Get All Access for $5/mo

Ask the Relationship Expert: 'As an Entrepreneur, I Earn Much More Than My Husband -- and It Bothers Him' This boss lady feels her success is impacting her partner's self-esteem.

By Marla N. Mattenson Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images

What happens when running a business gets in the way of your romantic relationship, or vice versa? In this new weekly column, relationship expert Marla N. Mattenson responds to entrepreneurs with love dilemmas -- because the hidden power of successful businesses are the stable, loving relationships behind the scenes.

Dear Marla,

I own multiple businesses and love to hustle, and so I make significantly more money than my husband. He was raised to believe that it's the man's role to provide for the family, and I feel it's seriously affecting his self-esteem. How can I get my husband to not feel so emasculated when I pay for things or take him out?

Generous Lady Boss

Dear Generous,

Congratulations on your success! I hear this issue more and more from ambitious and financially successful women. We often fear we might have to dim our light in some way to make other people comfortable -- even our partners. The first thing you need to do is satisfy your own curiosity, because you could be projecting your own insecurities. Ask him how he is impacted by you earning more money in the marriage. Regardless of his response, you can use this conversation as a way to get closer.

Related: Ask the Relationship Expert: 'I Can't Stop Letting My Inner Child Take Over When I'm Feeling Down'

If he is uncomfortable, while it may feel as though he wants you to dim your light so he doesn't feel emasculated, let's assume the best that the deeper part of him wants you to shine bright. Also, his discomfort is not your work, it's his. Your job is to keep shining out bright.

When you're really committed to each other, you are willing to have some very uncomfortable conversations, especially around money. If you have separate accounts, and the handling of finances is tit-for-tat, that may exacerbate his feeling of lack. But, if you have joint accounts and you're truly in it together with clear boundaries and expectations around money, then he will feel more included in the financial process, which leads to feeling empowered.

Related: Ask the Relationship Expert: 'Work Stress Is Impacting My Enjoyment in the Bedroom'

Most ambitious, financially successful women who are in a partnership with a man who doesn't make as much money rarely care about discrepancy in earnings. We care more about attention and time and feeling like we're in his thoughts. If he's feeling emasculated, he's wondering what value he brings to the relationship. So, help him shift his viewpoint to unlink value and money and invite him to start linking value with time, attention and tangibles that don't cost money (like wildflowers picked on a hike). We all love to receive heartfelt love notes, warm bubble baths and breakfast in bed. Be sure to give positive reinforcement for his genuine effort to please you, even if he may miss the mark. The effort is what is praiseworthy, and this will help build his esteem in a loving, authentic way.

Marla N. Mattenson

CEO and Founder, Mattenson Coaching & Consulting, Inc.

Marla N. Mattenson is an entrepreneur and frequent speaker on the topic of relationships, intimacy and wealth building. Over the course of her 22-year career, she developed a unique, scientific approach to relationships to help entrepreneur couples rock both the boardroom and the bedroom.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick


ChatGPT is Becoming More Human-Like. Here's How The Tool is Getting Smarter at Replicating Your Voice, Brand and Personality.

AI can be instrumental in building your brand and boosting awareness, but the right approach is critical. A custom GPT delivers tailored collateral based on your ethos, personality and unique positioning factors.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Apple Reportedly Isn't Paying OpenAI to Use ChatGPT in iPhones

The next big iPhone update brings ChatGPT directly to Apple devices.

Business News

Is the AI Industry Consolidating? Hugging Face CEO Says More AI Entrepreneurs Are Looking to Be Acquired

Clément Delangue, the CEO of Hugging Face, a $4.5 billion startup, says he gets at least 10 acquisition requests a week and it's "increased quite a lot."

Business News

Sony Pictures Entertainment Purchases Struggling, Cult-Favorite Movie Theater Chain

Alamo Drafthouse originally emerged from bankruptcy in June 2021.

Business News

You Can Now Apply to Renew Your U.S. Passport Online — But There's a Catch

The U.S. State Department officially launched the beta program this week.