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In Love and Out-Earning Him

In Love and Out-Earning Him

Three factors to consider if you are the breadwinner
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Around 40 percent of American women find themselves as the primary breadwinner for their families. In some cases this can lead to significant frustration and trouble in your marriage.

For most of my working life, I was part of that 40 percent. I've been able to see the breadwinner role from several different perspectives. I've experienced it in a less-than-healthy relationship, where it was a touchy subject to be avoided. Then I experienced it as a single mother, and then with a husband who saw us as teammates instead of competitors. Sometimes circumstances dictated that I would be the primary earner, while at other times, it was a strategic choice that Chris and I made for our family. More recently, Chris has taken over as the breadwinner.

It doesn't matter what kind of wonderful Prince Charming you marry; you will at times experience financial strife.

No relationship is perfect. It doesn't matter what kind of wonderful Prince Charming you marry; you will at times experience financial strife.

There are three factors that play key roles in our marriages when it comes to the issue of breadwinning.

1. The right kind of guy

Bluntly speaking, some men handle this situation better than others. This is something to be aware of and to watch out for when you're dating. My friend Lisbeth in Work, Love, Pray recommends that dating couples considering marriage have a serious, "all cards on the table" discussion about finances and compare W2s.

Look for the right combination of humility and confidence. Often when men have a problem with making less money it stems from a good impulse: the desire to be a caretaker. Unfortunately, that impulse can be skewed by pride, insecurity, or plain old competitiveness, leading to frustration and relational strife.

2. The right attitude

Relationships are a two-way street. It's not just your husband's responsibility to make the marriage work. Men are naturally wired to want to take care of their families and to desire respect. Don't punish him for that desire or get disdainful if he shows insecurity.

If you want your husband to view you as an equal partner, you have to do the same. Show your husband that you respect him and value his contribution to your family. Let go of the money issue. Don't treat it as "yours" versus "his," especially when you're making financial decisions together. Be aware even of the little things, like joking in public that you "bring home the big bucks," or calling him "Mr. Mom." You shouldn't have to walk on eggshells all the time, but you're not powerless here either. You should take responsibility for your attitude because that's what teammates do for each other.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

Sign up for TCW's free e-newsletter, Lifework with Diane Paddison, for biweekly updates and encouragement for women who desire to pursue God through their calling and career.
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To be content
Dos and Don'ts of Spending Money

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Striking a balance between extremes
Giving Out of My Poverty

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Learning to trust God with little
Just a Little Bit More

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What money can't buy

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Jordan

June 24, 2014  7:13am

Right out of college, I got a job with an advertising agency. I was making more than my then-fiance, now-husband, and it was a bit awkward for a little while. However, we openly discussed our financial situations and came to the mutual understanding that numbers were not what defined us but our work ethic was. Now that our job situations have switched, that foundation that we built has made it possible for both of us to naturally adjust to our new bread-winning roles.

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Sandy

June 20, 2014  3:09pm

Marriage is about partnership. I agree with this article! Great piece for any career woman to read.

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Betsy Gray

May 02, 2014  8:37pm

When dating my now-husband, we didn't exchange our income levels, but he did admit he was impressed with my work ethic and enthusiasm for my "big" corporate job. As we prepared for our marriage and learned my income was higher, his unqualified support of my vocation showed his character. It's encouraging that while most of my women friends from church circles didn't pursue career progression or even keep jobs outside the home once married, you are confirming our experience - that women can be significant helpmates to our husbands when we foster our professional dreams and be found faithful by God in doing so. Thank you for being a model for us women who work, and love our families and work!

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