Money in Marriage: How Much Do You Earn?
This is a very sensitive and sometimes loaded question. It’s not the norm to discuss how much you earn regardless of what social group you are part of (with the exception of some yayas maybe hehe).
As a woman, you don’t want to seem like a gold digger or too concerned about money, but if you’re honest with yourself and not too lovestruck, it’s basic information worth knowing before making a lifetime commitment with someone.
For one, income is the basis of your lifestyle as a married couple. Much more so if you plan to have kids and raise a family. Secondly, it sets the tone for how we plan for the long-term – saving, investing, major puchases etc.
When to ask?
If you’re in the stage of your dating relationship and already discussing marriage, it’s an appropriate time to disclose how much you earn (and liabilities, if any).
Among red flag non-answers would be :
“Enough to support you“,
“Let me take care of it“,
“Don’t you trust me?“, or even
“God will provide“.
Basically anything vague or evasive.
Think about it this way: If a guy is confident and secure to take you out and bring up the idea of a building a life together, he should be prepared to share his financial life, both good and bad.
How much is enough?
And it doesn’t mean he has to be rich.
As my dad told me, it’s ok if he’s not a businessman or comes from a wealthy family, as long as he has a plan and is working towards a goal. I really appreciate my dad for this down-to-earth piece of advice. Filipino-Chinese culture can be materialistic and brutally gossipy. My dad came from very humble beginnings, started working at an early age, so he is living proof of where hardwork and grit can take someone.
How to bring it up?
An easy way to bring up the topic is attending pre-marital counseling sessions, because it’s already included in the list of topics. In our case, we answered the homework assigned for the week, and it opened up a lot of questions and stories for us on how we grew up financially and the money values we were raised with.
For Richer or Poorer
Income can change anytime. Nothing is permanent.
You may start your marriage on a financial high, but life happens – a sick loved one, failed businesses, work retrenchment, or bad investments can throw your financial life into a 180 degree tailspin.
Always remember your vows – for richer or poorer.
No one gets married planning to get divorced, but money can be a cause of arguments and division. It’s not a guarantee that you had your wedding reception in a five-star hotel that you will have a five-star lifestyle althroughout your marriage.
Once you’re married, you are one and you can’t leave the other just because of an economic downturn or bad financial decision.
Wives: Do I have to contribute financially?
The Bible says that men carry the primary role as breadwinners, but having a two-income household definitely eases the high cost of living nowadays.
Honestly, it can be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of situation.
Stay-at-home moms can feel like they’re not contributing enough to the family (my take: hello, you are raising little hearts and keeping them cute and alive! That’s enough!). Working moms can feel that they’re missing out on their younger ones growing years (my opinion: true, love is spelled time, but it’s about QUALITY more than quantity). And for a WAHM like me, on a great day it can feel like I am enjoying the best of both worlds. But on other days, it’s like trying to keep your head afloat while juggling so many things to do.
Each family’s situation is unique, and whatever works for your family in ALL aspects (not only financially), you do you.
Wives: We contribute in different ways.
I am also reminded as our role as women to be helpers and encouragers. I think this counts even more than bringing home a second paycheck for the household. And I soooo do not do this well at times. There was a time I noticed our bank balance was getting lower, and I asked Albert how business was doing. He said sales were slower, and I got a bit anxious. I had just given birth to Hannah, and instead of saying something encouraging or just keeping quiet, I said “Akala ko sabi mo dati your income was x.”
I really praise God for giving me a kind and loving husband. He later told me kindly that one of the reasons sales slowed down was because he was leaving home later and coming home earlier. It was true, we didn’t have a newborn yaya for Hannah, so he was being a really hands on dad. He’s so gracious noh? Instead of sumbat, Albert just said that I didn’t need to worry.
Words of encouragement or as my husband suggests, just being quiet and not negative helps in maintaining a positive home environment. When husbands know that we have their backs in the ups and downs of their careers, they are more confident to lead and take risks in business or in their careers.