Maybe, if that one person is also in the same high net worth category as the woman is. But when the woman significantly out earns the man, even though the man may make a really good yearly income, the tendency is for the woman to look down on her man for not exhibiting the “drive” necessary to be a multi-millionaire, or make more than a good average income. It’s just the nature of the beast, of the type AAAAA high achiever to compare her man to herself.
What many high-achieving women think will satisfy them in a husband before the woman makes it big in business, changes once that level of multi-million dollar success hits. Women, for the most part, are still covertly living in the cultural paradigm of men taking care of the family financially. When women are going for broke, so to speak, pulling out all the stops, and building companies and careers that out earn their men, I believe that they can’t help but compare their husband’s achievements with theirs. If women feel that their husband’s achievements are less than theirs, the marriage can’t survive if the husband is happy with where he is at. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 33% of marriages end in divorce when the wife out earns the husband.
I remember the scene in the Real Housewives of New York in which Bethenny said to Jill Zarin, her castmate, “I want it all: marriage, family, huge success. Do you think I can have it all?” Bethenny referred to Martha Stewart as her role model except that Martha did get divorced, and went on to become America’s leading authority on anything about the home. I believe Bethenny’s stated goal was to be like Martha Stewart in business but with a husband by her side.
Then I remember the scene in a subsequent season after Bethenny was with Jason Hoppy, in her apartment before she got the branding deal for Skinny Girl and Seagrams, when I knew she would get divorced. She said to Jason, “I got mine, now you go out and get yours.” Jason had a career in sales and seemed to be independent and financially self-sufficient as he was portrayed on the show. I have no idea what preceded this conversation because of the way the show is edited, but just those words coming out of Bethenny’s mouth to Jason, and on national television, in any context, was a putdown of who he was at that time, what he had accomplished in his life with work, family and friends, and elevated Bethenny over Jason in not so flattering a manner. Women cannot compete financially against their men. No one wins; everyone loses.
I also remember scenes from the Real Housewives of New York where Jason seemed to be very supportive of Bethenny in all of her endeavors to keep promoting herself in ways that would build Bethenny’s brand as a self-starter, a brave and courageous women, an enterprising business woman. As a divorce professional I wish I knew more, firsthand, about why the marriage broke down, over and above Bethenny’s remark that Jason should try to get more financially out of his career and profession as she did, thereby creating friction and competition between them. I’m guessing that wasn’t her intention to humiliate Jason, but it could have been the result. Why? Because the marriage was short-lived and the divorce was contentious.
After only two years of marriage, Bethenny filed for divorce. I have found that short-term marriages are far more contentious than long-term marriages because hopes and dreams for the future are dashed before they get off the ground. In long-term marriages spouses spend time on the relationship, get to know one another, create memories together, and can see that they tried to make the relationship work. Short-term marriages haven’t had time to breathe yet. The relationship rug is pulled out from under them by circumstances that have quickly gotten out of control. When something that should have blossomed and provided happiness is upended before it can gain traction, no one knows where to put their shock, extreme disappointment, bewilderment, anger, shame, blame, and frustration so they put it on the other spouse.
But, when two people are more in line with each other financially, professionally, and emotionally, a better chance at having it all can be attained. High-achieving women, you will probably have to go through one marriage first, if your initial choice for a husband is someone who enjoys their work but is not in a career that can earn as much as you. Get ready for problems that will arise out of how you have to coordinate your day, what you can do financially because you have more money, the level of people with whom you will be surrounded, and the natural competition that might set in because of your nature to succeed.
Women, you will more than likely start to measure yourself against your husband in terms of accomplishments, and you may be stuck in the traditional norm that men do or should want to make more money than women. You may think that you’ll be able to handle making more money than your husband and still respect him, but if the Bureau of Labor Statistics is right, at least 33% of you won’t be able to stay with your husband if the income level is too disparate.
The times they are a changin’. But not completely; not yet. Being financially compatible is important to relationship success if the woman is focused on extreme business success. Maybe it will take at least one divorce in order to realize how this works. Bottom line, yes, a high-achieving woman can have it all, but maybe not to the first man she marries.