I woke up this morning to this email from my best friend, who spent the holidays in Miami with her second husband and their 4 girls:
Flying home from miami this am. Name deleted told me last night he doesn’t want to live w me & my girls anymore. I don’t know what to do. Please call if u get this. Landing around 10.
Being a good friend, I called even before my coffee pot was turned on. I wondered if it was just a fit of holiday rage, but instead it seems that the mister wants to make all the decisions, and have my friend simply nod her head and say “why of course, dear.” When they first got together, he took charge, arranging for an attorney for her divorce, paying off her bills, flying her places for fun weekends, shopping for new furniture and re-decorating his entire house, and she was just happy to be taken care of. But as time went on, my friend wanted her autonomy back. And that didn’t sit well with the mister. He was bothered by her financial donations and involvement with pro-choice groups; he wanted to be able to discipline her children as he saw fit, often more harshly than he would his own (and this was what set things off last night, apparently); he was weird about the financial split of things (eventually, my friend gave up having her own bank account and left him in charge of all the money). I think there was probably more going on than she’s told me, too. He’s not a bad guy, but he is used to getting his way. All the time. And of course, my friend has seen firsthand how the mister protects his money from the ex-wife, and she’s worried (rightly so, IMO) about what will happen if it’s her turn to be the ex-wife.
Why am I yammering on about this? Because this brings up so many things I’ve wondered about relationships and money. In marriages, does the person who makes more money ALWAYS feel like they are more entitled to call the shots? Does the person who makes less money feel financially compelled to go along with whatever the other one wants? What would the world be like if more women were generally on equal financial footing with men? How would their choices change? Would marriage lose its appeal, and would women feel more free to live their lives the way they want?
And guys, how do you REALLY feel about women who make more money than you? Is it intimidating? Does it make you a little uncomfortable? Would you ever have in the back of your mind (as many women do) that the one with the money holds more of the cards, and can more easily walk away if things go bad? Would it change the way you behave in a relationship or affect who you would date?
I guess what I’m asking is, how do money and power issues affect your relationships, and are they inextricably tied together? Am I the only person who ever thinks about this?