“So Whaddaya, Anyway? Some Kinda Fag?”

“So Whaddaya, Anyway? Some Kinda Fag?” July 23, 2010

With regards to “My Parents Say I Should Worry About Making More Money Than My Perfect Boyfriend. Advice?”, here’s my two cents–which, when adjusted for inflation, means–

Hey! Just now “Berkshire” sent in our young questioner this answer, which I think so good I’m disinclined to add anything to it. A lot of your answers were, I thought, extremely good. I think this one is especially comprehensive and extremely well-grounded; I think it caught the best of what others of you said so well.

Nice job, you guys! (Whoa; “Gooseberrybush” also just logged in an exceptionally rich and wise answer. You guys are rockin’ this thing. I especially love what Goose says about the assumption that “teachers” make less than lawyers. And somewhere in the thread someone mentioned something that I also thought particularly salient, which is whether or not the girl’s parents sense something else about the boyfriend they don’t like, and are instead just pointing to the money issue as essentially an easier way of indicating their more general discomfort with him.)

The young woman’s inquiry was interesting to me personally, insofar as I spent 25 years of my marriage making way less money than my wife Catherine. (When Cat was making $90,000 a year as the chief financial officer of a bank while I was attending college or working at Trader Joe’s, we were living in Bakersfield. There, guys would just look at me, and go, “So what are you, anyway. Some kinda faggot?” But in super-liberal Palo Alto, fellow dudes would respond to our lifestyle with, “Very nurturing. Wanna join our yoga class?” Proof, yet again, that … um … oil workers should do yoga, or hippies should wear hard-hats, or Trader Joe’s employees should stop wearing Hawaiian shirts, or something.)

A couple of random thoughts I thought I’d toss into the Advice Salad we’ve prepared for this girl. (I wonder if she’s even reading these? I haven’t heard back from her. Hopefully she’ll chime in.)

If you’re planning on a career as a super-productive Power Lawyer, then consider the degree to which you might prefer a husband with a job less high-powered than yours. My wife has always been extremely successful professionally. Not insignificantly contributing to her professional success is that’s she’s never had to worry about doing anything but tending to her career. I clean the house, do the laundry, do the shopping, cook, and tend to all the life business that focusing so laser-like on her work simply doesn’t leave her time for. All she has to do when she comes home from work is change into her pj’s and start relaxing. That’s a beautiful thing for her. (Actually, it’s not quite that simple. I try to do all that housework-type stuff, but like anyone, sort of hate it, and so generally do a half-assed job of it. And she doesn’t really care what of it gets done. So it works out.)

Most importantly, the way we live allows her to talk to me about all the things going on at her workplace, without “having” to give me equal time. That’s huge. It means she can fully talk out all her stress and concerns, every night, free of the concern that she’s being in any way emotionally selfish. That’s a sweet thing for her. For sure it’s the main personal benefit that allows her to stay on top of her professional game. She gets to come home, vent (or explore options, or through talking gain the perspective she needs, or whatever), and then be able to sleep at night. Next day, she’s good to go. It really works.

During the phases of our lives when we’re both working sixty hours a week, things aren’t anywhere near as healthy for us personally. We don’t eat as well; we spend a ton more money; we’re a lot more stressed, etc. That can be fun, too; it’s exciting, to sort of always be on the edge and all that. But in the end, it’s a lot less rewarding–or viable–then having only one person out in the world fighting fifty or sixty hours a week.

Also, people have two sides, right: the practical side, and the artistic/spiritual side. With our lives, we’ve got both covered. I’m the artist; Cat’s the … well, literally, accountant. We both have both sides, of course–but it’s good (for us anyway) to have the two big areas really solidly represented in our day-to-day lives. It makes for a great, holistic balance for us.

Finally, about the idea that your boyfriend is secretly planning on using you as his meal ticket. That would make him one bizarrely  patient gold-digger. I mean … really? Is he that diabolical? For two reasons I’m guessing not: 1. Because he wouldn’t be the super-nice guy that he apparently is, and 2: Nobody’s that big a schemer. Who has the patience? Who’s that crazy, really? If he was crazy enough to be planning on using you as his “high-life” ticket by pretending to be this guy who’s so nice you end up marrying him, he’d be crazy enough for you to not want to spend any time with him at all.

