Couples Reveal How They Overcome Awkward Obstacles In Their Relationships
At a baseline, bringing two people together creates an inherently different environment for the two individuals to deal with. And then jealousy can easily rear its ugly head. Love is a great equalizer, but the awkward obstacles still have to be surmounted.
So an anonymous Reddit user appropriately came with the question:
Couples with a very significant achievement gap, be it academic, professional, financial, intellectual, or any other you can think of that may fit, how do you live with each other without feeling like two aliens?
And the internet came back with good advice.
I have 2 degrees and work as a lawyer. My husband never finished uni but has a job that he loves. He's a great father and husband. It doesn't really matter that I earn more than him because it's all just family money. We're both working hard and supporting each other and our kids.
Finding someone that you respect as a person is way more important than the status bullsh-t of degrees and cash. I'd take my husband over a hundred high earners. Just because he didn't get a piece of paper doesn't mean that he's not intelligent, and just because he doesn't earn as much doesn't mean he's not successful. Without his support I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am.
Just find someone who wants to be in your team. Forget keeping score.
The Shared Plan
I think being fair and honest with each other and taking care of which areas of the relationship you are better suited/equipped to do. The whole idea of a relationship to me is that you're better off combined than as individuals.
For example: in our relationship I work in IT and she's a teacher. I make four times what she does so we split all bills etc. by that ratio. She contributes in a meaningful but manageable way. I pay for most of the "extra" expenses (e.g. holidays) and I bought her a laptop, but she doesn't feel like a kid as she's still involved in the majority of "living expenses" expenditure (and it's not my home, it's ours).
Alternatively, she's at least 374 times smarter than I am and far better educated (bilingual with a top-tier Uni education). She makes the decisions around things like housing (her dad's an architect so she knows what's what) plus things like education for our future kids, as that's obviously an area she knows far more about than me.
The guilt of me knowing she works longer hours and is smarter but makes way less than me is a bit hard to stomach sometimes. I was lucky to fall into an industry which is in demand and has good rewards. We were both pretty poor when we met, so that helps.
Overall though, we have a shared long-term plan - the details of how we get there are less important. My success is her success, and vice versa.
I have a doctorate in my field and make almost 200k more than my husband yearly. He helped me get through school and pretty much raised our children on his own while I climbed up the ladder. It wasn't just my achievement, it was ours. I don't know many men that would have sacrificed as much as he did. Our marriage is strong because of mutual respect and admiration. If that doesn't exist, I don't see how the relationship can work.
Achievement Is Not A Factor
She has a very technical degree in a small field, and so she makes approximately twofold as much as I do. Fortunately, all that means is we, as a couple, do alright. Personal achievement isn't a defining factor in our relationship. What we do at work, what we did during school, personally, wasn't really a part of who we are. It's actually kind of weird to think that other people might view that as 'alien'.
Treat Them Like Your Equal
I make 2x what she makes. She refuses to let me pay her half of stuff so I'm basically just saving half of what I make because doing stuff alone is boring and I have to fit her budget. Lucky for her I love her so she is just saving for retirement by making me save. (She loves her job so I'll probably retire at 60 and do my own projects while she keeps working.)
Find Common Ground
I'm a cook. She's a doctor. We are both intelligent, share the same interests and love each other as people. Also, there's honestly more in common between the ER folks and Kitchen folks then I would have ever imagined. Both professions drink and smoke too much, cuss too much and generally f-cking hate people.
It's a partnership as much as a relationship. Love can't keep you together, but honest, kind, communication can. Part of being a partner is absorbing your partners bad days, and helping celebrate success.
My wife has a Phd. I have a high school diploma. She works for a really great job. I'm a stay at home dad. She's always out earned me (rightfully so. I'd be upset for her if I were making more in retail than she is with a phd).
I never put much thought to it. In her field she knows her sh-t inside and out, as you'd expect. But she can't cook, clean, or do yard work for sh-t. To the point I can't wrap my head around it. How you do char boiled eggs? Our talents and success are ours, but they complement each other. Even if we weren't married, we would be a good team.
Honesty it's only as hard as maintaining a happy marriage. Not that it's easy, but you use the same tools.
If you do feel resentment, you're gonna have to learn to let it go. Do that by finding out why you have resentment. Once you find out why, you may find out you can't ever change it and the opportunity you're pining for is gone forever. Gotta let it go. Whatever the problem is, you're gonna have to let it go. You can't live in resentment forever, and it'll fester and infect the rest of the relationship. Let it go.
It's A Partnership
I spent 30 years doing computer systems work and had some pretty high paying positions, as well as achieving a pretty high degree of personal and professional success.
My wife mostly babysat during the time our kids were growing up then had a pretty good career with the government although she never got very high, not starting till she was over 40.
She did express some jealousy on occasion at how "smart" I was and how well I was doing but I never, ever made that an issue. We're a team, she took care of the kids, I brought in the moola.
