My Boyfriend Doesn’t Earn Much Money. How Do I know if I Can Make Peace with This?

Thanks for all of your wonderful advice. I was wondering how you can tell if something is simply a flaw that you need to accept/work with or something that is a deal breaker. I want to be fair but also don’t want to wind up unhappy or resent my future husband. My boyfriend would like to get engaged and start a family.

I am 37 and he is 40. He doesn’t make much money and doesn’t have any savings because he was a bit irresponsible in the past although he is better now that I told him it bothered me. He works over 70 hours a week to support himself. He could make a lot more at another company or if he tried to get promoted but he is happy where he is. I have a job in finance that is fine but I don’t think I can support a family on my own or pay to have a lot of help with a baby when he is at work all the time. It is rather expensive here in London.

My question is if he is a good man and loves me, how can I tell if his income/savings or inability to be a good provider is a flaw to make peace with or something that will make me unhappy in the long term? If I want a child naturally I would need to start right away so I am trying to figure this out now.

I greatly value your opinion and thank you in advance.


Aw, Brianna, this is a tough one, for one particular reason: you’re asking me what YOU should think.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

The problem is that I can’t impose my values on you, nor is it my place to convince you that your values or priorities are out-of-whack. In other words, whatever I say next, this decision is yours. I am quite confident that whatever you choose will be right for you.

So let’s sum up your story in a few lines:

  • He doesn’t make much money.
  • He doesn’t have savings.
  • He works 70 hours a week.
  • He is content with this. You are not.
  • You want to have a baby and you have to figure things out soon.
  • You don’t know if this situation will make you unhappy in the future.

My answer is a somewhat predictable “yes, and…”:

If you break up with him over this, you would likely come to regret it.

Yes, this situation will make you unhappy.

You will resent your husband for his choice of job, his salary, and his contentment.

You will resent your husband for not being able to support you (and a nanny) when you have a child.

You will resent your husband for not having time to help at home when he’s working 12 hours a day.


If you break up with him over this, you would likely come to regret it. Play out the scenario in your head. You’re 37. You break up with him tonight (for no reason except your inability to accept his choice of career). You get back out there tomorrow. You discover dating is challenging for a 37-year-old who is anxious to have her own biological family.

Lots of men your age won’t even look at you. Lots of men 10 years older see you as their savior. Lots of trial and error. Lots of screening men with a new filter: must make enough money to support me, my lifestyle, and our new child. With that, you’ve cut off 85% of men, and that’s before you factor in things like height, weight, age, education, religion, humor, communication skills, character, values, sex, etc.


Let’s leave that aside. Suppose you get yourself a new husband and father with a higher income. What are the definite ramifications of that?

  1. You will be older than you are now. Maybe it’ll be a year until you find him. 18 months before he proposes. 2 years until you try to get pregnant – at the earliest. Read up on the statistics for pregnancy for women in their late 30’s before you do anything.  
  1. He’ll have a different set of problems than your current boyfriend. It may not be his salary. But it may be his temperament. His selfishness. His insensitivity. Who knows?

All I can say is that I had a similar dilemma when deciding to propose to my 38-year-old fiancé. She was awesome. We were awesome. Would it have been ideal to find someone JUST like her, but five years younger and Jewish? Sure. Was I willing to start all over at age 35 to see if that woman existed, only to end up in a similar place at age 38? No, I was not.

Marriage is about accepting things in your partner that you don’t necessarily love.

This comes down to whether you can learn to tolerate what most other career women deal with — having a husband who is not wealthy enough to support both a child and a stay-at-home mom.

In the U.S. 5% of married stay-at-home mothers have master’s degrees and make over $75,000, but can stay at home because their husbands make enough to support them.

Do you want to hold out for one of those men? That’s your right.

Just know that there are no guarantees and the grass isn’t always greener.

Marriage is about accepting things in your partner that you don’t necessarily love. If you can’t accept him as he is right now, better put up that OkCupid profile and get started on finding a richer dude.