A lot has been written about gender and money before. And both the men and the women have never reached a consensus on this matter. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman; for a lot of people, especially, this is one of the greatest taboos you can possibly talk about.
But let’s bring it home to Nigeria, where a man is considered to be the head of the house and by this, what they really mean is – the provider. In tangent, a man who doesn’t earn as much as his wife is considered not equipped to occupy this position that has been assumed for him.
For a boyfriend though, the indices are quite different, the pressure is not as much as it is on a married man. Regardless of this, he is still expected to cater to his intended (even if it’s just a girlfriend). Some might find this strange but this is the reality that we live in.
But when a man is married, no matter how much his wife earns, it’s generally accepted that he should be able to top it. However selfish this might sound, trust me it isn’t. There are a couple of reasons why this is a given and you will be shocked that a lot of people (both male and female) share this ideology. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why most people feel that husbands should earn more than their wives.
1.It puts a strain on a man’s self-esteem.
This might sound irrelevant but according to a study by Reach Advisors, the median income of single women between the ages of 22 and 30 is now greater than the income of single men in that same age group. This is strangely fascinating. You find that what happens to social norms when women start earning more than men is quite a lot more than just a loss of gender pride.
In the real sense, what we have is men who have low self-esteem because already, the norm is that they should be earning more than anyone they marry. They find it difficult to have a healthy relationship with any woman that earns as much as 10% above their income. There are exceptions to this however and still, even those ones who are in such marriages where their wives have more on the table, cannot boldly come out to say it.
2.It brings about unhappy wives.
It is daunting but sadly true, how much upending conventional gender roles when it comes to earnings often puts a strain on a marriage.
Couples in marriages where the woman earns more are less likely to say they’re “very happy” in the relationship, a University of Chicago Booth School of Business study found. Being forced into the breadwinner role made it more likely for a woman to say she was unhappy with everything from how chores were divided to the support she got from her spouse. This is because a woman who earns more than her husband expects that if she’s picking up more bills than him, he should pick up some house chores too.
However, with the kind of culture in place here, a man’s place is not in the kitchen or with the laundry basket. This brings about differences where both parties begin to think that the other is being unfair. However, according to a Working Mother survey, this might not be the case with women who chose to be the primary earner, and as rare as it might sound, they do exist.
3.Lower earnings husbands are usually resentful
In a New York Times article, “Breadwinning Wives and Nervous Husbands,” Richard Thaler, a behavioral economist at the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business, wrote that “evidence suggests that while men tend to applaud their spouses when they help to bring home the bacon, husbands aren’t always as enthusiastic when women start bringing home the filet mignon.”
This perfectly explains the shift that higher-earning wives experience in their relationships with their husbands. While the men are genuinely proud of their wives’ smarts and great jobs, they generally have to contain their inner angst.
Although a few of the husbands, however (who may have occupied the provider position for while in the marriage) will tell you that they’re relieved to be free of the provider burden at this stage of their lives.
Just to put it out there, it is worthy of note that according to research, couples where the wife earns more than the husband report being less happy, report greater strife in their marriage, and are ultimately more likely to get a divorce.
That said, there’s also a new research by Pew Research Center study showing that women are the breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children. So if you are a woman or man trying to make your way through this seemingly uncharted territory, know that you’re not alone, there are thousands other marriages like yours out there and some of them have managed to still stay together.
When all is said and done, the conversation about money and gender is really up to individual differences as with a lot more issues that pertain to marriage.
This is why I’ll like to hear from you, what are your thoughts? If you earn more than your partner, does it affect your relationship? How does gender play a role in your finances?
Also, what will do if you find out your man earns lower than you do and for those who are married what happens when he suddenly starts earning lower than he used to? What steps will you advise people in this situation to take?
Please feel free to share your thoughts. Trust me you will be helping someone.
Cover image source: americanprogress.org