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Career Connection: Woman as the Breadwinner


By Teena Rose, CPRW, CEIP, CCM,

More Women Take on Role as Primary Breadwinner

Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and certified/published resume writer

Role reversal scenarios are common plots among Hollywood screenwriters. The formula usually involves two people--mother and daughter, sister and brother, superstar and fan--switching bodies and adapting to the other's life. 

Real life has its own emerging trend in the world of role reversal. In the past 30 years, women have made enormous strides in the workplace. This has paved the way for relationships where the woman makes more money than the man. 

Roughly one-third of married women now bring home a bigger paycheck than their husbands. And the emotional and financial issues associated with this reversal of traditional gender roles have couples grasping for answers on how to cope. Time, no doubt, will lead to growing acceptance of women out earning men. But in the meantime, ingrained social expectations of the man being the primary breadwinner continue to be the status quo. In the CEO offices, women are still in the vast minority but are quickly making strides into senior positions once dominated by men.

A man who made less than his wife or even stayed home with the kids used to be portrayed in an unflattering light. Somehow he was less of a man if his partner out-earned him or if he chose to rear the children. That stereotype, while still existing in many corners, has eroded significantly.

When a woman earns more and the traditional family is turned upside down, couples must rethink how they deal with many issues--including children, finances, and household responsibilities. When the wife brings home more money, two major sources of tension include the man's feeling emasculated and the man's not doing his fair share around the house. Frustration sets in if there’s poor communication, and the results may not be pretty.

As with any point of discussion, debate, or dispute couples must face, there are many ways to handle the situation. Not surprisingly, talking is on the front lines of this battle. When problems arise, it’s typically not about the money, but the inability in dealing with conflict. If the phrase, “I make more money so it’s my decision,” shouldn’t rear its ugly head when a man makes more money, then it should be the same if the shoe is on the other foot.

Couples should talk--not fight--about money on a regular basis. Before a marriage, all financial issues, such as debts, incomes, earning potential, and insurance policies, should be on the table. Treat your family like a company, with both partners working in harmony to do what’s best for the family. And if the man is earning considerably less than the woman, make him the money manager of the business. Taking on the role of family accountant is invaluable work, and will help fulfill any feelings of financial inadequacy. Plus, it helps foster trust and a feeling of inclusion. 

Just because the man takes on the lead accounting role doesn’t mean the woman shouldn’t be involved in the management. Thorough knowledge of the family finances and making joint decisions are crucial for the partner who is less involved. 

Another step to take when approaching the family budget is to forget the past and concentrate on the future. Work as a unit. Discuss with each other how you want your money to work and what goals are important to achieve. Knowing the other’s wish list--a summer home, college for the children, or early retirement--can help create financial bliss. 

If you even think you might want professional help, get it. Many people are lost and just don’t feel comfortable when it comes to major financial situations like doing taxes or investing for the future. 

Finally, it’s crucial that both spouses acknowledge that contributions at home are just as vital to the family as work outside the home. They may not result in any cash flow, but they are part of the glue that holds the household together.


Teena Rose operates a prominent and professional resume writing service, Resume to Referral. She’s authored several career books, including "20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer", "How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book", and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."


Teena Rose, CPRW, CEIP, CCM
Resume to Referral
7211 Taylorsville Road, Office 208
Huber Heights, OH 45424
Phone: (937) 236-1360
Fax: (937) 236-1351

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