Author Topic: income imbalance in a relationship  (Read 11104 times)

FIFoFum

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #50 on: July 18, 2018, 02:33:16 PM »
Lots of good advice already.

I think it's realistic to consider both that:

- OP is using a professional/white collar mindset about how things work in retail/blue collar jobs that ignores partner's reality and lived experience. The low pay or poor work conditions aren't likely a consequence of partner failing to "show gumption" or ask for raises, for example.

AND

- partner seems comfortable automatically shifting the cost of living true to their values to someone else (here - it's OP). It's fine to say you don't want to work a less fulfilling higher pay job or to reject entire fields of work for toxic culture. It's another thing to make these choices and expect someone else will foot the bill of making this work.

What doesn't make sense is OP blaming the employers here. The OP is not subsidizing the business practices. OP is subsidizing partner's choices. Period.

OP - it sounds like you're on the path to good communication with your partner, which is really what this comes down to. I agree with those above who said it's really a conversation about your choices and boundaries (e.g., having your car) and how to blend your finances & decisions as a workable couple. If you're constantly having resentment related to how you were treated before, I'd look into what's changed since you and partner got back together and really let go the past. If you're having resentment about stuff that is ongoing, that's something for a conversation - or MANY - with your partner.

Hargrove

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #51 on: July 18, 2018, 03:22:45 PM »
Also, I don't know that there's much you can do to get retail employees treated as "not expendable," except to have great relationships with really good bosses. Being financially independent so that you can't be taken advantage of easily is also helpful, but won't change the nature of retail work.

It's fine to reject environments of toxic masculinity on his part, but hopefully it motivates towards (something else). I don't see running a bike shop as anything shameful OR virtuous.

Income imbalance in a relationship is pretty common. Nearly total imbalance used to be the norm. You may need to identify new boundaries and rules in the modern era, but there's no reason an income imbalance can't be overcome by parties willing to overcome it.

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #52 on: July 18, 2018, 03:29:59 PM »
He should ask his boss if he can drive a company vehicle to and from work, or even between the two stores with the final leg of the commute done by walking/biking (solving the parking as well). I'm sure there are deliveries going between the stores from time to time and likely that the van has already been purchased.

FWIW my wife earns nothing other than passive income on the investments held in her name, this doesn't come up in conversations about my work!

galliver

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #53 on: July 18, 2018, 07:21:19 PM »
I think even when people keep largely separate finances, it can sometimes be hard to disentangle the exact financial impacts people have on each other as partners in a couple. Is it your bf's choice of job that is forcing this issue of a car commute, or is it your choice of housing? If you weren't part of the equation, is it possible he would find a housing arrangement biking-distance from the new shop?

My higher-earning bf followed me halfway across the country (I wish it was for a lucrative job, but actually my PhD advisor moved schools...). His work wasn't interrupted, but it was a more expensive area, we basically needed a car, and some moving expenses weren't covered. We did improve in a few categories (food, utilities) and no longer had to travel to see each other, so our base expenses, somewhat surprisingly, barely changed. But in the more optional stuff, whether it's getting things for the apartment, entertainment, eating out, travel, etc. there is definitely a degree of influence on each other and I suspect it mostly bumps expenses up... I haven't felt right either denying him a thing or experience he wants or the pleasure of my company if I could afford it, but I also haven't always felt right saying "if you want it, you pay for it." When it's something I know I will enjoy or use, doing so makes me feel like I'm taking advantage. (To that end, I have also insisted we  contribute to joint expenses 50/50 and not income-based split, as long as said expenses were IMO reasonably within my/our budget).

I'm not necessarily saying you are bumping your bf's expenses upwards, perhaps you are both the higher earner and the more frugal one in the partnership. Perhaps he lives with you rent-free, or you split shared expenses by relative income which might account for any spendier choices you make based on your income. You haven't said. But I think before jumping to "his potential commute would impact my bottom line," it's worth contemplating how your choices impact his career options, transportation options, expenses, and so forth. You talk about "your money" and "his money" which  makes me think you don't have your expenses completely pooled...in which case why is the cost of his commute coming out of "your money" (or your car's worth) and not out of his discretionary expenses, anyway? My bf technically owns our car, but we've been sharing all the running expenses (gas, insurance, repairs, registration) in return for my right to drive the car if/when I need to. I have no idea if it works out perfectly mathematically, but it seems fair to us. Even if I'm not directly contributing to the depreciation, I'm offsetting his costs for insurance, etc. that he'd have to pay in full otherwise. I don't know if you already do something like that, or if it would work for you; you're welcome to consider it.

With respect to an income imbalance generally...that's not at all an unusual situation historically, I'm sure you realize what I mean. How is your situation fundamentally different than that your grandparents likely experienced? How do your expectations differ from their expectations of each other, and why? To this end I liked the advice of @FIFoFum and @Candace. It's kind of unclear to me what the problem is...if your partner really is a lazy bum who wants to live above his means using your money, or if he contributes in other ways that you aren't seeing/appreciating while focusing on the money, or if you're unhappy with your current standard of living and want him to make more, or if you're happy with your lifestyle but something inside you rebels against the idea of supporting/subsidizing your partner...maybe you were generally raised with very self-reliant ideals and expectations, maybe it's a gender-roles thing and it seems if you are making more and he benefits (even indirectly), he's taking advantage? I think it matters a lot what the situation is...the first one is a huge red flag. The latter ones, I think you could work/think your way out of...you're collectively making $160k/year together (and I assume there are raises in your future if not his). You're worrying about a possible change of something like $1-2k/year ($10.5k miles at $0.54, less $5k raise minus some taxes)...in my field, that's measurement error! You'll be ok if you want to be!

Radagast

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #54 on: July 18, 2018, 10:31:14 PM »
I feel like the message I get (especially as a woman who is more educated or professionally mobile than her partner) is that socio-economic opposites can't ever work.  I want that to not be the case and I guess this whole car thing just brings up those deeper concerns.  I felt like, because MMM is focused on financial self-betterment (and fostering a community that enables that) there might be some interesting insight here.  I guess I'm kind of disappointed to hear alot of the comments echo the negativity I've heard elsewhere about romantic partnerships in which the people were dealt very different socio-economic hands and, consequently, negotiate financial decisions very differently.
It has long been recognized that there is a vocal "pro-divorce" crowd here who immediately suggests ending a relationship at the first sign of disagreement or difficulty. Feel free to ignore them at your convenience and do what is best based on your first hand knowledge of your situation.

Villanelle

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #55 on: July 19, 2018, 12:14:10 AM »
Even your follow up posts smacks of judgement. (The comment about how he's not using his 401k, for example.)

I think you want to be someone who doesn't care what your partner does or makes but you are not that person.  So you pay lip service to it, but you can't actually integrate the concept in to your life because it isn't true to your feelings. 

I don't think you necessarily need to break up with him.  But I think you need to be far more honest with yourself and with him about your feelings surrounding money, and this is even more true since you plan to marry.  Maybe he will get that raise.  I suspect that if he does, he is likely reaching the high end of his earning potential.  Ever.  Sure, he might get lucky, but he has a skill set that is a dime a dozen, from the sounds of it, and has nothing about it (danger, unpleasant conditions, etc.) that makes it worth much on the labor market.  So this is your life with him, probably forever.  *If* he gets that $5-8k raise, and that is the only raise he sees for the next decade, excepting *maybe* a couple percent a year for inflation, can you *truly* live with that?  if so, under what terms?  Personally, I'd think I'd be okay with a medium-income earner (which is what he is), but not if he wasn't contributing to rent and transportation expenses, among other things.  I'd be okay paying more than 50%, but never, ever 100% when he has the means to contribute.  I've seen several friends split things based on % of income.  If you make 75% of the household income, you pay 75% of the bills.  This seems fair and reasonable, though there are several other fair and reasonable ways to divide things as well.  Generally, "I pay all of X, Y, and Z and you pay none, even though you have a reasonable income" isn't one of them and few people are going to live that way long term and not feel resentment (for the higher earner/payer) or shame and excessive obligation and perhaps resentment at not getting as much of a say (for the low earner/non-payer).  And based on your posts, it seems like you are feeling the things associated with the latter, but you are trying to tell yourself you are okay with it, rather than dealing with it and having hard conversations in which you guys might have some very difficult and awkward disagreements.

You aren't doing yourself, him, or your relationship any favors but not being more candid and by not acknowledging that you clearly *do* have some negative feelings about the current set up.  It does seem a bit off to me that as a student, you paid your way, but as a lower (than you) income earner, he is not.  You aren't a greedy bitch for not being okay with that.  It does seem inequitable and unreasonable.  If that's what you feel, that's fine and normal and reasonable.  But that situation is that way because you've let it be.  So no longer let it be.

