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Do people ask about your husband/boyfriends job/career and not yours?

(29 Posts)
Mreggsworth Sat 15-Aug-20 14:12:06

I've really noticed this last few years.

When we see my boyfriends family they gush about how hard he works, how busy he is and how hes making good money and ask lots of questions relating to his work and I just get comments like "so...keeping busy"?

When we mentioned a nice holiday we have planned to a relative he said "lucky lady" to me, indicating I was being treated to it and proceeded to ask if my boyfriends work was going well to afford a holiday like that.

It feels like every time we are greeted by people the 'go to' statements to him are things like "been working hard?" "Putting those hours in?" And then look onto me as if I am meant to just stand there looking proud of him.

I've done loads of exciting and interesting jobs, in the last year I've gone self employed split between contracting and developing my own service, it's starting to go well and I'm looking to match my boyfriends salary (and the salary isnt even what it's about to me) and I'm putting in a lot of hours. I dont expect a fuss or recognition or anything like that, its just when I compare the comments and questions my boyfriend gets compared to what I get it just sometimes makes me feel like I'm just seen as my boyfriends cheerleader and whatever I do will always be seen as secondary.

Theres been a couple of people though when they have asked what I do for work and I say I'm self employed before letting me finish they say "aw well are you looking for permanent work? At least your boyfriend has plenty of work". I just dont imagine anyone would have that response to a man, it's as if as soon as I've mentioned being self employed because I'm a woman they assume I'm in an mlm or just doing a little hobby or something.

Rant over

OP’s posts: |
ExCoffeeAddict Sat 15-Aug-20 14:18:12

Actually I am pleased to say no

Dh and I earn simmilar amounts

However what I have noticed recently well prior to lockdown anyway when I was meeting new people socially is that people never asked me of dh what we work as and I felt this was quite a shift socially that we are moving away from peoples work being their defining feature.

However in your situation when people ask show them how hard you work and how proud you are of your achievements "I am a small buisness owner" ? "I run a very successful xyz" ?

Maybe speak to your partner about this. Years ago before dc I earned substatially more than DH and noe thinking about it I do remember being with some of his colleagues who were saying "oh isnt it great dh earns so much money..." and dh quickly stepped in and said "wife is very successful at x and actually is the main breadwinner in this house"

Not that you need to go to that extent but maybe call out to him that you want more equality in the conversations here anf his assistance in driving that would be helpful?

madcatladyforever Sat 15-Aug-20 14:19:19

Every damned time even though I earned twice as much as him and he was always out of work.

NearlyGranny Sat 15-Aug-20 14:26:20

I got so exasperated when people told my kids, "Ooh, aren't you lucky?!" when told we were going to live abroad for a year on an exchange programme that I taught them - even the 5 yr old - to say in response,

"It isn't luck, it's hard work!"

Mreggsworth Sat 15-Aug-20 14:32:02


I might mention it to him. My boyfriend isnt doing anything wrong as such but he does get very chuffed with himself when he gets those comments. But I think he could definitely proactively do more to give me some credit.

OP’s posts: |
nicknamehelp Sat 15-Aug-20 14:42:17

All the time people ask DH hows business going/working hard but seem surprised if I ever comment about working hard etc. I know I only work part time but still at a manger level with a lot of responsibility but my job and income dont seem to count for much in other people's opinion.

BranchingOut Sat 15-Aug-20 15:21:47


I got so exasperated when people told my kids, "Ooh, aren't you lucky?!" when told we were going to live abroad for a year on an exchange programme that I taught them - even the 5 yr old - to say in response,

"It isn't luck, it's hard work!"

I honestly don't think that people are casting aspersions on your ability to work hard by using the word "lucky", they are simply making conversation by saying that it is a nice thing for the whole family to have that opportunity.

I would also find it fairly rude if a young child answered back to me in that way.

Was it a competitive process to get onto the exchange progamme? Also, lots of sectors don't have exchange programmes, so actually it is 'lucky' that your sector does!

CuriousaboutSamphire Sat 15-Aug-20 16:52:39

You can't win with that one @NearlyGranny. It doesn't fit the zetgeist here.

Hard work always has an underpinning of luck, always

GoshHashana Sat 15-Aug-20 19:08:47

People are always surprised to learn that my DH is a nursery nurse/early years practitioner, while I have a more conventionally masculine job. It doesn't half bother them.

Goosefoot Sat 15-Aug-20 19:29:10


A lot of people become have become uninterested/awkward though when I've told them I don't have a conventional job.

ohisay Sat 15-Aug-20 19:38:24

Yes - drives me crazy! It doesn't help that I'm a TA though - dispite the fact I'm full time, he's seen as the one who does the hard work!! I do all child and house stuff too.

museumum Sat 15-Aug-20 19:44:35

My job is more interesting than dh’s by a looong way. Even though he does earn more. So most people who know what I do ask about my work.
It’s quite good actually because I am in a low paying sector compared to dhs but mine is very publicly visible so I do get lots of credit.

JellyfishandShells Sat 15-Aug-20 19:44:48


I was in much the better job, in terms of salary, prospects , ‘status’, for lack of a better word , when we got together and married - he was doing something worthier, IMO, but not well paid.

Later on in life, I stepped back from the high pressure corporate role and he changed direction, which ended up with him being very successful professionally. Friends would ask ‘ where is he now ? ‘ because it did involve lots of long haul travel and meeting the most extraordinary people, but they would also ask about my interesting but, happily, low key job.

He’s always regarded my career and experience with respect, which is actually what matters.

museumum Sat 15-Aug-20 19:46:27


I got so exasperated when people told my kids, "Ooh, aren't you lucky?!" when told we were going to live abroad for a year on an exchange programme that I taught them - even the 5 yr old - to say in response,

"It isn't luck, it's hard work!"

