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Struggling with how much DH earns (not what you’d think)

(260 Posts)
ricepolo Sun 19-Nov-17 08:28:08

Maybe an odd problem.

DH and I have four children under 7 (youngest only a few months). We met at uni and both went into professional jobs. I moved into a different (much less well paid) sector after DC1 so that one of us would be around and no longer working crazy hours.

We’ve now reached the point where DH is earning a huge amount: enough so that I never need earn another penny all my life and we’d still be hugely well off. He works very hard and is very good at his job.

It sounds so ungrateful but his success in this area (not only is he earning lots but is also in demand as a speaker etc) just makes me feel totally useless. I’m currently between jobs (one ended just before I gave birth to DC4 and it’s too soon to look for anything new) which doesn’t help. I was brought up to believe women and men could be equals, but now I just feel that I’m turning into a kept woman. I study and volunteer lots so I’m very very busy, but all of that is only possible because of his earnings meaning I don’t have to earn money.

Does anyone have any advice? Please be kind. I know most people would love to be in this financial situation but it’s really harming my self esteem. I feel useless.

StealthPolarBear Sun 19-Nov-17 08:29:12

I'd feel exactly the same as you, sorrt

YouWhoNeverArrived Sun 19-Nov-17 08:44:21

I am in danger of ending up in a similar situation, though I'm not there yet. I came from a very humble background, studied a prestigious course at a top university, and now earn very well. My profession is stressful so I choose to work part-time, and I earn well enough that I can afford to only work half the week. In the last 2 years I have met DP, who a) is in the same profession, but manages to work full-time , so has a correspondingly higher earning potential; and b) has wealthy parents. At the moment DP is not earning as much as usual for various reasons, so I feel financially useful, but no doubt in the next 5 years that will change - and when his parents die I'll probably never have to work again, which is a very disconcerting prospect. I don't have any advice but I just want you to know you're not alone. I'm incredibly lucky, but my whole sense of self and sense of worth has been shaken by realising that, despite all my hard work, the most socially mobile thing I'll ever do is marry DP.

YouWhoNeverArrived Sun 19-Nov-17 08:45:15

Fwiw even when I don't need to work again, I intend to keep working - I think I'd go mad if I didn't!

ninnynono Sun 19-Nov-17 08:46:40

I'm in a similar situation. Remind yourself that you are enabling his success by taking more of a back seat and being more involved with your children. It's not just about contributing financially.

I do know how you feel though and it's hard to be rational all the time. Keep up with your studies!

Adviceplease360 Sun 19-Nov-17 08:50:23

I would love to be in your position and I think yabvu. You staying at home and looking after the kids and housework is your huge contribution without which he wouldn't manage. Your contribution is even more valuable as you are shaping the next generations mind. Self esteem shouldn't be shaped by paid work but by input and yours is great.

Aussiebean Sun 19-Nov-17 08:54:04

I get what you mean, but have you tried putting a value on what you do do?

You are raising 4 children to become functioning and contributing adults. You run a house hold which means your husband does not have to leave work early and turn done work.

Our society tends to see staying at home as lesser value. When actually it should be seen as equal. You can’t do one as well without the other

TammySwansonTwo Sun 19-Nov-17 08:56:50

I was the higher earner - I have a degree andmy husband doesn't, although he has achieved huge skill a technical specialty over the years that means he's in demand and worth good money.

I had to stop working several years ago due to illness and it massively affected my self worth. I'm now a mum to twins and I do feel like I've lost myself a bit. I always assumed I'd be a career mum, although I love being home with him. Ive taken a very part time advisory NHS role which is really helping as I feel I'm doing something important.

Try and see this as a positive - you're freed from worrying about money so when you and your kids are ready for you to work more, you can do whatever interests or motivates you. You can spend your time making a difference because you can afford to. This is where I would focus if money were no object.

DancesWithOtters Sun 19-Nov-17 09:09:02

I'd kind of love this situation tbh. My dream job would only give me a salary of £14k a year, it's part voluntary for a charity. But I'll never be able to afford to do that because we need both salaries.

There are loads of hugely worthwhile things you could do if you don't need to be bringing in money.

