A spouse is not an alternative income stream

I usually avoid voicing a strong opinion on controversial issues because I don’t want to offend anyone, but this one just gets under my skin so badly I can’t be quiet about it. I apologize in advance if this rubs anyone the wrong way. I inserted a lot of GIFs to try to make it seem less hostile. For a less abrasive but more detailed breakdown of all I’ve written below from an actual finance professional, please consult “It’s Your Money: Becoming A Woman of Independent Means” by Gail Vaz Oxlade.

One of the attitudes I’ve seen entirely too much of in the PF sphere is upholding traditional gender stereotypes for personal financial gain.

There are two sides to this coin:

Men: “women deserve to earn less because they can be absent from the workforce for extended periods of time in order to devote themselves to child-rearing”

Women: “I earn enough to support myself but I feel like a man should pay for all our dates. I really want someone that can provide for me financially.”

I have only one response to the above:

NO.

Now, I won’t go into the first one because it’s been done, but the second sentiment really started to bother me when I read Fabulously Broke’s post and all the comments that followed. There was some mixed responses, but I was surprised by the overwhelming voice of agreement from women.

I think it’s fine to find hard-working, ambitious men attractive (they ARE attractive), but the line is crossed when you want that so you can get away with earning and/or contributing less yourself.

Excuses included:

  • biology – it just seems “natural” for the man to provide for the woman.
  • tradition – it’s the way it’s always been.
  • complacency – everyone else is doing it.

Just because we “feel” like it’s ok, regardless of what justification we use, we’re still supporting inequality between the sexes. Maybe it really is biology to want your man to support you, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

I understand that depending on whatever circumstances, it might just happen that your husband out-earns you and thus can afford to contribute more to the household. I recognize that in a situation where the financial contribution is imbalanced, the spouse earning less might compensate by contributing to the household in other ways.

I want to emphasize that my criticism is directed towards women who are purposely earning less and/or expecting their spouse to provide for them financially when they are wholly capable of doing so themselves.

Specifically this is directed at those that have the audacity to champion the practice under the banner that “because I’m a woman and he’s a man“.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, girls, but so long as we hold on to the idea that we deserve to be provided for financially by our husbands, we will continue to be under-promoted, under-earning, and under-represented in upper management roles in every industry. Gender inequality happens because we let it — and in instances like this, we roll out the red carpet for it.

The idea that men are responsible for the financial support of their wife dates back to the practice of treating women not as people, but as property.

I want to confess that as my income increases, I feel a weird sense of uneasiness in out-earning the men I date. Guiltily, I admit my first reaction to the very pregnant Marissa Mayer’s promotion to CEO of Yahoo! was doubt. These gender roles permeate our cultural psyche so deeply, they’re the default even for those of us that want to break free of them.

Ladies, let’s stop selling ourselves short. 

Earn as much money as you possibly can. I feel like women are less motivated by money, or perhaps less willing to show it, but I encourage you: work for money. Let it push you to the very maximum of your potential. If you deserve a raise, ask for it. If you can earn more money at another company, go for it. Push yourself until you’re in the highest possible position you can attain in the most lustrous career possible for yourself. Don’t settle for mediocre with the idea that it doesn’t matter what you earn, you can just marry someone that earns more.

Build financial assets like you’re going to be single forever. I don’t even care if you’re already in an 11 year relationship and own a dog together. Don’t pretend you can spend all your money on shoes and clothes because someday your prince will come and bail you out a la Mr. Big on Sex & The City. You need to set up your own retirement account, your own emergency fund, and save for your own financial goals. If you want to stay at home for child-rearing, make sure you can do it on passive income or by working from home. Don’t ever expect someone else to provide a lifestyle for you that you cannot provide yourself.

Make sure your income is enough to support your spouse &  family. You can only expect your partner see you through hard financial times if you can do the same for him. While being a stay-at-home-mom might seem like the ideal, it might not be your reality. You never know when disability or unemployment will strike you or your partner, so you should be in a position to handle the bills in case you become the sole breadwinner. For all you know, your husband might want to be a stay-at-home Dad.

