Mixed Income Families

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Janna Malamud Smith, psychotherapist and author of An Absorbing Errand: How Artists and Craftsmen Make Their Way to Mastery (Counterpoint, 2012), discusses the increasingly thorny issue of income inequality within families.


Janna Malamud Smith

Comments [16]


I am not envious of my family members who make so much more than I do. They are very very stressed in their high income professions and have little time for anything else. I have plenty of time for interests, hobbies and my loved ones and that's what matters to me. It's surprising how little $$$ is necessary for a good life.

Feb. 10 2014 11:28 AM
life lesson from SI

after dating my gf for nearly a year she broke it off with me. telling me i didn't make enough money to be with her. the relationship was getting serious and we were contemplating taking things to the next level and she broke it off with's so very hurtful and so very wounding. and the sense of rejection never goes away.
what's worse, is that it felt it was coming from her parents, a well to-do couple. they really didn't like the idea of their daughter getting serious with someone like me.
the thing is - i never hid from her anything of my financial situation. she knew who i was at the start and was perfectly happy to share her life with me. but money got in the way. and it shouldn't have, b/c she had plenty of money. it's a status thing; feeling you're not with the best possible person you can be with, b/c they are poor.

Dec. 20 2013 12:52 PM

Now that this condition has been connived of and declared, I'm assuming that families afflicted with it qualify for some sort of prescription? (For the many of the callers, hopefully that would be medical marijuana)

Dec. 19 2013 01:35 PM
Stella from downtown

I'm getting so impatient with this conversation... "income inequality" isn't the problem, ego is. Get over it. Be kind to one another, less judgmental, grateful for what you have...

Dec. 19 2013 11:51 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I agree with Sally from Sussex's philosophy. The couple should regard all the money as belonging to both. That is the point of being a couple. I'm not speaking about pocket money, I'm speaking about the bulk of the wealth and income of the family.

Dec. 19 2013 11:39 AM
Peter from Brooklyn, NY and St Paul, MN

I make more than my fiancee, but she is much more financially sound than I am, and she is thinking of leaving the relationship because of this. I have a huge amount of student debt – more than I may ever be able to pay off. I have no savings, no retirement, no investments, while she has all of the above. We also have different attitudes about money – much as I am trying to change. She lives much more frugally than do I. She also lives in St. Paul, MN, and I live in Brooklyn. Her house is paid for, I pay $1600 a month in rent. I think she is afraid of having to support me, and also wants someone who can, as she once put it, "feather her nest."

Dec. 19 2013 11:37 AM
Z from Brooklyn

I have a mixed income family. My parents are pretty well off and could be considered upper middle class. However, my sister and I are working poor and probably wouldn't continue to live in NYC without the family help.

Dec. 19 2013 11:37 AM
Sally from Sussex, NJ

My husband is a stay at home dad, so I literally bring in all the income. We don't think of it that way at all, though. It is all "our" money. We discuss large purchases, and have an idea of how much is reasonable to spend in a month on ourselves, etc. In my opinion, any money brought into the household should be considered everyone's money, and both spouses should feel as they have an equal say on how it is spent, regardless of percentage contributed.

Dec. 19 2013 11:37 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

People are still animals. Our species is what it is. The only way it changed was due to patriarchy, to artificially keep women down and use "marriage" as the way that men could hold on to their children. That's why men created marriage and kept women at home, as many Muslims and Orthodox Jews still do. But once there became jobs that women could do outside the home, that all had to change.

Dec. 19 2013 11:34 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The problem usually arises when the woman makes more than the man. Men don't usually resent it if their partner makes less. Women often do.

Feminism and enlightened attitudes -- yeah, but it's still a one-way street for most women.

Dec. 19 2013 11:30 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Organically, in our species as in most species, the females seek out mates who are healthier and stronger to be able to protect her and the offspring, or at least until the infants are old enough to get around and start defending themselves. So the natural instinct is for women to prefer those who make more, and to dismiss the weaker male. We are, after all, animals and our instincts are mammalian.

Dec. 19 2013 11:28 AM

My fiance grew up in an-almost-1% household, and I definitely did not. I'm always amazed (and a little envious) how he doesn't worry about money- it's something he's never had to stress about. Even though we both have well-paying jobs, I'm always making contingency plans in the back of my mind in case something goes horribly awry.

Dec. 19 2013 11:28 AM
Adam from NJ

Since my divorce, my fortunes and those of my ex-wife have gone in opposite directions. I'd be lying if I said that it didn't bother me - it is in my face when I go to pick up or drop off my kids. People tell me that I'm a good father, but I look over at the general standard of living that my ex-wife is able to provide my kids and, though I'm happy that my kids can lead pleasant lives, I feel badly.

Dec. 19 2013 11:28 AM
Carolina from Nyc

I've always made more than my partners, sometimes obscenely more, and always taken on most of our expenses until I was in debt myself. As an example of how NOT to do it. I suppose it's a sense of guilt. Pathetic, I know. But that will end as this economy levels out my income and makes me more equal.

Dec. 19 2013 11:25 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

All of this morning's topic only affirms that marriage and "the family" is ultimately doomed as a relic from the past. By the end of the century, all of this will be over, when babies are produced in factories and people can have robots for companions.

Dec. 19 2013 11:22 AM

What's a mixed income family? Doesn't it all get mixed together and counted as 'half'?

Dec. 19 2013 11:03 AM

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