Anyway, you’ve gotten great advice from some good people here. The two Chunks o’ Advice I referenced above contain a lifetime of wisdom; read them carefully. (I also much like the one that just came in: “Have you tried talking to your boyfriend about it? That might be the first step.”) Read all of them; they each contain at least one piece of advice or perspective you’d do well to incorporate into your own worldview and understanding.

Thanks for writing in, young woman. Good luck to you.


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  • My buddy who is an attorney said that on his first day with a firm they told him and all the other newbies, "Get a wife. Whether you're man/woman/gay/loner whatever, you're gonna need somebody to take care of the details in your life while you spend most of it here."

    So yeah, if this girl's gonna be a high-powered attorney I'd actually recommend she marry someone with a less-stressful, less-lucrative career. Otherwise they'll never see each other nor have enough emotional fuel reserves to give each other what they need.

    I'm experiencing this first-hand as a business executive with a stay-at-home wife and three kids. If she worked a full-time job I'd never be able to do what I do.

    Eventually, though, what I hope this girls internalizes is that she's not just picking this guy over all the other guys out there. In the act of marriage, she's picking a guy over many of the things in her own life as well, including her job. If it ended up that her job and her guy were mutually exclusive, which would she pick? Life's about choices and when done well it means we make those choices consciously and with recognition of the price. It's a tragedy when we think we can have it all, and then the choice later gets made for us on what will fail first.

  • I'm going to respond from my experience. I'm not quite making what your wife was…but I'm not too far off. I was always the breadwinner during my marriage of almost 10 years. The problem wasn't that I minded, it was that he did.

    When we met, he'd recently started working at an insurance company after spending years waiting tables. I was already 10 years into a career at that point, making OK money for my age. As time went by, I got more opportunities. He didn't.

    When I would go on a sales trip with my boss to pitch our company, he wasn't happy for me. When I got a raise, he wasn't happy for me. When I got a better job offer, he pretended to be happy for me – but he wasn't. He resented every bit of success that I had – but the worst part was that he didn't mind having the income to support the lifestyle he wanted to live. There were other factors in our split – many other factors – but this was part and parcel of it. Because my relationship failed I may be disqualified from offering advice on the subject, but here goes anyhoo: Marry someone that you feel is your equal, and I don't mean salary-wise. Marry someone who you feel is your equal on an emotional and intellectual basis. Marry someone you respect. Marry someone who respects YOU and likes you for exactly who you are. If the other person expresses resentment about your sucess at ANY point in the relationship, you might want to rethink it. Outward expressions of that sort in my experience indicate that the resentment runs very deep and its not healthy. I know there are men out there who don't mind being on the defecit end of the wage scale from there spouse — I wish I had either met and married someone like that, or conversely, married someone who was more successful than myself. When there's resentment there, in my experience, things can fall apart rather spectacularly. But I'm probably jaded. I believe that people CAN change their feelings about this kind of thing, but I also believe that change of that nature is extremely rare.

  • OMG…."their spouse" not "there spouse." I can' t believe I typed that.

  • Robert Meek

    " Because my relationship failed I may be disqualified from offering advice on the subject, but here goes anyhoo: Marry someone that you feel is your equal, and I don’t mean salary-wise. Marry someone who you feel is your equal on an emotional and intellectual basis. Marry someone you respect. Marry someone who respects YOU and likes you for exactly who you are."

    Your advice is stellar. You obviously learned well from your personal experience! What I do NOT understand is you putting yourself down saying that because your "relationship failed" that you "may be disqualified from offering advice on the subject"!

    Furthermore, who says your relationship failed? The MAN IN QUESTION is who FAILED. Your ex-husband was NOT UP TO IT. He lacked the self-esteem and confidence to be able to merely love you for whom you were, are, and appreciate you for same.

    The way I see it: HE FAILED, not your relationship.

  • Robert Meek

    "When Cat was making $90,000 a year as the chief financial officer of a bank while I was attending college or working at Trader Joe’s, we were living in Bakersfield. There, guys would just look at me, and go, 'So what are you, anyway. Some kinda faggot?' ”


    Here we go, again. Yea, I know, it's ancient history. Yea, I know, you dealt with it well. Yea, I know it's your history.

