How to Deal With Relationship Income Gaps

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What to do if your partner earns significantly more - or less - than you do

  • Talking about finances and income is still a taboo in many areas of life - including many relationships.
  • But over time, money can make or break a couple, especially when one party earns substantially more than the other.
  • A large so-called partner pay gap prompts various questions: who pays for what, which lifestyle becomes dominant, and how do unequal earnings affect other relationship dynamics?
  • For one, the larger the financial imbalance between two partners, the more important becomes transparency: the richer party needs to know what the other side can and cannot afford.
  • The implications of the partner pay gap for the psychological well-being of both women and men can be profound.
  • Research points to a close relationship between gendered identities, earning position within the household and well-being in couples.
  • Gendered expectations of who ‘should be’ the breadwinner can shape how men and women in couples react to income inequality and behave in the relationship generally.
  • Economically dependent husbands, for instance, have been found to do less housework than those who contribute more to household income, likely to maintain a sense of masculinity by avoiding housework.
  • Women tend to increase their housework if they out earn their partners, one 2018 study found, possibly in an attempt to compensate for the way their paid work threatens traditional gender dynamics.
  • Income gaps between partners can affect same-sex couples and their household’s financial strategies and lifestyles too, of course.
Articles from 5 publishers

5 articles on this topic


Wives do not earn as much as their husbands, says new global study

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When One Partner Earns More In A Same-Sex Relationship

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How to Deal with Your Partner Making More (Or Less) Than You

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Men get stressed when their wives make more money than they do

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How to hold onto your self-worth when your partner earns more than you

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