Patti's Blog

Should you marry a man who makes less than you?

Couple fans money. Who makes more?

This weekend I got asked a very interesting question from one of my favorite girlfriends. She’s fabulous and beautiful and very, very successful. She’s one of my best friends and one of my role models. And it’s a very rare thing when she comes to me for advice. Normally, it’s the other way around. (Get your chins off your chests, people! Yes, sometimes even I ask for advice!)

Here’s the deal. My friend is dating a man whom she suspects make less than she does. They haven’t talked numbers yet, but she’s pretty sure. And she was wondering if I thought she should get serious, and maybe even marry, a man who makes less than she does. Well, I had some thoughts for her that I thought I’d share with you all too, hoping they’d help you too.


Where are you?

By this I mean, take a look at yourself and your income and assess if it’s fair to hold anyone else to those standards. My friend is an Executive Vice President at one of the biggest companies in one of the most lucrative sectors in the whole wide world. If she only dated men who earned more than she did, she’d be limiting her prospects to everyone but Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump. (Not two dudes I’d ever set her up with.) Think about if your income is a fair standard to hold others to. For my friend, it’s just not.


What does his income mean?

Why is this guy making less money than you are? It is because he’s not motivated or because his industry is just not that well paid. For example, if your honey is a middle school math teacher, but he’s the best middle school math teacher in the world and truly loves his job, then who cares what his salary is? You have a driven, fulfilled man in your life! Celebrate that. But, if he’s not bringing home the bacon because he’s constantly getting fired from jobs, can’t figure out what he wants to be when he grows up and hates every position he’s ever had, then I say move on and find someone with more earning potential.


Is this the only issue?

Are you hung up on his salary because it’s the only issue between you guys or are you hung up on it because it’s a symptom of a lot of other problems between you two? If you’re head over heels with a great guy who’s just a six-figure salary away from being perfect, who cares? You’ve found love! But, if you’re harping on this issue because you have the icks about a bunch of stuff in your relationship, then use this as your emergency exit and get the eff out of there.


What’s his future?

Is your man just not making a lot of money now, but will be in the future? Most successful entrepreneurs start by bootstrapping, which basically means doing a lot with a very little bit of money. Once the business takes off, though, it’s a different story. Are you taking his whole game plan into account when you’re judging his earning potential? An ambitious guy with a great idea can go really far!


My friend is going to give her guy a go and get serious with him, despite the fact that he’s probably falling a few thousand dollars short of her salary. What about you guys? Would you get serious with someone you out earned? Tell me in the comments.