Who is winning the salary competition?
I have a client who has a need in her business that would require a $55k investment. This investment would need to come from her annual distributions this year.
My client has a very healthy business and is well financially positioned for retirement.
I asked her if she was prepared to make this investment and her answer was no.
Confused, I asked why. What would that mean for her personal financial position.
She quickly replied that the decrease would not matter. She wouldn’t even notice it. But……she still didn’t want to do it. Because that would mean she would earn less than her husband that year.
I stared at her in silence.
Not because I think this is crazy….but because I have the same personal belief.
No way am I falling behind in the earnings race.
2 years ago when the w-2’s came in the mail I was furious because I ‘lost’ by $1,800.
This is a race I have completely made up for myself. My husband was ignorant of its existence until a couple years ago. And when I made him aware, his response was coyly that he didn’t give a shit what I earned.
Ice ran through my veins. “But you sure like our boat!” was my reply. Not my finest moment.
I have a strange attachment to the salary race. I have decided that if I’m going to work (and deprive my family of attention) I better make it worth it.
I know that this rationale is fraught with all kinds of issues. I am ashamed that I still carry this around with me.
I have always wanted to be an equal. I want to hold my own and be valuable.
My therapists wants me to see that I am valuable no matter what I earn, but this is a hard pill for me to swallow. I’m not quite there yet.
I have, however, made a significant adjustment this year that has helped tremendously.
After several years of marriage and 4 kids I finally requested that we combine bank accounts.
I know….this may seems wild that we were separate for so long. But the desire to hold my own and maintain separate finances are deep seated issues. They stem from my unhealthy sense of independence and fear of commitment.
Nevertheless, we combined forces. Last May we sat in the lobby of Wells Fargo and I was more nervous than our wedding day. I literally felt like this was the start of a brand new relationship. Like we were finally getting married for real.
I feared the vulnerability that came with the merge. I also wasn’t sure if I could prevent my desire to micromanage Steve’s finances.
But 1 year later I am 100% on board.
I love spending Steve’s money😉
Seriously. It has changed the game. It really is our money now. We share in all the excess and the deficits equally. We have conversations I feared but now drive our ambitions in a healthy and fun way. It’s much more fun to see our combined totals and I don’t really notice the fluctuations in our individual contributions.
I’m certain there are at least 10 psychological reasons why combining accounts has resolved much of my competitive drive. That’s far too much to explore in 1 article.
But the primary explanation is probably the simple reality that by sharing we have plenty of financial resources, while independently we were both only creating a marginal buffer over our monthly expenses.
Turns out more really is more.
I’m still highly driven to maximize my professional and financial potential. That will never change. But I can now enjoy the fruits of our labor while feeling safe in partnership.
I don’t have to win. But I sure love to play.
If this is an issue that shows up in your relationship, I can help you to find a healthy new alternative. This can have immeasurable benefits in your relationship and in the way you lead work. The emotions we carry about our value show up in everything we do.
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