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  • Being a Female Breadwinner: What This Rise Means for Relationships

Being a Female Breadwinner: What This Rise Means for Relationships

When it comes to money, the more the merrier, right?

Well believe it or not, this is not always the case.

The last half century has seen the rise of a new kind of woman, the female breadwinner, a mystical creature once unknown to society at large. Although this is a total win for women and feminism, it can create a strain on relationships and gender roles.

To set up the situation, it is important to take a little walk down memory lane and see where the root of this problem is:

  • It has only been within the last 60 years or so that women have been getting equal pay to men (and this is still not always the case).

  • It was only in 1999 that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that job standards and tests couldn’t be solely based on capabilities that would favour men.

What these facts prove is that for a very long time the workplace favored the man. It is only in very recent times that women have been able to work, especially in high-powered positions.

So what does this all mean?

Well it means that men have been the breadwinners pretty much since the beginning of time. Because of this society has created a sort of unwritten binary system where the big strong man goes to work and provides for his family, while the dutiful woman stays home to attend to her “womanly” duties (i.e. cooking and cleaning).

Attention Readers: This SHOULD sound old-fashioned and archaic, it is. But it is also a reality and it is the reason people are struggling with the idea of the female breadwinner. To put it frankly, they are just not used to it.

Of course there are some men out there who are totally cool with the idea of their significant other bringing home the bacon, but there are also some men who feel emasculated by this notion. It is okay for them to feel this way, they are not sexist monsters trying to bring down the feminist movement, they are just human.

If you are a female breadwinner here are some tips on how to manage your relationship (and your life too):

Money ≠ Power

Probably one of the biggest strains money can have on any relationship is the belief that it equates to power. This would mean that the person who makes more money would be dominant when it comes to decision-making.  Always remember that any good relationship is an equal partnership and no matter how big your pay difference you  are always in this together.

Redefine Success

Always keep in mind that money and success are not exclusive. The most incredible elementary school teacher in the world simply cannot not make as much as a mediocre NBA player, these are just facets of these jobs. So always show your partner that you still see all of their hard work and dedication, no matter how much money they make.

Show Your Appreciation

Always make sure that your partner feels noticed and appreciated. There are a lot more ways that a person can contribute to a relationship and family that go far beyond finances. Make sure you take note of these things.

Let the Man be the Man

Now, I know what you’re thinking and I understand that this is a controversial tip, but hear me out. Men like to feel needed and they like to feel important, so sometimes you just have to let them. So if you are out to dinner with a group of friends let your partner pick up the cheque, he will feel better and so will you.

Balance the Chores

If you work a long, hard day the last thing you need to do is come home clean the toilets and then cook up a gourmet meal. Some female breadwinners may feel the need to take on extra chores to compensate for the fact that they worked all day, but this unnecessary and quite frankly, it’s exhausting. Balance out the chores with your partner in order prevent overexertion and also to bring equality into the relationship.

Let Go of the Past

In the same way that a man might feel emasculated by his significant other making more money than him, a women may be conditioned to feel guilty if she is making more money and consequently spending less time at home.  Let go of this guilt and feel proud of your accomplishments! Think back to the long lineage of women who have worked hard to allow you to be in this position. Also, remember that guilt will also bring negativity into your relationship.

Take Care of Financial Matters Together

Just because you make more money does not mean you have take care of all the bills, and it certainly does not mean you’re in charge of all the financial decisions. Money is an important factor in any relationship, which means that all of the important financial decisions should take both people’s opinions into consideration.

Things Can Change

No matter what, keep in mind that we are living in unsteady financial times and that your situation may change in the future. So treat your partner the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

Female breadwinners rejoice! We are living in an exciting time when women are able to advance further in the workforce than ever before, but just remember to take care of your relationships just as much as you do your career.

Kayla Rosen

Kayla Rosen is an English and Book and Media student going into her fourth year of study at the University of Toronto. She is an aspiring writer who is passionate about journalism, fashion, pop-culture, reading and all things musical theatre.

Comments (2)

  • Avatar

    Teraya Smith


    I think everything said in this article hits the nail on the head. When it comes to being a woman and the breadwinner in the family, the golden rule should apply. Treat your partner in the same way you would want to be treated if he was the breadwinner. Relationships can only work when everyone is on the same page and has an understanding of equal responsibilities.

    • Avatar

      Amanda Tucci


      I completely agree with you, Teraya. While this cultural change may come with a few growing pains, it’s important to remember that the contributions of both partners are significant and should be treated as such.

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