Sugar mama. Yes I said sugar mama not sugar daddy. Just let that sink in…

If you’re married, female and the household breadwinner – you are part of the 24% of American women who make more than their husbands (Pew Research Center). And perhaps between you, yourself and your checkbook you smile slightly knowing that you are in the minority.

I know I did. My husband is two and a half years younger than I am. And yes that is what he used to call me –  his sugar mama. We’d laugh. I thought it was cool. After we were married he moved into my house. When I was promoted and earned my MBA the income gap between us grew even larger.

If you’re thinking this all went to my head…you’re right it did. And since you’re reading this I bet you can relate.

Between you and me, I liked being the breadwinner. I liked being his sugar mama. It gave me purpose. It helped me define who I was.

Yet on my dream journey I had to decide how important this sugar mama title really was to me. I had to decide what was more important, status or going after my dreams.

For me, going after my dreams meant taking a less stressful and more fulfilling job. It meant being a single contributor so I could free up my mind to write. It meant going from being a COO back to being an Engineer.

I came to a point where the pride and status attached to being the breadwinner was no longer worth the stress.

Why is the transition from breadwinner to non-breadwinner so hard? For the 4 reasons below no one talks about. Today we will start this conversation. Will you join it?

  1. Identity: While sugar mama is a fun title I learned that that is all it was. How much money I can make doesn’t define the type of person I am. One’s contribution to their family and society is not always monetary. Don’t get me wrong money isn’t bad. But to only be defined at your funeral as someone who was really good at their job was sad to me. That is not the kind of legacy I wanted to leave behind. What do you want to be known for?
  1. Life Style: You need money to live. This is true yet you can live on very little. This may be required while you are gearing up to tackle your dreams. In my own transition there were things that I sacrificed. I started cleaning my own house again, begin to cook/prepare meals, not eat out as much and maintain a car that was 10 years old so it would last even longer. There are many things that I wanted to buy but myself and my husband chose to sacrifice a number of things in order to go after our dreams. What are you willing to sacrifice?
  1. Power: According to a 2013 Kansas State University study, fighting about money is the number one contributor to divorce. However, as I learned, it’s not really about money it’s about power. When I made more $ I felt entitled to decide how we spent it. It put me in a situation where I felt like the boss at home and that my husband worked for me. It made me devalue other non-monetary contributions. I did not always act on these feeling but I fought them everyday. My past thoughts stung when I started my first business and went from breadwinner to making negative money as a start-up. I had to revisit #1 identity everyday.
  1. Change: Know that this change won’t kill you. It may end up freeing you from a pressure that you didn’t want in the first place. I was lucky. I was not a single mom and as my husband’s experience grew so did his income. But this doesn’t negate the transition and change I went through. I had to learn humility. I had to trust my husband to not be cruel and have self-control with the new sense of power this title gave him as well.

Yes this is just the tip of the iceberg. I want you to know that I am no longer the breadwinner in my family and after a few years of struggling with this role change it didn’t kill me and it’s growing on me. This change allowed me to stop hiding behind a role and be who God created me to be.

How is the title of breadwinner holding you back today?

Copyright 2015, Mary R Miller