When married, save and invest like you can get divorced at any time – because you can! No one gets into a relationship with the intention of it ending, but the reality is most marriages end in divorce and this more frequently than not results in huge financial upheaval. Make sure you maintain some assets in your name only, particularly retirement accounts and an emergency fund should the worst happen.

But most importantly, find a partner that is your equal. One that pushes you to be self-sufficient, independent, and successful in your own right. One that makes you get the cheque when it’s your turn, because he is not your Sugar Daddy. A spouse is not an alternative income stream. He is your best friend, he is your confidant, and he is your family. Also, it is not the 1950’s anymore.

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Comments

  1. PREACH!

    High quality and perfectly placed GIFs aside, I love this post (and I loved A Woman of Independent Means). I don’t understand why girls who were raised in the 80s/90s during the “you can be anything” era of childrearing think that this is a legitimate life strategy. It’s NOT. In the end, you’re responsible for yourself and yourself only – so you’d better get your financial shit together and create your own safety net. Nobody else is going to do that for you.

  2. I love this post. My friend and I got into a huge argument about the last point right before her wedding. She is one of those types – where she doesn’t mind working, but would rather not, and if she does he still contributes to the bills mainly.Which is silly. I just told her how important it is to take care of yourself – because stuff happens, even if it’s not divorce (but that happens too). She said something like “well, if we divorced we’d just split it in half”. I wanted to shake her. Half isn’t a lot when only one person is earning/saving/investing!

  3. I agree with most everything you’ve said, with one small caveat: I understand people who choose to structure their families and home lives around a religious tradition, and respect their choice to do so.

    (Bridget, I’m not trying to imply that you don’t understand or respect them; all I mean to say is that I except this group of people from what I hope for mainstream society.)

    • As someone who was once a devout mormon, I understand the influence of religion when it comes to structuring relationships/families. While we can be forgiving of the practice, I feel it’s still inherently problematic — and can still offer little protection against divorce. My sister is a recently divorced single mother and suffers an unjustified amount of hardship simply because she bought in to the patriarchal structure of the LDS faith. While our religion encourages women to become educated and contribute to their marriage, the push to rely entirely on your husband for financial support and opt out of your career in order to remain at home for child-rearing can have severe economic consequence.

      I’m caught between respecting the tradition and finding it quite dangerous.

      • I grew up Anglican but my mom converted to LDS when we were in high school. I have nothing ‘bad’ to say about the church but I do think the patriarchal view is a little old school…my mom is an independent, divorced successful (financially) woman and nothing has ever been said to her, they’ve been nothing but welcoming to he or at least that’s the picture she’s painted me.

        • oh they’re very welcoming. I have nothing negative to say about the general personality of the church or its members, I’m just concerned about girls that marry at 20 and never enter the workforce, but find themselves divorced at 30 with children =\

      • I, too harbor a bit of uneasiness about the practices- though probably less so than you.

        But maybe it’s the fact that I’m from a faith that no longer pushes women to stay at home – so financially there is somewhat of an equal footing, even though the church itself and individual family structures are still very patriarchal.

  4. I disagree with some of your points here (mostly the application ones) but I guess I’m just not as fired up about it as you seem to be. Since I’m pursuing a PhD (alongside 50% female classmates) I guess I just don’t meet a lot of people who espouse the kind of viewpoints that you’re disagreeing with – or maybe we just have less overt forms?

    But I wonder why you care so much about other people’s choices. I have a different view of marriage than you do, it seems – I don’t need to protect myself from my marriage by keeping money away from my husband or making contingency plans. We are a complete partnership. If one of us chooses to take a less demanding job (yep, more likely to be me than my husband!) for a time for the benefit of our marriage and family, I don’t think that makes that person a lesser partner. There are more ways to evaluate a person’s contribution to a relationship than just his income.

    Oh, and neither my husband nor I is motivated to earn as much money as we possibly can. If we believed that we wouldn’t be scientists! There are more important things at the end of the day like having fulfilling work and contributing positively to society.

    • Why care about anyone’s choices?

      Like I said, I feel the attitude that a husband is responsible for financially supporting his wife perpetuates inequality in between the sexes in the workforce. If we continue to uphold this viewpoint, it does all women an in injustice.