    But it's my legacy, to experience that, to varying degrees, as a gay man aged 52.

    What gets me is the infantile and puerile attitudes and responses these certain, not all, straight men incessantly have, over and over and over again.

    Any time they THINK that they MIGHT be around a "fag" they get hostile, vicious, and fact of the matter, downright terrified. In their warped minds, all "fags" want their bodies, no matter how gross they really look. No matter how unattainable they are.


    At its peak, I had a neighbor, in his 70s, who lived across the street from me, a patient of mine, allege molestation by me. The story was astounding.

    I had supposedly sneaked back into the locked up hospital on the night shift, in uniform, and had "something" on my stethoscope, he said, and when I listened to his lungs, it knocked him out.

    They explained to him that (A) I was off duty, (B) the hospital was locked down, and (C) I would have no access to such anesthetics.

    He was unswayed.

    They got really scared when he told them he was going to take his gun, drive to the hospital, wait for me to come out, and shoot me. Murder me!

    At this point, they told me all of it. It was then, that I told them something they didn't know, because this had been going on behind my back – he lived across the street from me!

    I said a few livid opinions of him and added if he had anything to say to me why didn't he take his (insert expletives) ass from across the street and come knock on my front door and say it to me!

    Etc., etc., etc.

    The argument went on of them scared for my safety and my refusing to buckle and cringe.

    Eventually, even his wife said "They'll think you're crazy!" She knew he was – he was on antipsychotics. (I knew that, too, having cared for him.)

    In due time, his son apologized, but the old man never did. NEVER.

    That is what those kind of people are capable of – threatening to KILL.

  • Jeremy

    If anyone thinks him being a teacher is going to be some low stress, low time consuming job, they have another think coming. Aside for the summers, that's one tough job that's well in excess of a 40 hour work week for any teacher worth the title.

  • Skerrib

    What are you anyway, some kind of faggot???

    (I didn't want to disappoint you. And I have nothing to add to all the great comments on the other post. And I, too, hate chores. But I agree with the bit about having one person doing the long outside work hours–it is healthier for us too)

  • Skerrib

    True dat.

  • Skerrib

    Oh wait–I misread the post. I thought you meant people were going to email & ask you that. Instead I see they already asked you that back in the day. Nevermind…

  • this post of yours is my new favorite. we live and love like this. so good.

  • HK

    Mmm… I don’t know about the meal ticket thing requiring too much scheming. I’ve seen (and even dated) guys like that. I’ve also seen the flip side: guys whose wives worked hard to help put them through school, only to leave the wife once he’s successful. Maybe the “scheming” is more on a subconscious level. And either way, it requires a lot of patience and it has happened. Not every relationship where the wife is the breadwinner is as successful as yours, precisely *because* there are fortune-hunting men out there just as there are gold-digging women. It happens, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea to at least remain alert to the possibility until proven otherwise.

    On a lighter note, it’s great how you and your wife complement each other– in a similar way that my husband and I do. Even down to the house chores– the stuff he hates doing, I like, and vice versa. Makes dividing them up a cinch! 🙂

  • Great post as always.

    I agree with brother Jeremy,

    Teachers are one of our nation's treasures, they should be treated as such. Working those long hours, with their red pens and the school dances. Though let's get rid of the unions, public schools are fine. The best in the world. Buck up, America.



  • DR

    Oh Robert, that makes me tear up to read this. I hate that you faced this. I hate that so many kids without any support face this. The hate and hostility within homophobia terrifies me. This is me, hugging you forever.

  • Ace

    What's wrong with Hawaiian shirts?

    I don't see what the big deal is anyway. Housework is just one of those nasty chores that has to get done at some point unless you want to live in a pig sty and SOMEBODY is eventually going to get off their high horse and do it and stop worrying whether it's "beneath" them (unless you are lucky enough to have the money to hire a maid).

    As a feminist-oriented sort, I don't see a problem with men doing housework. Or women doing housework, for that matter. Or better yet, make the kids do it, it'll teach them responsibility or something (at least that's what my parents told my brother and me).

  • Gina Powers

    Actually, my husband is the main breadwinner in our house right now–so does that make ME a fag?

    😉 (Sorry……had to insert random snark, I'm in a bad mood…).