Dealing With Financial Income Inequality In Marriage

Dealing with Financial Income Inequality in Marriage

Money is often at the heart of some of the most bitter marital disputes. When it comes to bringing home the bacon, it would seem that all the money realistically goes into the same pot. Unfortunately, the idea that one spouse is earning more than another spouse can be a cause for resentment in a marriage. While it seems like such a petty matter to argue over, many are left searching for ways to deal with this common problem to bring peace back into their marriage. The following are a few sure fire ways to deal with income inequality issues before it gets out of hand.

Talk It Out

While income inequality among spouses can turn into a heated argument, often married couples overlook the power of talking out their concerns. While either spouse may feel tension on this issue, it is best to get the reasons out in the open so that both people in the marriage are clear where the problem resides. When the reasons are clear to both parties, this makes it possible to approach finding a viable solution that addresses all the stated concerns.

Beyond The 50/50 Myth

It is common for married couples to want to split their bills 50/50. According to financial expert Suze Orman says that this is often a bad idea—especially if one spouse earns considerably less than the other. If one spouse earns $4,000 each month and the other earns $8,000 each month, where the total monthly bills are $4,000, Mrs. Orman believes it is far more reasonable to have an arrangement where each spouse pays the amount corresponding to how much they actually make. In the example provided, a 40-percent/60-percent split would certainly work out. This will help to take some of the stress off the spouse earning the least amount.


Typically, when one spouse earns considerably less than another spouse, the one that earns less can often harbor feelings of guilt. This is especially the case when the spouse that earns less finds themselves making purchases using the other spouse’s income. While this guilt is often unwarranted, it is important for the spouse earning less to be reassured by the spouse that earns more that this is not creating a major marital problem.

Who Pays What Bills

Sometimes married couples divide bills up based on type, rather than based on the bill amount. While the husband might be responsible for car insurance costs, the wife may be held responsible for paying the cable bill. Whatever the case, it is best to aim to make sure that the bills each spouse is paying for fit into their individual earning budgets. This will help to ensure that a spouse that earns the least will be able to pull their weight with confidence, knowing that their level of income is sufficient for covering the types of bills assigned them.

Do Not Apologize For Accomplishments

A few decades ago, it was common for men to be the primary bread winners in most households. Today, women are becoming the primary bread winner more often as their income rates are tending to out pace their husband's. Although, this may introduce resentment that women are earning more, they should not apologize for their achievements. In all honesty, both spouses should be proud no matter which one is the primary bread earner and not focus so heavily on the gender norms of the past.


It is inevitable that one spouse will likely earn more than the other spouse in a marriage. The chances that both partners in a marriage will earn exactly the same amount is a rare occurrence. Instead of allowing income inequality to create so much tension in a marriage, it is best to remember that being in a marriage is a team effort and to focus on the things that truly matter.

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