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Relationship where women outearn men

(71 Posts)
Shuang Sat 09-May-15 23:16:35

This was prompted by a recent conversation with a friend. Last time we spoke was about two months ago and she was at the sweet exciting honeymoon stage with her new date. But during our recent call she told me it is not going as well at the moment mainly due to the income gap between them. She is older hence more experience in a highly paid industry while he has limited experience in a not so highly paid area.
She is the one who often has to pick up the bill as he is clearly uncomfortable when they went out. According to her they were not really expensive places.
This is also a topic I am personally interested in finding out a bit more about people's experience. If one gets into a situation where a woman significantly outearns a man, is it possible to have a normal dynamic in the relationship?
Any experience or opinions welcomed.

katiegg Sat 09-May-15 23:35:31

I think it depends on the individual people and the relationship. In the early days, I can imagine it could be awkward if a woman warns more... there is an expectation that the man 'treats' the woman on dates, many women like this and expect it and many men like to be able to do this. I can appreciate either party feeling awkward when this isn't possible in the early part of a relationship.

However, I think there comes a point when a relationship has to become a partnership and this involves accepting that each person can contribute different things.... whether that is the man always paying for treats and doing the 'manly' things like diy or the complete opposite of this. I think both people need to be confident in the contribution they make to the relationship, and respectful and appreciative if the other persons contribution.

In our case, my husband earns more on paper - his salary is higher, but I would often get offered more overtime which generally meant I earned more money in a month although my salary is lower. All money is 'our' money.

lechie Sat 09-May-15 23:48:54

I earn more than my DH, about 1/3 more than his salary. However, it's not a problem at all. We put a proportional amount into the bills account, so that the money left over in our individual accounts is fair. I earn more, so I pay more of the bills and the necessities. We have the same amount of spending, and he's slightly better with money than I am, so I'm often the one borrowing a bit of money at the end of the month grin.

OffTheBackOfALaurie Sat 09-May-15 23:59:24

So what is a 'normal dynamic'? One where a man has no qualms about picking up a bill for a date with a lower earning women? One where a woman is quite happy to have her dinner paid for by a man?

Would your friend feel happier dating richer men and be happy to accept being paid for without feeling anything was awkward?

Tell her it's 2015 and she needs to develop some graciousness and give her outlook a hot wash on the 'feminist' setting to bring her dating etiquette up to the superior level of her salary and experience.

BoxofSnails Sun 10-May-15 00:00:40

Good post from katiegg
I outearn my DH by 2-3x. We contribute different things to our marriage - he does much of the supporting, picking up the slack, chores kind of stuff. Not all men can handle the changes in roles - nor all women. It takes talking and open-mindedness (and ignoring the MIL's opinions!)

DustyBusters Sun 10-May-15 00:08:22

I earn twice what DP does. I pay most of the monthly fixed bills -mortgage, utilities etc. He pays for shopping, fuel and day to day expenses. Works well for us. But we've been together 29 years and our incomes have fluctuated. He's earned more some years. We've always just worked it out between us as to what works best.

Kerberos Sun 10-May-15 00:34:54

I think it's one of those things that highly depends on the people involved and the stage of life they're at.

I out earn DP significantly. We've been together 15 years and have built our lives together. The reason there's such an income differential is because he's home looking after our children.

We work it that we have the same left over at the end of each month. Works fine for us.

I can see though how difficult it could be when starting out in a relationship.

stabbypokey Sun 10-May-15 00:50:00

I earned 2.5 times more than my last boyfriend. It was never a problem. He never got an attitude because he earned less. We split the mortgage straight down the middle and I covered bills and food. His money was his and mine was mine but we were both generous in nature. It frustrated him that he couldn't 'treat' me as much as he wanted, but there was no way I was going to eat in Strada due to his male pride. Money was honestly never an issue.

mslizzy Sun 10-May-15 02:33:14

Eh? Any man who is uncomfortable earning less than a woman is a man not worth having a relationship with.

Why would anyone be anything but pleased to be in a relationship with a high income earner?


Kampeki Sun 10-May-15 02:39:11

I earn about three times as much as my DH. I think we have a "normal" dynamic in our relationship - whatever that means. confused

My DSis also earns significantly more than BiL. I'd have thought it must be quite common these days.

OffTheBackOfALaurie Sun 10-May-15 05:32:55

Misslizzy, SHE is the one finding it a problem as she has to be the one picking up the bill. And seems to expect him to do so as she considers them not expensive places. Allegedly.

