Money and love: Will your relationship survive if your earnings change?

As Victoria Beckham's earnings soar, we asked a relationship expert how the breadwinner changing affects couples, and how to stay strong

As he enjoys his retirement and watches his wife's profile, career, business and earnings skyrocket, David Beckham's probably not feeling too emasculated. After all, he's the hottest ex-footballer in the world and can make millions simply cavorting about in his underwear.

But now the company that runs Victoria Beckham's fashion label has announced that its profits have doubled to more than £15 million, could this be a sign that the balance is changing?

Now David's hung up his football boots, is Victoria to be the main breadwinner of the Beckham empire? And could that spell trouble for the golden couple?

"When finances change in a relationship it can have a huge impact on a couple," says relationship coach Janet Murray.

"And when it's the man who's used to being the breadwinner, he can feel quite emasculated. Because when the control of money in the relationship changes, the power balance does too.

"And for men, being the breadwinner is something that's been instilled into them for generations and even the most modern men can struggle and feel they've lost their purpose and significance in the relationship."

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Janet agrees that this is a generational thing, and that couples who start out on equal ground in terms of earnings are more likely to be able to adjust to this type of change.

"Generations have changed – in the same way younger men are much more used to doing household chores, responsibility for bills and money is certainly more equal.

"But there's still the biological fact that it's the woman that has the baby and that’s still a factor. We are still living in a world where boardrooms are mostly full of men. So even though we've made progress, the underlying attitude is still there and it takes a man who's extremely confident and comfortable in himself to take the back seat."

But it's not all about men being insecure. For women, becoming the main breadwinner comes with extra pressure.

"The respect can go a little bit and if the woman is doing everything - pulling in the main salary, being a mother, running the household - that has to be thought and talked through."

What should you do?

Like most relationship problems, effective communication is the key, Janet says.

"Honest communication, agreement making and deep listening are vital whenever there is a significant change in the relationship, and finance is no different.

"Actually sitting down and really listening properly to how the other person is feeling and not having 100 things going on while you’re half-listening is so important.

"Once you talk through the concerns and emotions you can make agreements around how your finances will work as a couple and what you need to do to feel you're both equal partners regardless of your salary."

But it's not just about the money itself. Many people identify themselves through their work and losing their job doesn't just affect their finances and stability, it also threatens their sense of self.

"Many of these things don’t get talked through and resentments build up," Janet explains. "Respect is lost and it's a downward spiral. But interrupting it with a clear and frank discussion early on stops it becoming too hard to get back from."