I make 4 times more money than my husband earns. He later admitted he was jealous of me being the breadwinner.
- After getting a tech job and starting a successful coaching business, I became the breadwinner.
- At the same time, my husband took a pay cut, but we pooled all our earnings.
This as-told-to essay is part of our series Splitting the Difference, which examines the financial lives of couples, and is based on a conversation with Karina F. Daves. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I had been working as a social worker in higher-education administration when I decided to start a podcast called "One Day at a Time" in April 2020. The purpose was to talk to women about balancing their responsibilities and relationships.
Three years later, the podcast launched into a successful relationship-coaching business. I now work full-time as a regional manager of employee experience at a tech company, in addition to having the coaching business, producing a podcast, and being an influencer on social media — which brings in additional money.
My pay stubs now show that I make four times more than my husband. This has only been the case within the last few years. So, it has been a challenge adjusting to the change in our family dynamic.
Being the breadwinner affects our relationship
When Terrance and I met, he was working at Nissan as a master auto technician, diagnosing and repairing vehicle problems. I was working as a social worker. When we got married 11 years ago, Terrance made more money than me.
About five years into our marriage, I told my husband, "I feel like something big is coming, and when it comes, you're going to have to retire from this industry that you love. It is really breaking your body down. When the time comes, you've got to prepare for that — heartwise, male ego-wise." I explained that I had a dream that I would have a huge break career-wise, and he would have to leave his job to look after our two young children.
A few years later, when I was going on 10 years as a social worker, I finally got the opportunity to transition into tech. Within 15 minutes of the interview, the company hired me.
I ran upstairs to my husband, and I was like, "I got the job. What are you going to do? This is it. Literally, this is the moment." We both got chills, and he was like, "I've got to leave."
We couldn't make it work with both of us having full-time jobs and taking care of the kids. At that point, I'd been doing most of our kids' school drop-offs and pickups.
My husband decided the only way he could get a more flexible job was to take a pay cut, which was OK because my new salary covered both of our salaries now.
He accepted a job at Princeton University in the facilities department, which paid him half of what he made at his salaried job.
Although I make more money, it belongs to both of us
Since we got married 11 years ago, all our money has been pooled together, and all our financial decisions have been made together. That hasn't changed since I became the breadwinner.
All of our money goes into one pot. We take a percentage and put that into savings, and then we take another percentage for the bills. If there is more left over, that's what we call our "fun money." All accounts have full transparency.
We built all of this together. I've realized Terrance wouldn't be where he is if I didn't support him, and I wouldn't be where I am if he didn't support me. That's why it's so easy for us to align our values and to say, "Yeah, put it all in a pot. It's all ours."
But Terrance later admitted he was jealous of me
It hasn't always been easy. A few months after I got the tech job, I was in my office and Terrance came in and said, "I'm just coming to tell you that I have to start therapy again. There's something about this transition that doesn't feel right, and I don't think I can talk to you about it."
A couple of months later, he had a breakthrough with his therapist. He realized he was jealous of me and that his jealousy was causing him to see us as two individuals rather than as a team.
He told me, "Up to this point, we were a team, but somehow when you started to make more money than me, I just saw you in a different space, and I no longer saw you as a team member. I'm sorry for that. And it's so hard to even tell you that I was jealous of you."
We've learned communication is key
Communication helped us a lot. We learned that, yes, the marriage and the relationship are important, but we're still very much individuals with individual desires.
That means asking how we can support one another in reaching each of our dreams. Plus, I may be head of household because my pay stub says I make more money, but for us and our faith, it's like God is our head of household.
No matter how much money either of us makes, we're still in this life together.
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