I’m not trying to be controversial with this post. I’m just trying to describe my own feelings. These are my feelings and not those of the owner of this site or anyone else, for that matter. With that disclaimer in mind, here goes:
As I’ve written about many times on this site, I recently started my own business. In many ways, it has been rewarding. In other ways it’s been difficult. One of the toughest things for me to deal with is not being able to contribute to the financial resources of my family like I used to. Before I started my own business, I was an equal partner (financially) in the marriage. I may have even been (by a slight margin) the breadwinner. I know it sounds old fashioned, but I’ve always wanted to be the breadwinner. Now don’t get me wrong, I want my Wife to earn a ton of money. But I want to feel that I’m playing my part too. It’s disheartening to me that my Wife is under so much financial pressure because I started my own business. It doesn’t help that I’m always working on my business, so I’m not around a lot either.
My Wife has never made me feel bad about not being able to contribute to the family’s finances much (and in the beginning of my business, not at all). She has been more supportive than I have any right to deserve. But again, there is this (perhaps) old fashioned feeling inside me that says things like: “you’re not a man, you’re a freeloader living off the hard work and health insurance of your Wife.”
I know we’re in the twenty-first century, but it still pains me to not be able to be an equal partner in terms of paying our mortgage, student loans, etc. I hope that doesn’t make me sexist in any way, but it is how I feel. I know if things were reversed she’d feel a similar pressure, as our house requires two salaries to run. We have six figure student loan debt. We pay $2,500 each month for our mortgage. We are struggling.
Sometimes that pressure is compounded by the uncertainty of operating a new business. You never know if the business is ultimately going to succeed. You like to think, “well I can put up with some lean times because it’s going to all pay off in the end.” But there is no guarantee that it will. None at all. The business might never generate a decent living. I might have to give it up and go back to working for someone else, having only wasted my time and lost out on months (or even years) of a steady salary and benefits package.
Those inner fears sometimes make me take on clients that I shouldn’t. They sometimes make me take on difficult clients or clients who can only pay (1/2) up front. (And I know I’ll never see the second half).
I’ve tried to pick up more freelance writing income to supplement my income and help pay some bills. That’s been a big help. Before, my freelance writing income would pay for a fancy vacation each year. Now it pays for groceries. I’m grateful for it.
But I can’t help but feel bad for my Wife. I want her to have everything she deserves, and right now I can barely provide her with anything. Just my big old stupid self.
Have you ever experienced such a situation? Am I a total sexist jerk? Please tell me I’m not, because I swear it’s all well-intentioned.
I look forward as always to reading your responses.