Valentine's Day Role Reversal

Littenberg was one of a number of breadwinning women to share her experience with Some of their relationships have weathered their nontraditional income divisions better than others. Read more stories -- submitted by both men and women -- below.

Five Cats and a Fry Pan

My boyfriend's been living with me for 3 years now. He's STILL trying to start a home business in computer repair. As a result, I support him TOTALLY. I also totally support the five cats my boyfriend's adopted into the house. I've bought him a Home Beermaking Kit for Valentine's Day. I've bought myself a fry pan. (I bought my own Christmas presents, too.) I REALLY wish I could at least claim him as a deduction.
-- N.C., Highland Springs, Va.

Just Like 'Desperate Housewives'

For most of our relationship (10 1/2 years) I have made more money than my husband. I have the college degree and steady work history. He has followed me around as I have moved up the ladder. Most recently, we were almost equal with his regular job, plus day care benefits, plus a second coaching job, but he was fired from his full time job for having the second job. Now, he is working a security job at half the pay while finishing his coaching season and watching 2 little boys.

I don't have a problem with making more, I am competitive, I still do all the housework and mommy duties that I need too, and probably more. I know at times he has had issues with the situation, but we look at our family as a partnership and bring to the table what we can. We're kind of like (the characters of) Lynette and Tom from "Desperate Housewives" -- I can be high strung and a control freak, and he's the comic relief and really great [at] everything else.
-- Chris Hartman, Salina, Pa.

On the Brink of Divorce?

My husband hasn't had a steady job in over 5 years. He's trying to get his own business going, and it's put a lot of tension on our relationship...last year we were almost at the point of having to file for bankruptcy. He has a job now, but it's straight commission, and he refuses to get a salaried job. We've been married for 21 years and this could be our last.
-- Pat, Phoenix, Ariz.

Can't Sweat Over Who Makes More

For as long as I have known my Julie (my wife)she has been paid more than I have. She has been working for the Department of Justice for many years. I worked in retail in video stores for a while and eventually ended up working on a research contract for DOJ.

About four years ago I took a job working directly for the DOJ and took about a 50 percent cut in pay in the process, but with a huge improvement in benefits and stability. My pay is back up to where it was, but still not up to where hers is ... Generally, I don't think about it much and I don't think she does either. Our paychecks are direct deposited into the same bank account. Times are tough and we watch every penny. So we really don't have the time or energy to sweat something like who makes more. We are just happy, in this time of a tough economy, that we both still have jobs and a roof over our heads.
-- Daniel Levy, Mesa, Ariz.

Doing the Best He Can

My husband and I are newlyweds and very happy. The only issue we have is that he graduated from ULM of Monroe in Dec. 2009 in Construction Management and is unable to find employment. ... He is employed with his uncle being a laborer on a farm for $8.00 hourly with no benefits.

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