Money and Power–not so simple in couple dynamics

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I had a interesting conversation yesterday with award-winning journalist Liza Mundy.  She is working on a book about couples in which the woman earns more than the man.  This is a fascinating subject because although having personal  income certainly gives women more choices and more power, making more than ones partner does not necessarily translate into more power for women.  We discussed the ways that women may, in fact, accommodate to their male partners in other ways so as not to disrupt the gender-power structure, and how men may respond competitively.

The conversation with Liza stimulated my curiousity about the dynamics of gender, money, and power in heterosexual couple relationships.  Liza noted some couple situations in which the men seemed truly supportive, making life easier for their partners in ways that mirror what women have so frequently done for men.  These men seem to be redefining masculity in ways that are promising for gender equality.  But these situations appear to be the exception.

Liza pointed out to me that situations where women make more money than men are becoming increasingly common in the younger generation.  These days, more women graduate from college from men.  This gives them more access to money and the social advantages of eduation than their male partners.  Liza is very interested in how these kinds of changes in the economics of the workplace affect couple relationships.

What do you think?  What is y our experience?  How do money and gender work in your relationship? Or in the relationships of others you know?

posted by Carmen

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