I often get asked how I feel about earning less than my wife and what it’s like being married to a woman who provides materially for the family. For many people it is novel to meet a couple like Mrs Adams and I, where she goes out to work whereas he stays at home and does the domestic stuff and bulk of the childcare.
Being asked about my financial circumstances makes me feel a bit like an exotic zoo animal. To a lot of people, I am some kind of rarity, an odd creature who is willing to be out-earned by his wife. Men simply aren’t expected to behave and react like this.
With the furore of BBC pay equality hitting the headlines, this is a timely subject to discuss, if not directly linked. Truth is, I can think of lots of couples I know personally where Mrs. earns more than Mr. Despite what you hear in the news about the gender pay gap (a blunt term that hides all sorts of uncomfortable truths), I think it’s more common than many people realise.
There are a series of questions I regularly face on this subject. Having been asked very bluntly the other day whether my wife pays me an allowance, I thought I’d answer a few of the more common questions I am regularly asked. I hope you find the answers enlightening.
So, er, do you receive an allowance?
Let’s tackle this one first shall we? No I do not receive an allowance. Sure, Mrs Adams and I have a joint bank account and if I really need something and am stuck for cash I may raid it, but this rarely happens.
There is a perception that all stay at home mums and dads do is…stay at home. Although I am the stay at home parent, I have never been completely economically inactive.
Very few stay at home parents are able to do this. Who can afford to be economically inactive in this day and age?
Although I gave it up years ago, I previously had a part time job. With my youngest daughter having started school back in September, I have been more active as a blogger and freelance writer so I am financially contributing to the family. Not nearly as much as my wife, true, but I contribute nonetheless.
Isn’t it emasculating having a wife who earns more?
Absolutely not. During my adult life I have had various jobs working in everything from Corporateland to small charities. The most demanding role I have ever had has been that of my kids’ main carer.
Caring for kids, especially in the earliest years, is relentless. With my kids at school, things have changed and it is a bit easier because they’re more independent.
I’ve always said that responsibility is one of the defining aspects of masculinity. There is no greater responsibility than that of caring for children. Emasculated? Not at all. Quite the reverse in fact.
Don’t you miss being in the office?
I hate to sound repetitive, but absolutely not. I have come to appreciate that offices are very inefficient environments and don’t even get me started on office parties. Sure, I sometimes wish I had a bit more company during school hours but that does not mean I want to return to the office.
Are you going to return to work now your children are at school?
With both my children now at school, I have been adjusting to a new phase of parenting and fatherhood. I have more, ahem, ‘free’ time, but any time spent working is limited by the school run. If I were to return to my former life in the media world, I would seriously struggle to balance family, work and the inevitable commute to London.
My children are my main priority and I continue to be their main carer. I simply cannot see myself being able to return to a workplace until they are at secondary school.
Then again, I am running my own micro-business and fitting it around my family commitments. It’s a situation that suits my family and I so I shall probably carry on doing this for a good while yet.
Honestly guys, it’s no big thing
I couldn’t honestly tell you how many times I have been asked these questions. The wording may differ slightly, but they are questions I get asked all the time.
I can truthfully say I have no issue whatsoever with having a wife who has a considerably larger income. We are simply doing what is right for our family and what works for us.
It’s no big deal. It really isn’t.