income." Modern times calls for modern measures - meaning BOTH the man and the woman in a relationship are working. If the term 'breadwinner' is applied to a woman, I'll assume her man doesn't have a job or prefers to stay home with the children.

Disrespect or resentment due to financial gain from any party (whether male or female) is simply uncalled for.

NGD said...

I have a friend who was a strong advocate of men and women having pre nups or financial agreements before marriage. However when she got married last year she had no pre nup and the salary difference between the two is about 400,000 in her favor not inlcuding her yearly bonus. They have now begun to have arguements because he wants to use the money in business schemes that she thinks aren't very sound. My questions are:

1. If you were in that situation of that big of a salary difference would you have a pre nup/financial agreement before marriage?

2. What do you think is a fair percentage for the both of them to put into their joint account? She has stated that he has told her that she should put in more because she makes more(she puts in 40% now) and he also suggests she puts in majority of her bonus which can equal over 100,00. Is that fair?

3. Do you think it is okay that he uses the leftover money in the joint account, after monthly expenses are paid, to fund his business schemes? He says his business ideas would help him contribute more to household.

Jaime said...

As a woman, I would hope my husband would make more money, but if he didn't, it wouldn't bother me if the numbers weren't large. I certainly don't want to be the one footing all the bills. However, one of the posts memtioned the woman made 400K more, that's a big difference and I doubt I'd be able to date someone with such a huge disparity among incomes.

Velvet Jones said...

First and foremost, I'd prefer to be making more money than I do now. :) But based on here and now, I'd prefer my partner make more money than me because I don't make that much to begin with. Starting a life with someone who does, and always will, make less than me would set us up for a life of struggle.

The overall question is so heteronormative. I think it would be more interesting to see the responses of heteros alongside people in same-sex relationships and who they handle income disparity.

Chanie said...

It does not make a difference who makes more in a committed relationship/marriage. The person who earns more could be the one with larger debt such as student loans. In the long run the person who earns the least may be the one who may really be the breadwinner, if you will.