Recently I saw an article which said that millennial women were worried about out-earning their partners . It got me thinking. The article was originally published in 2017, but I wondered if it could still be true, or whether attitudes have changed.
In my relationship, it is something we have talked about a lot. We both work incredibly hard, but the reality is that my job has the potential to earn more than my husband by quite a significant amount. It’s not that my job is better than his or even that mine is more skilled. In fact, I would say the opposite is true. I look at what he does in awe and with the knowledge that I could never do the same thing.
It is simply that our jobs are very different and, as such, have very different potentials for pay.
At the moment, he is the main earner, but we both know that at some point that might change.
What does my husband think?
I have been told before that I shouldn’t worry too much about working full-time as it is more important for me to be there for the children. I was also told that out-earning my husband might hurt his feelings. At the time, I spoke to my husband and asked how he would feel if I earned more than him. I wanted to know how he really felt about. If he had been upset about the idea then it could have been a major stumbling block within our relationship.
His response? “I can’t wait, it’ll mean more money for guitars.”
That was it. No concerns about how becoming a ‘kept man’ would be damaging to his fragile male ego. No comments about how out-earning him would mean he wasn’t the breadwinner and therefore not manly enough. No worries that he would have to start being a stay-at-home dad because that’s ‘women’s work’. His only thought was that more money for the family would mean the ability to do more of the fun stuff.
I have spent so many years worrying about finances and struggling to pay the bills that it has never occured to me to worry about who earns what. In our household, everything goes into one communal pot and we both spend from it. We both benefit from whatever either of us earns. To me, more money from either of us means that we don’t have to worry quite so much. It doesn’t matter to me who earns it as both of us are doing our best.
Research showed that I’m not alone in my opinion
I spent some time talking to people on Facebook and via a poll on LinkedIn to find out whether the way that we think about money is unusual. The general consensus was that it doesn’t matter who earns the most as long as there is enough money to pay the bills and live comfortably. The LinkedIn poll showed that only 8% of people who responded felt that the man should be the main wage earner. That means that 92% of people don’t care who earns more.
The cost of living in the UK is consistently getting higher, with rents and house prices rising to the point where getting on the property ladder is a far distant dream for huge numbers of people. The days of women being able to stay at home and be ‘kept women’ are long over. It just isn’t possible for the vast majority of people to have a single-income household anymore. We don’t live in the 1950’s anymore and we can’t pretend that we do.
There may be women out there who really do worry about out-earning their partners. They may worry that it goes against tradition and upsets the way things have always been. But my question to them would have to be why? Why does it matter who earns more? Why does it matter who looks after the children as long as they are looked after? Surely the most important thing is to have happy, healthy children and enough money to provide for your family? Why does it matter who earns what?