Does your wife earn more than you? Do you feel like you need to get another job? Do you get home early before her because of the calibre of her office? Did she buy her car herself and paid for the children’s school fees? Do you sometimes wish you could just have her resign her work and just stay home taking care of the kids? Not to worry, you are not alone in these thoughts, most men in your shoes share similar misgivings. Novelist Tony Parsons famously once said “his pennis literally would have dropped off” in a long term relationship where his partner earned more than him. Ok well, that’s a bit cynical Tony. But the truth is that people actually feel this way. How do they deal with it? Well, lets see.
Take the story of Julius a schoolteacher, who happens to fall in love with a banker. They soon got married and are blessed with children. His wife’s salary is more than his, making her the breadwinner of the house. She funded their 4-bedroom apartment and cars. She even funds vacation and the children’s school fees. Julius doesn’t mind abdicating his natural responsibility as a breadwinner. In fact he makes it up by being at home on time, going through home work with his kids, making sure dinner is ready for his wife and patiently waiting for her every night till she is back. He believes if he can’t meet up financially then he should compensate in other areas of family life.
Evelyn on the other hand is married to a Lawyer whom she met and dated back in University. She now works with an oil company and earns his six months pay in one month. But that’s how far her edge over her husband goes. He instructs her to pay all or part of her salaries into his account every month and gives her an allowance for the month. She says, it’s not a situation she likes, but after several rebuffs by her threatened her marriage, she gave in.
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Emma, a Medical Doctor, has over the years established himself as a seasoned consultant. His wife works for a multinational and is equally successful. On the average she earns well over her husband but he doesn’t mind, he likes ambitious women and pushes his wife to achieve more. He believes his earnings, though less than that of his wife is enough to cater for his family. He takes care of everything in the house, even if it means borrowing; he will not allow his wife to spend a dime. To him, a man must take charge.
Adelice an Accountant for one of the top accounting firms in Lagos is married to a self-employed businessman etc. He believes by nature he should be the breadwinner but he can’t turn away from the steady income that comes the way of his wife as his is far from regular. In fact, when they initially got married he almost asked her to resign believing her job may one day make her insolent. He thanks his stars he didn’t do that. Today, his wife’s steady income augments his sporadic earnings as they both contribute to the day-to-day running of their home. He gets to take care of one off payments like rent, vacation, school fees etc while the wife takes care of consumables like food, fuel, utility bills etc.
Peter and his wife of two years have had issues dealing with her job. She earns far more than he does, a situation he hasn’t been able to deal with. To make matters worse, she regularly comes home late from work. It just doesn’t go down well with his traditional beliefs. “A woman must be under a man no matter what”. His wife loves him so much and can no longer stand the incessant quarrels at home. She accepts his instruction to resign since he can’t find a better paying job. Now they live on his salary.
The above, depicts how most families deal with this thorny issue. If it were you, who would you be? Julius? Evelyn? Emma? Adelice? Or Peter? Adelice and her husband seem to be a model middle class couple. A husband and a wife should find ways to contribute to the family’s finances. It shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of one person. Women like their men being in charge even if they earn more. A man is naturally the leader of the house and should do so not by inertia but by actions. It is important to recognize the role women now play in modern society and in family building. They should be encouraged to advance their careers and allowed the independence to manage their finances. Times have changed such that behind every successful family is a successful woman.
Updated: September 24, 2012. Updates includes correction of typos and author’s recommendation on how to cope