A man who keeps his wife's back free for her career? Sounds like a dream man, but studies show that both men and women are more unhappy when they earn more than him. According to data obtained by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) from figures from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), men are most satisfied when they are main earners and their women earn a little extra. Men and women are most dissatisfied when the majority of their family income comes from their partner. Around a quarter of the couples surveyed live in this situation. The women in this constellation are satisfied with their job and earnings, but their private lives seem to suffer.
Magdalena Becker * is 44 years old and works as a team leader in the top management of an international group. She is one of those women who earn significantly more than her partner. Her husband, 54, is an employed carpenter. The difference in their gross annual salary is 270,000 euros. Here Becker talks about how money and a steep career can become a problem in a partnership.
I never thought about whether I want to pursue a career or not. I am the first in my family to study this. My father was a master electrician, my mother an office administrator. And I always wanted to save the world. That's why I completed a degree in natural sciences, did my doctorate and then had to decide: Do I want to stay in science or do I switch to business? In science you do research in special fields, which was too small for me. I never really knew what a career was, the result of my professional career was not planned. But I always knew that I wanted to get involved and make a difference. It's easier in business than in science. That's why I started at one of the three largest consulting companies and lived the typical life of a business consultant: worked a lot, traveled a lot, lived in many different places, for example in Brazil, Chile or in the USA.
In 2008 I switched to the top management of an international company as a team leader and have had several changes of position and promotions since then. I know that I don't have an average job - especially, unfortunately, for a woman. Men have problems with this, including the six-figure annual salary that comes with such a job and that can be intimidating.
I met my first husband while studying. We had a good relationship until I was on the road for advice so that my career came first. After six years we broke up because our life plans didn't go together. I would do it again. For this job you have to be willing to put some of your private life on hold. The husband must be aware of this.
"With each step in my career, our pay gap widened." Magdalena Becker *
I met my current husband nine years ago in a sports club. Funnily enough, I'm the boss there too, namely the chairwoman of the association. Luckily my husband has no problems with that. He is a carpenter, nine years older than me and employed in a very nice, very individual carpentry. He made all the furniture in our apartment himself! His work is of great value to me. However, it is paid significantly worse than mine. We had a pay gap from the start and it grew with each step in my career.
He earns 30,000 euros gross per year, and I earn around 300,000 gross.