Is there any cause close to your heart that you would love to help? Animal shelters? Working with the homeless?

SchnitzelVonKrumm Sun 19-Nov-17 09:09:13

I’m not in the same position (DH and I earn roughly the same for doing similar jobs) but I get what you mean. I would find that sort of imbalance very difficult to cope with. Read the “facilitated men” threads over on Feminist Chat.

Ethylred Sun 19-Nov-17 09:10:35

It's a category error to judge a person's contribution to the world by how much they take out of it, particularly how much money they take out of it. So, when no. 4 is a bit older, get a job that you find worth doing.
Otherwise you're going to bore yourself, your husband and your children.

Isadora2007 Sun 19-Nov-17 09:17:36

I moved into a different (much less well paid) sector after DC1 so that one of us would be around and no longer working crazy hours.”

This is why your husband is able to be the earner. You could have too, but chose not to. I am assuming after discussion with him and I’m also assuming through your own choice. If either of those assumptions are not correct then maybe you need to sit down and have a chat about why it wasn’t discussed as that could be the beginning of the inequality. But if you did discuss and agree then you are the main reason your husband can be where he is career wise as you supported his career by taking the step to be the main carer of your joint children.
This is teamwork and so you are able to benefit from his earnings as you facilitated them. Without you he wouldn’t be free to work where he does without major childcare costs and logistical headaches.
So try to enjoy what you do with your studies and your time and don’t put monetary value up as a benchmark. Decide what contribution you’d like to make to the world and enjoy.

Ragwort Sun 19-Nov-17 09:19:37

I think it is rather sad that you see your 'worth' as a human being in terms of your earning potential? confused.

Presumably you and your DH made a conscious choice to have four children very close together?

You are raising four people, you are studying and doing voluntary work - why do you feel that isn't 'enough'?

My situation is a little as Dances suggest, I love my job, I feel it is very worthwhile, I work for a charity - I earn a pittance in 'money' terms (yes, lucky to have that choice I know) but I feel that what I do, both in my 'paid' role and in my contribution to society in volunteering, community work etc etc is very, very valuable

Try not to let your self esteem be wrapped up in 'what you earn'.

Herewegoagain2017 Sun 19-Nov-17 09:20:53

I am in a similar situation except I don't see it as a problem.
I have a handful of children but have kept on working all the time even if the job is very stressful and involving lots of travel. Although it's a very senior and well paid job, it remains a small fraction of my husband's earnings.
I could feel useless but I don't because I have managed to achieve a very good work life balance and spend a reasonable amount of time raising the children. They're all happy and doing well now and for both DH and I this is our greatest achievement.
Many times DH suggested I stop working as would be easier for all of us but he knows I would be deeply unhappy and 100% respect my choice.
It's better for your DC and DH to have a happy mother/wife even if it involves focusing more on your career at some stage. Your DC are still yound so you've got time but if you feel you need to work in a high paid job to feel more valuable (some don't), go for it but maybe try and find a job which allows you to have some flexibility.

LynetteScavo Sun 19-Nov-17 09:24:30

You are equals, you're just doing very different things.

IsaSchmisa Sun 19-Nov-17 09:25:22

A year of maternity leave with a child is perfectly reasonable. Do you want to go back to work?

badbadhusky Sun 19-Nov-17 09:25:41

Personally, however much my husband earned, I would still work. There was a time in my life when I was trapped in an abusive relationship. I would never cede my autonomy and financial independence by putting myself in a dependent situation again. Even if I earned buttons compared to my OH, I would still work. If he earms so much, he can foot the bill for high quality childcare so you can continue to work. I would also look to retrain/continue my professional development so I can jump back in better when the kids are older. MN is full of depressing stories of high flying men trading in their wives for younger models.

jeaux90 Sun 19-Nov-17 09:26:30

I think this is to do with your identity.

I'm a single mum and I love my child dearly and I had to go back to work when she was 3 months so I got a live in nanny. My daughter is now 8 years old and I still have the same live in nanny which is great.

I tell you this because despite the fact I had to work, I would want to anyway because who I am first and foremost is about my career. I love being a mum and I take a lot of happiness from managing my work and life balance, but my identity is firmly planted in what I do for a living.

