MONEY matters

Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics

Men Who Under-Earn and the Women Who Love Them

Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Oct 27, 2011 @ 02:32 PM
building a future with your mate

I used to think it was mostly a west coast thing. What I’m referring to is the rapidly growing number of couples that are putting quality of life ahead of their standard of living - those who are downsizing and simplifying. In many cases, the men are encouraging and supporting their wife/life partner to be the breadwinner in the family, while they often stay at home to care for the kids and run the household, or work from home part-time.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the culture very much encourages self-empowerment, this trend is exploding. There are classes and workshops that focus and teach women how they can best cope and support the men in their lives that are (and this was the wonderfully delicious euphemistic term used to market an upcoming workshop), under-earners.

It’s a Leap of Faith

From my vantage point as a holistic financial planner, I often meet the men that have voluntarily simplified their lives. Many describe making the change as a leap of faith. And for full disclosure, when I meet with couples where this idea or concept is on the table, I do everything in my power to see how this can work and make it happen for them.

When I meet people that truly desire to reinvent themselves, but the only major obstacle standing in the way is money - I can’t wait to get started on a financial plan with them. Because my first priority is having my clients be successful, having a personal financial plan in place is the only way to proceed.

Transition to Success

Of course, talking about this type of personal transformation, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the book Your Money or Your Life which very often provides the catalyst and self-confidence necessary to make major life changes. It’s when you begin to challenge all the core assumptions in your life, especially the ones about how much you ‘should’ make or the type of work you ‘should’ be doing that life really gets interesting.

The vast majority of men I meet that are contemplating this downsizing and simplifying life choice are currently in high stress, high income careers or jobs that feel more like they’re making a ‘dying’ instead of making a ‘living’. Many guys are literally just burned out from striving and never arriving as every time they were close to reaching the finish line, someone moved the goalpost yet again. Men making this downshift in terms of career change risk the wrath of not only society, since this is still very much out of the norm, but often friends and extended family make their opinions of your choice that much more of a challenge.

Women Leading From the Heart

Swimming upstream is much more challenging than going with the flow. Men that begin reflecting on their life choices often notice the creative juices really start bubbling to the surface.  They may feel empowered and inspired to “quit their day job”, they might take personal mini sabbaticals in order to regroup or rest, they often reinvent themselves by taking a gig that’s low stress and easy on the mind and soul.

But we still live with sexism so with these unorthodox choices comes the dubious distinction of possibly being dubbed lazy, under-earner, girlie men, slacker or a poor provider for the family. But down the road, when the investment made in yourself and your family by taking some time off to just slow down enough so you could think clearly manifests into a happier, healthier and more prosperous you, it’s then that all the naysayers will tell you how smart a move that was back then to take some time off.

For all the men I have helped and encouraged to make this move, the X factor that has made the difference between a successful or unsuccessful reinvention is the unconditional love they have received from their wife/life partner during this transition.

It’s what teamwork is all about. A wife helps her partner to become a happier man, him becoming happier helps her love him even more. The more love, the more abundance they attract into their lives, and on and on it goes…

Mark Twain said it best: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. “Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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Photo by Mr.T in DC