Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released a study that reported that wives are out earning their husbands more than ever before.  According to the study, in 1970 just 4 percent of husbands ages 30-44 had lower incomes than their wives.  In 2007, that percentage was 22 percent. 

Hello America from 22 percent!

Dave is a public school teacher.  Given the amount of energy he puts into his job AND the dire importance of his work to the future of this country, he should out earn all of us.  But he doesn’t.  He does get his summers off, and he gets paid to play with crayons, perks that should not be overlooked but don’t translate directly to the bottom line.   I handle the communications for a well established financial industry association where the going rate for said activities is exponentially higher than a public school teacher.

Of course, many of the articles covering the research focused on the insecurities of men when faced with this situation and how it is difficult for successful women to attract them.  One woman was quoted as saying that men “call you high maintenance if you look like you don’t need anyone to take care of you.”  Now here I take exception, because while there are at least a dozen, a handful, maybe two proof points that I am high maintenance, my salary isn’t one of them.

Dave and I rarely – in fact almost never — argue about money.  Here is why our situation works:

  1. We keep separate bank accounts.  Sure we are all “mi casa, su casa”  BUT we work best staying out of each other’s spending and saving habits.  He pays some bills; I pay more bills. We both contribute to our respective savings plans.  But we never have to ask each other for money.  Everything is connected and in two names in the event that he decides to finally off me something should happen, but we largely ignore the other’s financial transactions.
  2. We don’t live beyond our means.  Credit cards are paid off each month.  We agree that there are trade-offs and that driving the 2002 mini-van for another year will not kill me.  Nor will owning just 5 surf boards instead of 6.  Being in debt creates a mountain of pressure. And pressure could cause the bigger earner to pull rank.  That’s not fair.
  3. On the flip side of our anti-stereotypical family, I can’t cook.  So the minute I get all “I’m richer than YOU are”, I am gently reminded of the fact that I don’t know how to boil water correctly.  I, then, sheepishly return Dave’s balls to him and he hands back my breasts.

Seriously though, if men want to feel like they are “taking care” of their women, there are so many better ways to do this than earn more money than them.  Take the kids bowling when we don’t feel well, open jars that are too tight, and reach things that are in high places.  Compliment our butts and give us lots of hugs.  It doesn’t matter who makes more money because for a marriage to work it all has to equal out in the end. 

I may bring home the bacon; but Dave is the only one who knows how to cook it just right.

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