In your shoes, I think I'd tell him that in 3 months, he needs to have transportation, and that once his transportation is sorted out, you really need him to start contributing to the mortgage, and that you propose (but are willing to negotiate or try a different approach is he has other suggestions) a % of his income proportion to the % of his income that makes up your total household income. 

Also, it sounds like you really need to hash out things like shared expenses. (What about when the a/c dies or you need a new roof?) And especially retirement.  I don't think this relationship is fatally flawed by any means, but if you don't address your clear resentments head on, you may well be dealing it a fatal blow.  Similarly, if he isn't willing to step up and start using is sufficient income to actually contribute to the things in life he uses, he may be killing the relationship, but if that is the case, the sooner you know the better.

Good luck.  Brutal assessment and the resulting conversations can be painful and tough, but it's what is necessary. 

Noodle

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #56 on: July 19, 2018, 06:41:27 AM »
A lot of posters have given good advice about the apparent relationship dynamics here so I will just say--it looks like your financial issues are partly coming from the fact that you are in a weird grey area, where you are sort of merged but sort of separate. In a relationship where everything is "ours" it would be natural for the partner with the longer commute to take the newer car on the days when he's commuting (or the bigger car when he needs to transport the kids, or the car closer to the end of the driveway to go to the grocery store). In a relationship where everything is financially separate, you'd drive him to the used-car lot to pick out the beater he's going to buy to get to work and otherwise stay out of it. In this in-between area, everything has to be negotiated so you have to have really great communication skills and trust and will probably have to have some uncomfortable conversations to work things out. I think you will be happier if you pick a lane and commit to the advantages and disadvantages of it.

bognish

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #57 on: July 19, 2018, 12:07:28 PM »
I have no idea what 19 miles in Atalanta look like, but he works in a bike shop. He must be able to get a great deal on a commuter ebike. Maybe he uses the car on weekdays and bike on the weekend? Seems like a great way to sell them to suburban commuters "hey I commute here on my ebike". Take the job as a trial period and see if you both can make the split car/bike commute work for 4 months. If you are not happier and the raise has not occurred reevaluate and come up with a new plan. Its not like this has to be a one time decision you are stuck with for 20 years.

jlcnuke

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #58 on: July 19, 2018, 01:42:06 PM »
I have no idea what 19 miles in Atalanta look like, but he works in a bike shop. He must be able to get a great deal on a commuter ebike. Maybe he uses the car on weekdays and bike on the weekend? Seems like a great way to sell them to suburban commuters "hey I commute here on my ebike". Take the job as a trial period and see if you both can make the split car/bike commute work for 4 months. If you are not happier and the raise has not occurred reevaluate and come up with a new plan. Its not like this has to be a one time decision you are stuck with for 20 years.

Atlanta traffic is absolutely terrible. I won't ride my motorcycle in the city or even the suburbs anywhere near rush hour (which starts about 5:30am and lasts ~3 1/2 hours) because of fear for my safety. There are almost no bike lanes, there is no room, there are almost no commuters that even look for other cars before changing lanes, much less a bicyclist, etc.  If it were a couple miles in some of the nicer suburbs, I'd recommend biking anyway probably. Anywhere near the city? I wouldn't consider it at normal traffic times without extenuating circumstances.

one piece at a time

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #59 on: July 19, 2018, 03:55:49 PM »
I have no idea what 19 miles in Atalanta look like, but he works in a bike shop. He must be able to get a great deal on a commuter ebike. Maybe he uses the car on weekdays and bike on the weekend? Seems like a great way to sell them to suburban commuters "hey I commute here on my ebike". Take the job as a trial period and see if you both can make the split car/bike commute work for 4 months. If you are not happier and the raise has not occurred reevaluate and come up with a new plan. Its not like this has to be a one time decision you are stuck with for 20 years.

Atlanta traffic is absolutely terrible. I won't ride my motorcycle in the city or even the suburbs anywhere near rush hour (which starts about 5:30am and lasts ~3 1/2 hours) because of fear for my safety. There are almost no bike lanes, there is no room, there are almost no commuters that even look for other cars before changing lanes, much less a bicyclist, etc.  If it were a couple miles in some of the nicer suburbs, I'd recommend biking anyway probably. Anywhere near the city? I wouldn't consider it at normal traffic times without extenuating circumstances.

...a little off topic, but I've always found that the worse the traffic is, the safer it is on a motorbike. Filter to the front at lights; zip off to the next set of traffic; wait for the next red light; repeat.

jlcnuke

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #60 on: July 19, 2018, 04:22:27 PM »
I have no idea what 19 miles in Atalanta look like, but he works in a bike shop. He must be able to get a great deal on a commuter ebike. Maybe he uses the car on weekdays and bike on the weekend? Seems like a great way to sell them to suburban commuters "hey I commute here on my ebike". Take the job as a trial period and see if you both can make the split car/bike commute work for 4 months. If you are not happier and the raise has not occurred reevaluate and come up with a new plan. Its not like this has to be a one time decision you are stuck with for 20 years.

Atlanta traffic is absolutely terrible. I won't ride my motorcycle in the city or even the suburbs anywhere near rush hour (which starts about 5:30am and lasts ~3 1/2 hours) because of fear for my safety. There are almost no bike lanes, there is no room, there are almost no commuters that even look for other cars before changing lanes, much less a bicyclist, etc.  If it were a couple miles in some of the nicer suburbs, I'd recommend biking anyway probably. Anywhere near the city? I wouldn't consider it at normal traffic times without extenuating circumstances.

...a little off topic, but I've always found that the worse the traffic is, the safer it is on a motorbike. Filter to the front at lights; zip off to the next set of traffic; wait for the next red light; repeat.
If that was remotely legal here if maybe consider it... But probably not as someone would cut you off or open their door etc here if they saw that happening.

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Calvawt

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #61 on: July 19, 2018, 05:45:08 PM »
ebella-  I read your initial post and had some takeaways, but the context you added in your lengthy reply cleared up all of that.  I think sometimes choices can be negatively monetarily, but still positive overall.  Remember to see the big picture, a few thousand each year won't make your FIRE date much different, but it could make a big difference to you or your SO's happiness.  If he doesn't prioritize savings as much (401k example), just realize you have to let it land in the middle sometimes, not just on the side of your preference.

I make a ridiculous salary.  If my wife went back to work, even with her college degree, she would make maybe 15% of what I do.  I have had to accept that it is our income and that was hard for me as a finance person.  I don't always like some of the choices, but she works hard too raising our kids and deserves to be treated as an equal partner.  I realize you are not married, but I think you are getting to the same conclusion.  We still argue about spending and savings sometimes, but I don't take it to heart like I used to.

Good luck!

One

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #62 on: July 19, 2018, 07:19:16 PM »
Long story short, I make 3 times what my partner does.  I've got a professional degree (and ensuing student debt) and he's a blue collar dude with no degree and some credit card debt (incurred when we were long distance).  We've been together for many years; last year I relocated to a better job market and he came along this year once he got a job in his line of work (bicycles).  I've just purchased my first home in the center of the city so that commuting costs are zero for me because I can take public transit which my employer pays. 
His commuting costs were also zero....until recently when his employer wanted to promote him to manage a different location which is 19 miles from where we live (in the suburbs) and not easily accessible via transit or bike given the delight that is Atlanta suburban traffic.  They've offered to give him a $5000 raise ($40k from $35k).  I'm not happy about this because 1) this does not cover the IRS .54 per mile commuting cost and 2) he will be using my 2008 Subaru outback (he has no car) which I have paid off, intend to drive into the ground, and do not like to get lots of miles or and 3) that is our only car and, because he works on weekends, this means I will have no car on weekends. So basically, I (and my car) are subsidizing this commute which, is, essentially, a net decrease in take his home pay and our joint income.  He is unhappy at the current location where he works and thinks he will be happier at this other location and that it is a step up (as it is management) and its the nature of the bike industry. He also says there will be bonuses and they will look at raises in the Fall.
 I don't disagree with him trying to be happier or move up and I don't disagree that the bike industry is pretty shitty in terms of renumeration.  But I've seen this before in 2 other bike stores.  Last year, he got in credit card debt because he was commuting almost 2 hours a day but he took it because it was the only bike store offering health insurance.  At the bike store before that,where he got no health insurance and which is now probably about to go out of business, he kept being promised raises but they never materialized.  He was not particularly happy with managing either place but he loves bikes and people and, without a college education, can't imagine doing much else.  He could easily get a contracting job but says he would hate that. 
At the end of the day, I want him to be happy but I also feel like, when I bear the costs for this sort of thing, it perpetuates this cycle of him working for employers that are not willing to invest in him and (at some points) have directly stated that they don't need to pay compensate him with a livable wage because I have a good job.  I don't care that he makes less than I do and cannot contribute as much, but this particular scenario, really grates on me because its directly causing a net decrease for me.  I can't infantilize him and tell him he can't do it but, if he doesn't get a raise in the fall and isn't appreciably happier and more relaxed with work, I think I will insist that he start looking for other employers.
My question is, how do people deal with this sort of financial and professional imbalance while respecting that one's partner was born into different advantages and has different professional opportunities?  I'm going to try to have us do a budget tonight and I've laid out my long term goals re: paying off my student debt and mortgage pretty clearly.  I'd like him to have his goals laid out too but I don't want him to feel like I'm giving him some sort of financial ultimatum.  Please help with any stories of your own or advice,

Sounds like a good guy, he has a job, maybe loan him the car.

carolina822

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #63 on: July 20, 2018, 12:36:12 AM »
   I've just generally shouldered my financial burdens alone (with the immense privilege of my family's generosity in paying for part of my education and in leaving me something when they died) and assume I always will.  So I don't know how to balance that self-supporting role (which, in this case, is telling me "you pay a higher mortgage so you can avoid using your car!") with a partnership where the other person may need my financial support more often than I need theirs.

