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My husband and I are building a home...we are dealing with primarily men.  When we meet with men whether it's for the carpeting selections, ceramic tile selections etc... the men always shake my husband's hand but not mine…(they don't offer a handshake to me like they do to my husband...I have to basically force a handshake if I want one).  They also treat my husband as if he is the sole decision maker.  They view our blueprints facing my husband and I have to either move behind my husband to see the prints or view the prints upside down. 

I am a professional woman with a very comfortable, very good career.  My husband and I have been married for nearly five years and in that time, the first three years of our marriage I was the main breadwinner as he was still bouncing back from his first marriage that financially wiped him out....and he was still paying a hefty alimony ....he literally had nothing when I started dating him...he was living with his dad.  I paid for his youngest daughter's braces!!  My husband took over his family's business about two years ago so now he is the main breadwinner as the President of a prosperous company.  I can see him changing with his new position and I am at a loss for how to handle this change. 

Also...when he and I take his family (including his children from his previous marriage) out to dinner they thank him ONLY and not me as if I don't bring in any money!  Even if I sign the bill they thank only him!!! (My family always thanks both of us!) He has four children from his previous marriage, and together we have two sons ages 29 months and 6 weeks. I feel very sad and extremely hurt by the treatment I have been receiving.  My husband has no clue when I bring this up to him...he doesn't notice it and thinks I am accusing him.  My question for you is this...Are there any books that could help me deal with this treatment or counter it in some positive way?       


I have a similar dilemma in my house, but I am the main breadwinner and my boyfriend makes about 1/2 what I make, which leaves it to me to pay all of the children related expenses. We pretty much share the cost of operating the house, but I pay for all things kids (preschool, camp, babysitters, medical, etc...) And occasionally I will say to the kids "I don't want to buy you things..." or something alluding to the fact that I pay for things related to them and my boyfriend will interrupt and say "we." I offer this counter example because in some ways I might be able to offer some insight into your husband, which is essentially just one of practicality he literally is paying so he sees it that way and emotionally it's not more than that; and that perhaps he is recovering from an earlier insecurity from not being able to pay.

I also think that women are much more sensitive about protecting men's egos — we don't want to expose them as not being sufficiently male — i.e. the breadwinner, but in the end that hurts us because they aren't likely to repay the favor because it's "okay" even assumed that women aren't the breadwinners so even if it's the truth, people won't believe it. I offer this because I think it's hard for him to seeing it your way — not that he is dense, but there is so much male privilege out there, especially women it comes to issues of money — that he is likely not even aware of it.

In terms of moving forward, I think that you can do one of two things....one is potentially more frustrating, but also more honest, which is to continue to point it out and also to point out how you didn't do it. two, is more passive aggressive, when you pay you can both ask for and accept the thanks just to you and in this vein you can start thanking for certain things and likewise ask that he thank you. I don't think that latter will get you far, but it's satisfying to be able to make them pause.

Also, I write a bit about this exact conundrum in my latest book —Opting In: Having A Child Without Losing Yourself. Perhaps there is more in there that can help.