Dear Dating Coach,
I am dating someone seriously and we have been discussing the future. I am in my late 20s and have used this time to obtain a degree in a well-paying field. The guy I am dating however, has a job that notoriously pays very little. He loves his job and I love mine. I worry that if we were to get married, it would feel strange to be earning more than my husband and he might feel awkward as well. We would both come into a marriage working, but I would be bringing home significantly more money than him. It feels slightly backwards to me. Am I making too much of this?
My daughter is pitching a new baking show to the food network (she is not) called “Half Baked,” where you will be inspired, but perhaps still hungry. Every week a new episode airs in our house with an enthusiastic audience eager to participate. The crowd (okay, siblings) are assured that they will be a vital part of the baking process. “Flour? No, the host must do the flour.” Of course, understood. “Sugar? No, the host must do the sugar.” Baking powder? Eggs? Oil? No, nope, and I don’t think so. “Vanilla extract?” “Yes!” The audience carefully adds a scant teaspoon of extract and the recipe is put into the oven to bake. Despite the uneven participation, on Shabbos morning, when I enjoy my coffee and a piece of their “delicious/edible/pray for me creation,” I ask, “and who made this fabulous confection? Without fail, never skipping a beat, the response is always a unanimous “WE DID!”
Thank you for your letter. It is always exciting to hear that a couple is contemplating a future together. Yet, you worry about your uneven paychecks and the disparity that it might bring into your home. Certainly, you believe that women can work and contribute monetarily to a family, but in your mind, a man should be the primary breadwinner. Will he be uncomfortable making less than you do? Will you be comfortable earning more?
Is A Story…
Money is a necessity for life so that you can pay the rent, the bills and hopefully have some left over for donuts. (Or a savings account. Your choice.) Money can often be a source of discord in a marriage, and clear communication can help to circumvent any resentment or disagreement. This can be helped by immediately changing your view from “mine and yours” to “ours.” Then, have a clear conversation with one another to make sure that you both embrace your positions and the income you bring in, and fully respect the choice that you have both made to pursue your individual professions. Of course, knowing as well that life is fluid and the growth of your family or life’s transitions may upset this balance temporarily or even permanently.
With A Happy Ending.
Then perhaps consider that equality may not be as necessary to create monetary harmony as a clear understanding of your focus as a family. If you believe that the goal is to create a cohesive home founded on love and respect, then you know that this takes multiple ingredients, “money” being just one of many. On any given day, one spouse may contribute more of the home’s organization, the parenting, the education, the care or the stability. The objective then is to jointly create the perfect recipe for your life together.
This means that you don’t hope for a life where you always contribute equally in all ways, but one where you both contribute fully in the way you decide together, to create a cohesive home filled with love.