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An Interesting Question, Without A Lot of Great Answers

Thought you were going to get my law school not-so-great-list, eh?  No worries…it’s in the cue.  For now, I thought I’d discuss something equally dicey that I was asked about just today – from a pharmacy school prof at another school, which is this (and I don’t think it has a lot of great answers….)

Here. We. Go.

So, in a group of 45 female and 25 male students, a pharmacy school prof was asked, “What do you do if you marry a man and you’re the breadwinner as the wife?”  This is actually pretty common in pharmacy, considering the starting salary for a pharmacist in community practice is now pretty well above 6 figures.

It’s a great question, without many good answers.

First, as I always tell ALL my students–male or female–they should consider a prenup.  Granted, I’m not a lawyer, but protecting one’s assets (and their potential for income being one of those assets) is always good practice, whatever professional background one has or is earning.  Have there been cases where a couple got a divorce, the wife made more money and the husband actually got alimony out of the deal from the wife?  Yes.  Hence, it’s a good idea to protect your income potential, regardless of your gender.

Second, regarding the psychological aspects of the male not making the bacon (or as much bacon as his wife) – respectfully?  I think guys should not only get over it, but celebrate the fact that they love respect and married a woman who is fierce enough to make her own self-sustaining income!  Why would you want to be with a loser – male or female – who can’t support him or herself anyway?  Besides, if she’s fierce and she picked you, guess what?  That makes you fierce to some degree too! Score!

Then, I posted a quick shout out about this issue on Twitter, and got back the other tricky issue I didn’t even initially consider–children.  If a couple wants to have children, but the mother is making more money, that presents another problem, in that mom may not be able to stay home as long with her kids.  Can dad play Mr. Mom instead?  That’s of course up to the couple to decide, but some guys can hang with that, while others cannot.

I’m quite sure there’s still a camp of old-schoolers out there who think they are failing as men if they’re not bringing home more money as their wives, and I’m also pretty sure there’s another camp of women out there who won’t date a guy unless he makes more than she does…but maybe these types just aren’t for you if you don’t subscribe to those antiquated notions.  In fact, there are about 7 billion people on the planet, so really, if your sig other has hangups around the money issue, maybe it’s time to rethink the sig other…

There are a lot of articles out there on this topic – found a good one at Slate, another good one at New York Magazine, and of course the classic from the controversial article that appears in Forbes awhile ago about “Don’t Marry a Career Woman” – that one’s definitely not worth a link to this post.  A quick google search will land you with a ton of reading.

All I can leave you with is my own experience.  I was married once.  When I got married, I made more money than my husband.  After I got married, I made less money than him, and continued to do so, until I got divorced, when my income went back up again.  We parted company where no one tried to get any alimony from the other; however, I will say that I’ve thought about it long and hard as to why my income went down while his went up when we were married.

And while my situation is different than the problem above, it and the problem above arrive at an even more interesting question: should educated, self-sustaining women (or men, for that matter) get married at all anymore?

I’ll leave that up to you to decide….not touching that one with a ten foot poll.

What do you think of all this?  As I said, not really a lot of easy answers.  Just a lot more questions…

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