This part of your post jumped out at me. Yes, you've worked hard and done well, but as you acknowledge, you had privileges and a safety net that your partner doesn't. For someone without a degree or family money that they can fall back on, taking a promotion to management, even if the money isn't all that great, may seem like one hell of a step up in career prospects. It may or may not work out that way, but I'd be hard-pressed to tell the guy to keep turning a wrench instead of moving up in the company for the sake of not having a commute.

 (On a side note, I'm not a clown car person at all, but even living ITP, there is nowayinhell I would live in Atlanta without a car, and there is nofuckingway I would just give mine to someone else every weekend, for whatever reason. 40k is plenty of money to afford a reasonable car and a 20 mile commute.)

I think your boyfriend sounds like a fun person to be around and he doesn't appear to be afraid of working, which is good. I don't think you're some kind of harpy making unreasonable demands either, I just see two people with different life experiences who need to figure out how to work together.

Dee18

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #64 on: July 20, 2018, 05:13:02 AM »
I lived in Atlanta for many years and from my experience I think you were very smart to buy close in.  You probably already thought of this, but I know Marta allows bikes on the subway and on all the buses.  Is there some combination of riding to the bus/train by bike and then riding from the bus/train by bike to the shop that is feasible? My experience was that Marta was only useful for going to downtown and back out, so there may not be, but with every bus now having a bike rack it might work. 

jezebel

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #65 on: July 20, 2018, 07:57:35 AM »
   I've just generally shouldered my financial burdens alone (with the immense privilege of my family's generosity in paying for part of my education and in leaving me something when they died) and assume I always will.  So I don't know how to balance that self-supporting role (which, in this case, is telling me "you pay a higher mortgage so you can avoid using your car!") with a partnership where the other person may need my financial support more often than I need theirs.

This part of your post jumped out at me. Yes, you've worked hard and done well, but as you acknowledge, you had privileges and a safety net that your partner doesn't. For someone without a degree or family money that they can fall back on, taking a promotion to management, even if the money isn't all that great, may seem like one hell of a step up in career prospects. It may or may not work out that way, but I'd be hard-pressed to tell the guy to keep turning a wrench instead of moving up in the company for the sake of not having a commute.

 (On a side note, I'm not a clown car person at all, but even living ITP, there is nowayinhell I would live in Atlanta without a car, and there is nofuckingway I would just give mine to someone else every weekend, for whatever reason. 40k is plenty of money to afford a reasonable car and a 20 mile commute.)

I think your boyfriend sounds like a fun person to be around and he doesn't appear to be afraid of working, which is good. I don't think you're some kind of harpy making unreasonable demands either, I just see two people with different life experiences who need to figure out how to work together.

On the car thing, my spouse and I shared a car (mine) for several years before we were married and for a while after that.  We lived close to my job for a chunk of that and I frequently walked to work, by preference, or was dropped off to avoid the crazy downtown parking situation.  Prior to that we took turns dropping each off at school and work, depending on schedule.  Lots of families have to share a car.  It's not ideal, but it's doable if you don't want to get a second car, which we didn't.

GuitarStv

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #66 on: July 20, 2018, 08:56:12 AM »
   I've just generally shouldered my financial burdens alone (with the immense privilege of my family's generosity in paying for part of my education and in leaving me something when they died) and assume I always will.  So I don't know how to balance that self-supporting role (which, in this case, is telling me "you pay a higher mortgage so you can avoid using your car!") with a partnership where the other person may need my financial support more often than I need theirs.

This part of your post jumped out at me. Yes, you've worked hard and done well, but as you acknowledge, you had privileges and a safety net that your partner doesn't. For someone without a degree or family money that they can fall back on, taking a promotion to management, even if the money isn't all that great, may seem like one hell of a step up in career prospects. It may or may not work out that way, but I'd be hard-pressed to tell the guy to keep turning a wrench instead of moving up in the company for the sake of not having a commute.

 (On a side note, I'm not a clown car person at all, but even living ITP, there is nowayinhell I would live in Atlanta without a car, and there is nofuckingway I would just give mine to someone else every weekend, for whatever reason. 40k is plenty of money to afford a reasonable car and a 20 mile commute.)

I think your boyfriend sounds like a fun person to be around and he doesn't appear to be afraid of working, which is good. I don't think you're some kind of harpy making unreasonable demands either, I just see two people with different life experiences who need to figure out how to work together.

On the car thing, my spouse and I shared a car (mine) for several years before we were married and for a while after that.  We lived close to my job for a chunk of that and I frequently walked to work, by preference, or was dropped off to avoid the crazy downtown parking situation.  Prior to that we took turns dropping each off at school and work, depending on schedule.  Lots of families have to share a car.  It's not ideal, but it's doable if you don't want to get a second car, which we didn't.

+1

I shared a car with my wife for the first ten years out of university.  Although coordinating getting to work in the morning was a hassle, it saved us a tremendous amount of money.

bluebelle

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #67 on: July 20, 2018, 10:25:35 AM »
I don't want to start a firestorm, but gender equality still doesn't exist, and there are lots of societal pressures and expectations between men's and women's roles....it's still okay for the 'wife' to have a hobby job, while the big strong man is the breadwinner.  Hell, it's still common for people to talk about men 'babysitting' their own children, and how men 'help out' around the house, like either of those aren't 50% their job.

!e may have come a long way baby, but we're not equal yet.

I make more than double what my husband does, and money is "our" money, but I don't talk raises or bonuses alot with him because I worry that he'll "feel bad". 

https://globalnews.ca/news/4341645/women-lie-about-their-salary/

partgypsy

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #68 on: July 20, 2018, 10:32:57 AM »
If having him take the car on weekends doesn't work for you, tell him that.  You say you don't want to infantilize him, but that seems to be exactly what you are doing.  Be up front--I really want this job for you, but being stuck without the car just isn't going to work for me.  t.

I agree with this. You seem to have a lot of unvoiced assumptions of what he should be doing, and what he should be spending his money on. You don't want him borrowing your car. But it sounds like you don't want him to get a vehicle because you feel his money should be going to paying off debts.
 
Yes, you are in a relationship, but ultimately he decides what kind of job he wants, what he is willing to be paid, and what he will spend his money on. If borrowing your car is a no go, just tell him. He will need to get alternate transportation up to and including getting his own car. He is not a child. I do feel for you. Moving from a 1 car to a 2 car household sucks.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2018, 10:45:55 AM by partgypsy »

lhamo

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #69 on: July 20, 2018, 10:45:05 AM »
I still think it would be helpful to know exactly what the parameters of the debt are here on both sides (are we talking 10k or 100s of ks?), and what the general monthly budget is.  I'm having a hard time getting my brain around why buying a beater is such a big deal for a household earning 160k/year.

jezebel

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #70 on: July 20, 2018, 11:00:01 AM »
I don't want to start a firestorm, but gender equality still doesn't exist, and there are lots of societal pressures and expectations between men's and women's roles....it's still okay for the 'wife' to have a hobby job, while the big strong man is the breadwinner.  Hell, it's still common for people to talk about men 'babysitting' their own children, and how men 'help out' around the house, like either of those aren't 50% their job.

!e may have come a long way baby, but we're not equal yet.