      Every woman needs to protect herself from the potential dissolution of her marriage. Too many interpret this suggestion that their marriage is somehow weak, and immediately jump on the defensive. If they maintain their own savings, they feel guilty because they assume it means they’re essentially welcoming the partnership to fail. It’s not like that. Just because you keep financial assets in your own name doesn’t mean you love your spouse less or don’t believe in your marriage, it just means you’re prepared for the worst.
      The unexpected can happen. No reason to be totally blindsided.

      Likewise I understand there are other contributions than financial in a relationship. That’s why I explicitly said “I recognize that in a situation where the financial contribution is imbalanced, the spouse earning less might compensate by contributing to the household in other ways.”

  5. LOVE everything about this!

  6. LOVE THIS POST. As I told you last night, my friend is extremely guilty of this. Her man buys her everything, pays for everything and gives her money for everything. It’s not just him though, she is like this with everyone and has no problem taking money from anyone. It’s starting to get really bad to the point where my friends and I had to call her out on it just last month.

    • That’s just awkward… is she aware she does it? Or does she just unconsciously assume everyone is there to take care of her? I feel bad for the girls that are genuinely oblivious to how bad their freeloading behavior is.

  7. Hahah I love this. I TOTALLY agree. Hubby and I work equally as hard towards our family but I make more money (although when I go back to work after baby, I’m giving up 1 day/week so his full time paycheques will actually be larger now). I’ve always strived to do, and make, the most possible. I like feeling in control! I have a friend like this though, who’s only real goal is to float through life until she finds herself a man…annoys the shit out of me.

    • I thinks so many girls are guilty of floating through life until they find a man. I get it it, finding a long-term career and taking responsibility for yourself is scary — but what if you end up “floating” forever? That just means you’re poor forever.

  8. I find this interesting because I’m totally not in this situation. I’m the primary bread winner in my relationship, and I always will be. My soon to be husband would be the stay at home parent, not me, if that conversation ever came up. I wouldn’t ever want to be unable to earn for myself, HOWEVER, I can definitely see the appeal of being in a relationship where the guy has the financial ability to ‘take care of’ me, it would be comforting. I agree that it should be an equal partnership with equal contributions, and that being a ‘kept woman’ isn’t a very sound long term strategy.

  9. Seriously it never fails. I always laugh at your images. My wife and I are both self-employed so our incomes changes from one month to the next. We both rely on each other to some extent but neither one of us is dependent on each other.

    • Sharing the expenses of a life together is what a successful marriage is about, but dependence is where it gets ugly.. I just think it’s such a precarious situation when one spouse (man or woman) has all the control.

  10. Love this! I have met so many girls in my life whose only really dream was to find someone to marry, have some kids, and thats pretty much it. No plans for ever having any income of their own. I agree that having a family is pretty tough but its pretty scary to me that these girls have not thought any further than that. If over 50% of marriages end in divorce, then I have to think that a lot of these women are screwed. You need to always have a backup plan because you never know what around the corner.

    • I agree! No one ever thinks divorce will happen to them, but no one knows what can happen. It doesn’t even have to be divorce, if your spouse ever becomes disabled or dies you’d be equally screwed if you don’t have a cushion for yourself.

  11. First off: WELL FUCKING SAID.

    I live in an area where many women are perfectly willing to pop out a kid to avoid having to work for themselves and have someone else provide for them, whether it’s a husband/boyfriend or the government. I will never understand how anyone could be happy putting in the bare minimum and throwing in the towel the second they have the chance. Even with the best intentions (he’s working anyway and makes so much that I can afford to stay home, blah blah blah), I find this behaviour extremely dangerous. Like you said, what if the couple gets divorced 10 years in? What if he loses his job and can’t find another one? Or, god forbid, what if the working partner gets a terminal illness, gets into an accident and becomes unfit to work, or dies? With 10 years out of the workforce and no recent degrees or experience, the woman will have put herself in a TERRIBLE place.

