Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Apparently I Was An Alpha Wife

Miranda is a magazine junkie. I have to indulge my habit very carefully or I’d buy up every magazine at the stand. Marie Claire is one of my favorites.  This month there were two articles in particular that I think my doppelganger must have written.

One was about how approximately 30% of women who get married admit that they had second thoughts as they were going down the aisle and that they only got married because it felt like it was time for them to settle down.  Ummm, yep. My situation totally up and down.

The second article was about how more and more women are paying alimony – or rather manimony - which we all know Miranda is cursed with for another 23 months. Not that I’m counting or anything.  According to pop culture that makes me an Alpha Wife.

An Alpha Wife wears the pants in the family because they make more money than their husbands. Whoever has the most money wears the pants. It’s true. It was certainly true in my relationship.  It might have looked like we were equal partners on the surface but we both knew I was carrying the lion’s share of responsibility for our family and it threw the dynamics of our relationship WAY off. 

If you look at all the celebrity Alpha Wives, every single one out earned their spouse and they all paid alimony.  That’s right.  Miranda actually has something in common (other than her gender) with  Madonna, Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Kirstie Alley, Janet Jackson, Anne Hache, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, and Christie Brinkley just to name a few.  All of these women were or are Alpha Wives because they called the shots in their relationships due to their greater earning power. 

I can’t tell you how many times in the last year I’ve gotten shocked reactions when I tell people I pay alimony to Duckie.  And women paying alimony is a growing trend as more and more women are out earning their husbands.  According to the US Census Bureau, the number of American men receiving alimony has more than doubled in the last 10 years. 

Before you say I’m just bitching because I pay, let the record show that I don’t think anyone “deserves” alimony. Especially not two income families where spouses both worked full time.  For me and Duckie, the only reason he wasn’t earning more money  was because he had no drive to excel.  We started out with him earning more. That lasted for about a year then I started outpacing him up the career ladder and his own insecurities kept him from striving for more work or hell even going back to school to finish his college degree.  Which I used to encourage him to do all the time!
When the lower wage-earner spouse just earns less because that is his or her chosen path, why should the higher wage earner spouse have to pay? It makes no sense to me. If it wasn’t for our kids, I’d probably have fought Duckie tooth and nail to avoid the alimony and tell him to get off his ass and get a better job.  But it wasn’t worth the damage to my kids to make my point. 

If this had been a case of him giving up work to support my career or be a househusband I would feel very differently.  But those are entirely different circumstances.  This was him simply enjoying the riding on Miranda’s tail feathers. 

So ladies, take some advice from Miranda. If you have a career, only date men who make more money than you.  And if you end up with someone who earns less, get a freaking pre-nuptial agreement. They are not just for rich people! I know pre-nups are unromantic and harsh but at the root of it, marriage is an economic contract between two people.  Yes it’s about love and joining your lives but it’s also about taking on each other’s debts, paying bills jointly, and providing financial support for one another.  Learn a lesson from old Miranda because no matter how good mine and Duckie’s relationship is, it still is a bitter, bitter pill to swallow each month when I write that alimony check.



  1. I agree that sometimes people earn less because they have less drive but some people earn less through no fault of their own, like the economy or because of an arrangement they get into as part of the relationship, like a wife agreeing to stay home with the kids. If they split she's now stuck with no work history and probably won't make jack to start with, maybe never depending on education. I agree that your situation is annoying, but don't you think that if Jules seperated from Russell when she was still in school he shouldn't have had to support her in some way? Marriage is in some way a legal agreement to support one another. Just because someone leaves their wife for their secretary or decides they are gay doesn't mean they are off the hook. Right now I earn more than my spouse (but not so much I feel like an alpha wife LOL), but I am getting ready to look for different probably lower paying employment very soon. I need to change my career and make a fresh start because I am at the end of my growth here. Though I know I will earn less I need to be able to do this and my husband agrees. And though I hope to climb the ladder again and earn more, if because of this economy I am not able to, I definitely think if he decided to leave me he would be obligated to give me some support.

  2. Oh Miranda, I was totally the Alpha Wife (still am...poor, poor Russell) and I've always, always, always made about half of what he does.
    @Short Girl, if I had not worked out this sweet deal I've got going - you can bet your ass I'd have asked for alimony and child support. In the end, I'm still getting an excessive amt of child support b/c that's the kind of guy Russell is (bless his heart) and he's willing to pay me about $400 more than the state would ever require until she turns 18. I totally agree with you on this. I think that b/c he decided he prefers dick (which is fine by me) it really threw a wrench into our lives. I don't blame him, but I don't think he gets to walk off scott free and live a 2 male double income, no child life either. He made a commitment and he's doing a bang up job of honoring it.
    That being said, I'm not a huge fan of alimony, but I definitely think there are many cases where it is damn well warranted.

  3. I do think women or men who stay home to take care of the kids or who have to take a "lesser" job because their spouse needs them to deserve some level of SHORT term support. Unless there's a reason you can't go out and earn a living I don't see why it's my responsibility to support you. This obviously doesn't apply to child support. That's a whole different issue.

    And yes, Jules absolutely deserves support from Russell. Their family moved 5000 miles away for his work and they made an agreement for Jules to work part-time and take care of Chloe. In my situation, I never asked that of Duckie. I begged him for 10 years to do more/get a better job/make more money/etc. He chose not to. Though the irony now is that he has taken classes in the last year and just got a promotion at work doing the very job I begged him to go after all these years. Guess when your free ride is over you finally have to get up and take care of yourself.

    FYI - alimony is not tied to who leaves who. Even if Duckie had initiated the divorce, he could still ask for alimony since I made more. It's basically an economic penalty for making more money than your partner. Now if you cheat, you can't ask for alimony by law. And also there's no mathematical formula for determining how much and how long you pay alimony.


  4. I think that's a NC law regarding the cheating. HI is a no fault state. ;)

  5. Very interesting post - I learned something new today.

    I find it sad that some men have to equate or tie their ego or self esteem to their earning power. If one loves his work, has the passion and motivation to do well in it, the monetary rewards are secondary.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience ~