Kristin and I were talking about divorce and Social Security the other day, and I realized that if we were to separate completely and get a divorce, she would not share in my Social Security benefits.
Okay, here's some background. Nine years ago, we decided to have children. We chose Kristin, as the genetic female, to be the birth parent and do the baby-nursing and primary childcare. (Actually, for the first two years of Trin's life, she was the primary wage-earner, and I was the stay-at-home parent – but the last six years she's been the home-worker while I've been the wage-earner.) As we place a high priority on family and children, and wanted to parent our children fully, we chose to make the sacrifices that would allow us to get by on one wage, perhaps with part-time help from the other parent on an evening/weekend schedule. This means we've done things like live with all four of us in a one-bedroom duplex, and getting by with one 20+-year-old Volvo with well over 300,000 miles for the past eight years, and sleeping on garage-sale mattresses on the floor. But as time passed, I slowly advanced my position until now I've got a really good job that pays pretty damn well. We liken it to a football team. I play the offense; I make the points (money).
Kristin, meanwhile, plays defense. She saves money. While caring for the kids, she takes care of the house, manages the finances (which are all completely shared), plans meals and shops accordingly, cooks cheap, healthy meals for us all, and plants, weeds, and harvests gardens in four different yards, saving hundreds and hundreds of dollars on groceries and giving us the best food available. In doing all this, she saves a hell of a lot of money, gives our children the best education possible, and makes homeschooling on one wage possible.
Who do you suppose has the most challenging and difficult job, and works the hardest?
If you guessed Kristin, move to the head of the class.
However, even though Kristin contributes as much if not more to the economic well-being of this family, when we fill out our income tax forms, nearly all of the economic benefits are assigned to me.
Assuming we stay together, that's no big issue. She'll share in my benefits when I die.
But if (like 50% or so of the couples in this great nation) we divorce – she gets nothing from mine. She gets to try to make it on the benefits from her tiny-to-non-existent income, and I get all the benefits from my considerable income – even though we are equal members of a team, and she sacrificed her income to benefit me, our children, and, by extension, our community and society.
You know? It pisses me off. The income I make is not my income, it's our income. There ought to be some legal framework that ensures that the combination of our efforts will yield equal benefits to our old age, regardless of whether our team stays together or not.
While our situation is same-sex, most equivalent situations are not; and as usual, the woman ends up with the short end of the stick. Another reason to tear down the patriarchy, and embrace the philosophy of feminism.