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Breadwinner "syndrome" - part of my LE. True for others?

For those married or in a Long Term Relationship and struggling with limerence.
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Breadwinner "syndrome" - part of my LE. True for others?

Post by ReeledIn »

I use the word "syndrome" here rather tongue in cheek because it seems everything is a "syndrome" or a "disorder" these days. I've been watching too many pop psychology YouTube videos,apparently. :)

I am just wanting to hear from the breadwinners, meaning you're making more $$ than your SO/life partner. Does this contribute to your LE in any way? This may be especially true for females as I know males are more accustomed to playing the role of breadwinner, which is not entirely fair but it's a cultural norm. I want to hear from both. Men do also have a right to be resentful if they feel taken advantage of. We all do.

In my case, being the breadwinner led to resentments, which led to my LE.. and I ultimately "strayed"..and before I incur the wrath of any lurkers out there.. I am not victim blaming here. ... I'm just saying it's ONE facet of this entire experience for me. None of this is my SO's fault. I take 100% responsibility for my actions, but I still need to get to the bottom of why I did it, and resentment over the finances was certainly one reason - in addition to FOO issues, possibly narc'ism, abandonment issues, fear of loss, fear of being alone, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Brief history: SO is an "entrepreneurial spirit." His income is erratic. He is not lazy. In fact, he's quite the opposite and highly motivated.. I couldn't be with him if he weren't. He typically does contribute the bare minimum of what we need... usually 8-10 months out of the year. (This is about 30-40% of our HHI.) He also really pitches in around the house.. and even cooks for us almost every night... I feel like it's pretty equitable.. but I still can get resentful about it, and sometimes feel taken advantage of.. at times. It's not what I signed up for - when we were married he had steady income and I had every reason to believe it would continue. And while I am the farthest thing from being materialistic (I'm a minimalist) I do wish for a few things we can't have.. which is part of my LE.. I want to live in a nicer house (something with a post 1980's kitchen is really all I want.) LO actually said he wanted this for us too some day - which is all part of the LE fantasy. Of course, my brain knows that if I were in that house with LO, I'd most likely be miserable since he's a narcissist. So, there's that. ;) Oh.. and he'd have to like me again for the fantasy to become reality! :))

ANYWAY.. with SO I also feel tremendous pressure to bring home X amount every month.. so my life options are very limited. I could never just quit an follow my passion the way SO has done a few times.

We have talked about all of this in counseling. He's aware of how I feel.

Anyway, I was just hoping to hear how other breadwinners handle this with their partners. Is it an issue? Not an issue? Does it factor into your LE or serial LE's at all?

F, 48
LO M, 55, single coworker
LE began June 2016 | became EA/PA until 6/18/2017
Disclosed all and reconciled with SO

For my story if interested:

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Re: Breadwinner "syndrome" - part of my LE. True for others?

Post by David »

A timely topic for me, not so much around breadwinners for me, more about money and my relationship with it.

Resentments around SO not bringing in money was a contribution to my own limerence. I was jointly responsbile for this dynamic by enabling her entitled princess mindset. Once vocalised, she did something about it, trained her sef as a therapist and is now contributing.

I think there is some basic biology at play here - in general men wanting sex and in return being the providers, whilst women are looking for resource to raise a family. I do wonder when things are reversed with the woman being the main breadwinner, how this changes the dynamic? Does it contribute to the man being more beta? Or are beta men happier to be stay at home people? And these are stereotypical views that are not progressive. And how much of this is millenia of indoctrination versus innate differences between men and women?

So is this isuse deeper than being about the breadwinner? Is it more to do with money and our relationship with it? How comfortable with money are we? How easy do we find it to to ask for money when we've provided a service? A pay rise? A discount? Or vocalise resentments when our SO's are not contributing financially?
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Re: Breadwinner "syndrome" - part of my LE. True for others?

Post by Anna »

interesting point.
in my marriage of 14 years with my ex-husband, he was in debt when we got to know each other. I brought some money into the relationship. We set up his business, took a mortgage, bought a house, he did most of the work renovating it, we both earned money, about the same, but he "squandered" a lot of his on his addictions , smoking and drinking which made me very resentful towards him.
When I left him last year, he came out of the marriage with a bag full of money, which he bought his own house from and is now debt free with a property and a business.
I got out with what I brought, no material gain. I was pondering whether I felt that was unfair? Some times I do but I am seeing that he was not lazy and that it was a "co-production". None of us would have been able to do what we did without the other (financially). So I am not feeling ungrateful now. I actually feel a little good inside that I "helped" him out of the "gutter" (how bad of me to write that...)
So yes, money has a lot to do with relationship dynamics in my opinion. I think it's a question of power and control. It's a choice whether you act upon it though.

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Re: Breadwinner "syndrome" - part of my LE. True for others?

Post by Endgame »

Agree that money is just the manifestation of the power and control dynamic. Particularly as, to me at least, money is nothing but a means of survival and weight around the neck.

My SO has never been keen on the idea of my earning more than him - which in my field, I'd certainly have the capacity to do if I'd put career above family. But I don't.. .and there are probably 3 reasons for that 1)I 100% believe in working to live, not living to work...meaning if I lost it all tomorrow, I'd still have my family so they come foremost. 2)Whilst I'm highly competitive with myself, I'm not with any partner...i learned long ago when to pick my battles and if allowing a man to feel more masculine by always earning just slightly more results in him being more assertive and empowered, ultimately happier, at home then win win. I don't need to get my kicks by 'beating' someone else so long as I can feel like I'm achieving and have my own financial independence. 3)Imposter syndrome. It's easier for me to have an excuse for why I don't fulfil my full earning potential and my husband is an excellent scapegoat. I understand this wouldn't suit some women.

It does make me a little sad when I observe the many couples with this ongoing argument. It's just money. Whoever brings it into the household is kind of irrelevant, perhaps it's the key choices about what you do with it that are more important. If one partner, for example, would win the lottery and promptly allocate at least half out to support various family members whilst the other would invest and sit on have q fundamental problem right there. If one would see no issue with blowing a decent proportion of the monthly income on meals out, recreational drugs, alcohol, gambling, or luxury goods....but the other expects to save every month towards buying a property or overpaying on the mortgage. Again- that's bound to cause huge rifts. But it's not the earning capacity or the money doing that. It's the mentality. Strip it away and you still have key opinion differences relating to family, instant v deferred gratification, addictions, indulgence, stability, commitment, the list goes on.

A lot of our power struggles are assertions of dominance over each other's thought processes and ethics, with being a breadwinner simply being the equivalent to having more seats in parliament. But it's not always the biggest parties who can have the greatest influence.

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