Thanks to The World of Wealth for pointing me to this fascinating NY Times article called “The Accidental Breadwinner.”
Writer Karen Karbo details her three marriages, her long-ago dream to be taken care of by her breadwinner husband, and the reality of her making most of the dough in each of her marriages. She writes how a friend, whose husband made enough money to give her time off for a few years to “figure out her life” ended up with a cheating husband, stuck in a marriage in fear of now having enough money to live the life she’s become accustomed to.
Karbo poses the question, “Is it better for the longevity of a marriage if one party (usually the woman) feels financially trapped?”
Well, yes. Marriage, just like any other business relationship, tends to survive longer the more complicated it is to get out of. But that isn’t the kind of marriage I want to be in. Does it really take three marriages to get it right? Karbo sounds like she’s found happiness now, with split incomes and an unromantic agreement on who pays for what (including who pays for who’s kids.)
As I’ve written before, I’m worried about my current relationship because I’m the half of the duo motivated by money. That means my dreams of being the woman who works part time and takes care of the kids while my hubby brings home the bacon are all but dashed. Those dreams aren’t real anyway, but they certainly are, in the back of my mind, what I expected. That’s what happened to my mom. She went to school for fashion design and worked in the industry for 10 years, only to quit when I was born and become a housewife. And she’s always been afraid to leave my father because, like Karbo’s friend, she doesn’t want to also leave the life she’s grown accustomed to. The money she’s used to spending. Even if she did get a job, she’d likely be earning minimum wage. At 50 something years old, how many raises can one expect before retirement age approaches?
I refuse to get stuck in a marriage that’s destined for a situation like that. I’d rather be the breadwinner, accidental or predetermined. Still, my dream is a marriage where both parties bring in a sizable amount of income. My aunt and uncle are prime examples of that type of couple. The husband owns a one-man marketing firm, stays home, takes care of the kids, and still takes in six figures. The wife works as a marketing exec for a magazine, and also takes in six figures. Together, they own a nice house in a really nice neighborhood. That’s the kind of life I dream of. I can only hope that Mr. Sweetheart will realize that asking for raises is an expected and acceptable part of being in the workforce.