Moms and Dads

What Do We Do If Our Spouse Has a Lower Income?

Finances, income, and money are always the main culprit in starting a conflict in marriage.

Although it’s slowly becoming more acceptable nowadays that a woman may earn more than a man, there are still some pockets in society than insist that the man must make more than the woman. But not all industries pay the same. Because of this, it can create feelings of insecurity, guilt, and self-loathing which can lead to chipping or eventually destroying our marriage and relationships. Here’s what we can do to navigate through the problem.

1. Give them a little leeway if they can’t afford it at the moment.

We’re always trying our best to split the costs evenly especially when renting a condo while starting out. However, rent isn’t cheap and prices recently skyrocketed because people are trying to make up for the losses during the pandemic. But if your spouse has a lower income, you can have them owe you instead so that they can procure the money and pay you back at a later date. Or you can discuss which one among the bills you’ll respectively cover. Perhaps the one with the higher income can shoulder the rent while the other can cover groceries and electricity.

2. If you’re the spouse with a lower income, try to get into some freelance work.

Freelance work may be tiring but it helps make ends meet. The work can be as short-lived as proofreading, plagiarism checking, graphic design, tutorials, or even video editing. A lot of international companies look for Filipinos because of the good quality of our work. It may not look glamorous like “lawyer”, “doctor”, or “business owner” but, it gets the job done.

3. If you really can’t find extra work, make life around the house easier.

Although we preach often that men and women should have an equal share of the housework, there are times that corporate work just overwhelms us. If you’re the one with the lower income, try your best to make work around the house easier. Meals don’t always have to be 5-star level. You can just learn to prepare your spouse’s favorite! If you’re the one with a higher income, don’t be afraid to ask for some rest.

4. Go easy on the #treatyoself moments.

It’s easy to get swept away by stress and fall into the #treatyoself mentality. But when your income is low, it’s sometimes better to delay that reward. This doesn’t mean telling yourself, “You can’t afford it.” It means telling yourself, “I will buy it. Just not right now.” Telling yourself you can buy it encourages you to find smarter ways to work so you can earn more and get whatever you like.

There’s also a phenomenon known as delayed gratification that makes that #treatyoself item all the sweeter after buying it.

5. Never use their low income as a means to win an argument.

If there’s anyone who’s the most aware that they’re earning low for their age and job, it’s the spouse themselves. Marriage is not about being the police but it means bringing to light an awareness that there’s got to be a smarter way to make more money. But using their low income to win an argument is both a low blow and pouring salt and vinegar on an open wound. Focus on solving the problem; not poking at imperfections even though it’s highly tempting to do so in an argument.

Besides, even Filipinos have a saying that goes, “Talo yung pikon.” Unless their low income IS the source of the problem then, there’s no reason to mention it.

6. For those with low income: accept the help.

We all have a sense of pride and want that achievement of, “I did it myself!” But the world doesn’t function that way. Success needs a strong, steady, and big foundation which means accepting help from others even if we feel we’re not worth the help. Besides, the help that people offer doesn’t invalidate your efforts. It still is up to you how to make the most of that opportunity. They’re just there to show you the door.

Marriage works best on communication.

Not everybody can contribute financially but there are ways to help support. Some may not be trained or raised to be cut-throat enough for business but there are ways to help those who are—from finding clients to expanding your network. Marriage is a partnership in every sense of the word and showing this kind of teamwork to your kids and other people will help others manage expectations and create healthy relationships.

More on marriage or family teamwork? Here are some stories:

Competition in Marriage: Both Of You Either Win Or Lose
10 Celebrity Parents Who Keep The Love Alive
Stay-At-Home-Moms On Returning To Work: It’s Okay To Be Nervous

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