Couples With An 'Achievement Gap' Share How They Made Their Relationship Work.
Being in a relationship should never be about competing or trying to one-up each other. Instead, the two of you should be a team and one another's biggest supporters/cheerleaders. However, all of this is easier said than done, especially when it comes to sharing the spotlight in terms of successes, accomplishments, and accolades. The following AskReddit thread shares couples stories, and how they navigated such a situation.
Source link at the end.
I have a doctorate in my field and make almost 200k more than my husband yearly. He helped me get through school and pretty much raised our children on his own while I climbed up the ladder. It wasn't just my achievement, it was ours. I don't know many men that would have sacrificed as much as he did. Our marriage is strong because of our mutual respect and admiration. If that doesn't exist, I don't see how the relationship can work.
I have two degrees and work as a lawyer. My husband never finished university, but he has a job that he loves. He's a great father and husband. It doesn't really matter that I earn more than him because it's all just family money. We're both working hard and supporting each other and our kids.
Finding someone that you respect as a person is way more important than the status of degrees and cash. I'd take my husband over a hundred high earners. Just because he didn't get a piece of paper, doesn't mean that he's not intelligent, and just because he doesn't earn as much, doesn't mean he's not successful. Without his support, I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am.
Just find someone who wants to be on your team. Forget keeping score.
I worked while my S/O was in med school. When she did her residency, I took a full-time job that I hated because the hours allowed me to take care of our child literally every morning, night, weekend, and every single school vacation day. I also did everything in the house. She had no responsibilities other than training. The light at the end of the tunnel was that after a decade plus of this type of lifestyle, we would be very well off financially and everything would be "perfect." Except, as soon as she started making big doctor money, she moved out because she was unhappy, failing to mention that she was moving in with her section chief. Now, I'm in my late 30s, mediocre job with big gaps in work history, very few friends due to multiple moves, and really don't see how I could trust someone again after such a severe violation.
My S/O has a very technical degree in a small field, so she makes approximately twofold as much as I do. Fortunately, all that means is we, as a couple, do alright. Personal achievement isn't a defining factor in our relationship. What we do at work and what we did during school, personally, wasn't really a part of who we are. It's actually kind of weird to think that other people might view that as 'alien'.
I'm a woman who has had conventional academic and career success. My partner is a man who has been successful in a lot of ways, but which aren't conventional and lacks a degree or a true career. I realize I'm saying this from a point of privilege, and I know it affects him occasionally, but for the most part, it's not a factor in our relationship. Neither of us are particularly ambitious people, and we don't place a lot of emphasis or importance on traditional success markers beyond making sure we have enough money to maintain our standard of living. We're hobby-driven and pleasure-driven, and those are the areas we value in our relationship and define ourselves by as individuals.
I think being fair and honest with each other and taking care of which areas of the relationship you are better suited/equipped to do. The whole idea of a relationship to me is that you're better off combined than as individuals.
For example, in our relationship, I work in IT and she's a teacher. I make four times what she does, so we split all bills etc. by that ratio. She contributes in a meaningful, but also manageable way. I pay for most of the "extra" expenses (e.g. holidays), and I bought her a laptop, but she doesn't feel like a kid, as she's still involved in the majority of "living expenses" expenditure (and it's not my home, it's ours).
Alternatively, she's at least 374 times smarter than I am and far better educated (bilingual with a top-tier University education). She makes the decisions around things like housing (her dad's an architect, so she knows what's what), plus things like education for our future kids as that's obviously an area she knows far more about than me.
The guilt of me knowing she works longer hours and is smarter, but makes way less than me is a bit hard to stomach sometimes. I was lucky to fall into an industry which is in demand and has good rewards. We were both pretty poor when we met so that helps.
Overall though, we have a shared long-term plan - the details of how we get there are less important. My success is her success and vice versa.
We stopped the "my money, your money" conversation a long time ago in our marriage. It's our money. We both contribute to our life. We make decisions together. When we were first married, I worked and she went to school. Ten years later, she was making more than I was, but she stopped working to be a stay-at-home mom. We are in this together. Been this way for 30 years.
My wife has a Ph.D. and I barely got my BA by the skin of my teeth after dropping out of high school at age 17. It doesn't bother me or her in the slightest. We're a team, she had her ducks in a row early in life and her success is well deserved. I had a lot of hardships growing up. Life's a journey, we both understand this.
My friend did this with her boyfriend and it holds them back so much (don't own as nice of a condo as they could, don't take any vacations together, don't visit his family who lives far away as much). I understand not wanting to take advantage of someone who makes more money than you, but at a certain point in the relationship, you need to just accept that not everything can be 50/50, especially if it's making you miss out on things. My dad makes 3x as much as my mom, and it's not like they told us growing up, "Sorry kids, we can't go on a family vacation this year because mom didn't make enough money to pay for half of it." There are other ways to make a relationship equal other than money.
We met in college. I dropped out. We moved so she could attend Law School. I worked construction and tended bar and did all of the cooking and cleaning. She graduated with highest honors and works at a great Law Firm with a six figure salary. We moved back to the college town, and I've made Dean's List the past two semesters.
I spent 30 years doing computer systems work and had some pretty high paying positions, as well as, achieving a pretty high degree of personal and professional success.
My wife mostly babysat during the time our kids were growing up, then had a pretty good career with the government, although she never got very high, not starting till she was over 40.
She did express some jealousy on occasion at how "smart" I was, and how well I was doing, but I never ever made that an issue. We're a team. She took care of the kids, I brought in the money.
I've heard of people who think marriages are supposed to be 50/50, but that is ridiculous. It's technically not even possible. Marriage is not a contest like I said, it's a partnership. Two people working toward a common goal. Sometimes you give more and sometimes they give more, it's not worth worrying about.
