First let me say that if I offend anyone by what I'm about to say, please leave a comment and chime in on the conversation because I'd like to hear your side too. But this is my side, my opinion and I'm basing it on my own conversations with women all over the world - not just Americans or Germans or women you think I'm mostly referring. ALL women from ALL over. So with that being out of the way, I shall begin my essay.
Money. It's never been a hard topic for me to talk about even though I grew up watching my parents fight over it pretty much daily. I don't understand why something that can be such a bridge in your life can be so bad or so hard to discuss. I'm married and when we get low on funds my first reaction isn't to fight, it's to discuss the situation and get crackin' - do what we can to make it and make it fast. I always tell my husband that he married the best wife in the world when it comes to this topic - I would flip burgers or clean bathrooms if all the chips were down and we needed to pay the rent. I have been close to broke before, I was broke once, and I will never go there again if I am healthy enough to work. No way. My ego will never stand in the way of me going forth and getting a job, any job... I'd perform nearly any (legal and moral) task on earth to support myself and my family financially. I am that woman who would (and has) worked 2-3 jobs to make it. I'm not lazy and my father gave me one thing that stuck - work ethic. I may not always be realistic about money and earnings, but my crazy strong work ethic means that I won't go down without a fight.
Yet there is something I have to say about money that may make some of you feel a little awkward after I say this. Please don't. I have earned quite a bit of it in my lifetime, before blogging and especially after blogging. There is no limit to the amount of money a creative person can earn online these days if you work your ___ off and have a few good ideas and are willing to sweat blood to get it. I remember the first 8 years of my online career very clearly because I worked 6-7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, or more. I remember staying up until 4am to write on my blog and to turn assignments in to magazines and newspapers on time. I worked in my sleep. Then I got pregnant and cut back but I couldn't take a maternity leave, so I took off two weeks leave after I had my baby. I wish I could have taken 6-12 months like most of my German friends (I live in Germany now in case some of you missed that I relocated overseas from Boston) but I couldn't because my money keeps our family above water.
I have a real love/hate with that last sentence.
I love it because I never in my life thought I could earn more than, let me just say it, a man. When I was growing up, men were the ones earning all of the money and women had part-time jobs or, if working full-time, were definitely not in leadership roles as they are today. So I'm very proud of myself that women have broken the glass ceiling in some parts of the world and can potentially earn more than a man based on their TALENT not on their GENDER. I never understood and still don't, why a women can do the same job as a man but earn substantially less. But that's a whole 'nother conversation.
So I love that I can earn money without my gender being part of that.
Yet I also hate that I earn more than my husband. Mostly because I know that it causes stress in our relationship. I have a lot of pressure to keep earning and sometimes I want to just pull back and go on vacation for a month and blog from the French Riviera. But I can't because blogging isn't the only way I earn this living, there is so much more and so many hours are needed to accomplish all that I do.
I believe that the truth is, at their core - men do not like to earn less money than a woman. Do you agree? I know lots of men will say I'm wrong, and I'm sure in some cases I am wrong, but in most cases I'm not wrong. I've seen it. I have blogger friends who have divorced over money relating to her earning more than him. I've researched this topic ad nauseam and it's the same across the board. Men don't like earning less than their woman. I've heard it has to do with male pride, I've heard it has to do with feeling like they are competing, I've heard it has to do with ego. I've also heard it has to do with feeling guilty.
But I haven't really heard WHY THE HELL IT MATTERS so much. I love the idea of pooling cash and both partners dive in and view it as money THEY are making together. Not HER money, not HIS money. THEIR MONEY. If he is helping with the children, and cleaning the house, and doing laundry, and cooking as much as his woman, and he is also being supportive and helping her to be a top performer through his love, then that works, right? Yet, I hear just the opposite. That men don't want to be known as "house husbands" and they don't want to stay home and do domestic things while their wife earns the family income. One guy I interviewed when I was writing this article bluntly said to me, "I don't want to be her bitch!".
I have a male friend, he is working in restaurants mostly until he finds a job in his profession, and he hates it because his partner is some kind of manager at her job and earns more money than he does. And he doesn't like this at all and has confessed this to me. And to make it worse, she rubs it in his face that he doesn't have a "real job" and actually declines dinner parties because he isn't very interesting for her friends and family to be around since he's not working. It's not looking to good for appearances you know, that she is the big manager and he is the lowly waiter. This makes me absolutely sick. But there are women who shame their men and I find this disrespectful and a real sign that their isn't real love in a relationship like that. And when this happens, I get why the man would hate to earn less than their woman.
But I'm not talking about those cases.
I'm talking about female friends that I have who have largely internet-based businesses and they make so much money that their partner could never earn that - even if they were a brain surgeon or a top engineer at some amazing firm - some earn more than half a million a year and up... The ladies I know who aren't partnered get great dates but never get long term relationships because of the MONEY. Men are intimidated the moment money comes up and they realize their cute girlfriend earns more in one year than he earns in 3 years... And other woman I know are newly divorced and get lots of dates but when it gets serious, and the guy learns of her income, forget it... She hears crickets too. You know the expression ladies... When the crickets come, the man is done.
All of this also leads me to think that some rare couples must exist out there where the woman is making more than the man and the man is cool with it. Right? But I don't hear those stories. I know Oprah earns more than her man but the media also has had fun at his expense throughout the years letting everyone know it.
So what about a woman who is self made? Who earns several hundred thousand a year in her sleep because she's an "Influencer"? How do these women get anywhere with men long term? Because all of the men I know are really insecure dating these power women. And how do these women not get used when they do partner up? How are they not becoming burdened with the pressure of being the sole provider? And how are these power women dating men who make less not getting used by these men - how do they know if the man loves them for them or their money?
So this is my essay and now I really need to know what YOU think, all of you, men and women. Because I'm curious if some of you are earning more than your man and if so, how do you deal with this at home? How does HE deal with it? Do you fight over it? And single girls, has your income prevented you from him putting a ring on it? And men, do you have any thoughts on this topic?
(Photography: Holly Becker)