Shutterstock / Perati Komson
Shutterstock / Perati Komson

1. IT’S EMASCULATING FOR HIM

“I can’t give up the position of empress. Everything is in my name. When I’ve gotten really bratty, I’ve said, ‘Well fine, leave,’ knowing he can’t leave. I’ve never had such security in a relationship. There’s no risk of flight. But it’s only giving me a short-term gain. Ultimately, it’s emasculating for him….We’re embroiled in some weird combat. It’s like Lysistrata. I tell him, ‘Your business is going to have to get better faster.’ Until then, I’m withholding….I want somebody to take that power role away from me. Ultimately, it gets down to pretty basic stuff. It’s hard to be the power broker every day and then be the femme fatale. I’m not going to pay the bills—I feel like his mother—and then come home and suck his dick.”

Emily

beetlejuice

2. I AM ERODING HIS SELF-CONFIDENCE

“Bearing this burden is making me shrewish, unpleasant and a pedant about everything my husband does. All the classic signs apparently of ‘Madonna Syndrome’—an over-achieving breadwinner wife constantly sniping at a husband who isn’t matching her earning power. At the height of their marital troubles, Guy Ritchie famously said of Madonna: ‘That one’s never satisfied.’…However hard Ross works around the house —cleaning windows, Hoovering floors—he can never reach my impossibly high standards. I find fault with everything he does. He says, bluntly, that I am eroding his self-confidence….’I can’t do anything right,’ he groaned in a muffled voice.”

Diana

beetlejuice

3. WE ARE GETTING SEPARATED

“I had no idea that my income would take off the way that it did. I was able to triple his income….Now we are at a point where we are getting separated. It’s actually the best thing for both of us—we don’t have any children, we don’t have any joint assets together—no one plans on it ending up this way but it is what it is, and I think at the end of the day we are both comfortable with our decision. I initiated it, of course. I think money and finances and communication had something to do with it….The head of the household is the person who leads the household. I consider myself the head of the household.”

Emma

beetlejuice

4. IT IS VERY HARD FOR ME TO RESPECT HIM

“I don’t mean to make him out to be a deadbeat because when he does work, he works hard and isn’t lazy (he’s never quit a job, he usually gets laid off), it’s just that earning a living is not a priority for him. He never, ever gives a thought to our financial situation. It is very hard for me to respect a man who is happy to take advantage of a situation that he would not put himself in….What makes it an even more bitter pill to swallow is that during his first marriage, he worked two jobs so his wife could stay at home full-time. Maybe he feels he got burned by that arrangement (she dumped him for another man) so now it’s a different story.”

Katie

beetlejuice

5. WHEN SOMEONE SEEMS LIKE A CHILD, IT’S NOT THAT ATTRACTIVE

“Sexuality is based on respect and admiration and desire. If you’ve lost respect for somebody, it’s very hard to have it work. And our relationship initially had been very sexual, at the expense of other things. Sex was not a problem for him. It was a problem for me. When someone seems like a child, it’s not that attractive. In the end, it felt like I had three children.”

Anna

beetlejuice

6. THE MINUTE IT BECOMES PARENTAL, IT BECOMES ASEXUAL

“The minute it becomes parental, it becomes asexual. A friend of mine who works and makes money and whose husband doesn’t told me one day that he was taking $100-an-hour tennis lessons. She said to him, ‘You are not in the $100-an-hour category.’ She had to spell it out for him. It was totally parental.”

Betsy

beetlejuice

7. A MAN WHO DOESN’T WORK IS SOMEHOW A LESSER BEING

“I feel Alex should get a job. Instead he plays tennis every morning. I’ve been nagging him to find something, even a few hours in the local supermarket, but he says I’m ridiculous. Logically he’s right. My male colleagues don’t ask their stay-at-home wives to work in supermarkets. But, despite my feminist beliefs, I have this prejudice that a man who doesn’t work is somehow a lesser being. I’ve evolved but not enough.”

Wanda

beetlejuice

8. IT CAN DESTROY A MAN

“It can destroy a man’s self-worth when the wife makes more. I was told by my aunt that marriages from different sides of the track don’t work. Look what happened to me—it didn’t work. So, what would I say to my daughter? I saw her with a guy who lived up the street who was from the other side of the tracks and she seemed to be having a lot of fun with him. The guy she is engaged to now, I don’t see them having as much fun. I am very much torn with the answer for that, because it can destroy a man! It can destroy a man and that’s exactly what happened with me. My husband couldn’t find the goodness in me. He sat in a chair one time and cried and cried like a baby and said, ‘I wish I had your job!!’”

Donna

beetlejuice

9. ‘THERE IS ONLY ROOM FOR ONE MAN IN THIS HOUSE’

“I see my husband trying to take on the dominant role with silly little things like—the car has to be parked in a certain way in the garage and it’s got to be that way or the refrigerator has to [be organized] a certain way. I think this is his way of showing me who is ‘the man’ in the house. He has said to me, ‘There is only room for one man in this house—you need to act like the woman. ’…I think it’s the money difference.”

