I like to think that I’m very forward thinking when it comes to traditional household and financial responsibilities. After all, I went to a women’s college and I feel that grants me some sort of advanced degree in feminism — which is all about eschewing the traditional. So I was very sort of taken aback by my own issues with earning 70 percent of our household income.
Shouldn’t I be elated that I broke some sort of glass ceiling or whatever they call it? Doesn’t it say something about how far we’ve come that I outearn my husband by such a large percentage?
While I tried to consistently remind myself that a woman’s role is no longer in the kitchen and a man’s role is not simply to be the financial provider, I couldn’t deny one insurmountable feeling: resentment. I resented my husband because even though I earned more than two-thirds of our household income, I was still 100 percent responsible for managing the day-to-day household.
From running the errands, picking up the dry cleaning, paying the bills, making the appointments and buying the groceries, to the day-to-day dishwashing, vacuuming, dusting and laundry — I found myself responsible for everything a stay-at-home housewife would be responsible for, except I had a full-time job too.
My husband gets away with not doing much at home because of his odd work schedule, which involves 24-hour shifts. However, I didn’t think that it was fair that I had to proverbially pay for his work schedule by picking up his slack at home. It was like I was being punished for his career choice.
When we got married, it felt like my husband got an upgrade in lifestyle while I had to make financial sacrifices to support him through his career. If it had been the other way around, I know my husband wouldn’t have had much of an issue with supporting me through school — because it’s more socially acceptable for a man to support his wife financially.
It bothered me that I was the breadwinner, and it also bothered me that the whole situation bothered me. Why couldn’t I just let it go? Why couldn’t I be more supportive?
Ultimately, I realized that I was resentful that I had spent years working my way up the corporate ladder and now it felt like my husband was the one reaping the rewards of my hard work.
In the end, I had to come to terms with my own issues and admit that we are both on the same team and we need to work together to win. I know I can’t be the only wife out there that has issues with earning more than their spouse. I guess sometimes, traditional roles are still hard to break no matter how hard you work at it.
Who is the breadwinner in your family? What issues have you encountered? How do you deal?