My dear Jack, well, if she earns higher than you what can you do? It’s what it is. I mean, you can’t tell her employer to reduce her pay because she earns higher than you! “Increase my salary because my girlfriend earns higher than I” is obviously not tenable in the corporate sector. Someone is bound to ask, why don’t you date someone earning lower than you if it’s a real concern?
It’s not so much about her earning, is it? It’s about your definition of manhood, the issue of masculine security. And a lot is dependent on your background, your cultural exposure, your sense of self – how you see yourself, the value you placed. Sense of self is not just about how we see ourselves, it’s also about how we see ourselves relative to others, our sense of assurance. You’re going to be a young couple when you get married. You need all the money you can pool together. The more the better! Even male millionaires earning far better than their wives are grateful for their contribution. You need her contribution. Things can be heavy even for millionaires. In which case, her earning is a buffer. There are also heavy projects. Besides, things can dip. The vagaries of clime can adversely affect anyone. You can’t be proud. Truth is, no one can know how much a couple earns individually unless someone blabbers. And so you have unnecessary apprehension. If she’s not talking and you’re not talking about how much she earns, no one can know ordinarily. The higher earning may even be credited to you given the cultural nuances of your society. The legitimate question of course is, what’s anyone’s business?! Really, what’s anyone’s business who earns more in a family?
You have to be careful about insecurity unless of course you’re saying you’re not man enough to marry a woman earning a good salary. And if the disparity is so obvious the natural question is, why did you go for something beyond you? Why didn’t you date lesser? The moment you sign up to date a well earning woman, you signed up for manliness about it. And if YOU feel she won’t respect you because she earns more, then by all means recuse yourself. No one is forcing you. She was already working before she met you, was already earning decent pay. What do you want her to do, refuse promotion? They didn’t raise her salary at work because she started dating you! She earned her pay level. She worked hard! The bigger issue is obviously your philosophy of life. It’s evident and I hope you can admit it. You seem to believe one party’s security in a relationship can only be guaranteed if the other party’s progress is constrained. It’s a false philosophy of course. It only produces repression and angst. Why should she feel guilty about being rewarded at work? What her higher earnings should do is spur you on. If you want to play the traditional role of a man in marriage, then work for it. That traditional role demands you cover critical bases of responsibility by yourself, for example rent and housekeeping. The traditional role of a man in a relationship is defined in responsibility. A modern marriage, on the other hand, has a diminished ratio of responsibilities but it goes with diminished “authority”. If there’s love, these things shouldn’t matter. Just put in your best for your family.
What if you go into public service, won’t she earn more than you? Isn’t that a power trade off? She’s in the private sector. Public sector pay can’t match private sector pay for obvious reasons. (Any inversion is an anomaly). Should she then resign? And did you know Michelle Obama was Barrack’s senior at work! They worked in the same law firm. They met at Sidley and Austin, a corporate law firm in Chicago. She was assigned her future husband to mentor. And what would you do if she inherited money like Senator McCain’s wife? Would you expect her to repudiate it? Cindy McCain is worth $100m. John McCain, on the other hand, is worth of $21m. They signed a prenuptial agreement. The issue therefore is not her, it’s you. You have to set higher goals for yourself, seek to achieve more. Don’t resent her for her pay. Work harder to achieve. Make her proud. There are many couples who started out economically disproportionately but the guy worked hard. Your wife’s higher pay is therefore an aspirational challenge, not a problem. It should make you want to attain more. But if she’s more driven than you, chances are she’ll earn higher. Well, appreciate her gift. It’s for the good of your family. She can’t rub it in however. That’s wrong. The marriage may disintegrate or harbour ill feeling. And if she felt that way, she should also have married a different man. It goes both ways. A husband and a wife cannot be in competition. These issues don’t arise with couples who truly love each other and are in matrimonial unity.
There are many successful business women for example who married salaried men earning much less. You on the other hand can’t take advantage of her because of her higher pay. You don’t exploit your wife. If you aim to drain her because she earns higher, that goes to the issue of your character. If her company provides accommodation in an upscale part of town, you’ll be foolish to insist on lesser apartment because of ego. Don’t let your ego get in the way of common sense. If she’s a business woman and you’re salaried, her earning potential is ordinarily higher. Unless you earn significantly. But then again, a lot depends on the finance model you operate. Some do joint account in marriage, some separate accounts.
You must have a healthy concept of yourself – not pride, not hubris, not false humility. Be sure about yourself, your potential. You don’t seek to impede your wife’s progress in life; you work hard to ramp up yours so the family is doubly blessed. If you’re faithful and diligent, you’ll earn good pay at some point in your career. Don’t be threatened by your wife’s pay. She’s your blessing. But if you can’t handle her higher pay, there’s always the option to opt out of the relationship. It’s your choice. Trying to hamper her progress in life will only make her life miserable. If you love her, you won’t do that. Trying to force her to resign a well-paying job in order to control her eventually backfires too. And you may turn her bitter against you. In which case, you’re now married to a bitter woman. These things are absolutely unnecessary. Work as one. You’re one family though individuals. Marry what you can handle.
Your mentor, LAThe moment you sign up to date a well earning woman, you signed up for manliness about it. Click To Tweet