I Make More Money Than My Husband
My husband and I started dating in college, before either of us had real jobs. At the time, we both worked part time doing entry level jobs. After graduating, we both moved into salaried positions in our respective fields. Between the two of us, I earned a higher salary.
This wasn’t an issue for either of us. He had no harsh feelings toward my higher salary and if anything, it allowed us to save even more of our money toward 401k and general savings goals. With this, we bought a house in our early 20s, carefully examining our expenses and still heavily saving – a goal which we both have always had. I enjoyed working. It was a great mix of people interaction to satisfy a social needs, mentally stimulating as I solved problems and kept budget restraints in check, while also requiring movement. Truthfully, I was proud of myself for achieving this level of independence.
The fact that I made more than my husband was never a concern for either of us, until it was.
We were expecting our first child and the thought of becoming a stay at home parent crossed my mind. Like several moms-to-be, I was sad at the thought of missing the first time my baby rolled over, crawled, took steps or said their first words. The unknown of where we would actually bring our child when it was time to return to work, or even how I would juggle breastfeeding while working. When I brought it up to my husband, we realized that it wouldn’t be wise for me to quit my job as we’d be living the pay check to pay check life. We couldn’t afford it. We’d have to scrutinize every dollar to make sure we would have enough money, especially if a large unplanned expense arose. We also had fantastic health insurance through my employer – which was another topic we discussed when assessing our situation. Still, I knew if I stayed where I was, I would be missing future field trips and sporting tournaments. Even things as small as dinner with my family.
Conversely, my husband could have been a stay at home dad and we would have had a bit more leniency as far as spending was concerned. But honestly, he didn’t really want to. Still, with our salaries the way they were, he at least had the option (though my heart was still sad I would be missing these potential firsts). My husband enjoyed working, and that is ok. Thankfully, with my atypical work schedule, family was able to fill in for childcare while we were both at work – and yes, my husband had the baby on weekends when I worked.
It was in this moment that I realized the higher wages that I thought would give me freedom, are inhibiting me the freedom to change my career path.
No, we weren’t living a lavish life, or outside of our means. Sure it was comfortable, but nothing fancy. We had a mortgage for our house, but otherwise lived debt free. We don’t follow the latest fashion trend and eat all our meals at home.
I felt this pressure to continue working so we could live without the stress of failed finances. For if I lost my job, we would be in a financial ruin. Special shout out to all the single moms, because the weight of being the family breadwinner is real. Yet if my husband quit, we could still survive.
So I continued working in the role I was in. To continue saving for our retirement. To have the option to go on vacation without financial distress. To continue having choices. To continue the life we lived now, without fear. I continued working because I had to.
A few years passed, bringing a few raises or promotions (as did cost of living). Eventually our dynamic changed and my husband’s salary afforded me the opportunity to cut back a little at work and enjoy being with my kids at home. I’ve come to realize that working in some capacity makes me a happier person, a purpose outside of being a mother.
But the weight of being financially responsible for the well being of the family was a heavy weight to carry. This weight is also carried by single parents, or even a household with two working parents. It takes a lot to raise a family these days.