Doctors married to NON-doctors

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    I have read all of the posts about the pros/cons about being married to another physician. I’ve done that and have my own thoughts on that subject, but I am more interested at this point in my life in the issue of how to manage a female-MD/male non-MD partnership, particularly when the male partner earns significantly less than the female MD. I am a psychiatrist in private practice and my partner is in the midst of a career change and going back to grad school to retrain in a field where he is guaranteed to never match my income. I have no problem with this, but the income and/or status differential is very disturbing to him. How have others handled this situation? Is it possible to soothe a male ego sufficiently that income is not felt to be equivalent to self-worth or “power” within a relationship/family?

    I appreciate any thoughts from others…..


    You’re right to acknowledge that men traditionally have been more likely to associate status and income with self-worth. It has helped us to think that all income/skills/achievements belong to the marriage and not to either him or me alone. After all, marriage is a partnership. In your husband’s case, going back to grad school is of value and significance as well and perhaps you can verbalize that worth to you on a regular basis to him. And make sure that the money coming into the marriage is as equally his and not just yours. Some men have exerted power over women who made less money by restricting their access to the “family money”, right? Having a truly joint approach to the family money lessens the “his and her” mentality that can accentuate income differences.

    My husband is a bit older than me and we are definitely “baby boomer” generation. Why I mention that is we are old enough to have experienced changes in who carries more of the money making aspect. My husband does not have an advanced degree but was once a computer industry “yuppie” (when hardware ruled over software!). Now after over 10 years of medical practice I have spent time dealing with illness/surgery and am seriously considering not returning to medical practice for reasons independent of medical illness. So, what I’m trying to say is that things change (as they already have for you with your husband returning to school) and as long as you work as a team then usually no one partner has more “status” than the other. And, by the way, I don’t know about yours, but my husband has mellowed with age due to the unpredictability of life… it just took him awhile longer to realize what is truly important in life (other than who dies with the most toys!). Please accept my support and the above is just my two cents, of course!


    I do not even know how much $ my husband earns. I do not need to know because it is so small that I wouldn’t take it into account when making major financial decisions ( ie should I finish paying my loans back this year?) And the reason this is all OK is that he DOESN’T MIND that I bring home the big bucks ( ha ha I am in primary care so I really don’t bring home BIG BIG bucks.) And on the bright side he is still frugal so I don’t see him spending hundreds on silly stuff,a lthough if he did that would be his business. You mentioned “partner” so I assume that means not married- yet?


    My husband has also made a negligible income, and then became unemployed. We never really talked about the difference in our financial contribution to the home (didn’t want it to be a big deal). However, maybe it’s better to get it out on the table, in order to plan ahead for when you might start a family?

    Our difficulty began when my husband became territorial about the home and kids, in a way that further excluded me when I am home from work. So, from my perspective, I think you can be glad that your husband is going to grad school and pursuing his career interests, especially if you want to be primarily involved in caregiving once you have kids.


    I am married to a non-physician. He is a financial/tax professional. When we were first married he moved from another city so we could be together. Because of the move he had to leave his job and the best new one he could find in my city paid about 60% of his old salary. In the early years of our marriage my salary was almost double his.

    As time has gone on, he has enhanced his career while I have cut back on mine. We now have children and I am working very part time. My salary has dropped and his has risen, so he now out-earns me significantly.

    None of this has ever been a problem for us. From the beginning, we have really considered ourselves a team. Any earned income is “ours.” However, it really helps that we have similar spending and saving strategies. If one or the other of us were too frugal or too easy-spending, I could see lots of tension building.

    Hope that helps.


    I’m married to a teacher who earns 1/3 my salary. He knew this would be the case before we got married, and thought long and hard about it first. The way we deal with it is that we have one joint account and both paychecks go straight in there. We never really pay attention to who earns what, just talk in terms of “our” total salary. We both pay the bills and both manage the checkbook. My husband is more of an impulse buyer than I am so I am very careful when discussing purchases to use “our” and “we” instead of talking about “his” spending habits.