    Frankly, I love working. I love my job. I love that I can provide for myself and not need help. I can’t even see myself taking full maternity leave when I have children. If my future husband ever told me he wanted me to stay home with the kids, I’d laugh my ass off. I am just as capable at what I do as any man. If we want to receive equal pay for equal work, we need to put these nonsensical ideas of the weaker sex to rest.

    • I love working too, but I don’t know yet if I’ll want to stay home with my children or not. This is one of the reasons I’m working so hard to build income-generating financial assets now — then if I do want to stay home with children in the future, there’s money coming in.

  12. My mom stayed home with us and I’m happy that she did. I always saw my parents as a team. She’s back at work now that my brother and I are in college. Because she was home, we lived frugally but that also meant no debt either. I think it’s important for a woman to get a degree.

  13. THANK YOU. This has to be one of the best posts you’ve ever written :)

    I think I should have a pretty good passive income stream by the time I’m 30, which is perfect. I should have the money to support myself if I stay home with children (which, hah, that is so not my personality), regardless of if I’m married.

    My boyfriend likes to pay for more stuff because he’s the man. We’ve been mostly alternating paying for stuff and I think we should switch to 50/50 on groceries at least, but he only lets me pay for stuff because I make so much money. If I made half his income, he would probably just pay for everything. That would be so strange :/

    I would argue though that if you have an equal partner, you can accomplish goals SO MUCH faster than by yourself, which is pretty powerful.

    • Thanks Leigh =)

      I think many men DO enjoy being a provider but they also don’t want to get it to the point that they feel used. It’s give and take. I think each partner should contribute proportionally to their income, because percentage wise just makes sense to me, but ultimately I think it’s up to the couple to decide what’s best for them.

      AMEN that an equal partner means you accomplish goals much faster!

  14. John S @ Frugal Rules says:

    I am with Sean on this one. The images you use always make me laugh. My wife and I also are self-emplyed and run our own business. We rely on each other to the same extent, after all if we did not then our business would go down the drains.

    • I think that’s a strong partnership if both of you are essential to making it work. It keeps the balance equal so one spouse doesn’t have more control or power than the other.

  15. Thank you, thank you. This has been my party line for years. When I share it, my friends tell me that it is depressing to plan as if I will be single forever. I find it empowering.

    • I love being single and at this point, I sometimes feel very undecided about pursuing a long-term relationship or staying single forever. It really is so empowering to be 100% in control of your future and to know you don’t have to make any kinds of compromises for someone else.

      My friends accuse me of being cynical about relationships sometimes but really when I’m planning out my life, it makes more sense to stay single. It’s going to take a really unique and independent man to keep up..

  16. Amen, sister! And I love the gifs. Nothing to make a potentially confrontational pill go down like a good gif. Though I could have done with a kitten instead of a baby gif =)

    Anyhow… I fear a bit for women (or men!) who leave all the earning power in the relationship to their spouses. Mr. PoP and I are pretty equal in our earnings at the moment, though I’ve outearned him in the past, and expect him to surpass me at some point in the near future as his growth potential at his current job is higher in the near term. All of these variations are okay – and we are making sure that assets, as well as credit histories are in both of our names should the worst ever come to pass. It’s called CYA – not planning for the worst… and it’s a VERY smart thing to do.

  17. Wow! I was shocked to read Fabulously Broke’s post and the comments. I mean… Talk about reinforcing gender stereotypes! We’ll never move forward when a majority of people (based on her readership anyway) agree that the man should not only out earn the woman but basically treat her as a child. No, I don’t want David to give up his sunglasses, coat, and umbrella to me if I was too stupid to bring my own. It’d be nice if he shared the umbrella but ya know… (What really effing cracks me up are the readers who said ‘you’re not the only self-sufficient gal who feels this way.’ NEWSFLASH: You are not self-sufficient if you feel this way!)

    My mom is treated by her employer as less deserving of a raise because, in his eyes, men are the breadwinners. Guess what, buddy? My mom makes four times what my dad makes in a year. Without her salary, they wouldn’t have their house, much less a pontoon, a fishing boat, a camper, a jet ski, etc. She didn’t take time off to raise her children, but she is paid less simply because she’s a woman, capable of bearing children.

