Dear Aunt Sylvia,
I am a 51-year old lady married to an educated man with three adorable children. Both my husband and I are working and I would say, we are financially ok. Some years ago, my husband became sick and he was advised by the doctor to work less. That drastically changed our income situation and made me earn more than my husband. Recently, I noticed that he is not the same man he used to be. He gets irritated easily and often accuses me of insulting and disrespecting him. The reality is that I’ve always tried to make my husband happy, but it seems my efforts are not enough. Sadly, the quarrel has reached a point that I fear it could cost us our marriage. Please help me out.
Thank you for your mail. I feel so sorry to hear that your marriage is heading to the rock, simply because you earn more than your husband. Although, I must admit that your story is not new or a surprise. Sadly, we all seem to forget the vow we made during the wedding: for better, for worse.
As a couple, you are supposed to work together as a team; unfortunately, some men have culturally, allowed psychology of gender to block their reality of life. It is a good wife that wants to share her income with the rest of the family, rather than insisting that the husband is the “head of the family,” as such, must bear all the financial burdens on the family. Why can’t your husband see this obvious reality and praise your efforts?
That said, I am not there in your family to verify your husband’s claims about you; if your behaviour has suddenly changed and you have become bossy simply due to the new economic situation, which favours you, then, your husband has a point – and ground to complain. I assume there were no major family problems when your husband was earning more than you. That shows he wants the best for his family. I would seriously advise you to make sure your new financial advantage does not come with pride or disrespect for your husband. On the other hand, I strongly request your husband to show appreciations to you for your financial contribution. Equally, it is not new to know that many African men have problems when their wives earn more than they do. In most cases, based on that inferiority complex or inherit cultural trends and gender consciousness, many men tend to read unnecessary meanings to or create wrong interpretations of innocent actions of their wives, simply because their wives are financially better than them. This leads to friction in the marriage or relationship.
I advise you to make sure your new financial situation does not change your attitude, duties in the family. Equally, your husband must appreciate your contribution and make sure his new situation does not influence his judgement of you and your actions. I hope you both find a common ground and enjoy your marriage. Good luck.