Does it matter who in your family makes the most money?

For the first time in history, women now constitute more than half the American workforce. In many households women are the chief breadwinner, or the only breadwinner. Today’s Question: Does it matter who in your family makes the most money?

  • There are so many other things that are more important than who makes the most money. My answer is simply “no”.

  • woman

    Of course it matters, money is part of the power balance in most relationships and who makes the most money is a very important factor in that balance. Whether we wish to acknowdlege it or not, it’s an unusual relationship indeed where it’s truly not important.

  • Al

    Heavens no! It money all goes in the same pot.

    I wish she made more than me though. She works more hours at a generally more demanding job. But she’s a teacher. As a society we expect top-notch, professional teachers to work for a fraction of the pay of other college educated professionals. I firmly believe that part of this is due to fact that k-12 education was historically ‘women’s work’ and women were paid less. All workers have received increases over time, but teachers started in a sexist hole.

  • Shane

    I do not think it is important. I know for a fact that when my fiance and I are married and she holds her first job she will be making more than me (she will be obtaining her MSW in May and then soon her LICSW).

    Now, was it something that i had to get over? Yes, a little bit. Society has told us that the man of the house should be the provider and should be making more money, but it’s a sterotype that needs to be broken. Will it make me less of a man? No. And, like another listener stated earlier, I’m looking forward to having a ‘Sugah Mama’.

  • Louise

    Absolutely not! Right now I make more money than my husband, but his job has a lot more flexibility, so he takes on more responsibility for caring for our young son. In other times in our marriage, he made more.

    People can talk about societal expectations and blame gender stereotypes, but these decisions and attitudes are made under your own roof. As a couple, decide how to tend to the house and children, how to pay the bills, how to find fulfillment in roles you both have inside and outside the house as worker, student, parent, homemaker, or whatever.

  • bsimon

    In our family, the major breadwinner’s gender is irrelevant, but the person who is the major breadwinner has different options available when it comes to adjusting their schedule for childcare. i.e. the person earning higher compensation has to maintain that income level in order to maintain our lifestyle, whereas the person with the lower income is able to work 4 days a week without having a significant impact on the budget.

  • rkbds

    In our home, my husband was the primary wage earner and made it very clear to me and other family members that “he paid the bills”. He was entitled to buy clothes and electronics because he made more. I felt less than because I made less than.

  • Working Mom

    Yes. I make more money working full-time, but I also come home to the lion’s share of the chores. I love my husband, and I’m committed to our marriage, so this isn’t something I’m going to trash the relationship over. Besides, dumping him would just give me MORE household work to do! Still, we can’t afford household help (my job keeps us middle class, and we need to save to replenish a depleted emergency fund and for retirement and the kid’s college education). I feel guilty when I do spend money frivolously, such as at the deli for dinner on a busy night.

    What is wrong with this picture? Why do I make the most AND come home to be the household slave? Why, when I ask my husband to put away the groceries, does he leave a bunch out because he “doesn’t know where it goes”? I’m tired!

    Someone said that money is the power in the relationship, but if my husband made more, I’d have the power to quit and maybe have time to chase my dreams!

  • Steve the Cynic

    Why are we bothering with this obviously rhetorical question?

  • Lawrence

    It matters which gender makes the most money in this sense: we’ve encouraged women to pursue careers and obtain higher education, but we’ve stopped encouraging men to do the same thing, unless that career is sports related or involves mechanical and biological physical exertion. The other interesting thing that has occurred in the last 50 years, which I think is due to having more women in the workplace, is we’ve sexualized consumer goods to the point where a growing majority of your daily weekday commercials almost exclusively feature slender women. Obviously, diverse perspectives breeds innovation; therefore, capping women’s income or access to education and greater employment will eventually stifle our economy. That said, men would serve our economy better if we de-emphasized sports and encouraged them to pursue other worthwhile careers.

  • Dianne

    We are a lesbian couple and it does not matter to me who brings home the bigger check.

  • Michaela

    The difference in our paychecks makes absolutely no difference on our relationship. I make more money but we spend our money together.

    I’m a registered nurse and my husband is a licensed social worker who’s working for a non-profit organisation funded by the state. Fact is that RNs make more money than social workers.

    I think he enjoys having a wife who enables him (us!) to live a financially somewhat worry free life.

  • Jen

    Other college-educated professionals, minus the media.

    As a media professional, I am not likely to make more money than a teacher, and also won’t get tenure.

    Whoever I marry will make more money than I will.