I make more than double what my husband does, and money is "our" money, but I don't talk raises or bonuses alot with him because I worry that he'll "feel bad". 

https://globalnews.ca/news/4341645/women-lie-about-their-salary/

I am confused about what this has to do with the OP's situation.  There may be many men who are still uncomfortable with being out-earned, and that's evidence of a bigger problem I suppose, but the OP hasn't mentioned it being in issue in her relationship.  And for what it's worth, I know many men who, unlike your husband apparently, are quite pleased with their wife's high(er) income.  I happen to run in circles where this is very common.

expatartist

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #71 on: July 20, 2018, 12:31:59 PM »
It sounds a little to me like the OP is dealing with some feelings of resentment. When she was a poor student, she paid half her way even though her partner had an income. During this time, she was not allowed to use her partner's truck. A whole bunch of events and trade-offs ensued.

....

Now that the tables are somewhat turned, where she actually bought a house partially to accommodate his belongings, and her perception is he seems to assume he's entitled to use her truck to commute, leaving her without a vehicle in the Atlanta suburbs (not exactly bike-friendly), in order to take a job transfer she's not sure is actually in his best interest or theirs. When she was a student she couldn't use his vehicle, but now he expects to use hers on a daily basis.

From a wider perspective, I hear a constant drip of anxiety that his background and his skill/education level are at least somewhat playing into what the OP might see as un-advantageous decision making pattern on her partner's part. My perception is that she is anxious that this pattern will end up affecting her and their relationship disproportionately (e.g., him basically making her car his car, leaving her without a car, so he can pursue his job). There is a little bit of negativity and more than a little bit of "mine vs. his" mentality going on, which might be a self-defense mechanism brought on partially due to her not completely accepting his pattern of decision-making as part of who he is. They actually split up and got back together in the past, and the split happened after she spent some time sacrificing her career opportunities in order to stay with him in a small town. When she decided to pursue a good career opportunity in another place, he ended up following her partially because it made financial sense for *him* to do so.

So... although on a personality and day-to-day level, she says they have a fantastic relationship, it sounds like the financial and practical side of things is a little bit shakier in terms of whether they have a match. She seems to feel that his background and the level of opportunities he has partially play into a pattern of non-optimal decision-making. I'm guessing she is afraid that pattern will continue and engender bigger problems in the future.

OP, perhaps you should at least consider having, er, a long engagement? That doesn't mean break up. That means let the financial things play out for a year or two and see how you think he's going to be as a partner 10, 20, 50 years from now. Partner means all the good stuff and all the bad stuff. Forever.

I say this as someone who's had to make peace with my DH's approach to money. My DH doesn't save much of anything. All the long-term planning is up to me. He could make more and save more, but he chooses not to. He doesn't buy anything for himself. He's a white collar professional but serves the "under-served" most of the time, and is incredibly generous with his time and goes incredibly easy on the billing. One absolutely key thing from my perspective, that makes our relationship work, is that he's unlikely to be a huge drain on my expected financial outlays on a year to year basis. We have an arrangement that works for us for our ongoing expenses. I FIRE'd last year. He probably won't retire for several years. In the long term, I expect it will be my stash that supports both of us when he decides to retire, because I can't count on him to accumulate. I've accepted that, although I don't understand or sometimes agree. What's the stash for, if not to share?

Your partner will probably never approach his career and money the same way you do. You have fundamentally different ways of looking at money and career. Since I have gone through this myself, I think I can recognize it in others. The question is, are you going to be happy with accommodating his approach? Does your relationship *as a whole work*, even if you're not happy with his approach to money? Even if you end up contributing more? Is he going to expect you to float him, and how much of that are you willing to do/can you do while having a healthy relationship that works for you?

+1, especially the bolded. Take some more time. If you get married (especially to a partner who earns much less) and things don't work out, it will be financially as well as emotionally devastating.

It's not unusual for women to feel conflicted about earning more than their partners, however modern and egalitarian we might consider ourselves to be https://www.refinery29.com/2017/04/148488/millennial-women-are-conflicted-about-being-breadwinners so cut the OP some slack. I struggled with this with my ex-H who was raised working class - in a different country - and who had an ambivalent relationship with work. He wanted kids but didn't like the strictures of a job (and work visa living overseas) required to support them. He never distinguished between a job and a career, and expected a job would fall into his lap via online applications. When I ran into this article about struggles couples have when marrying between classes https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/tension-couples-marry-across-classes/476742/ it hit home for me.

Best of luck OP as you negotiate your ways through this. He can and should get a car.

rubybeth

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #72 on: July 20, 2018, 01:08:47 PM »
We've been through alot together, I expect we will go through much more (we're getting married next year, low key).   It's not that I don't want to support him or share finances; I've just generally shouldered my financial burdens alone (with the immense privilege of my family's generosity in paying for part of my education and in leaving me something when they died) and assume I always will.  So I don't know how to balance that self-supporting role (which, in this case, is telling me "you pay a higher mortgage so you can avoid using your car!") with a partnership where the other person may need my financial support more often than I need theirs. 

I feel like the message I get (especially as a woman who is more educated or professionally mobile than her partner) is that socio-economic opposites can't ever work.  I want that to not be the case and I guess this whole car thing just brings up those deeper concerns.  I felt like, because MMM is focused on financial self-betterment (and fostering a community that enables that) there might be some interesting insight here.  I guess I'm kind of disappointed to hear alot of the comments echo the negativity I've heard elsewhere about romantic partnerships in which the people were dealt very different socio-economic hands and, consequently, negotiate financial decisions very differently.

I guess I could share my story. I've always out-earned my husband (married nearly 10 years, together for 13). I likely always will. It's absolutely fine, there's no resentment on either side, we pool our incomes so it's just "our money" and I manage the money because I like doing it and he trusts me. He can look at Mint or our spreadsheets whenever, he just isn't bothered to. I'll show him things and talk to him about investments before making them. I don't really see it as me supporting him--it's just our money, and I happen to get paid more for my work than he does. He has always worked harder than me, honestly. He just doesn't happen to get paid as much.

I also brought a lot more debt into the marriage, but we decided to pay off his smaller student loans first, then tackle mine. I think you're letting what others might think get to you. You kind of have to not give a shit that you out-earn your spouse, or turn it around in your thinking to be a positive and not a negative. I'm pretty proud of the work I put in to get where I am in my career, whereas my husband is just getting started in his career (finished a graduate degree in 2016). I look at our combined incomes as an achievement, not just my income, and his income, as separate things.

I can see being annoyed that his employer is mistreating him--that's a fair point, but that's up to him to negotiate. For years, my husband worked in a place that didn't value him, but he said he wanted to stay until his 401k was fully vested and he felt it was time to move on, and I supported him in that decision. He eventually switched to part-time work, and then ultimately quit when he started his graduate school coursework full time.

I grew up middle class and had some definite advantages from my parents, while DH was the opposite--single parent, no-frills childhood. We come from different places financially but we honestly agree on finances most of the time; we discuss large purchases (and to us, anything $100 or more is "large") before making them, we agree on financial goals, etc. Again, I am not bothered that my family has afforded us more opportunities than his family. I don't really keep score in that way. I think you'll need to work on your mind set when it comes to money and "contributing." Don't keep score, don't even try--you'll end up with even more resentment.

Reddleman

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #73 on: July 22, 2018, 01:06:34 PM »
I hear the tone here.  But we all know that the internet leaves little nuance.  Since the OP was writing out of frustration, things are bound to come out snarkier than they need to be.  It would have been really interesting to hear what he would have posted from his point of view.

So here's my take- I'm pretty similar to the OP's significant other (actually a certified bike mechanic too, but not working as one!). Let me tell you about it from my perspective.

I'm a teacher, and while I make a decent wage (over the U.S. average) my wife makes more than twice what I do.  I'm in a profession where wages pretty much rise with inflation, and she's the ambitious one.  I out-earned her for exactly one year when we first moved to our current location- then she got a promotion.  The gap has just grown since then.  So I come from a relationship with a pretty big financial imbalance in favor of the female earner, and it's definitely possible!  In fact, I know of several couples in long-term relationships (some for decades) where women regularly and consistently out-earn their SOs.

1. I'm not going to lie.  Society expects men to be primary breadwinners.  As much as I'm excited that my wife enjoys her work and is well compensated, it still feels a little "odd" at times.  I wouldn't be surprised if he feels this too, and if you criticize his decisions or treat him like less of an equal in any way, he probably will resent it.  Notice that basically nobody cares if women make less than men in a relationship- it seems "natural". 
2. In my situation, we both have the same level of education, but she works more (ummm. . . teacher summers off!) and has some resentment/jealousy on her part at times. I would be shocked if you don't at times too.  You've done well and it seems like he's kind of slacking.  Well, compared to you, he is!  And so am I.  If this continues to bug you and/or your SO it WILL be an issue. 
3. You really do have to work this out between you in some realistic way.  Don't think this is somehow abnormal.  All people who are in long term relationships at some point have to work out the whole money thing.  It sounds like it's time to hash this out.  EVERY relationship goes through this, and it will continue to evolve over time.  While it's cropping up now because of the new job/car situation, it would have at some other point anyway.

