My Not Quite Traditional Marriage

Today is our seventh year anniversary. Seven years of marriage. Seven years of shared experiences, dreams and plans. Seven years of getting to know each other.  Seven years of a life together.

When we met over seven years ago, both of us were poor. I was a full-time student, working full-time, my spending problems were in full gear, debt piling up. Beaker was living with his friend, driving a beat up car, and bouncing checks after our third or fourth date. The first time he told me that he bounced a check after one of our dates, I said that we should start cooking at home instead of going out. By then he already knew that I feel miserable in the kitchen, and produce awful meals. He took over all the cooking, and to this day he is the one who cooks in our family.

Somehow, from the very beginning of our relationship, we knew that I will be the one making more money. After all I had two Master’s degrees, one of them was in accounting. He was a college drop-out who worked in a warehouse. Ironically, from the financial perspective, besides a much larger paycheck, I was bringing into our marriage much more debt and a shopping addiction. Beaker, on the other hand, was contributing a stable, though smaller paycheck, frugal habits and a little debt.

Eventually we eased into a certain family dynamic: I took over all family finances, Beaker took over taking care of the house.

I am a born workaholic who lives in the fast lane, staying busy all the time. I am one of those people who have to work and stay busy all the time. Otherwise I get bored, feel unaccomplished, and unimportant.  Beaker lives at a much slower pace, savors his time in front of the TV, and knows the art of relaxation. He showed me that vacations can be relaxing, and that weekends do not need to be a marathon of chores.

Most of us have a very traditional mind set when it comes to marriage. The majority of people view these major life transitions, such as marriage, as an assignment of certain social roles: women are homemakers, mothers, cooks, and men are the breadwinners.

The traditional roles of marriage that are usually presumed by society are completely reversed in our case. Beaker never tried to change me, mold me into a mother of two kids, a cook, or a homemaker. I work long hours, my schedule is fast-paced, and my check is much larger than his. I don’t do chores around the house because I simply don’t have time.

Most of the house work is on Beaker. He walks the dog, cooks, cleans, and plans our menu for the week. It does not bother him that his wife is the one who handles all finances. It takes quite a bit of bravery and courage to hand your paycheck along with your retirement plan into the hands of a spendacholic. That trust he has in me, prevents some of my spending binges, and promotes buyer’s remorse outbursts along with more conscious spending.

The fact that I am the top earner has not changed our family dynamics. We are perfectly comfortable in the way our marriage works: I make money, handle finances, and he cooks and takes care of the house.

Has a resentment built up in Beaker due to the fact that he is the man who takes care of the house chores and not the finances? Does he question his own value as a man? I honestly don’t think he does. Believe me, I’ve been watching closely, especially having the bitter experience of my first marriage.

It takes a strong man to be proud of his wife and let her be herself. It takes a lot of self-confidence to admit that his wife is the bread-winner, and he is the homemaker.

Not everyone could or would ever consider to live like us. Not every man can handle a woman like me, a self-proclaimed feminist, a workaholic and a spender. Not every woman would be content with a man bringing home less money than she does.

Beaker and I unintentionally reclaimed and remade the traditional institution of marriage, and shaped it into something that works for us. Nothing else matters.

This post was featured in the following carnivals:

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29 thoughts on “My Not Quite Traditional Marriage

  1. femmefrugality

    I grew up as a child of a traditional marriage, but I’ve had so many friends who haven’t been. Their dad stays home and cares for the kids and cooks and cleans and momma makes the money. Whatever works for each couple, I say. We’re more a little bit of each in both of us.

    Kudos to your husband. Recognizing that traditional gender roles don’t determine the validity of your gender isn’t always an easy thing to do.

    Reply
  2. Carrie Smith

    I think you and Beaker are amazing! And I applaud you both for breaking the mold, to find something that works for you guys – no matter what society says. I too went through a terrible first marriage and found out that just because I did everything according to a pre-set plan, it doesn’t mean it’s right for me. Now that I’ve grown into myself a little more, I’m able to have a much more successful relationship – and to be honest it’s not traditional at all. It’s a lot like yours. He does the house chores, and cooks the meals while bringing in a paycheck from his creative outlets. I pay the bills and handle the finances. And it actually works perfectly – I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Reply
  3. eemusings

    You guys sound a little like us! I have the degree, he works in a warehouse, although I also have the better financial habits.

    I think T would be a good stay home dad as he knows how to deal with kids and a great cook, but he’s terrible at cleaning. Seriously dire.

    However your relationship divvies up things, the main thing is that it works for you.

    Reply
  4. American Debt Project

    Yay for happy relationships! I have learned that if you can let go of worrying about what other people think or even how you think a relationship should be, you can find a very happy balance in just being yourself with your best friend. Tradition is nice and I am not totally anti-tradition (like some people in my family) but I do like breaking the mold too.

