marriage-and-money Ever since the first caveman dragged the first deer carcass (cavemen ate deer, right?) and presented it to his mate, men have been the self-appointed providers, the bread (venison?) winners. Somehow the need and desire that men felt to provide was encoded into humanity’s social genome and became an expectation dearly held for millenia. But in recent years, women are quickly gaining on men in titles and salaries. The playing field is progressing toward equality, as it should be. But even the most forward-thinking guys might feel a twinge of humiliation when confronted with the knowledge that their special girl makes more cheddar. Many men are finding themselves in the position where they have to ask themselves a serious question: “Am I able to live with her making more?”

Let’s face it, money isn’t just money. Money is power. Money is freedom. A person’s financial worth defines how they eat, travel and enjoy their time. For centuries, we’ve held this over the fairer sex like a bad punchline. Hell, women couldn’t vote in this country until the 20th century. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” and though it’s taken a very long time, we as a people are attempting to undo the heinous missteps we’ve made in the past. We are trying to wash our social sins away and emerge reborn. So how is it we can advocate for feminism and equal rights among the sexes, but still manage to, on some level, struggle with the concept of not being the primary providers for our families?

There’s an expression that is making the rounds in cubicle farms everywhere: “The number one killer is retirement.” Why is that? Because whatever our jobs may be, they offer us purpose, whether we care to admit it or not. Purpose is an elementally powerful word, and it emanates deep primal meaning. A life without purpose is directionless, a catastrophe. Perhaps a job that doesn’t exactly put food in your children’s mouths lacks purpose. Perhaps that lack of purpose can undermine the most lofty of professional ambitions and cause serious rifts between otherwise loving spouses.

At some point, we all must look ourselves in the mirror and decide what matters most to your idea of masculinity. If being the sole breadwinner, point-blank, makes the list, then marrying a woman who bests your bank account or has high earning potential might not be in the cards. But being a good husband and father doesn’t mean making the most money, not by a long shot. It means working hard and being supportive and showing up when you say you will, and if your spouse can help make that happen and likewise make a better environment for your children along the way, you should be on board one hundred percent. Happiness, in this case, is a team effort.

There are no winners or losers.