My suggestion is to have a good discussion about it.  When you are both in a good, low stress mood, and figure out where you stand.  If he's anything like me, he'd probably be fine living as a bike mechanic in a 1-2 bedroom apartment and enjoying the mustachian dream.  While we may be a bit skewed reading these forums, $40k a year is a really decent wage, much less for doing something that you actually enjoy.  He might be a little concerned that with your income you might be wanting a different lifestyle than he is comfortable with.  Since you're posting on MMM, I'm assuming you're pretty reasonable with money, but if you haven't had "the talk", he wouldn't necessarily know that.   You have to be realistic about what you both want in the future, and how to get there.

As an aside, in my relationship it works out just fine because she hates thinking about money so I've just taken over that part of our lives as part of my "contribution".  I help find ways of saving money, have set us up to max out all of our tax advantaged accounts, etc.  Essentially, she earns it, I help to make it grow.  I also maintain the house, deal with the taxes, and all the other things she hates thinking about.  Your SO probably complements you in many ways, financially and otherwise.  If you both have important roles in the financial part of the relationship, have similar goals, and value each other, it's really pretty wonderful! 

Big issues aside here's some practical advice.  First- if this is a serious, long-term relationship you really should start thinking about it as "our money" to some extent not "yours" and "his".  If he's making $40k and your lifestyle is $80k a year or less (as it should be, right?) all the rest that you make is for investing and growing!  If this means that you both max out your 401ks, he takes home less, and you pick up more of the rent/expenses.  Maybe his first paycheck or two goes towards that (reliable) beater truck for his commute? 

Together you are both doing really well financially- way better than the average U.S. household.  You've got plenty of financial resources to work this out.  As long as you can get on the same page and work towards the same goals, you're in great shape!

bluebelle

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #74 on: July 22, 2018, 01:17:37 PM »
I don't want to start a firestorm, but gender equality still doesn't exist, and there are lots of societal pressures and expectations between men's and women's roles....it's still okay for the 'wife' to have a hobby job, while the big strong man is the breadwinner.  Hell, it's still common for people to talk about men 'babysitting' their own children, and how men 'help out' around the house, like either of those aren't 50% their job.

!e may have come a long way baby, but we're not equal yet.

I make more than double what my husband does, and money is "our" money, but I don't talk raises or bonuses alot with him because I worry that he'll "feel bad". 

https://globalnews.ca/news/4341645/women-lie-about-their-salary/

I am confused about what this has to do with the OP's situation.  There may be many men who are still uncomfortable with being out-earned, and that's evidence of a bigger problem I suppose, but the OP hasn't mentioned it being in issue in her relationship.  And for what it's worth, I know many men who, unlike your husband apparently, are quite pleased with their wife's high(er) income.  I happen to run in circles where this is very common.

I didn't actually say that my husband had a problem with me making more.   I don't think he does.  The point I was trying to make (albeit unsuccuessfully), was that women still have some very mixed ideas about gender roles.....and maybe the OP has a little of that going on.

Stupendous

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #75 on: July 22, 2018, 04:55:38 PM »
Get used to supporting him if he doesn't leave the bike shop industry or go find someone with an education and good job.

Maybe a solution to both of your problems would be for him to start his own bike shop close to your house. It would certainly mean a financial hit initially, and of course is also risky longer term, but I guess it depends on how financially secure you currently are.

The bike shop industry is very tough and with high probability it would go out of business.

SimpleCycle

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #76 on: July 23, 2018, 08:17:40 AM »
I had a similar reaction to a lot of the other posters, and I think what I reacted to was the extent to which you feel you have influence and control over his choices.  To me, that does not seem like a healthy relationship dynamic.

I honestly think you need to make peace with his desire to work in the bike industry, despite circumstances you personally wouldn't want to put up with.  It's his passion and his career, and he is an adult and gets to make his own choices.

So if you do that, you also need to come up with a way to approach financial goals equitably (note I don't say equally).  And it's fine if that includes him not having access to your car to commute.  Let him figure out the alternative arrangement (it sounds like you've already made progress here).  The problem overall seems to be that you both want to make your own choices independently of him, and want to influence his choices.  That's not really fair - you need to approach decision making as equals.

jezebel

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #77 on: July 23, 2018, 09:45:51 AM »
I don't want to start a firestorm, but gender equality still doesn't exist, and there are lots of societal pressures and expectations between men's and women's roles....it's still okay for the 'wife' to have a hobby job, while the big strong man is the breadwinner.  Hell, it's still common for people to talk about men 'babysitting' their own children, and how men 'help out' around the house, like either of those aren't 50% their job.

!e may have come a long way baby, but we're not equal yet.

I make more than double what my husband does, and money is "our" money, but I don't talk raises or bonuses alot with him because I worry that he'll "feel bad". 

https://globalnews.ca/news/4341645/women-lie-about-their-salary/

I am confused about what this has to do with the OP's situation.  There may be many men who are still uncomfortable with being out-earned, and that's evidence of a bigger problem I suppose, but the OP hasn't mentioned it being in issue in her relationship.  And for what it's worth, I know many men who, unlike your husband apparently, are quite pleased with their wife's high(er) income.  I happen to run in circles where this is very common.

I didn't actually say that my husband had a problem with me making more.   I don't think he does.  The point I was trying to make (albeit unsuccuessfully), was that women still have some very mixed ideas about gender roles.....and maybe the OP has a little of that going on.

Then why are you worried that he will "feel bad"?  You didn't explicitly say he had a problem with you making more, but your words certainly implied that he did.  If he didn't have a problem with your income, raises, or bonus, why would you avoid talking about it?  In any event, I still think this an odd leap, re the OP.

whywork

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #78 on: July 23, 2018, 11:25:34 AM »
I'm quite surprised at this thread. There is no love. My wife brings nothing. There are so many in my situation where the wife doesn't work. Is it that when the husband doesn't work or gets paid less it is hard for the wife to take it?

I never even asked my wife once to go find a job. I keep telling her I am happy for you and I want to be in a similar situation (= retire for me).

I see the love is missing in your post. Your belief that husbands should have equal or higher pay than wife is hurting your relationship. What if you were in his situation in the bicycle job and get the promo and your husband who is making 3 times is cribbing about you putting on miles on his car? You guys are not roommates. Think with love. Think of it as your own job and deal in the same way how you would deal. Your husband is not trying to live on you, his salary allows him to live on his own. Just think of this as two people trying to live together than like a roommate situation.

expatartist

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #79 on: July 23, 2018, 12:20:23 PM »
There are so many in my situation where the wife doesn't work. Is it that when the husband doesn't work or gets paid less it is hard for the wife to take it?

It can be, yes. It was for me. I have high expectations of myself, and to be partnered with someone who didn't was eventually unsustainable financially or emotionally.

It's important these conversations are had publicly. These internal and interpersonal conflicts are new in our culture as we hash out fresh challenges in a world where more women are being paid what we're worth, and men are able to expand the definition of masculinity. It's complicated, and not particularly helpful to judge whether a stranger loves their partner from a few paragraphs on the internet.

whywork

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #80 on: July 23, 2018, 02:51:38 PM »
It's complicated, and not particularly helpful to judge whether a stranger loves their partner from a few paragraphs on the internet.

Agreed. I just spoke my mind (which has its own biases and judgements).

one piece at a time

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #81 on: July 23, 2018, 03:17:04 PM »

a world where more women are being paid what we're worth

Women are paid the least amount possible for them to turn up.  The same is true for men. Other systems have been tried but those folks end up starving to death. On average, many women have chosen jobs that have an ample supply of willing workers which has suppressed wages. When you grow up you might learn why they (on average) chose those jobs.

MOD EDIT: Don't be rude. Forum rule #1
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 06:51:10 AM by arebelspy »

MrMoneySaver

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #82 on: July 23, 2018, 04:21:54 PM »
I hear the tone here.  But we all know that the internet leaves little nuance.  Since the OP was writing out of frustration, things are bound to come out snarkier than they need to be.  It would have been really interesting to hear what he would have posted from his point of view.

So here's my take- I'm pretty similar to the OP's significant other (actually a certified bike mechanic too, but not working as one!). Let me tell you about it from my perspective.

I'm a teacher, and while I make a decent wage (over the U.S. average) my wife makes more than twice what I do.  I'm in a profession where wages pretty much rise with inflation, and she's the ambitious one.  I out-earned her for exactly one year when we first moved to our current location- then she got a promotion.  The gap has just grown since then.  So I come from a relationship with a pretty big financial imbalance in favor of the female earner, and it's definitely possible!  In fact, I know of several couples in long-term relationships (some for decades) where women regularly and consistently out-earn their SOs.

