Let’s face it. Women, especially Black women, are at the top of our game right now.
And as our numbers increase in the boardroom, as entrepreneurs, and even in the classroom, another role for women that seems to be a growing trend is the rise of female breadwinners. A study from the Pew Research Center reported that over 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 were led by a woman as the sole or primary breadwinner.
It’s no surprise either. Black women have received a record number of Bachelors and Masters degrees over the past two decades and we are the largest group participating in the workforce. And while we are making more than ever, and leading households, another dynamic of the black family continues to change: the relationship that black women have with our partners. Done are the days where the man “brings home the bacon” and leads the household because he is the dominating breadwinner.
We spoke with a few women who earn more than their spouse (or partner) about how it works for their relationship dynamic, and tips for success for other women who might be in this situation. Though it’s not easy, these women are thriving, working it out, and above all, putting their love first.
It Hurt Our Marriage At First, But Things Have Turned Around
“I am 30 and I grew up in the era of the independent woman. For me this meant I could do and be anything and if a man was crazy enough to come on the ride with me, well, good for me and him. Making more money than my husband led me to unconsciously emasculate him for several years of our marriage. One day I looked up and my husband was miserable and I had a lot to do with creating the misery because I never allowed him to be the man of the house. I was the independent woman doing it all. I took up so much space by doing it all that my husband lost significance within our home. A basic human need is to be wanted and feel valued. Doing it all with money, kids, household left no room for my husband to shine. He never had the space to be my knight in shining armor.
Things turned around once I stopped trying to prove I was an independent woman and valued my husband’s significant role in our home. It is nontraditional and does not look like my parents or what I saw on tv. There is what your parents teach you about marriage, what religion teaches you about marriage and what you and your spouse create about your marriage. My new motto is, all rules are written in pencil to be edited as needed.” —
There’s A Reason For the Season
“I have been with my fiancé for over five years. We have been engaged for the past nine months or so and tying the knot on October 15. I am three years older than him and have always made at least $20,000 or more than him. At first, it was a challenge because I was used to the idea of the man being the breadwinner because of how I was raised in my Haitian culture in my Christian religion. It was also very difficult for him because he felt that he wasn’t masculine enough and that he was somehow below me in the eyes of others. But over time I realized that God puts us in certain places at certain times for a reason and I can’t condemn myself nor him for being where we are in life. We have these false notions that the head the house means monetary when it means spiritual as well as protector. Although I making more currently he will always be the head of my family and my household and my money is his money and just because he’s making less now doesn’t mean it’s going to stay like that forever. We are definitely at a place where we can see past the fact that I do make more money and we just accept our circumstances for now and thank God that we are even working and are able to pay our bills, be stable and not technically live paycheck to paycheck. At times we look at social constructions as a way of life and we become so vain that we lose great opportunities that are staring us in the face. I am so grateful that God humbles the both of us to see there’s much more in a relationship than money and we are happy and I can’t wait to become his wife on the 15th. And if the day comes that he never makes more than me. I’m not worried about it because money does not guarantee me Kingdom citizenship nor him.” – Ashiah R.
I’m Dependent On Him In Different Ways
“My fiancé and I have been together since college, where I graduated in just three years and completed my masters shortly after. Due to that, I entered the workforce a few years earlier than him at an accelerated rate. Currently, I work two full-time roles, as a public relations executive and a graduate professor. Though my partner has a phenomenal career, I earn more than him. I’m dependent on him spiritually, emotionally and mentally, not financially. He’s my better half and while on paper I earn more than him, he without a doubt completes me.” –
The Dynamic Works For Us
“There is a lot of weight that comes with the role of being the breadwinner. A weight that is hard to describe, but easily felt. It’s not so much a burden, but really a necessity or requirement for survival. I have no issue holding my man down, but being the main breadwinner takes a level of determination that I think all Black women possess. What’s the saying? When the going gets tough the tough get going? Well, they were talking about Black women. It’s all I know. I guess it doesn’t help that I come from a household where my feminine, but dominant gay Black mother ran her household with ease, elegance and power. I seem to find my confidence and comfort when I am in control of my own destiny which includes pulling the financial strings in the relationship. My fiancé is as masculine as they come with an ‘old school’ frame of mind when it comes to roles in the household. However, there is a different dynamic with me being the main breadwinner that wouldn’t be the case if I wasn’t. There is also a level of respect that I demand in the relationship because of the role I play. He’s finally starting to understand that too. In my situation, the dynamic works for us. I fully expect that one day these roles can change and he’s pushing towards that, but it still wouldn’t change the role I am playing today for us and our future family. It wouldn’t erase how I’m holding him down and helping thrust us towards our dreams and goals. He’s my best friend and I would be there for him no matter what just like I know he would be there for me.” – Micaela M.
There’s No Competition At Home
“Society tries to dictate the ground rules for a healthy marriage. To this end, I have always lived by the values and norms set by my rich heritage. As an independent Black woman, I have fought to get where I am today. But when I get home the competitive ends and it is replaced with a mutual respect. While my husband does not make a salary comparable to my salary, the depth of his love and devotion makes me feel prosperous. True love has no bounds.” – Kim S.