Dear Dr. Buckingham,
I am a woman who is married to a man (who is) older than me and I’m the breadwinner. He does work and it’s in sales (commission only).
It puts me at a disadvantage because we can’t seem to move forward because his sales are not consistent and it’s making me have to pull the load 85% of the time. Every time I try to talk to him about it, it transpires into an argument. It seems as if he does not see my hurt. I’m the Breadwinner, Not My Husband: Should I Leave?
Thanks in advance,
Dear Mrs. Breadwinner,
I understand your frustration with pulling 85% of the load in your marriage, but I do not believe that you should leave your husband. I can relate to your frustration about not progressing financially and not receiving any empathy from your husband.
Like myself, most people might agree that your frustration is reasonable. However, how you cope with your frustration and express it toward your husband might not be. Given this, I highly recommend that you consider seeking professional counseling before you walk away from your marriage. Here is why.
Generally speaking, discussions about finances for couples where females are the primary breadwinners typically do not go well without a mediator. A mediator is usually helpful and needed in these situations because a large percentage of men become defensive when they are not bringing home enough bacon.
Greater empathy leads to better communication, and better communication leads to greater understanding.
Your husband probably becomes defensive and argues with you because his ego gets in the way. Be mindful that an argumentative and defensive man is a frustrated and prideful man. Not making enough money is a source of frustration for a lot of men.
A counselor might be able to help your husband process his emotions, which in return might help him see your hurt. We all need to become aware of what we are actually feeling which means to acknowledge, identify, and accept our feelings. Only then can we empathize with others.
I highly recommend that you seek counseling before moving on. Also, I highly recommend that you stop focusing on the finances for now and start focusing on your inability to communicate with your husband without arguing.
He will probably never validate your hurt or feelings if he does not feel that you understand his feelings. Greater empathy leads to better communication, and better communication leads to greater understanding. With greater understanding people become less defensive. Seek to understand your husband and revisit your decision to move on afterwards.