Opinion: Women are breadwinners and men? Housekeepers

Perhaps more than at any other time in history, women today need a clear understanding of how they should relate to their husbands. In fact, the significant social changes brought about by the women’s liberation movement over the last few decades have led to such confusion that the very idea of “roles” is repugnant to some. They feel as if somehow they lose their identity and their freedom if they adhere to some type of “outdated standard.”

Well into feminism’s second generation, there are finally a significant number of women reaching parity with the men in their fields — not to mention surpassing them — and winning the salary, bonuses, and perks that signify their arrival. Yet this proud professional achievement often seems to have unhappy consequences at home.
For women, the shift in economic power gives them new choices, not least among them the ability to reappraise their partner. And husbands, for their part, may find to their chagrin that being financially dependent isn’t exactly a turn-on. How secure does a man feel? When the woman earns more, we can’t assume in our culture it’s a nonevent. We’re a long way off from a world where it doesn’t affect the relationship.

According to psychologists (and divorce lawyers) who see couples struggling with such changes, many relationships follow the same pattern. First, the wife starts to lose respect for her husband, then he begins to feel emasculated, and then relationship dwindles to a full stop. If you are already in such situation, learn how to recover relationships.

So what are breadwinning women to do? What is the decision to take couples to save their relationship?

Talk about how things are going for both of you
Stay connected.

Being heard without judgment or criticism can deepen your connection particularly during difficult times.

Appreciate that your husband may experience a period of grieving after a loss of a job and earnings that are connected to his identity, self-esteem and sense of success.

Convey a positive attitude and sense of teamwork showing that you’re in this together.

Don’t apologize to your husband for making more money than him

A woman often feels like she has to play down her own economic contributions to the household while offering her husband reassurances that she value his masculinity. You should be proud of your accomplishments and accept that it’s fine to be the breadwinner.

Manage your money

Money management is more an emotional issue than a logical one. It’s important to establish a family financial structure that’s appropriate for your situation, one that’s fair and equitable to both partners. For some, that means joint finances. For others, that means separate finances. Financial chores should be divided up based on each partner’s strengths.

Clarify expectations for each other

Maintaining respect for what both of you are doing and how you’re each contributing to the marriage will help you function as a team. Remember, there’s a lot more to a marriage than just financial support. Emotional support is essential, too. Couples need to realize that it doesn’t really matter in the end who makes more money. What’s important is working together to meet the needs of their families.

Take care of children

Kids change everything. Most people realize this, of course, but many people fail to plan sufficiently for the challenges of children. Again, both partners should negotiate roles appropriate to their skill sets. And both partners need to be flexible and willing to compromise as you make it all work.

Pursue happiness

Finally, remember that your ultimate goal is happiness. Do what you need to obtain it. Get help when you need help. Don’t let the haters get you down. Do what’s best for your relationship.


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