I’m writing because I think my son is hurting himself. He was set up with a girl. My son likes her. He hasn’t dated anyone else for this long. But he’s afraid to take the next step, because she earns more money than he does. Her position in the company she works for is more prestigious than his is at his company.
We’ve been telling him that, at the end of the day and in the big picture, it doesn’t matter who earns the higher salary. The cost of living has gone up because of inflation, so having two salaries can help a couple get ahead. He doesn’t want to take the relationship to the next step, because he’s embarrassed by the gap in salaries (it’s about $30k). As far as I know, and I asked my son, the girl hasn’t said anything about his position or salary. And I think that’s the way it should be. She knows what my son does, and his salary can’t be as high as hers. She doesn’t seem to care, because if she did, wouldn’t she have stopped dating him?
I need my son to stop acting like this because it may end up hurting what this relationship can be, and he may ruin it unintentionally. I don’t know what else to do or say. He still thinks, “Me man. Me provide for family.”
Thank you for writing in.
I don’t know how old your son is, but if he is of a certain age, then he grew up when it was the norm that the husband/father earned more money than the wife/mother. It wasn’t drilled into us, but from what we saw in society, on television, and even in our own homes, this point became more common and was applied universally. A couple of years ago, I wrote about how history has taught us that men are hunters and women are the gatherers. I can’t blame your son for thinking this way, but in the last decade or two, a lot has changed, including the role that a man and a woman, a husband and a wife play in a relationship.
If the “girl” hasn’t brought up the subject, then I don’t think she is very concerned. I’m not sure how you or your son were able to figure out that she earns $30k more than he does, unless salaries were discussed. And if they discussed it and continued going out, then it may be fine on the girl’s part. When a shidduch is redt, each party knows if he or she is going out with a teacher, construction worker, accountant, or a nurse. She said yes to the shidduch and hasn’t made this an issue yet. Or maybe she is speaking with her parents or friends about this issue, and they are telling her exactly what I wrote above: It doesn’t matter in the big picture and roles have changed.
I was watching a rerun of The Big Bang Theory the other night. Bernadette and Howard were discussing who should go back to work after their second child was born and who should be the stay-at-home parent. During this discussion (before the resolution came at the end), Howard wanted to be the stay-at-home parent. He said he didn’t mind quitting his job, and the fact that Bernadette earns more money than he does made it a logical decision for him. I believe I wrote of a family I met years ago. The wife was the breadwinner. She was a doctor. The father was the stay-at-home parent. This arrangement made sense for them. They worked it out. Yes, for a minute it did seem topsy-turvey that the father is the stay-at-home parent, but whatever works, works. Now I’m meeting more couples and families where the wife is earning a higher salary than the husband – I know this just by them answering the question, “What do you do?” I don’t bat an eyelash and I don’t know of anyone who does.
Your son has to do what he is comfortable doing. It doesn’t matter if in three million couples/families the wife is earning more - if it doesn’t feel right to him. I would suggest he speak with the young woman about this before he ends the relationship. It’s important to hear what she thinks of this. Your son may feel that she will think less of him, but you won’t know until you ask. In today’s world – I hate to say it – but jobs seem transient. It’s been a long time since I heard people my age say they’ve worked at the same job for 25 years. I am not referring to those working for the Department of Education or any job where you will receive a pension if you work x number of years. How many times have we heard that someone decided to change his or her career path and is now working in a totally unrelated field, or that he or she resigned in order to do something they actually like doing for 40-plus hours a week? I count myself among those. I spent 21 years at the first agency I ever worked at. But when an opportunity presented itself for me to do something I had a passion for and actually enjoyed doing, I submitted my two weeks’ notice.
All I am saying is that your son should explore this issue with the girl he is dating. I don’t think speaking with friends will help him come to a resolution, because he and the woman will be the ones in the relationship. It matters how they feel – not anyone else.
Hatzlachah to you all!