LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
Other couples have not been able to work out these difficult control issues as easily. Christine and Rebecca have struggled from the beginning regarding the control of their financial situation. Like many other couples they face a two-fold problem. First, for many years they did not make comparable salaries. Christine was working in the arts, while Rebecca held down a “straight” job which brought in much more money. Christine felt both guilty and defiant about her smaller income from a more gratifying job, while Rebecca resented Christine’s willingness to gratify her own needs while not contributing equally to their household expenses. The second problem concerned control. Who makes decisions regarding the expenditure of money in this relationship? Christine was quite resentful that Rebecca had “both the money and the control.” Rebecca’s response was: “okay, you take the money, I’ll take the control” — meaning that Christine can have more control when she gets a better salary.
In recent years, things have changed in Christine and Rebecca’s household. Both Christine and Rebecca now have more traditional jobs, and their income is just about equal. As a result, ironically, Christine is now much more worried about money than she was when she wasn’t making much. Rebecca, meanwhile, has eased up and taken a more “it will all work out” attitude, given that their joint income is now much higher. Christine got what she wanted: more control (and worries) and more money.
As a way to ease the financial stresses in their relationship, Christine and Rebecca have always retained separate checking accounts along with their joint savings account. Their separate accounts enable each of them to get a better idea of how much money they have made and spent. In addition, they have found it uncomfortable to have checks with two women’s names printed on them, thereby immediately identifying themselves as lesbians.