1. I'm not going to lie.  Society expects men to be primary breadwinners.  As much as I'm excited that my wife enjoys her work and is well compensated, it still feels a little "odd" at times.  I wouldn't be surprised if he feels this too, and if you criticize his decisions or treat him like less of an equal in any way, he probably will resent it.  Notice that basically nobody cares if women make less than men in a relationship- it seems "natural". 
2. In my situation, we both have the same level of education, but she works more (ummm. . . teacher summers off!) and has some resentment/jealousy on her part at times. I would be shocked if you don't at times too.  You've done well and it seems like he's kind of slacking.  Well, compared to you, he is!  And so am I.  If this continues to bug you and/or your SO it WILL be an issue. 
3. You really do have to work this out between you in some realistic way.  Don't think this is somehow abnormal.  All people who are in long term relationships at some point have to work out the whole money thing.  It sounds like it's time to hash this out.  EVERY relationship goes through this, and it will continue to evolve over time.  While it's cropping up now because of the new job/car situation, it would have at some other point anyway.

My suggestion is to have a good discussion about it.  When you are both in a good, low stress mood, and figure out where you stand.  If he's anything like me, he'd probably be fine living as a bike mechanic in a 1-2 bedroom apartment and enjoying the mustachian dream.  While we may be a bit skewed reading these forums, $40k a year is a really decent wage, much less for doing something that you actually enjoy.  He might be a little concerned that with your income you might be wanting a different lifestyle than he is comfortable with.  Since you're posting on MMM, I'm assuming you're pretty reasonable with money, but if you haven't had "the talk", he wouldn't necessarily know that.   You have to be realistic about what you both want in the future, and how to get there.

As an aside, in my relationship it works out just fine because she hates thinking about money so I've just taken over that part of our lives as part of my "contribution".  I help find ways of saving money, have set us up to max out all of our tax advantaged accounts, etc.  Essentially, she earns it, I help to make it grow.  I also maintain the house, deal with the taxes, and all the other things she hates thinking about.  Your SO probably complements you in many ways, financially and otherwise.  If you both have important roles in the financial part of the relationship, have similar goals, and value each other, it's really pretty wonderful! 

Big issues aside here's some practical advice.  First- if this is a serious, long-term relationship you really should start thinking about it as "our money" to some extent not "yours" and "his".  If he's making $40k and your lifestyle is $80k a year or less (as it should be, right?) all the rest that you make is for investing and growing!  If this means that you both max out your 401ks, he takes home less, and you pick up more of the rent/expenses.  Maybe his first paycheck or two goes towards that (reliable) beater truck for his commute? 

Together you are both doing really well financially- way better than the average U.S. household.  You've got plenty of financial resources to work this out.  As long as you can get on the same page and work towards the same goals, you're in great shape!

This is a great post. Couldn't say it any better.

Exhale

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #83 on: July 23, 2018, 04:34:47 PM »
Perhaps you and your SO could submit a MMM case study together?

use2betrix

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #84 on: July 23, 2018, 08:25:55 PM »
I don't want to start a firestorm, but gender equality still doesn't exist, and there are lots of societal pressures and expectations between men's and women's roles....it's still okay for the 'wife' to have a hobby job, while the big strong man is the breadwinner.  Hell, it's still common for people to talk about men 'babysitting' their own children, and how men 'help out' around the house, like either of those aren't 50% their job.

!e may have come a long way baby, but we're not equal yet.

I make more than double what my husband does, and money is "our" money, but I don't talk raises or bonuses alot with him because I worry that he'll "feel bad". 

https://globalnews.ca/news/4341645/women-lie-about-their-salary/

I am confused about what this has to do with the OP's situation.  There may be many men who are still uncomfortable with being out-earned, and that's evidence of a bigger problem I suppose, but the OP hasn't mentioned it being in issue in her relationship.  And for what it's worth, I know many men who, unlike your husband apparently, are quite pleased with their wife's high(er) income.  I happen to run in circles where this is very common.

That is great for your relationship and your circle. That being said, statistics have shown that the majority of men AND women still believe itís more important for the man to be the sole breadwinner.

In fact, I agreed with the post you quoted here and a while back had a post typed up nearly similar and decided not to post it. I feel it may be relative here.

jezebel

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #85 on: July 23, 2018, 08:50:46 PM »
I don't want to start a firestorm, but gender equality still doesn't exist, and there are lots of societal pressures and expectations between men's and women's roles....it's still okay for the 'wife' to have a hobby job, while the big strong man is the breadwinner.  Hell, it's still common for people to talk about men 'babysitting' their own children, and how men 'help out' around the house, like either of those aren't 50% their job.

!e may have come a long way baby, but we're not equal yet.

I make more than double what my husband does, and money is "our" money, but I don't talk raises or bonuses alot with him because I worry that he'll "feel bad". 

https://globalnews.ca/news/4341645/women-lie-about-their-salary/

I am confused about what this has to do with the OP's situation.  There may be many men who are still uncomfortable with being out-earned, and that's evidence of a bigger problem I suppose, but the OP hasn't mentioned it being in issue in her relationship.  And for what it's worth, I know many men who, unlike your husband apparently, are quite pleased with their wife's high(er) income.  I happen to run in circles where this is very common.

That is great for your relationship and your circle. That being said, statistics have shown that the majority of men AND women still believe itís more important for the man to be the sole breadwinner.

In fact, I agreed with the post you quoted here and a while back had a post typed up nearly similar and decided not to post it. I feel it may be relative here.

Yes, it is nice. But I'm not trying to apply my personal circumstances on that point to the OP's. Given that she is planning to marry someone who has been making, and will continue to make substantial less money, I was seeking some clarification on what seemed like an almost sexist assumption. I totally get that other people read it differently, but that's how it sounds to me.

expatartist

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #86 on: July 23, 2018, 09:29:47 PM »

a world where more women are being paid what we're worth

Women are paid the least amount possible for them to turn up.  The same is true for men. Other systems have been tried but those folks end up starving to death. On average, many women have chosen jobs that have an ample supply of willing workers which has suppressed wages. When you grow up you might learn why they (on average) chose those jobs.

Completely uncalled for. You know nothing about me, my life, or my career choices.

Perhaps you and your SO could submit a MMM case study together?

Great idea.

gerardc

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #87 on: July 23, 2018, 11:05:39 PM »
Could you strive for more independence, i.e. don't tell him what to do, but keep finances separate and pay half of the expenses each. This way if he doesn't get a raise or doesn't save, he'll still have to be financially responsible of his part of the deal; and seeing you doing better and eventually FIRE might motivate him. I don't think you should share the stash and the FIRE, he needs to work for it, otherwise he won't be motivated to even carry his own weight. You can still make compromises on things that affect both of you (as in where to live) but in general I'd say establish clear boundaries. I'm in a similar situation as you and that's what I'm doing. Not sure what the consequences will be long-term though... is it weird to only have 1 person FIRE but not the other? IMO it's fine, because you have made the efforts and he hasn't, he should WANT to work until 65 or make the necessary adjustments... anything else is a red flag. Even if you can support him, IMO it's better not, similarly to rich parents not spoiling their kids too much.

Malkynn

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #88 on: July 24, 2018, 04:24:14 AM »
Could you strive for more independence, i.e. don't tell him what to do, but keep finances separate and pay half of the expenses each. This way if he doesn't get a raise or doesn't save, he'll still have to be financially responsible of his part of the deal; and seeing you doing better and eventually FIRE might motivate him. I don't think you should share the stash and the FIRE, he needs to work for it, otherwise he won't be motivated to even carry his own weight. You can still make compromises on things that affect both of you (as in where to live) but in general I'd say establish clear boundaries. I'm in a similar situation as you and that's what I'm doing. Not sure what the consequences will be long-term though... is it weird to only have 1 person FIRE but not the other? IMO it's fine, because you have made the efforts and he hasn't, he should WANT to work until 65 or make the necessary adjustments... anything else is a red flag. Even if you can support him, IMO it's better not, similarly to rich parents not spoiling their kids too much.

There are countless relationships out there where one partner works and the other doesnít or works very little and the Ďstache is shared.
You canít generalize. It depends on the couple.

For one couple, fair might mean each reaching FI independently and at different times, for another couple that might seem crazy. You do you, but be open to the idea that whatís right for you could be utterly wrong for others.

Thatís why itís up to each couple to be open and honest enough to be able to figure out whatís right for them in particular, and itís not always easy to figure out, but I guarantee you there is no single best arrangement for everyone.

sokoloff

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #89 on: July 24, 2018, 06:14:21 AM »
If you have bigger lungs than your competitor, all things being equal, force them to compete in a contest where oxygen is the crucial limiter. If your opponent can't swim, you make them compete in water. If they dislike the cold, set the contest in the winter, on a tundra.
Forcing equal split of expenses in the face of substantially unequal incomes is stacking the deck terribly unfairly against the lower-earning member of the contest/partnership. You have to decide whether you're more interested in winning a contest or having a successful partnership.

