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    Interesting Insights: How High-Income Impacts Relationships

    When one person in a relationship earns a significantly higher income than their significant other, it can have an impact on the dynamics of their connection. Over time, the income disparity can either have positive or negative consequences, or it may ultimately be inconsequential, depending on the couple.
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    We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who have a higher income than their partners to share how (if it all) their money affects the romance. People left a range of responses, like these ones below:
    It’s never been an issue for us; we have very open communication about money. I’ve always earned more, and now that we have kids, he’s a stay-at-home dad (daycare prices are ridiculous!). While I primarily handle the finances, we talk about our finances/budget and discuss all purchases together. Even before we had our kids, when he was working and we had separate checking accounts, we had a set dollar amount where we talked about any purchase/cost over that amount.

    A stay-at-home father washes dishes with his two kids
    It sucks when it’s glaringly obvious. If anything were to happen to me where I couldn’t work, we would actually be in a difficult position. They have no financial resources left after paying their bills; anything we need or desire relies solely on my income. It’s challenging to shoulder the responsibility for our well-being almost entirely on my own. Moreover, the fact that they will be the stay-at-home parent once we have kids, because the cost of daycare outweighs their earnings, deeply pains me. There are days when it ignites anger within me, but I am the one who pursued higher education.
    I (female) make more than double what my husband does and have always made more than him. We’ve been together for about six years, and it has never impacted our relationship. Before we were married, we lived in a place that we knew we could both afford to split. Now that we’re married and have joint finances, we bought a house based on our total income. I’m with him for who he is as a person, and I’ve always known that I don’t need anyone to take care of me financially. I’m with him because I want to be, not because I need to be.

    A couple works through their finances together while they sit at their dining room table
    When we got married, my wife and I made about the same amount each year. I am an engineer, and she is a teacher, so we knew that wouldn’t last. Eight years later, I now make at least double what she makes. Our finances have always been combined, which I think makes things easier. I don’t view it as my money/her money, but instead as ‘our money.’ Neither one of us is a big spender, so money has never been a point of contention in our lives.
    When I embarked on a romantic journey with my former beau, I was a college student brimming with hope and excitement. Our relationship thrived in those early days, and life was full of promise. However, as I completed my studies and secured a well-paying job, our dynamic began to shift. The newfound financial independence I gained seemed to unsettle my partner, causing our connection to fray at the seams. No longer reliant on him as I once was, my increasing self-reliance threatened the delicate balance we once shared. Ultimately, I made the difficult decision to bring an end to our relationship, knowing that my personal growth and independence were worth the sacrifice.

    A woman and man in a relationship argue at home
    I work full-time, and my husband is a stay-at-home dad. Before we became parents, he was making more than me and got us in a really good financial position. Even though I make all the money for our family, he manages our finances. We have a really great routine going, and it’s working for us.
    I am a chic and fashion-forward woman who makes over $100K more than my boyfriend, whom I live with. We both enjoy doing things like dinners, trips, concerts, and events. However, due to his financial constraints, he doesn’t have the same freedom to do as much as I can. To ensure we can still enjoy activities together, I often offer to cover the expenses for him when I really want to do something that he can’t afford. Unfortunately, this dynamic has strained our relationship. He has grown resentful towards me, feeling like I should pick up a majority of the tabs. He also struggles with finding a higher-paying job and has experienced challenges with his identity and purpose. I do my best to support him through his journey.

    A couple holds hands at a cafe
    I make double my husband’s salary. Since we are married, we do not really distinguish my money and his money. We have the same goal of saving for a house and have set up our budget accordingly. However, I do harbor some resentment toward him. He makes less because he is working his dream job, and it’s because I gave up my dreams to work a corporate job that he has that ability. If we both had followed our dream jobs, we would most likely not be able to afford to live.
    I’m a 33-year-old man married to a 33-year-old woman. It’s been nine years now. I work in auto manufacturing and make 125K. My wife was a teacher making50K, and she stopped working when we had children four years ago. We have always taken the ‘old-school’ approach; all of our money goes into one joint account, and we have smaller equal amounts of money going into our own spending accounts (for personal shopping and gift buying). All of our bills — mortgage, cars, cellphones, groceries, takeout, diapers, travel, etc. — come from the joint account. It has never mattered that I was making double her income and that she now has no income because it’s all money for us. I couldn’t go to work and make this money if she wasn’t caring for our children. She couldn’t be a stay-at-home mom if I didn’t make this much money.

    A couple prepares a healthy meal for themselves and their kids in the kitchen
    It doesn’t. I earn more than my hubby even though I work four days to his five. We both get compensated fairly for our jobs, and we both enjoy them. We share our individual earnings as ours jointly. We’ve been together for 27 years, and we have swapped places on higher earnings multiple times. It does not matter to us.
    I am a tenured college professor, and my husband works the cash register at Home Depot. The difference is enormous. I am responsible for 75% of the mortgage, 100% of the groceries, and all of our vacations. On the other hand, he takes care of our daughter’s wardrobe, household items – we recently bought a house from 1986 that needs repairs, so that’s his responsibility – and entertainment, such as movie tickets. He acknowledges the gap and knows it won’t change soon. However, he was able to work fewer hours to spend time with our daughter, something I couldn’t do.

