Heart in the cold snowA recent NY Times article has created a lot of buzz. Young women, working in major cities, are surging way ahead of men in terms of earnings. This is a great news for a gender that’s long been on the short end of the income stick.

Still, this trend is bound to play havoc in some relationships. For centuries, men’s self esteem has been heavily linked to their financial success…just as women’s sense of femininity has been connected to being taken care of. Sure times have changed radically…but some egos are having trouble making the transition.

And it’s not just men who are having a hard time…women are too. I’ve talked with a lot of women, ambitious as they are, who secretly resent their husband’s inability to bring in the big bucks.

Jean Chatsky wrote a terrific article on keeping your relationship intact when your man earns less. She offers 5 tips:

  1. Talk and listen
  2. Be his biggest cheerleader
  3. Open yours, mine, and ours accounts
  4. Focus on the endgame (i.e. your dreams and goals)
  5. Recognize that marriage changes things

Excellent advice. Of the 5, I believe #1 is the critical piece. Especially the listening part. We all know it’s important to communicate. But fearful people can be vicious. Not because they’re mean-spirited, but because they’re scared. Make no mistake—role reversal can be scary because it threatens the status quo.

Successful communication means allowing anger, even rage, to be expressed…without taking it personally. It requires the willingness to tell your truth, blow off steam, express your fear and anger without the other person getting defensive, but listening with compassion and nonjudgement. Not easy, by any means.

I’d love to hear from those of you who have had these kind of discussions…what’s worked and what hasn’t??

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