The Wife Bonus: Do you Have One Inked in Your Prenup? You Should.

This article in the NYPOST about wife bonus intrigued for many different reasons. Who even knew that this was a thing in the upper echelons of New York’s Upper East Side enclaves? But apparently, it is. And with the bonus what do they do? They purchase little luxuries such as bags, shoes, and fine jewelry for themselves, like this pretty Christian Dior necklace. Got a problem with that?

wife bonus
How about this Christian Dior necklace?

So what exactly is this “wife bonus” thingy? It apparently is where husbands agree to pay wives a percentage of his own company bonus which he receives at the end of the fiscal year. Obviously, because it is a “bonus” the amount is not fixed but varies from year to year. This credit to the wife’s account is hers and hers alone to do with as she pleases. It is not a “joint asset.” One can only imagine that in the event of a divorce, the prenup would be clear that the wife bonus is not “marital property.”

A few years back, a woman, a New York writer named Wednesday Martin seems to have coined the phrase in a book:

In her book “Primates of Park Avenue,” out Tuesday, New York writer Wednesday Martin sensationally reveals the trend for bankers’ wives to receive so-called “wife bonuses” — a percentage of their husband’s company bonus in return for managing the household and supporting him in his career. Meet Polly Phillips, 32, who gets a five-figure sum every year from her petroleum engineer spouse for being a stay-at-home mom. While she refuses to divulge exact figures, Houston-based headhunter Mike Vineyard estimates her husband’s bonus could be as much as $150,000 a year. Here, Phillips proudly explains how she spends the money — and how the cash payment makes her more, not less, of a feminist than ever.

This issue of condemning women as not be “feminist” when they receive a wife bonus is riddled with hypocrisy. It is fundamentally not feminist to expect modern women who are staying at home moms in heterosexual marriages to do traditional chores in the home without compensation while their husbands who work outside the home rake in the big bucks.

Housework is hard work and women should receive payment. Being at home taking care of the home and children is a real job. A hard job. It is astounding that women have not demanded to be paid for their work before this and that it takes women on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to start the trend of asking for and receiving pay for their hard work. And no, it is not about creating an employer/employee relationship between a husband and wife but the wife staying at home does enable the husband to remain in his job unperturbed and so, being that marriage is a partnership, it is only fair that she splits any bonuses that he receives – i.e., that she receives a bonus too.

What about you? Did you have the good sense of getting a wife bonus negotiated into your prenup? Keep in mind that these bonuses are not just for rich women on the Upper East Side. Even if you get a modest $1000 per year at the end of the year (and even when you also work outside the home) as a bonus, it still counts. Because no matter the couple, nine times out of ten the wife is still doing the lion’s share of the child-rearing and housework, and she should be compensated for it.

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