    Saying that saving in case of divorce is believing in your marriage less than a person who doesn’t save… Do we want to have emergencies that cause us to drain our EFs? No! Does that mean we just shouldn’t save for emergencies at all? WAKE UP. You need to be protected in case the unthinkable happens. I don’t keep my savings secret from David, and I don’t call it the “divorce fund.” But I have money in only my name that I would take with me if something were to happen.

    My ONLY requirement of a partner is that he match my ambition, my independence, my desire to excel. No, I do not expect you to pick up the tab on the first date or every date thereafter. Seriously? I understand wanting a free ride (sorta, kinda, not really – no such thing as a free ride, after all), but I also understand that a man is not going to take me seriously as an independent, self-sufficient woman if I’m whining about having to pay the bill on our 14th freaking date. David understood from the beginning that I want a fair split because I AM a self-sufficient person (not just someone who claims to be) and I want us to be equals in our relationship.

    OMG, I just need to stop. This post – and FB’s – have gotten me so riled up that I could go on about this all day. Great post, Bridget! Keep spreadin’ the gospel truth!

    • Oh man, I just read her post, too….what year is it over on that side of the internet? 1950? I am just appalled…

      • Seriously!! It made me crazy the first time I saw it (as you can tell by my long ranty comment supporting the guys!)

        • The definition of self sufficient doesn’t change just because you’re attracted to chivalrous men.

          I’m not fucking kidding you or your readers. I meant every word I said in that post.

          As I indicated in the article, my expectations at home and in a professional working environment are totally different. The men I worked with were my colleagues, not romantic interests, and they were treated as such.

          I didn’t realize that my preference for a man who could financially support me somehow negated every thing I’ve worked for or magically depleted every dime I’ve accumulated in my bank account. I proudly worked for those dimes, by the way.

          And I don’t believe that women don’t deserve fair and equal pay. I wrote an FB post a while back about how women can make money like men. Too bad only a couple of women and one sexist man read it. Since I know how to make my own money, I can and have provided financial assistance to at least one of my previous boyfriends. He needed the money. I happily loaned it to him. Why? Because I had it.

          My desire to independently amass a fortune has never wavered. And that’s why I continue to strive toward that goal whether I’m with or without a well-to-do man.

  18. Anne @ Unique Gifter says:

    Heck yes!! (PS – I love your gifs all the time!)
    This is one of my huge, huge beefs. Especially when women say they want equality – well guess what, put your money where your mouth is! It’s the same as women going out to bars believing that they can/should get guys to buy their drinks for them… not unless you plan to reciprocate! Talk about a sense of entitlement.
    Once a friend of my partner’s mother was commenting that my spouse should be paying the bills because he was making so much more than me at the time (I was at a coffee shop)… my partner piped up and said “Yeah, Anne’s a feminist.” :-)
    I could go on and on… but thanks for writing this.

    • Amen & amen…though at the bar sometimes guys don’t give you a chance to buy a drink, they just bring you one.. or send a tray of shots to your table, etc. lol

  19. I think this post is hard to write about, but it simply needs to be said. I am a 24 year old nurse, but work with 65 year old nurses who *have* to keep working because their happy marriage of 10-plus years disentegrated. Divorce is so tricky and complex especially when it comes to finances. It is so important to individually save for retirement.

    I also know that the ambition I have now to pursue my career and financial goals will not just disappear once I (if I) get married.

    Great post :)

    • oh god, everyone thinks their marriage is untouchable until it actually falls apart before their very eyes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with acknowledging sometimes things don’t last forever. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your partner, it just means you acknowledge that the unexpected can happen and sometimes life doesn’t go as you plan, no matter how much effort YOU put into it. A relationship takes two people to make it work, which means at least 50% of it is out of your control.

  20. Yeah, same goes for guys looking for rich ladies to date. I’m tired of some people looking for means to be financially happy through someone else’s paycheck. This is 2012, there are tons of opportunities out there for anyone to apply themselves and become successful. When I’m married I’m going to keep our finances separate for the most part.