    Yojen2: I have a BAD story to tell- I signed my husband up for a contest and he was chosen to try out a “key” to get a new DOdge/ or $15,000. SO we drove to that city last weekend where we were seeing my Mom and Dad anyways. We got there and he had to fill out a form. He left “income” balnk so she handed it back to him and said he had to put something.
    While I was chitchatting w/ MOm my Dad told him “Screw them- that’s none of their business” so my husband put “Not enough- $XX,000)… 😀
    so she comes back and say she is disqualified bc ” IT DoeS NOT MEET THEIR INCOME CUT OFF” so I get up and go over to see what the scuttlebutt is about…and I say ” OK well what if our combined income is $XXX,000 ???” And she says, well it does not matter bc he already wrote $XX,000″ 🙁
    OUCH….so it was horrifically embarrassing for him, and Mom and Dad made light of it of course, but his feelings were really hurt and he was in a bad mood all weekend…as he said ,”I alreayd know I do not make enough to buy ANYTHING, but she did not have to rub my nose in it!” :guilty:


    :rolleyes: My husband probably makes 2/3 my salary. We’ve always kept it pretty lighthearted. He’s worked since his finished his bachelor’s degree. So he’s got 6 years on me, helping me out through school & residency. Now that I’m in practice, I’m his Sugar- Momma. Unfortunately though… with malpractice, insurance, etc I’m not really 😉


    Oh Maggie, that’s a terrible story. One more example of the self-serving corporate world… they would never just give something away, they just want to get “qualified” buyers into their showroom. Terrible!!

    I feel for your husband – I left a 6 figure income to move with my husband and stay home with kids. I still find it hard to fill in those types of forms… it hurts my pride b/c you get labeled as a “mooch” living off someone else’s income, even though you are contributing greatly to their ability to earn their income by supporting them in terms of home and kids. 🙁


    We are going through major changes here as we enter the 8th month of my husband’s unemployment. He was making 10 times as much as my piddly resident’s salary and got laid off like so many financial execs lately. If we could survive financially he’d stay home for good with our son and give up the job search, which would be fine by me. Maybe after a few years in practice it will be possible, but even then I’ll never touch what he was making. It causes some conflict right now regarding housework, cooking, shopping etc, the burden of which I still feel although he is home more. But as far as money is concerned, we’ve always considered my medical school loans to be “ours.” We feel the same about income.


    Mine is a graphic designer who now is doing just some freelance work making minimal money while taking care of our darling 7 month old. I am a resident so together we are making big money. He must be very secure with his manhood as he is now a doctor’s “wife”, and Air Force “wife” and a stay at home daddy (the last is finally starting to challenge him). He does make jokes about being my cabana boy, and how for a cabana boy he doesn’t get too many fringe benefits or fabulous vacations, and how come he has to drive a ’93 Civic? He, however, is a superb man about all this. About the money thing: one decision we made a long time ago was that we didn’t want to escalate our standard of living to the point that his potential income alone couldn’t support it, so that if we chose, I could quit for a while and be a stay at home mom. In any case, the money thing has definitely been a secondary issue thus far, though it doesn’t hurt that we’ve never had a whole lot of it.


    I’m getting married in a few months to a pharmaceutical executive. He makes more money than I do (I’m an internist). I feel that my colleagues really look down their noses about him when I tell them my partner works for a pharma company. Am I just imagining this because of all the negative talk out there about md’s professional relationships with pharma companies or do doctors really feel this way about personal relations with them too? ie. do md’s have respect for pharma employees?


    I’m engaged to a chemical engineering student.
    We really have no idea what his future salary will be, but that’s not the issue. The issue with us is that he could have to move pretty much anywhere in the world to get a job.
    That could really interfere with my training and/or chosen career.
    I really like to plan ahead, so my main problem is that we really have to just wait and see what pans out…. it’s driving me nuts!!!



    One think I think everyone is messing is the ‘power struggle’. Is the issue with money or the role of physician. I am married and my husband feels very uncomfortable with the status thing because he wants to be the provider and the control in the marriage. I know many men like this, our collagues are lucky.

    If this is indeed the case, I don’t think that you can constantly stroke his ego or you will be constantly trying to make him seem as though he doesn’t have a place equally by constantly reminding him that he does. Sorry if I am rambling.

    In summary, I think you and your husband should decide together on money issues, but if he has problems accepting you as a physician and that status quo, then you will have to let him find his own security.

    just my two cents. :twocents:

    EM momEM mom

    My husband is an electrical engineer and I think he deals beautifully with my being a doctor. We got married during medical school (when I was negative money) and have always had a joint checking account and joint savings. At the moment, since I am a resident, he makes more than me, but he can’t wait until the day when I make more and he can think about trying some other career routes. I think the most important thing to remember is that you are a team.

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