First Person: I Turned Down a Pay Raise for a Boyfriend

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I once worked at an office where I shared the same boss with a boyfriend. When it came time for the annual reviews and decisions about pay increases, I told my boss confidentially that I rather he gave my boyfriend a pay raise, but left my salary alone. It's not that I didn't think I deserved a pay raise. The cold truth is, I just didn't want to overshadow my boyfriend by out-earning him, even by a few hundred dollars.

According to a new study by Pew Research Center, women are the top earners in 4 in 10 U. S. Households. A recent CNBC article points out breadwinner moms are part of the transformation of the American family. However, an article by Forbes led me to believe breadwinning wives often leave their husbands feeling emasculated. Some couples seek counseling to deal with the female breadwinner dynamic. Fortunately, I later married someone who isn't threatened by my accomplishments.

Sharing the burden

When I married my husband, we were earning about the same salary. After my husband and I had been married for a few years, his income began to rise dramatically while mine stayed in limbo. My husband was willing to go out and compete for a better job, while I became complacent. Even though he never pressured me to start earning more money, my husband was appreciative that I share in the financial burdens. If we had younger children, raising children could be a full-time job. However, now that our children are older, it makes sense for me to continue to work.

Managing the finances

While my husband works more hours than I do, I am more involved in the day-to-day money management. I pay the bills, save money and check our retirement accounts. I make sure we have our money properly invested with a diverse portfolio that includes individual stocks as well as exchanged traded and mutual funds. My husband isn't emasculated by my participation in the family finances. He seems relieved to not be burdened by the additional responsibilities.

Having a stress-free life

One of the main reasons I prefer having a male breadwinner in the family is because it's less stressful for me. I appreciate my husband's strong work ethic. I found the Forbes article, "7 Tips for Breadwinner Wives Feeling the Strain," rather comical. By just letting my husband be the man, I don't have to take "time to talk" or use mirroring techniques to build empathy. My husband doesn't grieve his loss of self-esteem. Although no feminist is going to admit it, it actually does matter in the end who makes more money. If it didn't matter, why do female breadwinner wives feel so much tension?

Being a single breadwinner

I think a woman who is a single mother shouldn't be afraid to go out and earn as much as she possibly can to support her children. The Pew research showed women are the primary source of income in 40 percent of households with children under 18. When I was single, I was extremely motivated to earn a high income to take care of my family. However, when I married, I allowed my husband to take the heavy financial burdens off of my shoulders.

My husband doesn't resent me for earning less money than he earns. And he doesn't resent me when I sometimes bring in more money than he does. He is just happy to make my life easier. We like to work as a team. And, since we have never needed therapy to deal with our economic situation, I don't plan on changing things up too much. If I want to repay the favor, I don't need to go out and earn significantly more. I just need to spend less and continue to stay out of debt.

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