  • Tony

    No. As a culture we still too often think men should earn more, and also too often men pursue a vocation because they think that’s where the money is (as opposed to pursuing a vocation because they like it or are naturally talented at it).

    That unfortunate cultural trait can cause heart attacks.

    On a similar note, we’re not all cut out to be math and science professionals.

    Do the kind of work you like, because you’ll be good at it. Don’t chase money.

  • Kevin

    It is not important that I make more money than my wife so long as we’re able to meeting our obligations. I would rather that we both enjoy our jobs and have that be the main goal. After all we spend more waking hours at work than we do at home at this point in our lives. It makes for a happier home life if we both have a happy and fulfilling work life.

  • Patrick

    If my wife works overtime, I let her eat dinner with our guests that weekend. Otherwise, she is not allowed out of the kitchen. It’s not for everyone, but it works for us. I stay home to make sure she has a detailed to-do list for her evening chores. I think we’ve struck a healthy balance.

  • Jenny

    My husband and I got married at 20, and throughout the years our incomes have shifted back and forth. Currently, we make approximately the same amount. My husband grew up in a house where his mom stayed home and his dad worked, while both my parents worked. Despite our upbringing, he does the lions share of the manual housework (dishes, laundry, floors, etc) while I manage the mental household (bills, schedules, appointments, etc). This is how it has always been, regardless of income. He hates worry about things; I hate housework. We’re a match made in heaven!

  • Cassie

    We are witnessing a cultural shift from one where it does matter who makes the money to one where it just matters that the money is coming in and that daily tasks are being acheived. Until families start to realize the simple value of having an income we will all continue to buy into a false expectation that keeps both men and women pigeonholed in destructive ways.

  • Joan

    As a single woman who makes a good income, I can say that this has been an issue in dating. Although to me it doesn’t matter as long as both partners are contributing to the well-being of the family, the issue does still matter to many men in my small-town, conservative region of the state.

  • Philip

    I think it does matter. Here are three points I want to make:

    1. Men are always sized up by the type of work they do and they’re identified by it. Every time I meet someone new, whether man or woman, I am always asked what I do. The same is not true of my wife.

    2. My wife and most of the women I know, who have children, want to spend more time with their kids. My wife has always liked the idea of working part-time so she can be home when the kids get home. I have always liked the idea of giving her this option.

    3. When I listened to the 30-something woman in this morning’s broadcast she sounded as though she were lamenting about the amount of time she spends at work vs. home. We only get 24 hours in a day and if you’re going to divide your day in such a way, then something is going to give. It will either be your family or your sanity.

  • Anonymous

    The politically correct line is No! The reality is yes. Making more money is seen as emasculating to my husband and to some of the people he works with, neighbors and some family. Despite the time demands of my career the expectations that I care for the cooking, cleaning and household cares still exist. Now, I can pass on those domestic tasks, which results in lots of delivered pizza.

  • Maria

    Although we would all like to be able to say “No, it doesn’t matter” it does in reality make a difference. Money is viewed as power in any relationship. Even though people can work around the issues that the woman being the breadwinner brings up, it does change the dynamic in a relationship. My husband is going to school and I am working. Although we manage the issues well, it is something that we need to address, on a regular basis.

    Historically, the man’s role has been seen as the provider, and it is going to take more than a few years, or generations, to change that view completely.

  • Stevey

    Not in a relationship that isn’t about power. It hasn’t mattered in many relationships from the beginning (including my marriage). If this is an issue in your relationship, and if you have to consider “who has more power”, you might need to worry about greater issues. Perhaps this would assist in decreasing the divorce rate.

  • Reuben Koutal

    It’s an Ethical Question, or problem if you might, if you get to the bottom of it. Cost and Benefit Analysis, Maslow’s diagram or pyramid, depicting basic human needs, and less basic, quotes. Ethical questions, inexclusively are risky, inherently tough questions, which entail high stakes for the person, tangible and otherwise. Should one undermine uprooted moral principles for the favor of accessing more basic survival needs? Is dignity more important than actions necessary for other causes? It’s a field problem, counterpart to usual textbook problems, which all data are available, all one needs to do is to plug in the data in the equation, and come up with the answer, that someone usually comes up with. No ambiguity, no lack of data or incomplete data, or unreliable data. It’s a very personal question one has to decide for herself or himself.

  • Anne

    If my husband works overtime, I let him eat dinner with our guests that weekend. Otherwise, he is not allowed out of the kitchen. It’s not for everyone, but it works for us. I stay home to make sure he has a detailed to-do list for his evening chores. I think we’ve struck a healthy balance.