‘Love & Marriage’ Category

Out-earners: When the Wife is the Bigger Bread-winner

Even though - on average - women earn 82 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts make, in the new economy, there are many women that are able to out-earn their husbands.  And, it appears that this trend is likely to continue.

For some couples the wife’s out-earning salary is a blessing that allows them to run their homes and finances.  Other times, having a high income wife becomes the kiss of death to a marriage. There are four ways female out-earning plays out in a marriage.  One way works and three don’t.  When it works, there are four factors that make it work:

1. There is a clear division of labor.  Being married is great. Because you have two partners, each spouse can take responsibility for a share of the life tasks.  No one has to have everything on their plate.  And, for many couples, they get to do the tasks that they enjoy and avoid the tasks that would feel more like drudgery.  As long as a couple is clear what each of them is in charge of and each of them fulfills their part of the bargain, everyone can be very happy with the deal.

2. Each partner values the others contribution.  When a partner has the attitude that their contribution has more value than that of their spouse, trouble is right around the corner.  Instead, it’s important that each partner be satisfied with the division of labor and appreciates their spouse’s contribution.

3. The couple has a shared vision and shared values.  When a married couple has a shared vision they are clear where they are going and what they want their lives to look like.  When a couple has shared values they know why and how they are going there.

4.  The family is living within its means.  Money problems don’t crop up from lack of money, they appear when a family is not living within its means.  In my divorce mediation practice I see many couples who have above average incomes but still have no net worth.  They are spending more than they earn.  This spending puts a strain on a marriage.  It is critical that couples live within their means in order to avoid marital money issues.

Sadly, for many out-earner couples these factors are missing and the wife's earnings become a negative. While every couple is different, there are three common patterns I've found in out-earner couples who are not able to hold their marriages together. Here they are:

1. The Competitors.  These are partners who come to the marriage with high expectations and big potential for themselves and each other.  And, while he does OK somehow he doesn’t quite live up to the expectations and his potential as much as she does.  In the competitive environment these couples create there is a winner and a loser.  Keep in mind, these husbands would not be considered “losers” on the open market.  Its only when they are compared to their wives that they fall short.  But, falling short makes respect difficult.  (Both self-respect and partner-respect.)  And, without respect no marriage can survive.

2. The Loser.  Here is the man who would like a free ride.  He doesn’t really want to work and he is not a real Mr Mom either.  He does a bit of this or that but when his wife looks closely she finds that he is little more than an occasional baby sitter.  The bottom line is that the children, the money, the house, and all the big responsibilities, are hers.  Then one day she wakes up and realizes he is making such a minimal contribution to their lives that she would be better off without having to pull his dead weight.

3. Crummy marriage.  Sometimes, a marriage is just crummy and over.  In this case the fact that the wife earns more may be a detail that the couple looks at but it’s just one of many factors.  I believe that partners with failing marriages fall into four categories:

  • Mismatch.  They are simply a mismatch, with conflicting values, goals, or temperament.
  • Addiction. One or both partners has some addiction issues.
  • Balance sheet mentality.  There is a balance sheet mentality that keeps the spouses from working together as a team; instead each one is looking at their individual contributions and feeling they are giving more than they are getting, and
  • Unmet expectations.  One of both partners not living up to what was expected of them.  (My best example of this was a great couple we worked with a few years ago.  The husband was a dashing fire-fighter and army reservist.  His adorable wife was initially drawn to his strength and expected he would always protect her.  But, during a string of Florida hurricanes she found herself in their house, with two kids, and a leaking roof.  He was in Iraq - protecting us all.  She had an affair.  The end.)  In general, these expectations could be anything from a wife who loses her youth and innocence to a husband who loses his business.

As our economy continues to evolve and the demand for certain skill-sets changes, we are going to see interesting shifts in earning and income potential for men and women.  These changes are going to continue to challenge marriages but couples can still make their marriages work and reap the rewards that can only be gained by having a committed partner.

Why Women Screw Up Their Relationships

Guess what girls. It is up to you to make your relationship work - or not. Men are simple creatures. And, their simpler brains work differently from ours. They are not nearly as relationship oriented as we are. So, in a man-woman relationship it falls upon the woman to manage the relational interactions. Remember, that. Relationship management is your job, just like fixing the garbage disposal and changing a tire are his. Sexist? Nope. We are equal, but we are different. Here are the three other things you need to know so that you don’t screw up your relationship.  

1. Don’t listen to your hormones. During the early stages of a relationship you are awash with hormonal messages. Your brain is playing tricks on you. These hormonal messages are designed to spark feelings of attachment and connection for the “beloved.” But, once you are attached the hormones stop coming. Now, you can see his true colors and it may be too late to escape gracefully. So, avoid making a serious commitment while you are feeling ga-ga from the serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin, and vasopressin that your brain is putting out.

2. Don’t expect your man to be your girlfriend or your mother. Manage your expectations. Your man will typically not be able to support you or share your interests like a girlfriend. And, he will not be able to sacrifice or pick up after you the way a mother would. On the other hand, he will expect you to fulfill your role, however he sees it. So, ask him what he needs from you. You may be surprised (pleasantly or unpleasantly) by his simple answer. Tell him what you expect from him, but keep it simple and make sure its doable.  

3. Don’t be too easy. Hunting is in the male DNA. He wants to hunt. And, often he cannot tell the difference between you and the wildlife. So, give him space. The “distance-pursuer” dance is an extreme form of the dynamic that plays out with a needy woman and a detached man. She is always chasing, while he creates emotional distance. If you are the pursuer, don’t cry, get mad, or nag for more attention. (AND, don’t tell him “we need to talk.”) All you need to do is create some distance.

Most human behaviors can be plotted on a bell curve. So everything I’ve said here may not be true for you. You and/or your man may fall outside the “normal” range when it comes to gender related relationship behaviors. If that’s where you see yourselves, that’s OK, just enjoy your differences.

Co-Preneurs – Married Business Partners Meeting Unusual Challenges and Reaping Magnificent Rewards

Co-preneurs are husband-wife teams who jointly own and operate a business. More than 3.6 million businesses in the U.S. are run by co-preneurs and certainly no single model fits all of them. Co-preneurs face some unusual challenges, and reap some magnificent rewards. This article discusses six key concepts for making co-preneurship work.

Click here to go to Ezinearticles.com and view Elinor Robin’s complete article

Resolutions For a Happy Marriage

Year's end is a great time to assess one's life and consider what is and is not working. If your assessment points to your marriage needing some tweaking you may want to consider making (and keeping) five resolutions for a better marriage. This article discusses the five resolutions.

Click here to go to Ezinearticles.com and view Elinor Robin’s complete article

Summer As a Single

Summer may be a difficult time for those that are single. Summer vacations, the beach, and picnics can be fun; but they can also trigger insecurities and feelings of loss, loneliness, and failure. The newly single, or divorced, may find the summer season especially miserable. This article discusses five things singles should do and five things singles should avoid in order to make the summer as enjoyable as possible.

Click here to go to Ezinearticles.com and view Elinor Robin’s complete article

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