I’m three years into a relationship with a man I love deeply. Everything about us has been perfect from the get-go with the exception of one thing.
I earn considerably more money than him and have foolishly let this fact inform the choices I make about our finances.
Of this I want to be crystal clear: My salary is in no way an issue between us. It’s barely even mentioned. Tim is very supportive and proud of my aspirations and the fact that I have so far been relatively successful. We had just lived life differently up until the point we got together. While I buckled down, determined to get my business degree as quickly as possible, he spent the bulk of his twenties travelling Europe, meaning he graduated university almost four years after I did. He’s not in any way less driven than I am… he’s simply just at a different stage of his career.
So this is where we are at. Aged 28, I earn $25,000 more than Tim does annually. Because I am a Type A control freak, I also made the decision that I would control our household finances when we moved in together over a year ago. That was the single worst decision I’ve made in our relationship so far. That’s when the lies started.
If I could summarise my thinking at the time, it was, ‘I want to make sure he doesn’t feel a difference between us whatsoever’. I decided my healthier bank balance and fortnightly pay-check would mean I could shelter a lot of the bills, groceries and general expenses, and because it was all coming out of my bank account, I chose to “soften” the blow of what different things cost.
I told Tim our bills and internet cost much less than they actually do under the impression I was helping him in the long run. So now when he sends me money every week for different things it’s a decent chunk less than what it should be.
There’s a new term for women who earn more than their partner’s, and it’s ‘breadwife’. Holly Wainwright is a proud breadwife, and she discusses with Mia Freedman and Jessie Stephens, on Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues after audio.
While I was happy for this to be my little secret for six months, I’ve spent a lot of 2017 feeling frustrated that I’m forking out more money every month than my partner is. Every time the internet bill comes in or I go shopping for groceries, I grit my teeth knowing I’ve dug my hole so deeply I cannot get out of it. Even though I’m well aware this resentment I hold is entirely my own fault, it still stings… and the stings come almost daily.
On Friday we found out my partner is up for a pay rise. Come July he will be earning considerably closer to what I do.
Which leads me to my Big Question… Do I come clean about what our lifestyle really costs?
I’m kicking myself for ever bending the truth. I also love my partner and worry about what his reaction will be when I am one day forced to tell him about my half-lies. I predict he will feel belittled and betrayed even when that was never my intention at all… I just wanted to help him and save him the stress.
What on earth do I do?
Should anonymous talk to her partner or keep it to herself?