Your Questions, Answered: Wife as the Primary Breadwinner

January 7, 2021

On this week’s episode of Your Questions, Answered Suzanne Wheeler and Brian Leitner discuss household income situations, and answer the following question:

“My husband is bothered by me being the primary breadwinner. How can I help him accept this reality?”

Do you have questions you’d like answered? Email them to [email protected], and we’ll provide answers.


Brian Leitner: You have questions. We have answers. Back with another quick clip. That question that came in as it relates to the primary breadwinner. So, the primary breadwinner here is a wife. And what she’s talking about is her husband having a real issue or struggling with the fact that she makes more than he does. So, if you think about this and, you know, as we’ve evolved as society and so forth, I think we’re going to see a lot more of this as things begin to change and evolve. So, what are your thoughts as it relates to this? 

Suzanne Wheeler: Well, first, I congratulate you for picking a female advisor to answer the question. So, we’re off to a good start. This situation hasn’t, it’s not new. We’ve been in this situation from the beginning of time, really, if you think what’s different is, it is the female that is the breadwinner now not the male. And that was our culture that we’ve lived in for so many years.  

So, I think a lot of the situation could be tied to communication. So, you really need to think about the different relationships and the value that each of them adds to the household. And so maybe it’s stepping back and thinking, yes, I am the breadwinner, but could I really do this job? Could I work these hours? Could I travel as much as I do if I were taking care of the household? I mean, we see husbands that are managing the household and taking children to school, picking up the laundry, doing the grocery shopping, cooking the meals. Maybe it’s not all of that, but they are contributing and it’s just not in a fiscal manner. 

Brian: Sure. And I think again, like, like anything, if you were raised a certain way or you grew up at a certain time, you know, you expect maybe there were certain expectations of you. And now that again, as we’ve evolved as a society, I can see where families are struggling with that to some degree. And it’s in the data, and a lot of these folks struggle in a lot of different ways, which is why the divorce rate is higher amongst wives that are making more than their husbands. Have you encountered this yourself? Is is something that you counsel folks on as well? 

Suzanne: Yes. And in fact, you know, I work with a fair amount of clients that the female is the breadwinner and I walked through those steps, talk with them individually, if there is a communication problem that exists, how they might coordinate with each other and have those conversations and start with, what do you feel like you’re bringing to the relationship and what is an irritation? And then try to help them create a conversation together. And sometimes you just need someone that is independent helping you both through the conversation. 

Brian: I think that’s really helpful, just simply the communication and then having a guide, someone such as yourself or someone else to even bring these topics up because, sometimes it may be the elephant in the room, but it’s something that maybe we don’t want to address and that may lead to problems. 

Suzann: Exactly. And we have had situations where clients, the female client could hardly wait for the husband to get through educating kids or getting them through school so they could get a job, but then become really fearful when they know that they have to divide up the household chores. So, you’d have to really take a look at that and be careful what you wish for. 

Brian: Well said. Thanks for being here. Really appreciate your expertise. So, thanks for coming on. And if anyone has questions, they want to go ahead and email us if they’d like answers, they can go ahead and email us at [email protected]. Thanks for watching. 

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