My S/O is about to hold her Master's in Computer Science, specializing in Cyber Security. I am a high school dropout.
Neither of us cares. We're both pursuing our own happiness while partnering up for a better future together.
I have a BA in History, a BS in Bio, and am working on a BS in Nursing. He graduated from high school. I'm from a huge coastal city (San Diego), and he's from Indianapolis. But we're best friends, and life isn't a competition. There have been times where I made more than him, and right now, he's making more than me. There have been times when he was unemployed, times when I was unemployed, and times when we were both unemployed. Asides from the typical stress of lacking one or two incomes, there was no friction between us because life isn't a competition.
I have academic success, but no job. My partner has career success, but hasn't done too well academically.
We both help each other out, where the other one is lacking the expertise and skills. And, as a result, we balance each other out making ourselves a "power" couple.
It's a partnership, as much as, it's a relationship. Love can't keep you together, but honest and kind communication can. Part of being a partner is absorbing your partners bad days and helping to celebrate their successes.
My wife has a Ph.D. I have a high school diploma. She works a really great job. I'm a stay-at-home dad. She's always out-earned me (and rightfully so, I'd be upset for her if I were making more in retail than she is with a Ph.D.).
I never put much thought to it. In her field, she knows her stuff inside and out, as you'd expect. But she can't cook, clean, or do yard work. To the point, I can't wrap my head around it. How you do char-boiled eggs? Our talents and success are ours, but they complement each other. Even if we weren't married, we would be a good team.
Honestly, it's only as hard as maintaining a happy marriage. Not that it's easy, but you use the same tools.
If you do feel resentment, you're gonna have to learn to let it go. Do that by finding out why you have resentment. Once you find out why you may find out you can't ever change it, and the opportunity you're pining for is gone forever. Got to let it go. Whatever the problem is, you're going to have to let it go. You can't live in resentment forever, and it'll fester and infect the rest of the relationship. Let it go.
I never even realized some people care about those kinds of things. My husband makes all the money for our household cause he went to college and I didn't. What I make barely adds anything, but he doesn't care. He never makes me feel bad about what I make, and we put all our money in the same account and it belongs to the both of us.
Some people's marriages must be miserable if they are focusing so hard on who is making what, and who is achieving more.
My wife and I have separate accounts for the idea of financial independence, but we basically share money. It's just easier to spend money on yourself, or as gifts, when it comes from your own account without getting mad at each other's purchases or knowing all of the purchases.
We follow the "Yours, Mine, Ours" system religiously.
Things that we share, we share equally. Everything else belongs to the respective person to do with as they please.
It makes planning and decision making very cut and dry.
I want to take scuba classes. I want her to take scuba with me. She has ZERO interest in taking scuba, but she is willing to come along for the ride. Guess who is paying for scuba? ME.
If EVERYTHING was intermingled, we would have to have a congressional hearing on the value and purpose of spending OUR money on something of questionable value. But it's MY money, so there is no discussion.
That's how it works for us and it works well.
I prefer to be on an equal footing, at least financially, with my partner. I guess for myself, it's more rooted in an element of fear. Our relationship is good, but I sleep easier knowing that if he ever decided to leave me that I could support myself financially without any issues.
One of my good friends is currently going through a divorce. When her daughter was born, she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and her husband encouraged that. Now 6 years later, she's struggling to make ends meet, worrying about how much she'll get for the child and spousal support and is having a really tough time getting back into the job market. I guess I just never want to be dependent on someone else that way.
I have a Master's degree and make more than $80,000 in the Public Relations field.
My wife has no degrees - just a certificate from a community college and makes about $20,000 a year working part-time.
But that certificate is in nursing, and she works in home hospice- providing comfort to people as they die, helping their family members through the grieving process, etc. all in the comfort of the dying person's home.
So, while I make a lot more money, her work is infinitely more important than mine is.
Wife and I take turns being the trophy spouse.
Having been married to my high school sweetheart for more than 25 years, I can answer this with some degree of certainty. The key to any relationship, no matter what the power dispersal might be (whatever that means for you) is love, respect, and a lot of laughter.
My husband has not been able to keep a job for many many years, mostly around his PTSD issues. I have been the breadwinner for many years, and I make a very comfortable salary. I love my job, and it works for us. He takes care of the house and watches over our adult disabled son.
He is the kindest, strongest, most loving man I have ever met in my life. He is courageous in the face of other things that other people would have folded a million years ago for. He never quits. He always perseveres, and I can't imagine my life without him. I am grateful for him every day, and I hope that I show him in some small way how happy I am to be with him.
My wife currently makes a lot more money than me. I make some, but she does pretty well. She is also about to get her Ph.D. and I didn't even finish college.
However, I work extremely hard at what I do, and I am getting better, and I know it will really pay off in the end. She sees that too and supports me. I support her in every other imaginable way. She is very Type-A and can get stressed emotional and overwhelmed, and she sometimes just needs me to sit there and let her vent or hold her. We have become best friends and as cliche, as it may sound, we do complete each other in many ways.
On top of that, we share some things in common. We both love running, and we love our dogs to death (we met in a dog park). Good food and whiskey, lounging around reading, and hanging out with friends. I really don't know how I got such an incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman to marry me, but I will do all that I can to support her, and do my own thing, so we can share a wonderful life.
A line I heard recently, "I will never be hurt by someone else doing well." It's a good way to live. Lets you really hope the best for other people, spouse or not.
Those of us who live in New York live this truth on a daily basis.
Sometimes, you just meet a person who isn't quite all there. It's hard to tell at first, but then you talk with them for a little while and it just becomes abundantly clear if they're two eggs short of an omelette.
The stories of how you find out are so interesting. But yet, they teach us to look for clues when we interact with others.