When the woman earns more
Today, it is now perfectly possible and often the reality that the woman earns more than the man simply based on each individual’s choice of vocation.
The role of the man as sole breadwinner in a family is becoming outdated. Not exactly everywhere. There is a huge proportion of the world that still has to deal with the reality of having one person fill the role of breadwinner in each family. However, in the most cutting edge sections of the world, the role is pretty much outdated.
Because both men and women get an education, pursue a career, and earn an income, the idea of a sole breadwinner is not only outdated; it is all but dead. Both partners contribute to the upkeep of the home.
When The Woman Earns More
Even more interesting is the fact that it is now perfectly possible and often the reality that the woman earns more than the man. I realise that lots of people in this part of the world are uncomfortable with this scenario. But it really is simple: both men and women go to school and have the freedom to choose a field that resonates with their passions and purposes. It is inevitable that some women will out-earn their partners, and for no other reason that their choice of vocation.
Regardless of passion and dedication, some fields simply pay much better than others. Should the woman belong in a higher paying fee, for no fault of hers or the man’s, she will earn more.
Where that happens, there is often peer pressure. In many places, people still mock and insult the couple where the wife ends more. The woman is called a fool for taking care of more of the family’s financial needs (though it is only logical that whoever earns more should do more of the heavy lifting), and mock the man for not being an achiever. It is an unfortunate way of thinking. Let’s use an example.
Aisha has chosen a path as a career diplomat. Her husband, Emeka has a passion to teach and has pitched his tent with the ivory tower. They are both invested in their different passions and professions. They are both excelling in those different fields. There is almost nowhere in the world where a teacher or lecturer earns more than a diplomat. As such, she will likely earn more than he does.
By their choices of vocations alone, the woman earns more by default, and it isn’t likely to change should they both give their best to their fields of endeavours. Other possible scenarios: husband is a police officer and wife an accountant; husband is a soldier and wife an architect. The possible combinations that automatically tilt the scale in favour of the woman earning more are endless.
Should it matter? In reality, it often matters. For some reasons, people are unable to handle things well and the result is trouble. But ideally, it should not matter. Everyone should be free to pursue a career that they love without any stigma surrounding how much money that career puts in their pockets.
Money And Power
In the traditional marriage setting, men who have behaved like money is the sole yardstick for measuring power and authority, and who have treated women badly because they out-earn them will have a problem with this new world. It means that should they find themselves in this situation, they would be getting the short end of the stick. Hopefully, men like that can begin to change their orientation.
Then there is also precedence that shows that many women are just as bad as some men have been when they are the ones with greater earning power. Sometimes, they have been worse tyrants. There certainly needs to be a change in what we value. While money is a good tool, it should not be a determinant of superiority and should not be used as a weapon in a relationship.
Should a police man then be wary of marrying a banker, an accountant, or a business woman? It sounds like folly. People must be free to pick their vocations and also pick their spouses without the fear of the outcome of the balance of money and power in the relationship or marriage.
The Traditional Role
In this part of the world, we still see how the old order plays out. Some men insist that their wives be housewives or belong to a field in which the man’s financial dominance is not threatened. I am happy for whatever works for people. But we can only hope that more people get a better understanding of this subject and jettison the practice.
People who are deeply steeped in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) often run into a problem with this new reality, as the role of breadwinner tends to be regarded as belonging to the man. But a look at the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 does not paint the picture of a financially handicapped or limited woman though. As a matter of fact, that passage almost paints the picture of a woman whose reputation at home and in business earns her husband respect in the city.
Yet, many seem unable to reconcile with a situation in which the woman earns more than the husband. It is a big world out there after all. In many cases, the woman herself wants a man who earns not just more than her, but much more. And the man is firmly convinced that it is only right for him to be the breadwinner of the home.
When the tables are turned by reality, there is a lot of tension and trauma in that home. The man feels less than a man, and the woman feels awkward and has to walk around on eggshells. One man who has found himself in such a situation but is happily living the life was reported to have been accosted by another man who taunted him with the words, “You call yourself a man, yet here you are driving your wife’s car around!”
The unbothered man’s response to him was, “Whose car would you rather have me drive – your wife’s?”
What People Bring To The Table
However we choose to look at this, here is a fact that cannot be argued against: people bring different things to the table, and money is only one of them. If you happen to be in the breadwinner role in a home, whether you are male or female, your partner isn’t inferior to you because you put down the money. Treat them with respect. Recognise that the other good things they bring to the table are just as valuable as money. The same is true where both earn but one has a more robust income than the other.
Whatever the kind of money and power balance that exists in your relationship or home, it is important to note that the progress of your partner is your progress, without any prejudice to gender. Celebrate all of their progress and all of their wins. It is not a competition to see who earns more than the other or who is superior. It is a partnership.