Are Men More Sensitive When it Comes to Money?

I was on my way into my secret blogging spot (Panera) when I had a random thought about money – more specifically what would I do if I suddenly found myself without any? My husband is the major breadwinner for our home, and considering that last year I brought in a net $2,000 from my earnings from my part time job, it’s fair to say he is the ONLY breadwinner for our home. $1800 of that $2,000 I earned was spent on shoes and Chic-fil-a.

As I drove to my destination, ducking Holcomb Bridge’s numerous potholes and a goose carcass, I found myself wondering what life would be like if my husband lost his job and we became destitute. I took comfort in the knowledge that we would never truly be destitute. We are blessed with enough good friends and family that they would never allow that to happen to our children. At the very least, they would offer us their floor to sleep on if that was all they could spare.

But then I wondered: Would my husband accept that help? Men are terribly proud when it comes to accepting help, and more so when there is the perception that they have failed their family in their role as a provider. Of course, this is an extreme example. Anyone would feel a sense of failure if they suddenly found themselves entangled in the tentacles of poverty. How about in a familiar scenario involving one spouse makes more than the other? What if the higher earning spouse is the woman?

My husband and I actually lived this scenario for about a year. He wanted to try his hand at entrepreneurship and I had a steady job in human resources. With my blessing, he quit his regular 9 -5 and went into real estate. We’re both very frugal as a rule (except where my purchase of shoes is in question course), so our standard of living did not suffer much when there was no longer a second paycheck coming in every two weeks. When he did get a check, it was in exorbitant lump sums, and those were always happy days for us, of course. Still, I was the only one earning a steady and reliable check. Eventually the housing market came crashing down around us all, the checks stopped, and the liabilities came rolling in. Fortunately, he was recruited by a web company within weeks of getting out of real estate.

I think the only reason this worked for us is because we have the same attitudes towards money. I have never judged an individual –a man in particular – by how much money he makes. As far as I’m concerned, having a lot of money is not an indicator of how generous you are, and I value generosity more than I do wealth. My husband is a very hardworking and generous man, which is why I didn’t mind shouldering a little extra weight of our financial burden for that brief amount of time.

Sometimes, I wonder if my husband is in the minority, though. I know several men who tie their self-worth directly to a dollar figure, and if that dollar figure does no line up with their expectations, they fall to pieces. Their coming unglued is sometimes exacerbated when their partner or spouse makes more than they do, even if that amount is as miniscule as a dollar more on the hour.

I asked a gentleman at Panera what his attitude was on the whole matter. Wearing a black shirt and tie, and Kenneth Cole slip-ons, he said that as far as he was concerned, there is nothing wrong with a woman having greater earning potential than a man. In fact, it was to be expected, given how much education women have these days. He said as a man, his value lays in how hard he works for his family.

“Do you think your view is a result of the age bracket you’re in?” I asked.

He looked around, as though pulling out a memory. Finally, he shook his head.

“No. I have an uncle who has been married 30 years and his wife has always earned more money than he has. At the same time, there are some cats in their 20s who absolutely won’t stand for their woman to earn more money than they do. It really depends on how you see yourself.”

I thanked him for his time.

So here’s an open question to both sexes: Do men’s and women’s attitudes towards money and earning power vary based on their sex, or as individuals? From what I’ve seen in popular culture, the answer lies in the former. Pop culture tells us that a man is defined by what he does and how much he makes. Is this a fair and accurate way to sum up the value of a person?

I’ve got my coffee. Over to you.

  • I think I agree with you in the fact that I don’t care how much the man is earning. To be honest I do feel a lot of men do feel “less of a man” when their girlfriend/wife is earning more than them. But in my opinion, I feel a man is someone who can look past that & focus on providing for his family. Providing does not mean just finically. I don’t feel a man is defined by what he does and what he makes. If I can see he goes out of his way to be there for his family, he is a winner 🙂

    • Agreed! Eg at this point in our relationship, it means more to me that my husband comes home and gives the kids a bath every night so that I don’t have to. When the kids can bathe themselves, he’ll have to come up with another way to “support” me, of course! 🙂

      • exactly! A lot of men think their money will buy love or get their girlfriend to like them. But if you have a guy that provide in all kinds of way, why won’t you be happy. Society needs to change what they think a “man” is because its always about money. Imagine if your husband was a millionaire but wasn’t providing in any other way except his money, do you think you will be happy?

  • Mom Five Times

    Malaka:
    Please ask me the # of layoffs we have survived over these past almost 15 years or at least since that big dotcom bubble burst. Anyway, I think society views wealth as having alot of money, but you and your husband know that wealth goes beyond that. He is generous and wealthy because of his attitude and character, he provides for you not only financially but with love and support. Sometimes you have to use a little creativity when the income has dips, but survive and thrive you can do-take it from me! That’s coffee talk. Having a similar view of money is important I think, but when it is different, you have to find some places of agreement and compromise.