  21. I can’t say I’ve ever met / talked to a woman who said she wanted to earn less than her husband and / or be financially supported. Maybe it’s because my mom is a great role model, and my dad has engrained in me that only I can take care of myself, this whole topic seems completely foreign. Do I like when someone opens a door for me? Sure. But that’s just good manners, and is something I would hope a girlfriend of mine would do for me, as well as any guy I dated. In turn, I also open doors for anyone if I get to them first. Manners. Partnership. Teamwork. That’s all that counts, people.

    • You’re lucky, you hang out with only strong independent women. I know plenty of girls with know career aspirations because they just think they can marry up.

      I like your style: manners, partnership, teamwork <3

  22. momoneymohouses says:

    I’m totally on your side. And that’s part of the reason I’m afraid of eventually going on mat leave, because I love to work and earn money and hate the feeling of being financially dependent on someone other than myself. It’s 2012 for goodness sakes, how about financial equality in which women shouldn’t expect to be provided for and men shouldn’t expect that their female partner will earn less or depend on them for all their finances. A Fist Full of Dollars said it well, PREACH!

  23. Wholeheartedly agree. Nice post. Hopefully some women who read this take a few notes (and some men, too).

  24. My first college roommate barely got passing grades. When I asked her why she didn’t work harder she said “why should I?”. She planned to get married and have kids and stay home, so she didn’t believe she needed an education so that she could get a good paying job because she was going to let her husband pay for everything. LOL

    When it comes to the traditional stereotype I always dislike when I read an article that has examples of couples and their money and they always make the wife’s income lower than the husbands in the examples. Sometimes it is half of his. Why?? It is dumb!

    • I don’t know =\ it makes me sad that women are still earning less than men. Sometimes it’s on purpose but sometimes I think subconsciously women don’t challenge themselves into pursuing higher earning careers. Maybe it’s because they want a man to take care of them, but sometimes I think they’re just intimidated by the career and the responsibility of it.. ugh so many problems! It will take so long before we’re truly equal.

  25. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST.

  26. I so agree with you. I have no issues with one parent staying home with the kids – but it should be because that’s the choice you make for your family, not because you think it’s owed to you. Being a functional adult means being able and willing to take care of yourself (unless illness, etc. means you can’t, of course).

    Of course, I feel the same way about a friend of mine who has to make dinner for her husband and kids before we go out for dinner. Her youngest is 8. Surely they can put a frozen pizza in the oven.

    • oy. That’s awful.

      I think I might want to stay home with my children if/when I have them, but like I said, that’s why I’m working so hard to amass wealth now so I have that luxury later.

  27. This is an amazing post and I cannot agree more with everything you just said. It’s depressing how many women in this day and age still believe men should pay for everything.

    And to the commenter above who asked why we should care about other people’s choices, we should care because it matters. It matters because true gender equality cannot occur without economic self-sufficiency. The collective choices of those women who decide to be dependent on their husbands/boyfriends/fathers have a direct impact on me and women like me – it impacts how much we make, if we get promoted, how we are perceived by society, whether female leaders get elected to higher office, etc. Why give the female employee a raise if the male coworker has to take care of his wife and family? Why promote her if she’s just going to quit her job and stay home to raise the kids? Why hire her in the first place when a male employee would never demand flex-time, or have to leave early to pick up the kids, or take a day off cos his kids are sick….since his stay-at-home wife can take care of it?

  28. *APPLAUDS*

    This post is absolutely perfect. I seriously don’t understand people who “just want to be provided for.” I find it downright repulsive.

    And to all the people who are all “I’ll never get divorced” I hate to break it to you, but everyone is mortal. What if your spouse dies? Sure, there will be life insurance, but if you have kids to put through college and a mortgage to pay, that could get eaten up pretty fast. If you’re out of the workforce for a zillion years while your husband is doing the providing and he’s suddenly out of the picture, then what are you going to do?

    We all need to take care of ourselves. Period.

    And don’t even get me started on the “biology” argument. I might just go ballistic.

  29. I think you raise some very valid points. Being financially self-sufficient is good (if other lifestyle choices permit – I assume this is not a bash-the-SAHMs post). Saving is good. Planning for the unexpected is good. But I have a few issues (some of them arising from the comments).