We chose partnership, and in choosing that, I couldn't hold any grudge that she wasn't stacking as many Benjamins as I was. If I was the type to be prone to "keeping score" like that or holding a grudge, it would be critical for me to break up with her and find someone of relatively equal earning capacity, so that we could compete together effectively in the 401K Olympics. My life would be so much worse if that's the path I chose. (This I think is where the vocal "break up with him" comments are coming from, assuming they're motivated out of practicality rather than spite.)

Could you strive for more independence, i.e. don't tell him what to do, but keep finances separate and pay half of the expenses each. This way if he doesn't get a raise or doesn't save, he'll still have to be financially responsible of his part of the deal; and seeing you doing better and eventually FIRE might motivate him. I don't think you should share the stash and the FIRE, he needs to work for it, otherwise he won't be motivated to even carry his own weight. You can still make compromises on things that affect both of you (as in where to live) but in general I'd say establish clear boundaries. I'm in a similar situation as you and that's what I'm doing. Not sure what the consequences will be long-term though... is it weird to only have 1 person FIRE but not the other? IMO it's fine, because you have made the efforts and he hasn't, he should WANT to work until 65 or make the necessary adjustments... anything else is a red flag. Even if you can support him, IMO it's better not, similarly to rich parents not spoiling their kids too much.
The fundamental problem with this arrangement is that "half the expenses" are likely to be extremely comfortable for the higher earner and taking nearly all the oxygen out of the room for the lower earner.

DW (back when she was DG) and I had an income spread of about 4x. If we'd been rigorous about splitting expenses down the middle, she'd have been starved of any opportunity to save enough money to FIRE or at a minimum, I'd have been saving 8-15x what she was saving. This would, in turn, have hurt me, because she would have been incented to reduce/stop 401K contributions in order to "keep up" and we would have felt constrained to not buy a $1.2MM house (that 10 years later is worth over $2.2MM) because she couldn't afford half of it.

Instead, we looked at what was equitable (not equal) and did what made sense for us. She insisted on paying at least her old rent figure and half the groceries/utilities. I paid the rest of the house, airplane trips, etc. It allowed both of us to live better and save better than if we'd taken a hard-line "every bill, right down the middle" approach. Now, she works from home part-time in her field and works as a mom (more than) full-time. We live in the house we (I at the time) bought 10 years ago, that has a nice little fenced in yard for the kids and dog and has added more to our net worth than anything else we could have done over that 10 year period. All the money is "ours". We manage it day-to-day in separate pots, but we each have access (logically and practically) to all of it. We're probably FI now and I plan to retire around the time the kids are finishing high school. That works for us. Maybe it wouldn't work for others.


gerardc

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #90 on: July 24, 2018, 09:22:34 AM »
Could you strive for more independence, i.e. don't tell him what to do, but keep finances separate and pay half of the expenses each. This way if he doesn't get a raise or doesn't save, he'll still have to be financially responsible of his part of the deal; and seeing you doing better and eventually FIRE might motivate him. I don't think you should share the stash and the FIRE, he needs to work for it, otherwise he won't be motivated to even carry his own weight. You can still make compromises on things that affect both of you (as in where to live) but in general I'd say establish clear boundaries. I'm in a similar situation as you and that's what I'm doing. Not sure what the consequences will be long-term though... is it weird to only have 1 person FIRE but not the other? IMO it's fine, because you have made the efforts and he hasn't, he should WANT to work until 65 or make the necessary adjustments... anything else is a red flag. Even if you can support him, IMO it's better not, similarly to rich parents not spoiling their kids too much.

There are countless relationships out there where one partner works and the other doesnít or works very little and the Ďstache is shared.
You canít generalize. It depends on the couple.

For one couple, fair might mean each reaching FI independently and at different times, for another couple that might seem crazy. You do you, but be open to the idea that whatís right for you could be utterly wrong for others.

Thatís why itís up to each couple to be open and honest enough to be able to figure out whatís right for them in particular, and itís not always easy to figure out, but I guarantee you there is no single best arrangement for everyone.

I'm totally open and not generalizing, I was just suggesting an alternate way that makes things very simple, since the OP seems struggling. They should be open to new ideas too ;)

gerardc

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #91 on: July 24, 2018, 09:42:03 AM »
If you have bigger lungs than your competitor, all things being equal, force them to compete in a contest where oxygen is the crucial limiter. If your opponent can't swim, you make them compete in water. If they dislike the cold, set the contest in the winter, on a tundra.
Forcing equal split of expenses in the face of substantially unequal incomes is stacking the deck terribly unfairly against the lower-earning member of the contest/partnership. You have to decide whether you're more interested in winning a contest or having a successful partnership.

We chose partnership, and in choosing that, I couldn't hold any grudge that she wasn't stacking as many Benjamins as I was. If I was the type to be prone to "keeping score" like that or holding a grudge, it would be critical for me to break up with her and find someone of relatively equal earning capacity, so that we could compete together effectively in the 401K Olympics. My life would be so much worse if that's the path I chose. (This I think is where the vocal "break up with him" comments are coming from, assuming they're motivated out of practicality rather than spite.)

Could you strive for more independence, i.e. don't tell him what to do, but keep finances separate and pay half of the expenses each. This way if he doesn't get a raise or doesn't save, he'll still have to be financially responsible of his part of the deal; and seeing you doing better and eventually FIRE might motivate him. I don't think you should share the stash and the FIRE, he needs to work for it, otherwise he won't be motivated to even carry his own weight. You can still make compromises on things that affect both of you (as in where to live) but in general I'd say establish clear boundaries. I'm in a similar situation as you and that's what I'm doing. Not sure what the consequences will be long-term though... is it weird to only have 1 person FIRE but not the other? IMO it's fine, because you have made the efforts and he hasn't, he should WANT to work until 65 or make the necessary adjustments... anything else is a red flag. Even if you can support him, IMO it's better not, similarly to rich parents not spoiling their kids too much.
The fundamental problem with this arrangement is that "half the expenses" are likely to be extremely comfortable for the higher earner and taking nearly all the oxygen out of the room for the lower earner.

DW (back when she was DG) and I had an income spread of about 4x. If we'd been rigorous about splitting expenses down the middle, she'd have been starved of any opportunity to save enough money to FIRE or at a minimum, I'd have been saving 8-15x what she was saving. This would, in turn, have hurt me, because she would have been incented to reduce/stop 401K contributions in order to "keep up" and we would have felt constrained to not buy a $1.2MM house (that 10 years later is worth over $2.2MM) because she couldn't afford half of it.

Instead, we looked at what was equitable (not equal) and did what made sense for us. She insisted on paying at least her old rent figure and half the groceries/utilities. I paid the rest of the house, airplane trips, etc. It allowed both of us to live better and save better than if we'd taken a hard-line "every bill, right down the middle" approach. Now, she works from home part-time in her field and works as a mom (more than) full-time. We live in the house we (I at the time) bought 10 years ago, that has a nice little fenced in yard for the kids and dog and has added more to our net worth than anything else we could have done over that 10 year period. All the money is "ours". We manage it day-to-day in separate pots, but we each have access (logically and practically) to all of it. We're probably FI now and I plan to retire around the time the kids are finishing high school. That works for us. Maybe it wouldn't work for others.

I understand, and when I say splitting equally, I don't mean being an ass about it and counting every penny. I earn about 10x my partner (and she works FT) and while I'm striving for equality of payments, in practice I end up paying for all restaurants and small/medium ticket items so that we can afford to go. I'm trying to keep those as one-off "exceptions" (even though I admit they happen regularly) and the goal is still equality as much as possible. For example when deciding a place to live or a trip to organize, I'd take her finances into consideration and only go if she can afford her part, and I wouldn't inflate our lifestyle too much that the responsibility would be on me to provide. It's more of a mental frame that I'm not providing for her so that she doesn't get used to it, because it seems like a slippery slope. I don't mind the frugality part so I don't feel like I'm missing out at all.

As for your example of house value doubling in 10 years, is this reproducible? You could have done almost the same with the stock market. This seems like a big part of luck to me, so this shouldn't be used to base your decisions off. Don't forget you could have lost money in that deal too.

All in all, I prefer the idea of keeping assets separate in a relationship, except all that's related to the common living arrangement. In Canada, you can actually easily select this arrangement when you marry ("separation as to property" matrimonial regime) with no special prenup, and the family home and other common assets ("family patrimony") are automatically shared. This seems like the best, safest way to move forward and a lot of young couples are using this regime these days.