    Reply
  5. Lucille

    I was in a traditional marriage but when I wanted to break out of it, his ego couldn’t take it. Whether I made more or less money than him made little difference – he was the boss – and he liked it that way. Unfortunately I didn’t; so had to take the plunge into divorce when I only had a small income and three children (one of whom is disabled). Always inspiring to hear of role reversals that work.

    Reply
  6. Money Beagle

    Happy Anniversary. I think that if it works for you two, that’s great. My wife says I would hate it if she were the breadwinner but I don’t think so, as long as our income was higher than it is now. I just think having a higher income would be good with me.

    Reply
  7. Daisy

    I love this! Your relationship sounds like mine and my boyfriends; except he makes more money than I do right now, but I worry about the finances, he takes care of the dogs and does lots of the house stuff. Happy anniversary to you and Beaker!

    Reply
  8. Well Heeled Blog

    The best marriages allow each partner to be who they want and do what they want to achieve their full potential (within mutually agreed-upon boundaries, of course). Tradition is just “how things have been done in the past” – doesn’t mean it’s good or bad. It’s up to each couple to make sure their arrangement works, and it sounds like you and Beaker are doing a great job at that!

    Reply
  9. Mo' Money Mo' Houses

    That’s awesome, considering I definitely don’t ever plan on being a stay at home mom but a working mom and wife and hope to never have to change just because I get married. Happy Anniversary!

    Reply
  10. Earth and Money

    I think the traditional roles are going to continue to be eroded in the future. From the male perspective, I would have zero issues being the one to stay home, do the chores, etc. – essentially fill the ‘traditional’ female role. In fact, I would almost prefer to do that than be the breadwinner if we chose to have a one income household.

    Reply
  11. Ornella @ Moneylicious

    I’m a little new to blogging and I just stumbled upon your blog. I like you candid, unapologetic way of writing and expressing yourself.

    Things are moving away from tradition. I think it’s fantastic that the two of you understand each other and know each other strengths! Talk about opposite attracts:-)

    Reply
  12. shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet

    You stole my post for the end of this month! (Except that it will be our 9th anniversary). Actually, we split chores a bit more evenly and I am perfectly happy with working 40 hours a week, not 40+. The most important thing I see in a relationship is continuous communication and making sure each partner is happy with their role, and flexibility to make changes if someone is unhappy. As long as you have those two things, what the rest of the world sees and thinks doesn’t matter.

    Reply
  13. Joe @ Retire By 40

    Happy anniversary! It’s great to hear that you guys are making it work. Every marriage is different and if it works for you, it doesn’t matter what anyone else think. Too bad Beaker can’t make it to Denver. It would have been great to meet both of you.

    Reply
  14. TB at BlueCollarWorkman

    What works for you is what works for you. It’s great that your guys’ system works for you and you’re both happy! Sounds just perfect! For my wife and me, we follow the traditional roles. It just sort of happened that way and we’re both happy with it. SHe’s hoping to get a full-time job when our kids go to school, and if she starts making more than me then…well, that’s just fine, too 🙂

    Reply
  15. Little House

    Mr. LH and I have flipped roles in some areas; he’s the cook and cleaner and works from home, I handle the finances and work outside the home. Thankfully, we appreciate each others strengths and have never tried changing each other. I think that couples that truly know one another, appreciate that and don’t try to change each other are happy and maintain a long-lasting relationship. Congrats on your 7th anniversary!

    Reply
  16. jefferson

    Happy anniversary Aloysa!.. Michelle and I are actually at our ten years today! August is a popular time to get married, it would seem 🙂

    I think that within every marriage, you have to find roles that work. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and you just have to find ways to compliment each other. Michelle certainly takes the lead on child care, altho I do try to be as involved as possible, as being a good dad is very important to me. We try to split chores and cooking down the middle, but I earn most of the money. The important part is, we have found a dynamic that works well for us. And it sounds like you and your beaker have found the same..

    BTW.. I didn’t know that you had two master’s degrees.. That is impressive!

    Reply
  17. Jacob @ iheartbudgets

    We are traditional in every sense of the word. My wife is at home with the little one, live in the ‘burbs, have a golden retriever/lab, etc. But we definitely were born to play these roles. My wife has wanted to be a mother since age 5, and I really “manned up” (if that’s the term) when I met her and was SUPER MOTIVATED to get better job(s), and take on the breadwinner role so she can stay at home and raise our kids/be a homeaker.

    Have you decided on kids yet? We know that getting pregnant definitely solidified how we would handle our roles, but was wondering if you think that would influence your style at all?

    Sounds like you guys have a good thing goin on 🙂

    Reply
  18. ProfitsOn

    Marriage is often a gamble, which can be better targeted with experience.

    Basic value sharing is vital for a long-lasting relationship.

    Thank you for the article.

    Reply
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