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I am a red-blooded 207 pound driven former-athlete of a man that feels the intrinsic drive to provide for his family. I am evolutionarily wired to protect, provide, and reproduce, and whether I like it or not – many of my decisions are subconsciously influenced by these long-established forces that are well beyond my control. So, when I tell you that I cut my wife’s salary by 75% last year – does any part of you think it was because my ego couldn’t handle her being the female breadwinner…?
(I’ll get back to that)
(Photo courtesy of MKulp Photography)
Before you get out the slings and arrows, let me start with some facts – then some clarification
My wife is a dentist who owns our family business – 100%. And although I currently work a day job as a forensic scientist, many of my nights and weekends are spent working for my wife as our business’ CEO. If you’re looking at our org chart, she’s my boss – period.
But I do run the financial aspects of our business, among other things. So, items like staff development, paying bills, marketing, cash flow, hiring, IT, the website, …, and payroll all run through me. And in a time when the average dentist’s salary is on the rise, my wife brought home a small fraction of that average while working in a business that grew 18.5% and by all accounts is well-respected in our community.
What if I told you that I couldn’t handle the fact that she makes twice what I do in a year?
Well, according to this article from the New York Times I wouldn’t be alone in that belief.
Here are a few juicy statistics to get us started (taken from the article but originally were census data):
Women lie and say they make 1.5% less than they really do
Men lie and say they make 2.9% more than they really do (both are averages)
In nearly 25% of couples – women earn more
And here’s the kicker:
“A large study by economists at the University of Chicago, using census data from 1970 to 2000, found that marriages in which the woman earned more were less likely to form in the first place, and more likely to end in divorce. Women who outearned their husbands were more likely to seek jobs beneath their potential, they found, and to do significantly more housework and childcare than their husbands — perhaps to make their husbands feel less threatened.”
Let me tell ya… That paragraph above stoked quite the conversation between me and the Mrs… (I mean, Dr.)
So, it’s cool for me to feel threatened by my female breadwinner of a wife – right??
In fact, I’m actually pretty fired up over this article and the social ’norms’ it carries with it.
Why am I fired up, you ask?
Well. A few reasons.
Let’s start with the selfish ones (I’m writing these from the point of view that ‘you’ are a husband and have a wife that earns more than you)
You’re a lucky SOB
Congratulations – your family’s income is diversified! There is another member of your household that earns a significant income (assuming that you also work). So, if either you or your wife suddenly lose your job, the loss in income can be absorbed by hopefully some emergency savings or the fact that there is still income on your balance sheet (i.e. your job).
Aside from that – if your wife earns a competitive (read: high) salary, there’s a better than not chance that her job skills are marketable. That opens up the door to jumping companies or transferring to a different area and potentially upping your family’s income. You’ve got more options.
Congratulations, you married a driven woman that isn’t afraid to head out on the hunt, slay the wildebeest, and drag it home… Sounds like a good catch to me
I don’t have much to add to that headline… But before I get to my take-home message, let’s throw out another point that’s worth mentioning.
Your wife will make a great example to your kids. Especially if you have a daughter
Say what you will about the political climate but women have been voting in America for less than 100 years… And just 2 years ago a woman was one of two possible choices for president of the United States.
Bringing this point closer to my our household, our daughter sees my wife working daily as a dentist – helping people in pain or to brighten their smiles. Monica is making a big difference in folks’ lives and I am 100% confident that our daughter sees that impact and as a result can dream the biggest dreams that her little mind can come up with.
Who says my daughter can’t do ___? Role model mom is over there bucking the norm and making moves, and that is subconsciously influencing our daughter – no question.
So, here’s my point – a challenge to the guys out there
Fellas – I’m gonna need you to check that ego at the door.
We discuss how Ego is the Enemy in business conversations. We even hear former Navy SEALs, who may outwardly be seen as ‘macho’ and abrasive, preach about the importance of not having an ego in professional or military situations.
If we understand that having and growing a large ego negatively affects our bottom lines, then why in the world are we bringing that ego home and not expecting it to do the same thing to our marriages?
News flash – the successful marriages I’ve observed and the one my wife and I aspire to share are built on a foundation of mutual trust, respect, and love. Not on jealousy for one from the other.
So, if your wife makes twice your salary – pat her on the back, say ‘Thank You’, and try not to drip water from that mop in your hands onto her work shoes when she comes home from a day at the office.
The article I link to above goes on at length to detail why some men are threatened by a high-earning wife
The author talks with therapists, cites studies, and reads the data to say, in a nutshell, that the average male ego just can’t handle it. Us bros are supposed to provide, protect, and reproduce, and the chemistry in our minds can be thrown off when that balance is out of whack.
But, I just have a difficult time accepting those points as fact
My wife earned twice my salary for a few years and although I did ‘technically’ cut her pay significantly last year, it had nothing to do with my threatened ego. We were working on growing our fledgling business and we needed to keep cash on hand to pay for upgrades, marketing, and legal fees during the acquisition and move – simple as that.
In fact, I’m currently looking for ways to maximize my wife’s salary while also seriously contemplating drastically reducing mine. And do I feel threatened or a lack of fulfillment because of that? Not in the least.
We communicate our butts off and work as a team
We are constantly discussing ways that we can work together to help advance our family and our business. If that means I need to step back or step forward professionally – I’m up for it, and so is she… Because when we signed on the dotted line 7.5 years ago and vowed to live in support of one another – that was the decision we chose to make:
To do what’s best for our family. Whatever. Whenever. Wherever.
And we’re no marriage experts, but I can tell you that I sleep better at night knowing that my wife is working her tail off to put us in a better financial situation than we’d otherwise have available.
And I love every aspect of that.
I’ll duck behind my car and let you throw your comments in the comments section below. I’m 100% curious to hear your takes on this topic. Am I off base or speaking your language? Let us know and we’ll keep this conversation going!
Thanks for reading!
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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!