    1) Telling people that divorce is a contingency of marriage that everyone should plan for is insulting because divorce statistics simply don’t account for the fact that people have different attitudes to marriage (and divorce), and some of those attitudes predispose some people to divorce. It would be somewhat akin to me telling you to plan on buying XXXL pants because statistics show that a x% of people are obese.

    2) If they consider it necessary to plan for the possibility of divorce, people should really look into getting expert advice. The rules regarding what constitutes matrimonial property (and what doesn’t) are not always as straight-forward and clear-cut as people think. Ditto for what constitutes matrimonial debt. Both of those categories are subject to division on divorce (usually 50-50).

    3) In my view, saving money for situations such as a spouse’s death is a joint responsibility. In fact, it’s simply part and parcel of increasing your family’s net worth, period. Whether you do it individually (separate finances) or together (joint finances), both partners should be working on it. I don’t rely on my husband’s efforts alone to assure my future (in the event he dies), but the sense of partnership is what marriage is all about.

    • I didn’t bash SAHMs, I just said they should have the means to take on that role. I even mentioned in a comment that I would consider being a SAHM when/if I have children which is why I invest so aggressively in income-generatin assets.

      I don’t think the divorce statistics can be entirely explained by a matter of different perspectives. No one likes to think that they could get divorced but the odds are not in their favour. What constitutes matrimonial property can vary from province to province (and I’m guessing state to state in the USA), which is why everyone should get a pre-nuptial agreement before they wed. No one should get married without establishing who gets what should the marriage fall apart. It’s infinitely easier to sort that out in the beginning when you’re still on good terms with each other rather than at the end when you’re just doing a grab for what’ever’s left.

      Everyone wants to believe their marriage is the exception — and it might be, but they should still plan as though it’s not.

  30. Ha Ha, great post! When I see that people get offended by the mere mention of the word divorce, I tend to turn around and say : “No, you’re not getting a divorce, but that other married couple might.” We’ve been married for a few years now and although we’re not planning on divorcing (because we’re just too weird for other people…and for other reasons) we do have separate savings accounts (TFSAs and RRSPs and other investments). As a bonus, we diversify as a team!

    Last year, I was the sole income provider because my husband returned to school (in another city) and could not find a part time job that worked though his awful schedule. Luckily, and finally, this added year of education paid off (best investment so far) and he’s making more money than we were two years ago combined. Unfortunatley, we relocated to the middle of nowhere where I am struggling to find emloyment. After several years of being financially independent (moved out at 17 and paid for school and rent) I have to rely on my husband and it’s killing me. He thinks I deserved a break. Looking for employment when you are new in an area (especially going from city to rural) is not relaxing.

  31. Absolutely agree with you, Bridget. My best friend, who is (or so I thought!) one of the strongest, most independent ladies I know recently shared the fact that she thinks a man should take care of a woman. For instance, she met a family friend that said his wife shouldn’t have to work because she should be taking care of the kids, and she marveled at this reasoning. I was stunned and appalled and went off on her about reinforcing gender stereotypes.

    Right now, my boyfriend earns more than me. Way more than me. However, I have two income streams so that ends up closing the gap by a large margin. It allows us to virtually share expenses equally. He is all for it and actively takes an interest in my career success. Within the next year, he will likely be starting an MBA program and ha, tables will be turned! I will be supporting us. Like you said, you never know what will happen in your relationship, and of course that doesn’t necessarily mean divorce. In my case, my significant other will go from a fairly high income to no income for at least a year. And because I’m also building a successful career, I have no problem supporting us both.That’s the beauty of being equals!

  32. I don’t believe the husband should support the wife. I have seen wives devout themselves to being a stay a home mom, and then find themselves divorced, trying to figure it out. However, I do realize there is a population of women that want to be stay at home moms, and depend on their husbands completely. My mom at one point wanted to be a stay at home. Economics and relationship dynamics has not enabled her to do so. I know several of my aunts who desire and are in fact, staying at home with the kids. I am always shocked, but have to understand its their choices, not mine.

