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What to Do If Your Partner Makes Less Money Than You

You’re wrong if you think that just because you make more, you call the shots. There’s a vast middle ground that you can both get comfortable in.

partner makes less money

You’ve worked hard for as long as you can remember. You’ve clawed your way to the top. Money is not an issue for you, and you enjoy spending it just as much as you enjoy earning it. You’re hella proud of your success, and rightfully so. However, there is no denying that money can and will be an issue if the person you are in love with makes significantly less than you.

Everyone preaches about equality in a relationship, but how is that possible when you have the capability to do things, buy things and experience things that your partner can only dream of? You may have more than enough to go around. Heck, you may even have enough to support an entire zip code, but is that really what you want to do?

Do you really want your significant other to grow more and more dependent on you as time passes? Think about the repercussions of this. Your partner may even start resenting you for how much you can afford versus what they make. You will start absorbing their resentment and end up turning it into guilt. Oh, the horror!

This also poses a problem for couples in a relationship within different industries. One may be a doctor and the other, a product manager. Both are very successful and make enough for a comfortable life. However, the doctor may take on the role of the superior player in the relationship, because their paycheck boasts an extra zero.

This doesn’t mean that the doctor works any harder than the manager. It all comes down to the nature of their jobs. The doctor will undoubtedly be able to afford a nicer car, bigger home, fancier vacations and a more expensive wardrobe than the manager, but does this make the manager less of a hardworking person? Nope. Don’t let money destroy your relationship. Just remember to always treat your partner as an equal and to never take advantage of one another.

The 5 rules when you make more money than your partner

No matter what your partner does for a living, there is no denying that it is not exactly a walk in the park when they make less money than you. Here are five golden rules on what to do, and how to delicately approach the situation.

1. Always treat your partner as an equal

First things first. Never, under any circumstances, make your partner feel bad about making much less than you. This is especially true if your sweetheart is a hard worker and is truly passionate about what they are doing. They may slave away at a non-profit organization and rake in peanuts, but if they come home to you every day with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, who are you to say anything about what they make?

You of all people should know that it takes more than just a paycheck to make getting up and going to work every morning possible. Just be sure that, should money issues ever crop up, never belittle them or make them feel that they’re not on par with you. With that being said, if they’re sitting on their bums all day then yes, make them feel as bad as you want. [Read: How self-respect affects you and your relationship]

2. Readjust your spending

Another way to deal with the vast disparity in paychecks is to readjust your lifestyle. You may moan and complain about having to downgrade on the lavishness, but why not? There’s nothing wrong with living a simpler and more enriched life. There’s no need to spend thousands on a weekend to have fun, when there are plenty of things that can be done on a shoestring or sometimes even for free.

You have to be sure that your partner never feels obliged to fork out more than they should or feel bad about you paying for them, just to have fun with you. [Read: 15 signs you may be a high maintenance partner]

3. Treat your partner without making it seem like charity

Go ahead and treat them, if there’s something expensive that you want to eat, see or do, but never make it a habit. If your partner is someone with a very fierce sense of independence, they may just take it the wrong way, and say that you’re treating them like a charity case.

Sure, there are plenty of people out there who will expect you to pay for everything, but then, do you really want to be in a relationship with someone who takes advantage of you anyway? Be sure that your partner is thankful and gracious about you spending money on them, but do not let it cross the line until they expect it of you. If you are totally fine with this, then go right ahead.

You should also remember to never make your partner feel like they are a burden to you. Even unconsciously making comments such as, “Okay, now I have to pay for two tickets” or “As I’m the one who pays all the time, maybe you can drive there instead.” You can expect an explosion unlike any other or even worse, your partner will internalize all of this, and end up with a plummeting self-esteem.

[Read: 25 ways to make your guy feel appreciated and cared for]

[Read: 20 ways to make your girlfriend incredibly happy]

4. Accept their contributions

Even if you can afford to spend plenty of money on your partner, try not to turn down their offer to pay or to go Dutch every so often. This is their way of exuding independence, so just let it go and graciously accept it.

Never brush off their contribution by saying, “This evening cost nothing, so let me handle it.” You may injure their pride, because what may seem like peanuts to you is probably plenty to them. There is nothing wrong with expecting them to fairly contribute to the relationship, and you should be proud of your partner if they take it upon themselves to want to do so. Everybody wants to feel like they matter, even more so when it comes to financial matters and being independent.

5. Don’t think that you’re in charge

I make a lot less than my partner does and at one point, this posed as a major problem, as he just fell into the role of being the one in charge. Of course, we communicated well and managed to quash the issue without it getting out of hand, but to be fair, not many couples are able to do the same.

Always remember that just because you make more, it does not give you the right to wear the pants in the household. All it does is give you the power to offer your loved one a more comfortable lifestyle. As delicate as the balance of power and opinion can be in a relationship, never tilt it in your favor, just because you earn more.

Always consult your loved one when it comes to major life decisions like moving for a job, investing in assets and so on. Never take them for granted, and never assume that they will follow your lead. Money may mean power to many, but if you truly love one another, it should mean nothing.

[Read: How to manage money in a marriage]

So what if your partner makes significantly less than you? At the end of the day, if you can afford to take care of them, then bravo to you. Just remember the five golden rules mentioned above and your life will undoubtedly be smooth sailing from now on.

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Gemma Hsieh
Born in Singapore and raised in Canada to multi-racial parents, Gemma is a self-proclaimed travel and food junkie. Having traveled extensively around the world,...
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