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Clever Girl- what is your opinion on men feeling inferior to women who are “stronger” or more dominant professionally? How does a man feel when a woman is more financially “smarter”…………and if it’s a proven fact why won’t they listen to advice from the one who shows a successful track record?

This is an email I received some time back and had to ponder for a while because I wanted to give it it’s due.

There will always be those who feel inferior- regardless of the situation they are in. This is something you can not accept responsibility for- changing who you are in a business climate in order to make others comfortable is not an option. To not act, for fear of recrimination in your relationships, is also not advisable. However, those who are strong, have an obligation to acknowledge others are not strong, not always strong and while they might not be- they still have feelings, opinions and deserve a forum to share them. Never do you have the right to put others to shame for not being strong- if there weren’t people who were less strong- we’d probably have all killed one another by now.

It takes courage to be a strong woman- it takes more courage to recognize the limitations of others and to be kind and patient. That being said, I assume you are talking about a relational context. If this paradigm existed prior to the relationship becoming legal or serious, then you have entered into the situation with eyes wide open and should not whine you are with a man who is insecure or envious of your strength or success. Fact of the matter is- nothing gets better after marriage- nor does it or he change. More aptly- the frustrations you experience prior to getting married are compounded by all the trials of every day life, children and family.

If, you became more successful years into your relationship or marriage- the signs of potential trouble must have been lurking- if not, then you really need to make certain he feels comfortable in another significant role. Try never to diminish him or his contributions and perhaps you will get the support you deserve instead of being harangued by his jealousy.

This is a natural conflict as women have been encouraged to concentrate on relationships, family and the home and men have been conditioned (and I am talking about through out history) to judge themselves and other men on their ability to compete and provide- so, a man brought up in a highly traditional home, will find discomfort with a woman whose ambitions lie not only out of the house but in the business community.

Since financial stress is the number one reason for divorce- I think it is critical for couples to examine this issue long before marriage takes place. Make your aspirations known- “I might be a bank teller now, but I plan on being the bank president in five years- this will require a lot of overtime and dedication. Are you OK with that? What if I end up more financially successful than you are at certain times in our marriage?” You are a team- act like it. Clever girls support him in becoming successful and let him know his support is invaluable. Let him know he is a major source of your strength to gain success for your family or future family.

This leads to the second part of your question. Men do not like to be dictated to- actually no one does, but as men- our social norms and conditioning make it more difficult for a man to digest being told what he can or can not spend money on. We all do it- some more gently than others. Fact of the matter is, if you are married- you need to discuss finances and purchases and budgets (if that word does not cause a rash). You both need to be considerate of each other’s needs and wants.

This leads me to a concept called “preparing to be single”. Couples who keep separate finances are planning to be separate. I had a friend who was writing a check and it didn’t have her husband’s name on it. I said “Does Mark have his own account?” She snorted (for real) and said, “I would never share an account with him- he’s so irresponsible”. I was stunned!! I said, “Why did you marry him?” She shrugged. I understand a lot of people keep separate finances- what I don’t understand is why. I can comprehend a household account- but if you have issues, which cause you to keep separate finances going into the marriage- you can count on constant issues regarding finances.

I see women all the time struggling prior to their wedding to manage their “budget” as put forth by their fiancés. All I can think of is that if they are fighting this much about money now … what will the marriage look like? Consideration and respect is critical in all aspects of your relationships- be patient with your guy if his pride is hurt a bit- reassure him you could not be who you have become without his support.

One of the most Clever Girls I know is about to get married. She works twelve hours a day and he is self-employed and works at home. This Clever Guy delights in keeping the home, doing the grocery shopping and preparing the meals. She comes in exhausted every single day wishing she could spend more time with her intended- but he greets her with a smile, a glass of wine and a ready ear. She makes sure to tell him his support, help and enthusiasm for their home, her goals and their future is invaluable and one of the reasons she loves him. This praise will resonate if someday she makes more than he does, or when she takes time off to raise a child and finances get tight- their mutual appreciation for the collective goals is paramount and supersedes petty individual agendas.

I hate to bring up COMMON SENSE again- but I must. What ever you fight about before marriage will become almost intolerable after without recognition and management. How hard is it to dedicate some time to communicating aspirations, goals and desires? If he is threatened by you before you get married- it will continue to fester and with your every success or attempt to manage the finances- there will build resentment.

I hope this helped and thank you so much for inspiring my post today. I value feedback and ideas above all.

The NBA is cranking up, hockey is in full swing, baseball is serious and football is getting gritty. Count on some commentary regarding all of the above- tomorrow along with a game day recipe for Ceviche.

I’ve been asked for some Clever wedding planning tips by a newly engaged young lady and will begin to impart ways to beat the system beginning Monday.