Fellas: Would You Be Okay With Your Wife As The Breadwinner?

I see a lot of personal finance advice catered to the female population.

It seems like every topic can have a uniquely female spin put on it. It’s always sort of puzzled me, since whenever I read these tips they seem like stuff that would equally apply to both genders.

Take retirement as an example. Tips for the female half of the population might include things like saving more because women are more likely to live longer than men. While that’s true, I’ve seen stats that indicate the 7+ year age gap between women and men’s life expectancies shrinks by up to 50% by the time both genders hit age 65. Once both genders hit the traditional retirement age, the average life expectancy for a man is 85 years, while it’s almost 89 years for women.

Thus, it makes sense for both genders to plan for a long-term retirement, especially as they approach age 65 as healthy and active adults.

While I think most personal finance issues should be approached pretty much the same by both genders — with the only notable exception being parenting — there is one thing that continues to be a sticking point, especially for the fellas out there.

What happens when your wife makes more money than you do?

Men in 2015 tend to be pretty okay with this, at least publicly. The men I know who make considerably less than their wives crack jokes about it, claiming to be okay with the fact their spouses do better financially because they’re kept men. Oftentimes, like what has happened countless times in history with the genders reversed, these guys bring other skills to the table.

While this might be all fine and good for the guys in that situation, let me be clear with something. I would not be okay with my wife making more money than me.

Now before you get upset and label me a sexist, misogynistic, or even worse, allow me to explain why I think the way I do.

A failure of me, not her

I encourage any woman to take any career path she might choose, whether the path focuses on money or some other reward. And I would never discourage my wife to take a career path because I don’t think it’s something a woman should do, or any nonsense like that. Men or women should be able to do whatever they want.

But at the same time, I’m pragmatic. If I choose to have children some day, there will likely be a time when we’ll have to make due with only one income, unless my wife plans to go back to work after a week off. Therefore, I want my income to be as high as possible to compensate for any loss in her income.

A big part of providing for a child is making a good wage. You can smother a child with all the love in the world, but there are problems that only money can solve. I’ve always viewed that part of the equation as my job. Sure, I’ll still worry about things like spending time with the kid, and helping my wife with the household stuff. But making money is my primary job.

So if making money is my primary job for my family, then I want to be pretty good at it. My wife can be pretty good at it too — and she is — but I want to be the guy my family counts on. If she outearns me, there’s no way I’m going to be happy about it.

The key is how I react to my wife outearning. me. If I’m a jerk about it and I encourage her to quit her job or to take a lesser salary just for the benefit of my hurt feelings, I’m a failure as a husband. But if I use her higher salary as motivation to work my tail off at work, start a sideline business, or begin building a passive income stream, that will only benefit me and my family.

More money is better, with few exceptions. Wanting to make more money than your wife should be about being able to support your family just in case she ever wants to take time off. If you’re like me and you view making money as a major contribution to your marriage and to your family’s success, then no, you shouldn’t be okay with making less. Use it as motivation to get going, and eventually pass her. I don’t think she’ll mind so much.

1 comment to Fellas: Would You Be Okay With Your Wife As The Breadwinner?

  • In my eyes, the right way to look at it is that it’s household income and the money does the same thing once you have it. Where it comes from should not be the primary concern. I know many men have it in them that they have to be the breadwinner, but I’ve never bought into that. My wife stays at home, so I do happen to be the primary breadwinner, but if she found a job that paid her more than I make, I would have no complaints about it!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>