    • Well now that I’m at your house, we can have that coffee talk. *waves from the other side of the table*

  • David S.

    If some men are sensitive about money it’s because for every man that is sensitive about money, there is a woman who is sensitive about their man’s money. A lot of women say the words “money doesn’t matter” but as you noted in your blog “Married: For Love or Money” there are those who tend to forget those words in practice. A lot o women say money doesn’t matter, but wouldn’t date a man whose income is say, one tenth of theirs.

    The other thing you have to remember is that unlike some of your female counterparts, you don’t have extravagant tastes. I once talked to a woman who was considering quiting her job as a teacher because she couldn’t fund her lifestyle on a teacher’s salary, and she was slowly slipping into debt. She said that when she became a teacher, she had believed she would eventually living in a two-income household, and now that she is in her thirties and unmarried she has to come up with a new plan. For someone who thinks like that, if they were to ever get married they have to think about their potential husband’s income because they have already factored that revenue into their financial planning.

    Oh, and don’t ask me how I know you don’t have extravagant tastes. You spent less than $2000 on shoes last year. I know women who spend more than that on shoes in a month.

    Oh, and EXACTLY how much of that $1800 was spent on Chik Fila? I don’t think I’ve spent more than a couple of hundred dollars on Chik Fila in 15 years in the USA. Maybe the Chik Fila cows need to do a commercial thanking you.

    • I spend an average of $17 per visit to Chic Fila. I got to CFA at least 6 times a week, sometimes twice in the same day.

      Yes. The Cows need to be thanking me. I’d have no beef with that!

      Side note: I need to hang out with you more often! You meet the oddest people. $2k on shoes a month?? Maybe that’s just the jealousy talking.

      • David S.

        The $2k suprises you? Don’t get me started on the spending habits of “our people.”

        At $17 per visit, 6 visits per week, 52 weeks a year, comes to about 312 visits, and $5304 per year spent on Chik Fila. The cows need to do more than just thank you. They need to name a chicken sandwich after you.

        • O_o. For real? I can’t accept that I spent five thousand dollars a year at CFA. I just can’t.

  • Andrew

    I spoke to a friend the other day and she said “Know what, I want to meet a rich man!” “Huh?” “Yes”, she went on “I want to meet such a man because in all my relationships I’ve always had more. I am a girl and well…I want him to ask me out on a random day..for us to go for dinner or something. Nothing fancy but just to feel he’s making the effort. My last boyfriend would buy me stuff that cost him a lot but..erm..it wasn’t that expensive.” Your post reminded me of that conversation, which makes me think that because of such expectations, men feel inadequate when women earn more than they do. Personally, I don’t…perhaps because my dad wasn’t. That said, I also feel it particularly essential for me to be ‘the provider’….so I think it boils down to the individual as opposed to the sexes. What’s more, and perhaps more importantly, a person’s upbringing

    • That’s actually true, it is down to upbringing. I found a lot of guys who are African have that men bring in the money, ladies stay at home mentality. Now I am not saying a lot of African men are like this. Also there have been many times when I have wanted to treat a guy, pay for dinner, but he never lets me. I always think its down to ego. Am I wrong?

      • Andrew

        In my opinion, the ego has a big role to play..but it’s not down to that as the sole reason. Let me use another example: the point at which a couple meet. The idea of the first date being the man’s responsibility. I think that following such a date, the man feels it’s his role to maintain the “I pay you enjoy” attitude, throughout. I know many girls who consider it faux pas to pay on the first date or split the bill. This is the same way that a man will refuse to be treated. So I think the context of the first date (coupled with ego) make a difference. But from the examples given above, I think it’s more than just the money and the things both are willing to do….for me, am afraid of the babies until the tops of their heads stops ‘pumping’ 🙂

        • NM

          LOL @ being afraid of babies. Just don’t touch it.

        • @ Andrew,

          Yes I am one of those women who consider it faux pas (SP?) to split a check or pay on the first date. I have VERY good reason for that, of which I’m not going to detail but nonetheless, if I pay, deuces!

  • NM

    Earning power has never really affected how I judge a mate’s compatablilty; like the author what matters to me is that the individual has ambition and is doing the best they can. Perhaps because I’ve known couples with more money than they know what to do with who are miserable and others who make do with the little they have and seem content. Maybe because cirmcumstances in my own life have taught me how quickly the tide can change. What I’ve learned is to talk about one’s view about money early on with a potential mate. That way there aren’t any surprises, like when the credit card bill arrives and there is a mysterious charge for X amount which can be traced back to a shoe store. 🙂

  • Me, I’ll be honest oo. Money matters….the end.