Monica

beetlejuice

10. I AM SIMPLY IN A MORE LUCRATIVE INDUSTRY

“I don’t make more money because he’s lazy and I’m not more ambitious. Sven is equally as successful and ambitious as I am, but I am simply in a more lucrative industry. He loves his job and I love mine. We don’t have any marital problems based on the fact that I am the breadwinner.”

Melanie

beetlejuice

11. I AM BRINGING IN ALL THE MONEY

“I’m not just the majority breadwinner, I’m the only money-maker in my family. My husband is disabled (but not so much so that he gets to collect disability pay) and therefore not working at all. I am bringing in ALL the money. And I’ll be honest, I do feel some resentment at times because of this. Particularly when I think about having kids (somewhere down the line)….I do not resent that it is “my” money paying the bills. I don’t generally think of the money that we have as mine versus his. I do wish that he were the primary breadwinner or at least an equal breadwinner so that I could have opportunities to do something besides work.”

Jenni

beetlejuice

12. ANGRY AT HIM FOR SPENDING SO MUCH AND EARNING SO LITTLE

“I have to say that when I think about it, (until recently) I mostly didn’t resent being the primary/only breadwinner. What I DID resent was when he was irresponsible (by my standards) about money. If there wasn’t enough money at the end of the month, I always felt this combination of angry at him for spending so much and earning so little, and guilty that I wasn’t making more, especially after I dropped to part-time at work.”

Jan

beetlejuice

13. I RESENT THAT MY HUSBAND GETS TO STAY HOME WITH OUR BABY

“I definitely feel resentment, but it is not around money or expenses. I have been the breadwinner for the last 3 years, the sole breadwinner for two of those while my husband started a company. It wasn’t until the birth of my son that I felt resentful. I have been back to work for a few weeks and every morning that I get in the car to go to work I resent that my husband gets to stay home with our baby.”

Amelia

beetlejuice

14. MY PARTNER IS PRETTY UNMOTIVATED, WHICH REALLY BUGS ME

“I am the primary breadwinner and financially motivated one in the relationship. My partner is pretty unmotivated, which really bugs me. He is much more lazy and doesn’t worry about financial security. We have separate bank accounts for this very reason and have been in marriage counseling on and off because of it. He got laid off from a ten-year job as an electrician ten days before I had my daughter and didn’t find a job until a year later. I found him his new job. It gets old for sure.”

Sky

beetlejuice

15. I’M DEPLETED AND VIBRATING WITH ANXIETY

“My husband, an antiques restorer whose field has all but evaporated as a result of the recession, does his best to help with chores and child care, while earning enough to pay utilities and car-insurance bills. I’m the one who works an octopus-armed 12- to 14-hour day, often seven days a week. When I finally come to bed, I’m depleted and vibrating with anxiety.”

Susan

beetlejuice

16. HE’S SOMETIMES TEASED BY PEOPLE

“I am fortunate. My husband is supportive of my writing career—even though we live in a very traditional community and he is sometimes teased for not earning as much as I do. Well, he’s sometimes teased by people who actually know who the primary breadwinner in our family happens to be. In reality, many of our neighbors assume that he’s the primary breadwinner….The fact is that I earn more, and some of the men around here think that reflects somehow on my husband’s ‘manhood.’”

Miranda

beetlejuice

17. I AM VERY RESENTFUL OF MY HUSBAND

“I am very resentful of my husband. I work full-time. He is home while I am at work. We have a 5-year-old in half-day kindergarten who is home with him two afternoons/week but goes to an after-school program (which we pay for) the other three days. My husband does not clean the house, do laundry, make dinner or even clean up after himself. He will do something if I ask, like if I remind him to start the dishwasher, he will. He is getting to spend more time with our child than I do.”

Betty Lou

beetlejuice

18. I WAS JEALOUS OF HIS FREE TIME

“I was the breadwinner for decades….I was always employed no matter what and I was jealous of his free time. I was also angry that he did very little around the house….Probably the part that angered me most was when his unemployment ran out, he wouldn’t just go out and get any old job. Anything but engineering was beneath him. It was perfectly OK for ME to work at a gas station or as a buttwiper but HE would never even consider those jobs.”

Anonymous

beetlejuice

19. I WORK, HE GAMBLES

“I am the primary breadwinner and have handle to finances and general running of the household. I know I can be a overbearing person as I like things a certain way and I tend to take charge, but, at the same time, I feel I am reasonable and have compromised a great deal in the course of the relationship. It seems that my husband has subtle ways to sabotage our relationship and finances. For instance, we are on a budget. He will take money out of the joint account and act like he thought we had extra money for him to gamble with. Other times he will evoke the silent treatment if I try to have a conversation that he perceives as unpleasant.”

Anonymous

beetlejuice

20. I BLAME HIM FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN MY LIFE

“My husband and I have been married for almost 3 years and what a roller coaster it has been! Since our marriage he has been employed a total of 11 months while I have been busting my ass to make ends meet. I blame him for everything that is wrong in my life and often feel sorry for myself in my current situation. I find myself chronically upset and resentful towards him even when things are not that bad….I don’t want to live with all of this resentment anymore. I should be thankful for my health and the fact that I do have a roof over my head and food to eat, but the fact that my husband is not pulling his weight is killing me!”

Anonymous TC mark

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