If a 5 yr old said that to me I’d laugh - it wasn’t THEIR hard work 😂😂😂

Mreggsworth Sat 15-Aug-20 19:53:42

Its interesting that it's a mixed response.

Maybe its because I come across very passive and I'm a very low key person that I'm not associated with being very driven or ambitious? Where as my partner is quite the opposite.

Though I definitely feel the responses I get when I tell people I'm self employed always have a very sexist undertone, as if Its not a serious venture and just a hobby. Something I just don't feel a man would be made to feel.

OP’s posts: |
Veenah Sat 15-Aug-20 20:08:18

Yes, noticed it recently as we moved house and neighbours on both sides have asked about DHs job many times and never asked about mine, they have no idea what I do. We moved pre-lockdown so they saw me leaving for work every day and I've mentioned that we're both working from home, it's not that they think I don't work. There just seems to be a very annoying presumption that his job is the "main" job. We earn about the same so it's frustrating, but then again it's dismissive regardless of what jobs or salaries are involved.

DH thought I was imagining it until one of them congratulated him on "his" new car while I was parking and getting out of the driver's seat...

ThinEndoftheWedge Sat 15-Aug-20 20:52:25

No - both me and DH work in a similar field so people - esp his work colleagues are keen to know.

In fairness to DH - he’s very keen to tell people about my job.

MrsJamin Sat 15-Aug-20 20:56:20

No one I know ever remembers what I do. It's not an every day job and it's IT related but a bit more interesting than just the tech side. I've been in my present job for 6 years and I had to explain to my MIL what I do again just the other day. I don't think my mum knows either really. I don't know whether it's my problem, like I am not forthcoming enough or whether people are just damn rude for not listening and not bothering to remember anything I've told them. confused

AbyssusAbyssumInvocat Sat 15-Aug-20 20:59:40

How strange! I have never had this. I think everyone knows that DP earns quite a bit more than me too but again, it's not necessarily about salary.

Do they know what you do as a self employed person? Or do they think you're an artist or something that relies on him?

Are they older? Or are they the type of family that only have menfolk working?

Mreggsworth Sat 15-Aug-20 21:18:59


People seem to know and retain what general field I work in, though no one (apart from close friends or my family) seem to ask any questions so have no clue what it actually involves. I think a big issue is that I can be more flexible with my hours so through the week I'm often seen walking the dog mid day or popping to the gym/ shops but I guess they dont know i compensate for that by either working earlier or later so I guess to others it could just be seen enjoying leisurely time while my boyfriend is working his socks off.

Its mainly my boyfriends family that make these comments but it isnt exclusively them, they arent a family where it's just the menfolk that work but just seem to have a view that the men work harder for some reason.

I mentioned it to my friend once too who works in the legal sector and so does her husband and she says she finds that when the topic of work comes up with new people it has been assumed more than once she has an admin role and he is senior and they seem to divert questions to him.

OP’s posts: |
DCIRozHuntley Sat 15-Aug-20 21:22:53

Haha, people (even people we know quite well) forget I work at all, because I work from home and not paid for not many hours and do a lot of the school runs and stuff.

I also find that when women talk about work there is often a focus on whether it's part time and how it works around tje kids - desirable and valuable attributes for any job, but rarely asked of men.

One of my best friends in particular gets it and even refers to my voluntary work as "work" or "your job" and I love her for it. In return I am very very proud of her for her more conventional, high level job and love hearing about it.

Maybe we all just need more supportive friends?!

Frlrlrubert Sat 15-Aug-20 21:40:59

My mum is a bit like this (she didn't go back to work until I was 9 and little bro was 7, and then only PT), she seems better since I got a job she understands and doesn't mind mentioning. She does still think DH is hard done by because I'm not waiting with his slippers and a hot dinner on the table when he returns from work though.

But generally, no. We moved last year and our new neighbours, mostly 60+, have all asked what we both do (the cars are generally out all day which may give it away that we are both working full time, I don't know).

DH's family are totally matriarchal as well, his gran has been all over the world and worked/volunteered well into her 80s, so it wouldn't cross their minds.

GCAcademic Sat 15-Aug-20 21:41:09

This happens all the time with people in my village. DH and I do exactly the same job (academics in similar field). He constantly gets asked how work is going, about how his research and book are coming along, when term finishes, how teaching is going. I never get asked about my job. Oh, and not long after we first moved here, someone was so horrified that I’d gone away for work and left the poor lamb to fend for himself, that they had him round for dinner lest he starve.

I actually don’t mind not being asked about my job. I’d rather try to forget about it in social situations. So, on top of the sexism of it, I get doubly pissed off having to listen to tedious conversations about DH’s identical job.

ErrolTheDragon Sat 15-Aug-20 21:45:47

I don't notice it too often. Though a couple of years ago, DD did... She was doing an engineering internship with a big company which has a woeful M:F ratio and was actively trying to recruit and retain more women. Her boss, a nice bloke who was presumably trying to work out where her interests had arisen from asked if her dad was in a STEM field... well, yes she says, but so is mum, what she does is....grin

MaybeDoctor Sun 16-Aug-20 14:14:51

In the situation described by the OP, I think the reason is precisely that it is his family, they are naturally biased because they love him and are proud of him - they probably do think he is the best, most hardworking man ever and, look, he brought his girlfriend too! What a lucky girl she is to be with him...grin

In other situations, try describing yourself a bit more assertively: 'I run my own business'.

My DH is a high earner but I can hold my own conversationally, so people tend to assume that I do something...

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