I've heard of people who think marriages are supposed to be 50/50 but that is so much bullsh-t, it's not even technically possible. Marriage is no a contest, like I said, it's a partnership, two people working toward a common goal. Sometimes you give more, something they give more, it's not worth worrying about.
We Love Each Other For More Than Our Gaps
We love each for other reasons than the key gap. So in the end we get past this.
Gap - she has an MSc Management - I have no degree and did not go to university.
Gap 2 - she is a lady of leisure - I work and earn a lot of money with no degree.
The only time it becomes an issue is talking about future child's education. She is adamant that we force our kid into university. I am against the forcing - if kid wants university great. If kid would rather do a private professional qualification/ apprenticeship then ok.
I am only going to stop my child from "doing nothing that could better their life".
Wife hates that, I think she sees it as a dig at her saying her degree is not worth anything. She is not from the UK so can't understand even after marrying me how a lot of people can excel in the UK without degrees.
So we either argue about it infrequently or do not talk about it. Tbh there is no point in talking about it until we have a sense of what child and their abilities they have.
Apart from that - we enjoy lots of the same things and share the same views and have the same life goals - our own home, a child, a pet, travelling to see the world a new place each year, taking care of Our families.
The Importance Of The Work
I have a Master's degree and make more than $80,000 in the Public Relations field.
My wife has no degrees - just a certificate from a community college and makes about $20,000 a year working part time.
But that certificate is in nursing, and she works in home hospice -- providing comfort to people as they die, helping their family members through the grieving process, etc all in the comfort of the dying person's home.
So while I make a lot more money, her work is inifinitely more important than mine is.
Always The Money
My wife currently makes a lot more money than me. I make some, but she does pretty well. She is also about to get her PhD and I didn't even finish college.
However, I work extremely hard at what I do, and I am getting better, and I know it will really pay off in the end. She sees that too and supports me. I support her in every other imaginable way. She is very type A and can get stressed, emotional, and overwhelmed, and sometimes just needs me to sit there and let her vent or hold her. We have become best friends, and as cliche as it may sound, we do complete each other in many ways.
On top of that, we share some things in common: we both love running, and we love our dogs to death (we met in a dog park). Good food and whiskey, lounging around reading, and hanging out with friends. I really don't know how I got such an incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman to marry me, but I will do all I can to support her and do my own thing so we can share a wonderful life.
I am 38 and my wife is 31. She has 3 graduate degrees in the STEM fields, 2 from ivy league type schools. She is now working on her 4th graduate degree in some type of computer science I do not understand. I never attended high school, and had to lie and make a fake high school transcript to get into college, where I have never completed even one full year. Mostly because I can not pass a math course which is 2 of my wife's degrees. We now have a kid, and have been married 7 years July 2017. We are very completely different people in completely different worlds.
I am not sure how we have made it work. She is somewhere on the autistic scale and I am very outgoing and social. I think we understand our own and each others limitations, and are understanding those boundaries more and more every day. She is a college professor and doing well at it, while I stay at home and play a support role. I never had a career or a future, so nothing really there to give up or miss. The best job I ever had was working construction for a low voltage company. 60+ hard hours every week with shitty pay and no benefits. Being a dad and a loving husband has given my life purpose I thought I would never have. I am pretty sure she feels and understands that she would not be able to work as hard and achieve what she has while having a family with out someone like me at her side.
Some tips; find something you both really really enjoy and force yourself to do it together on a very regular basis. For us it was video and table top gaming. We both love it, and play very differently so it makes for some interesting and heated gaming.
Use sex as a tool for bonding. Having a good line of communication is difficult for us, being so different. We have found for us that sex can be a good place for us to enjoy each other being each other. Levels of education or experience or history seems to melt away when passion rises.
The last one I can think of is listen and try and understand. Nothing makes my wife happier than when I make an effort to try and understand what shes talking about. There is also the extra bonus of over the decade or so of knowing her, I have learned quite a bit more than I thought I ever would about the STEM fields.
Now the bad. We do feel like aliens sometimes. We see things differently, and recently discovering how differently we parent. We do fight, maybe more than some. There are going to be things that will always be an issue, like having proper communication and understanding. Every relationship has to be built on compromise and hard work to make it last.
Gaps In Knowledge
My boyfriend is in a full time job in the type of work he studied for. I am finishing my degree, still.
It definitely becomes difficult with three major factors: Time management, money and maturity.
Time is uncomfortable because I feel like I have so much more free time than him, but then to counter that I work a part time job that takes all of my Sunday. This just needs to be organized around, and I think it's important for the person who's working full time to never assume the other is less busy just because they are not physically clocking in and out at the end of the day.
Money is self-explanatory. He makes money, I hemorrhage it out of my broke, broke pockets. For this I think there needs to be a balance of a show of self-sufficiency on my part, and a show of both generosity but also full belief I can do it "on my own" on his part. Talking openly about financial differences is good, and I personally appreciate when it's acknowledged that he lives a much less anxiety-driven life because money is not an immediate concern for him. This dynamic would change if I were to move in with him, but it would still be about willing to spend a "percentage of what we have" to make things work.
