- After taking a job in tech and starting a successful coaching business, I became the breadwinner.
- At the same time, my husband took a pay cut, but we pooled all of our incomes.
- My husband said he got jealous of my salary and needed to go to therapy.
This essay as stated is part of our series Splitting the Difference, which examines the financial lives of couples and is based on a conversation with Karina F. Daves. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I had worked as a social worker in higher education administration when I decided to start a podcast called “One Day at a Time” in April 2020. The goal was to talk to women about balancing their responsibilities and relationships.
Three years later, the podcast launched into a successful relationship coaching business. I now work full-time as a regional employee experience manager for a tech company, in addition to running a coaching business, producing a podcast, and being a social media influencer – which brings in extra cash.
My payslips now show that I earn four times that my husband. This has happened only in recent years. So it has been a challenge to adjust to the change in our family dynamic.
Being the breadwinner affects our relationship
When Terrance and I met, he worked at Nissan as a master auto technician, diagnosing and repairing vehicle problems. I worked as one Social work. When we got married 11 years ago, Terrance made more money than I did.
About five years into our marriage, I told him my husband, “I feel like something big is coming, and when it comes, you’re going to have to retire from this industry that you love. It’s really destroying your body. When the time comes, you’ve got to prepare yourself for—with honey, man with an ego.” I explained that I had a dream that I would have a big career break and he would have to quit his job to take care of our two young children.
A few years later, after 10 years as a social worker, I finally had the opportunity to move into technology. Within 15 minutes of the interview, the company hired me.
I ran upstairs to my husband and said, “I got the job. What are you going to do? This is it. Literally, this is the moment.” We both got chills and he said, “I have to go.”
We couldn’t make it work with both of us having full time jobs and taking care of the kids. At that point, I had done most of our children’s school drop-offs and pick-ups.
My husband decided the only way he could get more flexible work it was to take a pay cut, which was fine because my new salary covered both of our salaries now.
He accepted a job at Princeton University in the facilities department, which paid him half of what he earned at his salaried job.
Even though I make more money, it belongs to both of us
Since we got married 11 years ago, all of our money has been pooled together and all of our financial decisions have been made together. That hasn’t changed since I became the breadwinner.
All our money goes into one pot. We take a percentage and put it into savings and then take another percentage for bills. If there’s more left, that’s what we call our “fun money.” All accounts have full transparency.
We built all this together. I understood Terrance I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t support him and I wouldn’t be where I am if he didn’t support me. That’s why it’s so easy for us to align our values and say, “Yeah, put it all in one pot. It’s all ours.”
But Terrance later he admitted that he was jealous of me
It hasn’t always been easy. A few months after I got the tech job, I was in my office and Terrance came in and said, “I’m coming to tell you that I need to start therapy again. There’s something about this transition that doesn’t feel right, and I don’t think I can talk to you about it.”
A few months later, he had a breakthrough with his therapist. He realized that he was jealous of me and that his jealousy was causing him to see us as two individuals and not as a team.
He told me, “Up until this point, we were a team, but somehow when you started making more money than me, I just saw you in another space and I didn’t see you as a team member anymore. I’m sorry for this. And it’s very hard to tell you that I was jealous of you.”
We have learned that communication is key
Communication helped us a lot. We learned that, yes, marriage and relationship are important, but we are still very much individuals with individual desires.
This means asking how we can support each other in achieving each of our dreams. Furthermore, I may be the head of the family because my pay slip says I make more money, but for us and our faith, it’s like God is our head of the family.
No matter how much money each of us makes, we’re still in this life together.