I mean, besides that I like having lots of money and enjoy my career. Which I do. I love having 2x DH’s salary instead of 1x. But we could totally live on 1x. I just don’t want to. And I’m sure after a while I would start writing novels or taking over local non-profits or something.
There’s been a couple of recent articles going around about women making sure they only pick high earning potential husbands. (“It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man…” to quote Marilyn Monroe’s character in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.) Money matters because you’ll want to stay home with your kids, they say. Or you’ll want to live a better life than you can on your income alone. So don’t pick the 40K/year guy, pick the 100K/year guy with upward mobility potential.
Part of it is that I do not ever want to be in a situation in which I have to scramble. I don’t want to be a 50 year old widow (or divorcee) having to go back into the labor market after an extended absence. We have life insurance, but getting life insurance that would provide me with true security in a situation in which I could not find a fantastic job after DH’s demise forced me to work again would be a huge drain on just DH’s salary. And I have complete trust in DH, but if I were married to any other person, that looming potential of being divorced or trapped in a horrible marriage because I needed the money would just be awful. I never want to be helpless or trapped, especially with children depending on me.
The second reason is not about me. My BIL is trapped in his current job and his current career trajectory because he has a SAHM wife and two kids. He has to always make the safe choice. The one that keeps him employed. He needs to stay with his company because it’s union and he’s no longer last in/first out. Contrast that with DH. When he didn’t like his job he was able to take unpaid leave at first and to just quit without another one lined up later. He was able to explore working at a start-up and then on his own company and then compare competing job offers that paid 2x as his “safe” job. Eventually we might have needed him to bring in his own money so as to keep the stress off me (for example, me being on half pay this year in an expensive city would have been a lot more difficult to pull off!), but he had plenty of time to explore different options and was able to wait for one that made him really happy. If/when this job evaporates, he will be able to go through the process of finding a job he likes again.
A third reason that doesn’t apply to me (but might if I had a husband who felt money more) is that for most people, money is power. And that means that the person who brings in the money is the one who gets more say in how things turn out in the household. He (and it’s usually he) gets to say what luxuries get bought, what the household allowance is, and so on. And for the few months when I was the sole breadwinner, DH did take on more of the household responsibilities (which was nice for me!). Being married to someone who greatly out-earns you can mean golden handcuffs. I am much happier having an equal marriage. And I might be willing to exchange money for power if I had to, that is, me being the one making more and having more say, but not so much the other way around. (I suspect though that this gets back to point one– I’d rather be unmarried than to be in a bad relationship, but for that, I still need to make my own money!) (Note that since DH doesn’t really feel money, he could make many x as me and we would still have equal bargaining power, but that isn’t true for every one.)
That’s not to say I want to be married to someone who lies around the house and plays video games all day. But because I make money, I can value productivity more in a partner than the actual cash he is bringing in. I would rather have DH produce value than be a hedge fund manager making 5x what he’s making right now (though I suppose if that were the case we could be more active with charity!) And I’d rather be alone than married to someone who wasn’t making the world a better place.
If I made less money, we’d need to be more frugal, but part of why I chose the profession I chose was because of its potential for income and financial security. And we’ve saved a lot as a couple to allow ourselves more freedom in the future. Perhaps if I was less skilled and/or scared of math I might not have the luxury of looking for a productive husband (or having no husband at all!) rather than a high income one. Caring only about love is a luxury that having enough money makes possible. Still, I don’t think that finding a prince to rescue me would be the direction my thoughts would go. I know how to be frugal (partly because great swaths of my childhood had my mom supporting the four of us on less than what a high school teacher makes) and I have ambition.
Of course, I married a guy who had virtually no income in the years we were dating before marriage because we were still in high school and college. (And who had very little income during the first years of our marriage because we were in graduate school.) I have no idea what I would be looking for if I, heaven forbid, had to go on the dating market as an actual adult. But I would still want to keep my career and my income, not just because I love it or just for the money, but because I don’t want to give up that freedom and power.
So how about you? How do you balance the importance of your salary with the importance of your partner’s?