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Awkward Wallets: When You Make More Than He Does

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For Women & Co. by Alli Worthington, AlliWorthington.com

Ask any relationship expert what couples fight about, and money almost always tops the list. A survey from the American Institute of CPAs found that when it comes to financial issues, couples average three arguments a month. In good economic times and in bad, money is often a source of strife in relationships: not having enough, not agreeing on purchases, disagreements about investing -- you name it, couples fight about it.

Two-income relationships also have potential issues, especially when one partner out-earns the other, creating feelings of imbalance, resentment, and inadequacy. Those with higher income may feel resentment that they carry more of the financial burden, or when their other half spends hard-earned cash on something they consider frivolous. Those who make less money might feel embarrassed that they can't contribute more to expenses, or that because they don't bring in as much money they are not on equal footing, power-wise, with their partner. Oftentimes, that financial inequality is the result of women making more than their husbands. In an article in The Wall Street Journal, Susan Gregory Thomas cites the Bureau of Labor Statistics when she writes that 40 percent of American women are the breadwinners for their families.

Are you an alpha wife? Here are some tips:

Keep multiple bank accounts.

At a minimum, three: one joint account for all household expenses, and separate ones for each individual. Set aside time to have an honest discussion about how you're comfortable structuring "extra" money into the joint account for unexpected expenses such as car repairs, or fun treats such as dinner and a movie.

Keep chores and dollars separate.

If household chore distribution is a source of tension, don't think that being a big wage earner should cut you some slack. Psych Central recommends that you "keep money out of chore talk." Instead, consider time as money, and look at hours worked per week. If one partner works a 40-hour week and the other runs closer to 60, it might be worth considering divvying up chores with that in mind.

Think long-term.

Don't sweat the little things, like the fact that you paid the babysitter yet again. Instead focus on that vacation the two of you are planning for next summer; paying off the mortgage; or saving for college. Remembering that you're on this journey together and have the same goals and plans can help alleviate everyday annoyances, and take the sting out of income imbalance.

About Women & Co.: Women & Co., a service of Citibank, is the go-to personal finance source for women. Women & Co. delivers financial content with sharp, insightful commentary and a female point of view. Sign up for free at womenandco.com.