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My boyfriend is 46 and I am 43. We've been together for 3 1/2 years and on a day to day basis we are very happy.

He is intelligent, interesting, handsome, loving, and he could not possibly treat me any better. When we first met, he was "between jobs" and had been out of work a year, having tried to make a career change but ending up in a bad job situation. He told me that he planned to go back to work soon.

Since then, he has become involved in a variety of volunteer political activities but has never really looked for a paying job. He inherited some money which allows him to live decently (he isn't extravagant), but that money won't last indefinitely. I have my own business and could easily support two people.

We most likely will not have children. I definitely want to stay with him for the long term, and sometimes I think that we should get married and I would support him financially so that he can pursue his volunteer activities. But other times I question whether I will eventually get resentful that I'm the only one earning an income, because he chooses not to. Ironically, I realize that if the genders we reversed this situation almost certainly wouldn't be a problem. I could just live with him forever and never get married.

Do marriages in which the female is the sole breadwinner work?


Good question.

I do think you can ask it in a broader way though: can a couple survive when one person is the sole breadwinner or the sole worker? In my experience, relationships that do the best are those where there is more equality, and though income disparities are often inevitable, knowing that you are contributing something makes a larger difference. I do think resentment builds and more than that, I think that insecurities on the less contributing partner fester and that causes problems.

Also, I think that there is something larger to question which is direction, commitment and ambition. I have many friends where this is the challenge in their relationship: one partner isn't as motivated and that has ripple effects into other areas of their lives.

And I do think gender has something to do with it. It's harder on some of my female friends when their male partners aren't motivated, they want them to match their drive and also have a hard time because they are focused on their own ambition without having to take care of someone else.

All of that said, I don't really have an answer. And perhaps the larger question I would ask is why marriage? That forces you to merge economically and yet you can stay together without putting your relationship in that realm, yet you still have all of the perks of love and commitment, etc....

Good luck sifting through it all, -- Amy