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Equity Or Equality – When You And Your Partner Earn Very Different Amounts Of Money

Karen McAllister May 2023

Money Thought Leader: Karen McAllister

I have a life partner. He earns a lot more than I do. He is in the computer field. And I am in the counseling industry. He makes three times the amount I do.

He finds my work has more impact on others than his. And so do I. And yet, I am paid so much less. We talk a lot about the inequality in our incomes. We are conscious of naming how that feels for each other.

Money inequity

Equity Not Equality:

As a couple, we combine our money. We see ourselves as one unit. And everything comes out of the same pot. Because my partner is earning so much more, we have been cautious about working out our budget and chatting about this earning difference. We base our budget on equity rather than equality. We are interested in having a budget that reflects our values and priorities. We create a budget that is inclusive of the differences in our salaries. We also name other essential contributions to the partnership outside of money to keep the power balance in check because the earnings differ. Our structure and routine around our money work.

money equity

Money Insecurities:

My income doesn’t go as far as it used to.”

Every so often, I get insecure and uncomfortable about what I earn compared to my partner’s salary. In addition, the inflation rate in the United States has hovered between eight and nine percent in the past months, signifying a rising cost of goods across the country. 


My income doesn’t go as far as it used to. And suddenly, the earning power imbalance becomes an issue.

When these feelings of insecurity arise, I always dig to see what is happening. I know it gets projected onto the earning power imbalance of our relationship. It is my work to sort out my feelings and tension before bringing it to my partner.

This is where money becomes a reflection for me. What has led me to get to this place? What were the decisions, thought moments and subtle recurring behaviours have led me to this anxious state of mind?

who makes more money

Letting My Guard Down:

When I see that the whole cycle is built on not supporting myself”

The primary recurring behavior is I allow myself to drop my routine of being on top of my numbers for both my business and personal. 

When I dig deeper into dropping the ball around this, I realize that I have forgotten my body in my busy mental world. I must finish this last email, even though my body screams to move away from the computer. I wolf down my lunch to get to my next client. I don’t take that 10-minute break between client calls because I need to send off that email. I don’t need to, but it seems so urgent at the time. I go over the session by 10 minutes, even though my conscience tells me it is enough. I cross my boundary of health and integrity. I betray myself.

Tiny Choices:

All these small decisions take me to a place of not feeling supported. This leads to insecurity and feeling like I am not earning enough. This leads to projecting onto the salary difference with my partner. 

When I see that the whole cycle is built on not supporting myself, there is a moment of aha, and disappointment with myself for being here again. However, being over 50, you develop a new ability to get over it quickly, move on, and return to tending to your affairs with love and compassion. 

How can your behaviours around money serve as a reflection of your inner world? How can your relationship with money help in caring for yourself? How do you feel about the concept of equity or equality?

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About the Author:

Karen has worked with over 100 clients, helping them untangle their money issues and to become more effective in their work because of it. To do this, Karen has studied financial issues extensively from both the practical, behavioral, and the emotional perspectives.

She has been certified by Deborah Price of the Money Coaching Institute as a Certified Money Coach, a Couples Money Coach, and a Business Archetype Coach. She has studied with Lynne Twist from the Soul of Money Institute for two years on Mastering your Money and Transforming your Life, including studies in Lynne’s Fundraising from the Heart program. Checkout Karen’s site TheMindfulMoneyCoach. Or, you can email Karen directly at the[email protected]. You are more than welcome to join the Money and Spirituality online course, starting Feb 19th at Noon EST for four Saturdays.