Zillie77 Sun 10-May-15 06:38:13

I guess that there is research that shows a higher rate of dissatisfaction and divorce among m-f couples where the woman is the higher wage earner. It is generally the woman who has an issue with it, however she may be unaware of her discomfort. (Hey, it's not my opinion, it's science!!) However, I think that rather than that being seen as the fate of such couples, it could be viewed as more of a caution, and should lead them to be careful and thoughtful about the dynamic. My husband was a SAHD for a while and we sailed through that with flying colors and are even thinking about doing it again.

shinysparklythings Sun 10-May-15 06:44:25

I earn about £10k more than my hubby. We don't think if it as my wages and his though, it's all just our money!

I can't understand couples that have been together for years that have separate money. We are a team so it's joint! grin

EhricLovesTheBhrothers Sun 10-May-15 06:47:40

Why don't they split the bills then? If he's too broke to pay half on dates I can see how that would be a problem but to me that should apply whatever gender the earners but it does seem to be acceptable for women to expect men to pay on dates for some reason.

Tangoandcreditcards Sun 10-May-15 06:55:09

I earn 10 times what my DH earns. He is SAHD and freelance. When he was employed (before we had DC) I earned 3 times what he earned.

It's never been an issue. In the early days we split rent and bills proportionate to income. Now it's all just family money.

Do we have a "normal dynamic"? I don't know, it's still unusual (albeit less so) to be a SAHD, so maybe we aren't like "most other couples" (but who is?)
Is there mutual love and respect for each other's work and contribution to the family? Absolutely. There is and never has been any resentment either way.

Achooblessyou Sun 10-May-15 07:06:21

I think the salaries need to be fairly near for it to work. Unless it is a long term thing where you can see the other has got potential to increase and ur willing to put the investment in. Sounds mercenary, but I think relationships need to be around 5050. This could mean he puts more in in other ways - eg handymen are great, or maybe he's a great foodie who reciprocates for meals you've paid for by cooking you a fab meal.

When I was married we used to put the same amount into the bills pot, and I had more money left over. But this worked well. It was only after I'd had 2 periods of maternity leave and put my career on hold being part time - I asked him to do a stint of part time to look after the kids - that was an affront to his masculinity hmm

Alanna1 Sun 10-May-15 07:06:25

What Tango said. I earn quite a bit more than my husband, not that he earns badly. It is all family money.

messyisthenewtidy Sun 10-May-15 07:06:39

I don't think it's necessarily anyone's fault here (whoever is feeling the discomfort) as we are all products of our culture.

A culture that has unrelentlessly sold the idea that a man pursues a woman and treats her on the first date. When this dynamic changes (because the wage disparity) we don't lose the attitudes we have been brought up with overnight.

A woman who is now paying may feel that she is undesirable because our culture has taught her that her desirability rests on how much men are willing to shell out for her. Likewise the man may feel like he is not competent because society has taught him that his worth rests on his ability to be independent and provide for his woman.

It's the culture that is fucked up, not the man or the woman here. All that needs to happen is an open and frank discussion. And to go to some cheaper restaurants. my friend often pays for me as I can't afford to and I feel bad about that so I can understand how he feels, regardless of gender.

Twasthecatthatdidit Sun 10-May-15 07:11:07

I do earn more than dh and do struggle with it at times, but I think this is more that he is terrible with money. Runs up debt, spends joint savings, wastes money on crap. I get v frustrated, as I'm quite careful with money. We have separate accounts & joint accounts but the joint ones are a constant source of stress - current account running dry half way through the month, joint savings account constantly being raided.

Vivacia Sun 10-May-15 07:26:10

I think most couples find it tricky to navigate finances in the early days. Few of us have similar earnings, let alone similar approaches to money.

Vivacia Sun 10-May-15 07:27:05

I think this is less to do with the woman earning more than to do with two people getting to know each other.

mslizzy Sun 10-May-15 07:28:58

offthebackofalaurie I beg your pardon. I will rephrase. Any woman whi thinks a measure of a mans worth is his income is not a woman one would want to be in a relationship with.

BestIsWest Sun 10-May-15 07:50:08

I earn almost twice as much as DH. We just pool everything. We're equal partners. He contributes in other ways that I never could. It helps that we have similar attitudes to money. We are both risk averse so don't tend to overspend.
When we first met we both earned a similar amount. He got made redundant a month after our wedding and was out of work for a time while he retrained and after that his earning potential was never the same.

We've managed 30 years together and it's never been a problem.

To all those who think it's so important that the man earns more, take a good look at yourself and ask why? What would you do if your partner was ill long term and could no longer earn as much. Would you value them less?

Butterby Sun 10-May-15 08:08:53

I found it was difficult at first as DP wanted to pay his share 50/50 (fair enough) so some activities and holidays weren't possible. Now we've been together years and have children he doesn't care and we see it as our money.

eurochick Sun 10-May-15 08:12:48

I've out earned my husband throughout our relationship to date. It hasn't been a problem. Some of my friends are the same. Again, there seems to be no problem.

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