Finally, maturity. Sometimes I feel like I sound like a child when I talk to him about my university shit while he's out there actually being a person and having a job, and the only way this can be cured is understanding that your partner, well, loves you. They would not be dating you if they did not think you were a strong, capable person, especially if they are from a position with a lot more status/power/authority/what have you.
This is a valid question, and I have definitely struggled with it a lot in my own time.
Kindness Over Talent
My dad was a working-class genius. He didn't have any advantages in life (like the ones I have an frankly squander) but he quite literally is a hero, he overcame them and did some great things.
My mom is the most wonderful loving woman in the world, but on occasion not that bright. I don't think she ever made more than maybe 15 dollars an hour in her life slaving away in a job she hated, different kind of hero.
The difference between them was/is huge. But you wouldn't know it really, unless you got to know my dad.
Once my mom said something really stupid, and I was about the stupid age of 12 or 13 where I knew she was wrong, and I was arrogant enough to think it was cool to call her out on it. My dad heard me sort of arguing with her. He came in, asked what was going on, and then he said something like, "Bill just leave it alone." and he kissed my mom and gave me this look and a sort of head motion like "you better come with me or you're f-cked" so I did.
He told me something like, "Son, your mom is a good woman, I know she isn't the smartest woman but she's one of the best. Let her be happy. You have no idea how lucky you are to have someone who really loves you. Don't f-ck that up by arguing about shit that doesn't matter."
My husband is really really smart, and I'm not. He grew up with a very upperclass family, and I grew up under the bluest of collars and the strappiest of boots.
Over time we've had to have a lot of conversations, as I have felt insecure about my intelligence and class around his family in the past.
BUT! THEN I realized that I know how to change a tire, change our own oil, fix the lawn care equipment, clean every mess, and I'm generally a more organized person. I know how to put the work in until something is completed. So I stopped worrying so much, because my husband sure wasn't worried about it.
It's led to some stressful situations with my in-laws before, but at the end of the day, all you can say is f*** it. Plus, for some reason, my husband adores blue collar life way more.
It's give and take.
Again, Being Equals
I was a high school teacher and now I'm a SAHM. My husband is an environmental engineer who makes (low) six figures. When I was teaching, I brought home ~20k. We pooled all of our money and didn't differentiate. Even now when I'm not working, we have an equal amount of weekly "personal spending" money we don't have to explain or account for in our budget. I absolutely would not have agreed to stay home if my husband and I didn't share these beliefs about finances.
He values the domestic work I do as much as a monetary contribution to the household. The work I do at home during the week (cleaning, largely, but errands and cooking and so on as well) means that our evenings and weekends are straight-up leisure time for our family. When I was working, we often spent weekends playing catch-up on chores and errands (and grading!) instead of relaxing.
I'll go back to work when the baby is a few years old, but we both really value a few years of parent-controlled education and discipline in the home (vs. daycare or a relative providing child care).
Ultimately, it comes down to mutual values and a shared vision for our lifestyle, and understanding that our roles are very different and symbiotic. Moreover, though, he respects, appreciates, and admires my work as equal to his.
This Sounds Familiar
She is an immigrant aspiring model and I am a celebrity billionaire who is also the president of the United States of America. We don't always see eye to eye, but luckily she is always able to stay in our New York skyscraper. Also she wouldn't divorce me no matter what I did because when she looks at me she essentially sees a giant orange old gremlin standing in the way of her billions of dollars - and I'll be dead pretty soon.
It's a good system.
Make Someone Happy
My wife has a college degree and can speak 5 languages with actual fluency. She gets every job she applies for and tries to get.
I have no degree, speak English only with fluency, have struggled to find work. However, I'm funny, computer savvy, can open tight jars, I make her laugh and happy. It's equal because we make each other happy and i'm starting to work now and it's good pay and I'm doing very well. She just loves me for me. Not my resume.
My fiancé and I have lived together for a year now. We are very similar intellectually, but he's going into a scientific research field and is in grad school on his way to a PhD while I am doing my best to make it as a music teacher.
So we know finances are going to be very different in the future as it won't be practical for me to pursue a second degree for awhile. We knew this was going to happen, though, and we constantly communicate to check in about how we're feeling, if we are in need of more help, if I can do anything around the house to help with his long hours in the lab, etc.
As usual, communication is key. It's not perfect, and I'm self-conscious about my situation sometimes, but I have to consistently remind myself that a lot of the problems that I face with my career path are not my fault and I'm doing the best I can, and my fiancé is right there for me.
Doesn't matter. My wife has art degree in photography and a PhD in microbiology but was making barely like $40k in acedamia. I have a HS diploma and dropped out of college. I've been doing backup and storage support for 15+ years and bring home $100k+. She's left academia and went into government contracting and is almost up to where I'm at now. While she was in academia she was doing the good work and I would happily have continued to support the household if she wanted to continue. She didn't and I'm happy that she's enjoying her new work and success. My willingness to contribute everything is the same as it always has been.