    Do I ever want to be a stay at home mom? Nope. Never have wanted to be one. I have been a nanny full time and if it hadn’t been for the paycheck I would have killed myself. I will always work, or have my own income streams.
    As far, as sharing finances, we actually do. Although I earn significantly more than my husband right now; at one point it was him earning more than me. We are in a partnership and tackle things together. But we are married. A legally binding contract means everything is split 50/50. So even if we had our own accounts, if we got a divorce, those accounts would be considered to be joint assets.
    Before we were married, we did not share our accounts. We each paid for our expenses, although he paid for food a lot more often than me.

  33. Helllooo Again! Long time no speak :) – The phrase that sticks out from your article in my head is ‘Live as though you are going to be single forever’ – I love that mentality… If both spouses think like this, it can only lead to a more frugal lifestyle!

  34. PREACH IT!!!!

  35. Can I just add that chivalry is a huge turn on?

    Besides that I want to be able to take care of myself, if I have to, and take care of my man if I have to… and the other way around too. Darnit, I just want it all.

  36. I’ve always outearned my husband and never thought twice about it. I think you should both make as much as you can, save as much as you can, and never assume that the worst case scenerio will not occur. My Southern mama preached education to my sister and me, and made sure we’d be able to support ourselves no matter what. Smart lady!

  37. Two things. Well, maybe three.

    First, I love this post.

    Second, I am divorced because my ex-husband had an affair while I was in graduate school. I am so thankful every day that I worked my ass off to be able to earn a living; if I hadn’t, I’d probably still be stuck with that steaming shitbag instead of happily making it on my own.

    Third, my aunt is recently divorced. She is in her 40s and has never had a job until now. And it has been really tough to watch her struggle, but at the same time, she chose not to work or develop any skills, so I feel like she’s now seeing the consequences of that choice.

    Okay, just one more thing. I fully support the right of women to stay home and pop out as many babies as their uteruses (uterii?) can handle. But I think all women should be ABLE to support themselves even if they don’t choose to do it. That way if things go wrong like they did in my marriage, they have options.

  38. I love this post! And I agree down to every single little detail. I have been saving like I am going to be single forever, and boy, the savings just keep piling up. Having “financial independence” (as in earning my own keep, channelling funds into investment vehicles and health insurance) sure keeps me confident and empowered. I have been in a relationship for 8 years and even though the guy most probably will be my future husband, I am not going to depend on him for a single cent.
    I salute and encourage all other women who are doing the same thing.

  39. I am totally with you on the independence and equality front. I am uncomfortable at the idea of “being taken care of” (sounds like a mobster thing), and wonder what expectations are attached when a guy pays for a date (maybe none, but I’d rather pay my own way and feel like I don’t owe him anything). The idea that my gender alone entitles me to financial compensation is repulsive. However, it seems inconsistant to acknowledge that partners can contribute in non-financial ways and be equals, but that all women should “earn as much money as they possibly can”. I understand the importance of being able to take care of yourself, financially and personally, but I think it’s simplistic to think that the best way of doing that is “pushing yourself to the highest possible position” in a lustrous career. Not everyone is capable of or desires that; I sure don’t. Also, not everyone desires a high income, and for those people it’s not necessary to decide whether to push themselves in a high-paying career to earn it themselves or to marry someone for their money. Sometimes I make more than my husband (like now), sometimes he’s the higher income. We have joint and personal savings, and the skills to each support ourselves. But sometimes we support each other, financially and otherwise, and we make sure that it’s in an equal way that is in line with what our goals are. So I guess I believe in more financial freedom – if we were to split, we would have enough assets and skills to take care of ourselves, which I think is the most important thing, but while we’re together we are a financial partnership that figures out an efficient way to meet our financial and life goals, and that may mean one or both of us does not maximize their earning potential. To me though, that’s different from using someone for money, or being financially helpless, which is scary.

    • I know, people have different opinions. Career/financial success is very important to me but I was trying to temper the monetary ambition with the acknowledgement of non-financial contributions to a partnership (because I believe they do exist — they have to, it’s unlikely any couple will have a pair that earns exactly the same amount in income) .

      Being helpless is the worst, and that’s really the important thing to avoid. How wealthy you want to be is always up to you.

  40. Richard says:

    Marry me Bridget.

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