The Changing Face of the Family Breadwinner

The following is a staff writer post from Libby Balke. She’s an amazing writer, work-at-home mother of two, and has been married almost 8 years. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Libby or Crystal.

Our Breadwinners

For the first five years of our marriage, my husband and I both worked full-time outside of the home. For those first five years, we both earned almost identical annual incomes – our yearly salaries differed only by about $500, making us co-breadwinners.

Then I quit my job to stay at home with our kids (although ultimately I’d pick up some freelance work on the side), and overnight, my husband became the primary breadwinner. On the outside, he took it in stride; on the inside, his anxiety was skyrocketing. He stressed over whether he was doing enough to provide for me and the kids, signing up for what seemed like endless hours of overtime while I was at home, desperately craving some time with somebody other than a pair of toddlers.

A few months ago, I went back to work full-time – as they said in The Godfather, “they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” And once again, the financial face of our family changed overnight. My new job – and the salary that came with it – put me in a position I’d never been in before: breadwinner. Although my husband was still working full-time, my position – along with my freelance work – made me the primary money-maker.

It’s Not Unheard of Anymore

It’s becoming increasingly common to see a woman at the financial head of household (I’m talking from a breadwinner point of view, not a tax status perspective). According to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, 41% of mothers in America are the main breadwinners in their family; as of this spring, I became one of them. Sandberg (you probably know her better as the COO of Facebook) reports that another quarter of mothers contribute at least 25% of their family’s income, making them co-breadwinners.

My husband didn’t exactly adjust to being our breadwinner easily; so how would he react to my coup d’etat of the family’s financial power position?

There are a lot of things I love about my husband, but his ability to support me – and my decisions – is far and away his most amazing attribute. When I first brought up the idea of me going back to work full-time (even though I’d be telecommuting, and still doing my job from inside our home), he urged me to pursue this new opportunity… even if it meant he’d have to step up around the house, even if it meant he’d have to assume a more active role taking care of our kids. Sure, there have been some hiccups along the way – he’s learned the hard way that our daughter won’t eat defrosted bread – but he’s been a working mom’s dream come true.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

4 thoughts on “The Changing Face of the Family Breadwinner

  1. First congrats on the offer you couldn’t refuse!! I can see when you are the breadwinner when you are use to being the cobreadwinner have some anxiety. You worry about the what if’s too much. What if I lose my job or they cut hours. So you try to plan ahead to make sure that you don’t have to be in that situation. On the other hand women being the bread winner is nothing new like you mention. I know a lot of women who a earning a kings ransom and the husbands are just working because they like doing what they are doing. It also gives them a chance to be entrepreneurs and they love it. Keep us up to date with how things are going.
    Thomas recently posted..What Does It Mean To Pay Yourself FirstMy Profile

  2. This is not a strange fact anymore. All my mom ever wanted to be was a stay at home mom and wife. She went to college, but never really saw it as a career path. She was taught women stayed at home and took care of the kids. A generation later, and I’m definitely not the stay at home type. I’m actually the breadwinner right now in my marriage.
    Savvy Financial Latina recently posted..The Happiness AdvantageMy Profile

Comments are closed.