How to make it work if your partner earns more than you
If you’ve only dated people within your salary band, then awesome for you. It must be so simple. But it’s happened to myself and my pals a lot: you’re on the first date and obviously flashing cash like you’re Richard Branson because no one wants to say “ooh I can’t afford another cocktail” on a first date.
Then you wake up the next day and realise you’re gonna be on the old ‘gari soakings’ diet for the rest of the month because you spent beyond your means. Again.
What about when you end up in a relationship with a complete and utter baller? It’s damn hard, that’s what. You always want to pay half for everything, but also you’re kind of limited in the luxuriousness of the meals/holidays/experiences you can afford. It’s kind of a nightmare.
Lovehoney’s relationship expert Annabelle Knight shares her advice for not letting that pesky bill come between you.
“If you're in a relationship with a big pay gap you could face a few bumps in the road. More often than not one of you won't see this as a problem, this is usually the partner who earns more,” she says. “For those on a lower salary they may experience feelings of inadequacy, jealousy or insecurity.” Here’s how to stop that from happening.
1. Understand that for most couples' this is completely natural
Rarely do two people earn the exact same amount of money. Because of this it's almost completely unnatural for those two people to contribute financially evenly throughout the relationship.
2. Have the conversation
Society programs us to think of it as rude or crass to talk about money. This view tends to follow us wherever we go, even into a relationship. Being able to talk to your partner openly and honestly about everything, including money, is extremely important. If it's something that bothers you then you should be able to speak to your partner about it.
3. Do the maths
Sit down together and work out a system that works for both of you. If for example you look at your relationships income as a whole and work out what percentage you contribute to that whole then that gives you a pretty clear idea. If you bring in 20% more than your partner, then it's only fair to supply 20% more than them when it comes to bills etc.
4. Recognise value other than money
There are a lot of ways a person can contribute to a relationship besides financial offerings. If you feel that your partner puts in less than you, try and see the value in the other things they do. Perhaps they cook more, clean more or organise the running of the house above and beyond what you do yourself.
5. Change the way you think
Instead of thinking of 'yours and mine' think of it as 'ours.' View the money in your bank account as joint financial earnings and try and see money as just one piece of your relationship puzzle.
6. Don't blame
It's really important that if you're in a relationship where earnings are an issue, that no one is made to feel bad about their income. Placing blame on a person for something such as money makes them feel inadequate. Feeling judged negatively by your partner, the one person who is supposed to be behind you always can be extremely damaging.
7. Be magnanimous
If you're the one who earns the most, don't brag. After all, it takes a confident and worthy individual to rise above something like this. If someone can see their partner as an asset rather than view them as a threat it means that they are well and truly comfortable with themselves and, even if not financially, they are definitely your equal.
From a finance expert’s point of view
Barclays’ savings and investments director, Clare Francis, adds:
“Putting in the same percentage of your salary ensures you are both contributing fairly, regardless of what you both earn.
“Work out you and your partner's combined worth, taking into account salary, credit card debt, overdrafts and outgoings. This will help you plan a future together and ensure financial transparency, you can then go on to work out how you would split costs going forward in a way that is fair and realistic for both of you.
“If you are the higher earner, spontaneous gestures such as offering to pay for dinner or covering the weekly shop can be greatly appreciated. If you are the lesser earner and you need to borrow money, consider asking your partner if they would offer you a 'loan' and work out a repayment plan together.
“Even if there is a big difference in your salaries, it’s still worth opening a joint account for any combined expenses, such as eating out, bills, mortgage repayments and holidays. The best way to ensure it is fair to both of you is to split the cost of your combined outgoings in proportion to how much you each earn, and to pay that much into the joint account each month. This way, neither of you feels like they are shouldering too much of the financial burden.”