Is it okay to make more money than your spouse?

(And what to do about it)

It’s perfectly normal for one spouse to make more than the other. Whether you are a man or a woman in a heterosexual or same sex couple, it is very unlikely that both of you have the same income.

Finance may not have come up while you were dating, but now that you are married and in a committed relationship it is a huge aspect of your lives together. Financial issues can make or break a couple.

Here is a list of do’s and do nots for how to act if you make significantly more than your significant other.

Do’s and do nots:

Do: Let them know if they can worry less about finances.

Most jobs are stressful, knowing that the household is not completely dependent on their income could ease a lot of your spouse’s stress. They can make the decision to pursue more creative works in their free time. Or take big risks at work without a debilitating fear of being fired.

Do not: Tell them to quit their job.

Many people like working, it brings a sense of fulfillment and purpose to their lives. By telling your spouse they should stop working you are implying that their work is only good for the paycheck.

If your spouse is constantly complaining and stressed about work, ease them into it by telling them that you have enough income to support your current lifestyle together. See how your partner reacts. If they decide to keep working or not, it is their decision.

Do: Let them know how much you make.

It may feel awkward, or even like a brag, but it is important your spouse knows how much income you make. This could be important in making future life decisions. It could change how you plan to start a family, lessen the risk of trying different jobs, and how much you feel comfortable traveling together.

Do not: Buy them expensive gifts without asking.

We all know those holiday car commercials where the husband buys his wife a car. Please, don’t do something like this without asking your wife first. At least have a pretty good idea that it is something she would be okay with.

I won’t put a number on what an expensive gift is, because it depends on your income and lifestyle, but use your best judgement.

Do not: Make it a competition.

Just because you have a higher income does not mean you work harder than your significant other. Some jobs have harder barriers to entry than people can’t afford. You should feel proud to have gotten to where you are financially, but don’t make your spouse feel belittled if they don’t match you yet.

Do: Make a budget.

A budget does not mean that you are telling your spouse what to spend money on and how much to spend. A budget should be made by both of you together. Look at your current spending habits and decide how much you should spend on food, rent, clothes, entertainment, etc. for each month. You and your spouse will have different views on how to spend money, but creating a good baseline is important.

Budgeting also lets your spouse no that even though you make more money than them, there are still spending guidelines. No big purchases should be made without the others consent. Just because you make a lot of money does not mean you need to spend a lot of money.

Do not: Use your money against your significant other.

Even if you make most or all the income for your family it does not mean you can make all the decisions. Marriage is a partnership, not a hostage situation.

Just because you pay for Netflix doesn’t mean you always get to decide what to watch.

Any other tips for couples with different incomes? What has helped you the most dealing with spending in your relationships? Leave a comment below!

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