If you identify with this then you can start to make plans to go back when the timing is right.

Yes you are lucky but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to make you happy as a person

Isetan Sun 19-Nov-17 09:28:20

I’m confused, did you really expect to have the same earning potential as someone who works full time and isn’t prioritising raising four young children? I get the feeling that you rather slept walked into the realities of your decisions. What exactly is troubling you? His earning potential and the current and future disparity with yours or that his ‘earning success’, somehow says something about you and your ambition/ capabilities?

eloisesparkle Sun 19-Nov-17 09:28:52

Your circumstances could change very quickly.
Mine did.
Job loss ( I never ever thought it would happen)
Ill health
An accident
bad investments
or infidelity
Something could knock you for six.
I've seen it happen to quite a few people.
Enjoy your life and stop overthinking.
You have what many people dream of.

jeaux90 Sun 19-Nov-17 09:29:47

And yes what bad husky said. If there is a word of warning it's what she wrote (my career enabled me to leave an abusive relationship easily) and there are plenty of stories on here about men leaving after years of their wives being SAHP and being supportive of their careers, leaving the wives with a couple of years spousal support, some capital, maintenance but with no means of earning a decent wedge.

Tinycitrus Sun 19-Nov-17 09:30:32

Are you working right now? What’s stopping you achieving what you want to achieve?

You are wealthy do why not get a nanny to cover childcare and start climbing the ladder?

Peanutbuttercheese Sun 19-Nov-17 09:31:25

I see why it's a problem I would feel and did feel exactly the same. I stopped working due to a serious health condition, I was however in my late forties and made financial plans from a young age to be independent so I do still have a decent income though my career ended totally and it isn't as good as if I had carried in working.

DH and I seperated at the beginning of the year, mainly due to a family issue but my feeling of inadequacy due to not working was a big contribution.

It's teamwork but it isnt the same as building a career. Lots of people will come along and tell you this, it is a truth and useful but not what you planned. Staying at home does have value but the SAHP always makes themselves financially vulnerable if things go wrong. You are facilitating his career there is a thread in feminism currently that is debating this, take a look there.

thecatsabsentcojones Sun 19-Nov-17 09:32:04

Yep I totally get this. My husband earns a good amount and I don't need to work, our youngest is three and I want to start doing some kind of work when she starts school next September. I'll only ever earn a small amount in comparison (I reckon I'll earn as much in a month part time as my husband earned in a morning the other day, it's bloody dispiriting). On one hand it's a nice situation to be in, most people don't have the luxury of being at home with their kids, on the other hand I feel infantilised by it. It makes you feel a bit useless and powerless for that matter, but I'd have never gone into his career, and he could never bring up kids with the hours he does so it's a partnership. I think the problem now is people see worth in work and earning power, and anyone who doesn't work is written off as being a bit thick. And even if you're aware it's a societal thing, it still works it's way into your psyche.

But it's scary not being the one with the economic power in the relationship, my husband does have principles and isn't an arsehole, but I hear stories of women being utterly fucked financially by not being able to support themselves or their kids if the relationship breaks down.

So totally get it. We're brought up to think women can achieve anything, then it turns out that's very difficult when you're primarily the main carer for kids. And everyone thinks you're lucky to be in the position you're in - and you are, you can eat, your house is nice - but there's the sense of not having achieved what you should.

So I'll go back into business in a small way when I get some more hours, and will feel better for it. Financially though I can't compete like you with your partner but that's not everything I suppose...

HeadDreamer Sun 19-Nov-17 09:32:40

I agree it is to do with your self esteem and identity. I don’t believe women are all happy being kept before feminism. The change happened because we wanted it.

Don’t give up on yourself yet. I don’t have a high earning DH. (I warm slightly more than him). But in my 20s and early 30s I was not happy with my career and constantly felt under achieved compared to my friends at university. Only after mid 30s I found myself and I am very happy where I am now career wise.

You are in the lucky situation where you can afford to buy help. Think about what you want to achieve career wise. Maybe have a few sessions with a career coach to find your direction. Set targets and try to improve? You may find a fulfilling identity outside of the house in 5 or 10 years. You are too young to give up.

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