Many Boss Brides have encountered the reality of earning more than your partner. For ESSENCE, I explored how women keep their sanity and cents when being the breadwinner.

Orlando, Florida, radiologist Dawn DeLavallade was in her last year of medical school when she met her husband, Ty, a teacher. “We always knew one day I would probably make more money,” she recalls. “After we married and I settled into my career, I started feeling some shame about earning more than my husband.” Her stress was compounded by her inability to share with friends and family for fear that others wouldn’t understand. However, DeLavallade was far from alone:
Forty percent of American households with children now have a woman bringing home the higher paycheck, and that reality may be more prevalent in Black households. In the past 50 years, the number of married moms earning more than their husbands has quadrupled, and the numbers continue to rise as women outnumber men in college and make gains at work. But the growth of female breadwinners and decline of traditional gender roles don’t have to wreak havoc on our relationships.

“There are a lot of misconceptions when a woman earns more than her man,” says Farnoosh Torabi, who makes higher wages than her husband and wrote When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women (Hudson Street Press). “As a female breadwinner, you have to write your own rules and share your needs.”

After acknowledging her stress over being the top earner, DeLavallade confided in a girlfriend. To her surprise, the friend confessed she also made more than her husband. “I felt a huge weight lift,” she says. DeLavallade was inspired to create a support group for other high-earning women, which includes monthly group calls and webinars at

Not all higher-earning ladies entered the relationship that way. “I see many couples where the man used to make more money and now they are adjusting to a new dynamic,” says Decatur, Georgia, counselor Alduan Tartt, Ph.D., author of The Ring Formula: How to Marry Mr. Right (Visionary Minds). That was the case for Courtney Waldon, 33, whose husband, Jarrel, a chef, lost his job when the restaurant where he worked closed months before they wed in 2010. “It was a tough transition for us, from him making more to me paying more of the bills,” the Chicago makeup artist shares. “It also brought us closer. We had to talk more about our finances and future plans.” As Jarrel started a dessert business, the couple got creative with their finances, mostly fueled by Courtney. One of their favorite memories is of a $12 date of putt-putt golf and Burger King’s dollar menu.
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