    A man dances with his daughter, who is playfully standing on his feet, at home
    There was a time when I made way more money than my husband — boyfriend at the time. I got $13 an hour working at a nursing home when I was still in college, and it was really nice making more money than him, to be honest. I worked more hours too, so I brought more money into the bank account because I could choose how often I worked. I worked every single day because I loved seeing so much money go into my bank account. It definitely makes you feel better when you make more than your spouse.
    My wife and I work for the same company. She’s been there for six years in a customer service role, while I have over 20 years in an active and higher-paying role. As a result, we work the same hours, but I usually bring home twice as much as she does. However, I consider our marriage to be a partnership, so once the bills for the week are paid up — along with any that come due soon and whatever needs to be set aside for the mortgage or whatever is accounted for — we split the leftover funds 50/50 as our spending money. This means that most of the time she keeps 75% to 80% of her income, while I keep about 40% to 50% of mine. I am fine with this because, to me, our marriage is NOT about money. If it is to you, then maybe you married for the wrong reason.

    Two women embrace on their wedding day
    My husband and I have been married for 15 years and together for nearly 20. When we first married, we were both earning very little money and barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. Now, I make nearly three times what he does, with the potential to earn even more as my career progresses. Sometimes we joke that he’s my trophy husband and I’m his sugar mama, but it’s all in good fun. Even before I earned more, I handled the family finances, paid bills, and did most of the household shopping. He does a lot more of the housework, including the yard work, which I despise. This isn’t to say that I don’t do any work around the house; he just does more. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about it, but then I remember I work a lot more hours weekly than he does in a higher-stress work environment.
    My salary is $20,000 higher than my partner’s. He is also 15 years older than me. (I’m 30, and he’s 45.) I think he sometimes feels embarrassed by this because his generation was definitely raised with the ‘man takes care of the family’ mindset. But for the most part, it’s not a big deal. I handle all of our finances, so he sends me about 90% of his paycheck each week and keeps a little bit for himself. It works for us.

    A woman sorts through financial paperwork while on her laptop at home
    No impact at all. When we met, he made more money than me. Ten years later, we now have a house and two kids, and I make a significant amount more. However, it means nothing. We have a joint account that everything goes to. We have everything we need in life: love, health, and happiness, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. He is a great husband and always puts his family first. Money is just what pays the bills — nothing more than that.
    I am a chic and fashion-forward woman who takes pride in my financial success. I make three to four times the amount my husband makes, and he loves to boast about marrying me for my money (although he conveniently forgets to mention that we keep our finances separate). Despite our income disparity, we never argue about money. My husband is not bothered by our financial differences; in fact, he often treats me to dinners without even asking or complaining. He is secure in his own contribution to our relationship, and rightfully so – we are a happy couple.

    A person hands a credit card to a waiter to pay for their and their date's dinner
    I’ve always been in a business development/sales role, and my wife has always been a therapist. It never bothered me that I made significantly more than she did — we share values and spending habits, we share everything else in our lives together — why should money be any different? By the time we got engaged, there was no more ‘my’ money or ‘her’ money — we treated it all as ‘our’ money. We combined bank accounts, and both of our paychecks were direct deposit into the single checking account.
    Currently, I make about $62K more than my husband. It wasn’t always this way — we used to have a much smaller gap, and early in our relationship, he outearned me. The only impact it has is that we’ve become very open and communicate about our finances. We build a yearly budget for our household based on a 50/50 split (his insistence; I asked for a proportional split), and we revisit whenever there’s a big expense that we didn’t plan for. Things like dinner dates, presents, vacations, etc., are things we take turns treating each other to or splitting. We’re both the first in our families to hold high-paying white-collar jobs. Because we’re so open with each other about money, we also ask each other for advice when we evaluate financial decisions. The fact that we make different amounts of money strengthens our partnership.

    A couple high-fives each other on the couch
    I (female, 48 years old) earn about $50,000 a year more than my spouse (male, 53 years old). Although we have been together for 19 years and married for 15, we have always had separate checking accounts. We have learned over the years to communicate about finances in a productive way. We divide up the bills, with me taking on the majority. His field is very volatile, and he is sometimes unemployed due to downsizing or restructuring (or pandemics). Knowing this, we have structured our finances so that we can survive on mine alone. Early on, there were issues with finances and him believing that I had more money and the capacity to pay bills, so I became very, very transparent. Now, we communicate regularly, and finances are not as much of an issue! I have, over time, increased my income fivefold, and he is nothing but supportive!!
    It ultimately led to our divorce. For me, it wasn’t a big deal, until it was… I had the ability to make more due to my career choice, and we both knew this when we got together in college, but it drove him crazy, I found out later. Also, note that we shared money 100%. He eventually started buying expensive toys without talking to me about it, even though we had a rule to always discuss purchases either of us made over a certain dollar threshold, and I always did. These became more and more extravagant, and I was made to feel like if I said anything about it, I was wrong, you know, because we had the money — only we didn’t. We hadn’t been able to afford a vacation in 10 years, except to visit some family a few hours away, and we couldn’t afford to make needed updates to our home, but he always had what he wanted.

    A couple signs a divorce document and sets their wedding rings down on the paperwork
    Neither of us is particularly wealthy, but my husband and I work at the same company in the sales department. He’s been with the company longer than me (by about one and a half years), but I have worked in almost every position as it has grown. I’m going on about seven years, and he is nearly at nine years. Now, I am the head of my department. My raises are typically larger, as are my bonuses. We are very open about our incomes, even though we have separate bank accounts. We split the bills fairly and make sure we have enough for our own individual hobbies. Note: My ex hated the fact that I made more than him and always had passive-aggressive comments about how emasculated it made him feel. ‘Men are supposed to be the breadwinners…’ You know the spiel. My husband now does not care. He is only interested in how successful we are as a whole.
    Did any of these perspectives surprise you? If you earn more than your partner, share how this impacts (or doesn’t impact) things between you two in the comments below.

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