Table Talk Thursdays

Income Inequality: 5 Power and Communication Rules6 min read

June 15, 2020 4 min read
Partner's Income Inequality

Income Inequality: 5 Power and Communication Rules6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

This #TableTalkThursday event was held on the 21st of May 2020.

We asked our community about their experiences with income inequality and how they navigated through it with their significant other. When one person has a significantly higher income, resentment, anger, and frustration can cause relationship issues that fracture the trust and happiness of the couple.

Communication is key. But it can be extremely difficult to bring up income inequality in a way that both partners feel respected. These negative emotions can bubble beneath the surface in both the high and low income partner, resulting in resentment and bitterness.

So, how can you begin to broach the topic in a non-confrontational way? It begins by understanding what your unconscious financial beliefs are.

Achieve Common Goals Together

With almost every couple I meet, the discrepancy in wage is always an elephant in the room. Especially when the man makes less than the woman. Men find it very hard to not be the breadwinner and women are more and more becoming the higher earner. I think achieving common goals helps, and both must be on the same page in terms of spending.


A couple could have started with both having roughly the same income. He could begin to harbor feelings of income inequality once his female partner significantly out earns him because she may have a different, higher-paying career or have more experience. He may not have considered being the breadwinner important, but he could fear judgment or even mockery from friends, family, or coworkers.

Perhaps you believe very strongly that a married couple should have combined accounts. Maybe this was how your parents did it and what you consider normal. If you have not broached income inequality with your significant other before marriage, it could be a difficult conversation in the future. Maybe you want all purchases to be made together as a team, no matter how large or small.

Taking the time to understand what you truly want and what biases you could have will help you explain to your partner how and why you would like your finances to be a certain way. You may decide you need to overcome these latent beliefs communicating with your significant other can be a great way to change and get their support.

Unify Your Money Feelings And Goals

Since I’m a stay at home mom right now my husband brings in the majority of the money in our household. I’ve personally struggled with this only because sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough and that I should be working.

It helps so much that my husband is supportive of me being at home and acknowledges that I bring in equal effort since being a mom is like a full-time job.

Since we are married, the income is ours even though he earns most of it. Our efforts, goals and journey is unified.

It is so important that married couples are unified financially and can communicate and support each other through every step of the way. Both need to feel valued, worthy and equal no matter what.


One expectation many of us have is that we need to be working and earning an income. You might even place your self-worth on how high your income is. Or believe that the effect of income inequality is caused by individuals who work half as hard as someone earning in a higher income bracket, even if they both work the same amount of hours.

It might not be something you consciously think about but it could affect how you communicate with your partner. Supporting your partner and making them feel valued can go a long way to making your conversations easier to have.

Mindful Living And Self Respect

One way to minimize tension is to establish strengths and weaknesses about money between you and your partner, no matter who has the higher income. For example, a person who makes more money could also having a spending problem that can drive the household broke because of poor money management. The one who makes less maybe stronger in the area of money management.

Also, being mindful and respectful towards each or at all times is crucial, because everyone is on the same team. Money is to be used for the benefit and survival for everyone in the home. Money is a resource, not a power tool to use against those you love.

You and your partner may have completely joint accounts, but have you ever called your income “my money”? The high earner may feel as though they have more of a say in how income should be allocated, whereas the lower earner may feel the need to protect themselves from instability by keeping some of their income apart from the shared accounts. It’s natural to feel possessive if there is income inequality in the relationship, but income inequality can quickly become a power struggle.

Red Flags In Dating

@onesavvydollar I think when money becomes a control thing that’s a sign of deeper problems. Or a lack of respect at the very least. You’re totally right that working together is important 👍🏻


@fiafter40 I agree. Emotional abuse is often linked to financial control so it’s important to recognize those red flags as early as possible


Taking a step back and looking at your financial situation as though you were an outsider can help keep your emotions from disguising those red flags. It can be difficult to acknowledge the income inequality in your relationship, especially if it has been like this for a significant amount of time. Changing it may take many steps and you may fall into old habits. But, it is important to admit your mistakes and try again. Progress isn’t always smooth, and that’s okay. It may be something you need outside identification with.

Listening Practice

@finlitdating exactly! Its so easy to fall into listening while figuring out what you will say next. But to truly understand you have to listen and hear the other person! Easier said than done, but it gets better with practice!


During your conversations, you might be waiting for your partner to finish speaking, formulating your response while they speak. You might fall into speaking with your emotions leading the conversation, where you might start assigning blame and faulting your partner. It’s important to not do this, since they may become defensive and your conversation veers into who ‘wins’ in the end. Slowing the conversation down to listen to your partner’s words and put yourself in their place can be a great way to make progress.

Communicating about financial issues can be a very heated issue. It may take many conversations, but if you and your partner begin with the goal of improving your relationship and coming together as a team, you can begin to overcome the struggles of income inequality. 

If you would like to join the discussion and share your experience, join in every #TableTalkThursday at 9 – 10am PST on our Instagram page. Taking the time to educate yourself on financial literacy with your partner can bring the both of you together and strengthen your relationship. You can read the full discussion here.