The real reason I make more than my husband.
It’s been exactly 4 years since my book #WhenSheMakesMore debuted.
Someone recently asked me what I’ve learned about myself since.
This may shock you.
Four years ago I wrote and stated in public that I “inadvertently” became the breadwinner in my relationship. Like, I didn’t intend for it to happen. I just married for love and…welp, here I am!
But that is so far from the truth.
I don’t know. Maybe I was too much of a coward (or in denial?) back then to admit why I had arrived at this financial place in my life.
The truth is that I make more because it’s what I’ve been hard-wired to want. It is the very financial existence that lets me to feel safe, in control and happy.
I’m not saying this is necessarily healthy or best for everyone. Or that you should want to bring home the bigger paycheck.
It’s just who I am.
So, how did I arrive here?
It’s not simply because I studied and worked hard. Or that I asked for raises and got them.
It has a LOT to do with my fears and insecurities. It’s how I was raised.
I’ve always been crazy scared by the idea of being financially dependent on a man – or anyone for that matter. It dates back to childhood. Both of my parents earned money throughout the years. But my dad always made more and tried to control it. All of it. My mom cried a lot.
It’s probably why I negotiated an allowance when I was 5. It’s probably why I started babysitting at 11, got my worker’s permit at 15, started investing at 16 and worked three jobs in college.
I should probably mention that, along the way, I’ve had to overcome an overall general fear of men.
Only a few people know this about me. And I think it’s important to share this with you. Because it has so much to do with so much.
It stems from being a little girl when “stranger danger” to me meant that I should never trust any unfamiliar men.
That included the substitute teacher we had one day in Kindergarten, a man whom I didn’t recognize who showed up unannounced. My heart started to race. I ran out of the classroom in tears, searching for a familiar female face.
You can be sure that a parent-teacher conference followed. My teachers had noticed a pattern in me. And wondered if everything was OK at home. I don’t blame them.
The truth was, we were watching too much 5 o’clock news. And every top story was often about child abduction.
It was also the 1980s, the era of missing kids on milk cartons. And my then stay-at-home mom – who spoke very little English and was only in her early 20’s – was scared out of her mind about raising a young girl in what appeared to be a dangerous place.
She was fearful of living in a foreign country, so far from her parents, in a marriage where she was very dependent. To protect me, she made me afraid. And it stuck.
For years, that was the lens through which I viewed the world, including men, money and marriage. And, while I’ve never consulted with a therapist, I believe that it’s had some residual impact on my adult life.
Do I wish I were raised more optimistically? Sometimes.
But I am also so grateful for the ways my fears and falsehoods have forged my unique path in life. Being the breadwinner is sometimes hard, but mostly very rewarding.
The role feels very me. And there’s no one I’d rather be.