by Coach Ronnie Ann Ryan

According to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Sonya Rhodes suggests a woman may experience disapproval from friends and family if she falls for a man who makes less than she does. When you think about the qualities you want in the man you marry, what’s at the top of your list? Are you seeking characteristics like warm-hearted, family-oriented, honest and fun to be with? Or is the money he makes your number one priority?

With the equality women have achieved today, relationships have adapted and changed. Yet, “good provider” as your top “must-have” in a man remains a frequent requirement. Given all the equalizing between the genders, this seems left over from an era gone by.

As a dating coach for women, I agree with Dr. Rhodes, author of the new book The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match, when she explains that the idea of marrying up has lasted long past it’s “heyday”. When women’s lib came to be in the 1960’s and 1970’s, girls started attending college in large numbers. Yet, there were few high paying jobs for the fairer sex. Many college coeds went to school primarily to get an MRS and find a suitable husband.

How things have changed! Now more women graduate from college than men and go on to complete advanced degrees. A Pew Research study reports that as of 2012, more women marry down based on education than men. Of course, additional education doesn’t automatically lead to higher income. An analysis by Reach Advisors states that in most U.S cities, single women under 30 without children tend to make more money than their male counterparts.

So, with all these new statistics, why do your girlfriends or family members look down on a man you love for not making more money than you do? Or why might you exclude such a man as an option? I’m going to chock it up to old ideas dying hard. Adopting new parapmeters can take time and often lag behind social changes.

I myself have an MBA and married a man who only has some college and is a mechanic. (I love that he can fix practically anything!) When I was dating, I found blue collar guys were more open to women like me compared to their white collar counterparts who had been competing with us at work.

When you think about it, women now occupy many of the white collar and professional jobs that were tradiationally dominated by men in the past. Being reasonable, how can you, as a single, educated woman expect to find a man who makes even more? There just aren’t that many men to go around who actually make more!


That’s why I am so thrilled with the WSJ article and the point Sonya is making. Like me, she thinks the classic alpha male is no longer your best option because two strong personalities tend to clash. As my “Ballroom Dancing Method of Dating” suggests, there can only be one leader and one follower. (I mostly use this analogy to talk about the first four-six dates). Sometimes you can switch roles, but two leaders will cause a power struggle and fighting that is neither fun, nor romantic.

The article also shares Stephanie Coontz’s (director of public education at the University of Chicago’s Council of Contemporary Families) point of view about egalitarian values and how much they factor into the healthy relationships of today. If you are an alpha woman who is strong and confident, you’ll proabably mesh better with a man who is willing to collaborate. This helps you avoid those painful power struggles and work together to find solutions. These are skills necessary for lasting love in the 21st century.

It’s time to consider what makes a good partner besides a man’s ability to bring home the bacon. After all, you make a very good lviing. Will he be a good father? Can you count on him to be there? Does he keep his word? Does he share your values and want what you want regarding relationship and family? Does he support himself respectably?

Answering these questions will help you find a good mate. If you only look for a big earner these days, chances are you will pass up good men who could fill your life with love and family. Get over this archaic requirement of needing a breadwinner and go for a man who is an overall winner.

My advice as a dating coach is take any guff you get from well-meaning friends and family with that proverbial grain of salt. There is no question that relationships are changing and what works now is very different than what worked 30 years ago or more. If you are marriage- and family-minded, the best thing you can do is make the shift to search for a man you can trust, enjoy and be compatible with, rather than judge prospects solely by their earnings.

This article was originally published on Your Tango, Marriage-Minded? Why The Classic Breadwinner Is Mr. Wrong

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