Slow&Steady

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #92 on: July 24, 2018, 10:39:06 AM »
I read a lot of score keeping going on in OP's post but I also understand trying to tally a score when you feel frustrated and want to see if things are fair.

I am another woman on here that makes more than my husband (always have and probably always will).  We started dating 14 years ago when I was still in college (he never went to college), in those 1st 8 years he quite/got fired/was demoted 8 different times and even when I was still in school I bailed him out of financial holes.  We (if you are keeping score this is mostly me) paid off his truck loan before seriously tackling any of my debt because it had the highest interest rate.  We also focused on cleaning up his collection accounts before focusing on my debt, to the point that 12 years after finishing school I will finally finish off my student loans this year.  Before we had kids the discussion was always that I didn't want to stay home and that I had the better income, so when kids came he took a huge step back to be more available for the kids.  He has started a business now that was a negative to our financial life for the 1st 1.5 year.  He has picked out several different lemon cars that we have had to put extra money into and eventually had to replace due to unreliability.

I can write much more but the point is that even though I can list all of these things down and if I wanted to I could keep score on how he has benefited (or not benefited) my life financially, we would not still be together if I had been keeping score.  I would be resentful, and he would never feel "good enough".  If you are going to stay in this relationship, you need to stop keeping score.  If you want to to have use of your car on weekends then tell him that. Don't vent to a bunch of internet strangers unless you are also communicating these things to your SO, your relationship will eventually fall apart if you keep score and refuse to communicate your frustrations/joys/goals/heartaches/etc.   

one piece at a time

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #93 on: July 25, 2018, 06:43:17 PM »

Women are paid the least amount possible for them to turn up.  The same is true for men. Other systems have been tried but those folks end up starving to death. On average, many women have chosen jobs that have an ample supply of willing workers which has suppressed wages. When you grow up you might learn why they (on average) chose those jobs.
[/quote]

Completely uncalled for. You know nothing about me, my life, or my career choices.


I was responding to your statement about average wage inequality, not your choices. You presented a position that "women are now being paid what they deserve" which sent me off down a rabbit hole. I believe that the merits of the free market and reality of many prioritising non-financial aspects of employment conditions were discussed previously on this board but the mods had to shut it down because many many people were profoundly wrong and wouldn't accept it.

sokoloff

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #94 on: July 25, 2018, 06:49:18 PM »
I believe that the merits of the free market and reality of many prioritising non-financial aspects of employment conditions were discussed previously on this board but the mods had to shut it down because many many people were profoundly wrong and wouldn't accept it.
Itís too bad that not everyone can be as open-minded and politely and respectfully discuss differing points of view as you evidence...

expatartist

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #95 on: July 25, 2018, 10:06:35 PM »
I believe that the merits of the free market and reality of many prioritising non-financial aspects of employment conditions were discussed previously on this board but the mods had to shut it down because many many people were profoundly wrong and wouldn't accept it.
Itís too bad that not everyone can be as open-minded and politely and respectfully discuss differing points of view as you evidence...

Advising a stranger to 'grow up' because you disagree with them is polite and respectful? Oh - ok...

ETA: Can't imagine why that previous thread [haven't read it] might've been shut down by mods -
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 10:10:13 PM by expatartist »

spartana

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #96 on: July 26, 2018, 11:12:57 PM »
I don't want to start a firestorm, but gender equality still doesn't exist, and there are lots of societal pressures and expectations between men's and women's roles....it's still okay for the 'wife' to have a hobby job, while the big strong man is the breadwinner.  Hell, it's still common for people to talk about men 'babysitting' their own children, and how men 'help out' around the house, like either of those aren't 50% their job.

!e may have come a long way baby, but we're not equal yet.

I make more than double what my husband does, and money is "our" money, but I don't talk raises or bonuses alot with him because I worry that he'll "feel bad". 

https://globalnews.ca/news/4341645/women-lie-about-their-salary/

I am confused about what this has to do with the OP's situation.  There may be many men who are still uncomfortable with being out-earned, and that's evidence of a bigger problem I suppose, but the OP hasn't mentioned it being in issue in her relationship.  And for what it's worth, I know many men who, unlike your husband apparently, are quite pleased with their wife's high(er) income.  I happen to run in circles where this is very common.

That is great for your relationship and your circle. That being said, statistics have shown that the majority of men AND women still believe it’s more important for the man to be the sole breadwinner.

In fact, I agreed with the post you quoted here and a while back had a post typed up nearly similar and decided not to post it. I feel it may be relative here.
I'm going to disagree with the bolded unless you can show me statistics. I dont think I've ever met a man who wanted his female SO to be a SAH spouse/homemaker while the male is the sole breadwinner other than you (nor have I met any women who want that) - unless raising kids. Even then many men and women still prefer they both work outside the home.

However I do agree that many men (and perhaps a lot of women too) may feel emasculated if the the woman earns more. I believe this is much much less common with younger people though who have shunned (fortunately imho) the idea of traditional gender roles.

 I'm not saying that is the case with the OP as she seems OK with SO earning less but some of her comments seem that she doesn't view his choices as valid and important as hers. Maybe because of the earnings difference.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 11:37:03 PM by spartana »

Kyle Schuant

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #97 on: July 27, 2018, 01:09:57 AM »
how do people deal with this sort of financial and professional imbalance
It's a common misconception that relationships are about equality. They're not. When Christopher Reeve broke his neck, his wife needed to care for him 24 hours a day. He tossed a lot of money the way of people researching fixing spinal cords, said he was determined to walk again, and "when I get better, she has a lot of loving coming to her." He didn't recover, of course, and died. Their relationship was not equal, but it was most certainly loving, and a happy marriage.


Today he will earn less in some job he wants to change to. Tomorrow you'll want to spend tens of thousands on postgrad study, or take unpaid leave to have a baby or go overseas for six months without him. Or maybe not. But it'll never be equal.

You pool your resources, beginning with a joint bank account for basic expenses, and each of you supports the other in pursuing whatever crazy dreams you have - and you work on some shared dreams, too.



« Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 01:12:30 AM by Kyle Schuant »

MDfive21

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #98 on: July 30, 2018, 10:54:30 AM »
well that's a lot of ink spilled to answer what should be a super simple question.

obviously finances are separate!  prob should be until/if they get married.

BF can't use GF's car to get to work.
BF makes $40k at new job.  not bad!
BF can afford to buy a car, because no other bills.
BF should buy a car, preferably cash, but since finances are separate, this is one instance when taking on a $5k debt for basic work transportation is reasonable.  He can pay it off in less than 6 months EASY.


Prairie Stash

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Re: income imbalance in a relationship
« Reply #99 on: July 31, 2018, 12:41:04 PM »
"...I don't care that he makes less than I do and cannot contribute as much, but this particular scenario, really grates on me because its directly causing a net decrease for me.  I can't infantilize him and tell him he can't do it but, if he doesn't get a raise in the fall and isn't appreciably happier and more relaxed with work, I think I will insist that he start looking for other employers..."

This concerns me.  I'm thinking this guy is too much of an "inconvenience".  A "net decrease", WTF?  He's your partner, you say?  When you bought the house you just bought, did you consult with him?  Did you attempt to include him in a (small) way?  Did you consider buying something appropriate for an $80K income (his $40K plus $40K from your end or some kind of split...), or renting together?  Hey, the GUY WORKS!  There are guys out there (I've met them) that CANNOT EVEN HOLD A JOB OF ANY KIND!

I don't know where you got inconvenience from; I never said that.  As far as your actual question re rent v buy, we considered all the things you mentioned. I was renting a 600 sq ft place that he moved into but, it didn't fit all his belongings so he paid for storage and didn't get to use his stuff (like his records).  I had been considering buying before he moved in so, when he joined me, the places I looked at (including the one he looked at with me) all accommodated his things.  The price of those places was not affordable for someone with 80k unless we bought in the suburbs which would mean we'd have substantial commuting costs (his employer proposed this location change the day I closed).  Rent on similar places was the same as buying, so I bought.  So, no, the issue isn't that he doesn't work or makes less, the issue is WE will be in a financial inferior position because of a job change that came out of nowhere (literally they first proposed it on 7/9), depends on a shared resource and, was not able to negotiate in such a way that it didn't set us back (7/16), and the change is effective 7/21.  I'm not pissed at him; I'm pissed at his employer for springing this on him like this and not giving him any alternative.
To be fair, the employer always gives the alternative...he can quit. There is no such thing as an employer giving no alternatives, however its probably not an alternative you like. 

Although you say your pissed at his employer, he's probably excited for the promotion and I imagine its hard to hear all this negativity about his new job. You're really pissing in your boyfriends cornflakes.