CAREER WIFE DILEMMA: I am the Breadwinner. Can My African Husband Handle This? 2 Career Wives share their thoughts

When a career woman is promoted to a higher role at work, she is supposed to be happy because she worked for it and will be earning more, right? But then quite a number are filled with mixed emotions. On one side they are elated and could jump over the roof and on another side, they are sad because now they have to deal with the fact that they earn more money than their husbands. The question on their minds are these?

  • How will my husband handle me earning more than him?
  • How will this affect my relationship?
  • Do I even let him know about it?
  • How will his ego take it?

These questions and topic were inspired by the question I received from one of Tolusworld reader and here it is……….

“Please can you share your view on relationships where the woman is the breadwinner of the home especially for marriages 5yrs and under that are going through discovering themselves and have to deal with this issue at the same time? It seems African society have not caught up with the fact that a lot of women have now become breadwinners (earning significantly more than the hubby) and may not be able to completely discharge their traditional home duties because of added responsibility at work”

I asked 2 women who have been married for over 10 years. Like quite a number of us, they’ve had their own share of marriage lessons and here is what they have to say in regards to this situation.

Wife #1:

It is a very common trend these days for wives to earn more than husbands. Sometimes I feel it is because women tend to be more aggressive and are willing to do what it takes to achieve their goals (albeit the right way!) or could it be that our men just relax and have deviated from their traditional role of being the breadwinner? I am not sure there is a correct answer to that question.

The success of any marriage boils down to understanding between the couple and once a couple can overcome the stress associated with their finances, every other thing in their relationship will be easy. Now how does this work? In my opinion, when a woman is the breadwinner, she expects the husband to be more supportive of her career or chosen line of business and also to assist with house work and the kids (where there is no support system in place). I know of a couple in Nigeria that due to the loss of his job, the woman became the bread winner. The wife gave the husband her ATM card so he would not have to ask her for any money. I can say that this arrangement worked fine with this couple because he was not a reckless spender and he worked out ways of managing the little income they had. Furthermore, he also assisted a great deal with the home and the kids. Above all, he is a Christian!

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For a young couple having to deal with this situation, my advice is to be as open as possible and as a woman, do not rub it in his face at every opportunity that you earn more than him. A man wants his ego to be massaged! Rather, if you can, help him with resources that can empower him. As long as he is understanding and reasonable, it will be fine. I have friends who earn more than their spouses here but they have joint accounts and still sit together to plan the family’s finances. Placing each spouse on a monthly allowance also helps but usually, the woman’s allowance should be more than the husband’s because we have more expenses (make-up, hair e.t.c)

If there is the understanding that whatever income each spouse earns belong to both, it should work out and the man should not feel incompetent. As long as he has the drive to work hard and willing to go the extra mile, they should be fine. As a man with the lower income, you should give your wife treats with the little you have and ensure that your immediate family is your priority.

Finally, DO NOT allow family members to intervene in your finances in anyway, the level of each spouse’s financial contribution should not be revealed to external parties. All the above will work if the man is reasonable and a great husband.

Wife #2:

Permit me to say that I do not believe in the original model of the African marriage. It expects the wife to be a doormat. Your husband is your lord, he cannot be questioned. You are to cook for him, obey him, and bear his children. You cannot even call him by his name. He is not your friend, he is your God. If that is the case, he better be the one with the higher income taking all the financial burden.

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Permit me to say that I do not believe in the original model of the African marriage. It expects the wife to be a doormat. Your husband is your lord, he cannot be questioned.

That being said, if you are dealing with a man, who respects a woman and know to protect her, share the family responsibilities with her. I see nothing peculiar in the woman being the bread winner. The woman however must know how to balance things with wisdom.  Every woman wants to be pampered and needs a man to look up to.  What is the reason why she is the breadwinner? Is the guy in school and improving himself or is he just a lay about man who wants to be cloth and fed for the rest of his life? That may be a recipe for disaster.

In my opinion, a relationship where there is mutual respect and understanding; especially where the man understands the need to protect his wife from societal intrusion and the wife knows to apply wisdom.  It does not matter who brings in the higher income. Since it all goes to a common purse; It might be that the men need to be educated about their expectation of a career woman. If she is helping with most of the bills then they must be prepared to support their wives in their roles. Would love to see more seminars and conferences addressing the men and marriages in the same ratio as we have them addressing the women in marriage.

My Thought:

I, (like the two wives that shared their views above) believe that it all depends on both parties. What I have noticed occasionally is that once a woman earns more than the man, sometimes, the man thinks the woman will start disrespecting him. If they engage in a healthy disagreement and the woman tries to make a point, the man might think it is because the woman earns more and that she is being proud and arrogant. The woman as a result might begin to work on egg shells. I am also not ignorant of the fact that some women actually grow wings once their pay check goes higher than the man’s. But then women please note that a virtuous woman who wants her relationship to work will act wisely and for husbands, please just because your wife earns more than you does not mean she will automatically begin to disrespect you. Be understanding and know that this is for the progress of the family.

So what do you think? How do you think this situation should be managed considering the African setting?

I am currently on a weight loss journey. Follow me on my Instagram to be a part of this journey. It’s fun all the way. #tolusworld @tolusworld

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