When she earns more
The candlelit dinner was finally over, and both Vickie and boyfriend John were not disappointed.
It was indeed sumptuous. The bill arrives and as is the usual habit of waiters, it is placed strategically close to John. A tense silence follows as the two avoid eye contact and instead stare fixatedly at the bill.
A slight flinch from Vickie sends John grabbing the bill, like it was some contest as to who would settle it.
Vickie 25 years had been in a relationship with John 30 years for three years when she got a promotion at work and started earning almost twice what she did before.
This didn’t go down well with John who changed his attitude towards her.
“He started being more controlling, he asked where I had been more often and what I spent my money on and even complained when he thought I spent too much,” says Vickie
Vickie goes on to say that this puzzled her because this was supposed to be a good thing since they could afford a lot more than they did before.
Joy Nshuti a 40 year old Engineer has been earning more than her husband, an accountant for over 10 years but she says they have managed to stay married despite the strain this has brought upon their marriage.
“My earnings at first proved a problem in our family and relationship but we have learnt to talk about it and it has helped a lot,” says Nshuti.
She goes on to say that they had to see a counsellor who told them that this wasn’t a reason for them to have problems in their marriage and that if they talked and also set out boundaries and also planned for the different incomes they wouldn’t have a problem.
Money in relationships is always a big issue especially when the woman earns more. This usually goes as far as breaking up marriages.
This of course shouldn’t be the case but it unfortunately is. The man naturally feels he is the head of the family and his duty is to provide for the family and essentially this is financial provision.
When the wife gets a bigger pay cheque and begins to provide for the family then he feels emasculated and therefore the change in behaviour and attitude.
Men naturally have big egos and part of it comes from the pride of being the breadwinner in the family, when this role is stripped from him, his ego too is bruised and thus the need to control something other than the finances.
This is usually in a bid to prove their importance and superiority to the woman.
Aline Uwineza a marriage counsellor in Kigali says that men should not feel like they are being stripped of their responsibility and the women too shouldn’t feel guilty for earning more than their husbands. Thus turning down job offers that are more paying.
Women should be proud to earn more and not feel guilty or ashamed. Their partners should also take hold of their egos and accept that their women earning more doesn’t make them any less of men and doesn’t stop them providing for their families.
Uwineza goes on to say that couples should try and establish common goals. That means finding out each others dreams and goals and discussing them.
You can also see if either one of you is willing to make sacrifices for the other to achieve their goals. This helps you plan your money and avoid arguments about expenditure that may develop later on.
She advises that couples need to divide duties. Let each of you have something to do that they feel they are good at. This will help the man also feel important and needed and not striped of his roles in the relationship.
Some of duties are bill paying and investment research that is if you want to make any investments as a couple.
Some men turn violent towards their spouses because they feel that the woman if not beaten will be the dominant figure in the relationship and thus the need to instil fear in them.
Judging by the figures of women acquiring top position jobs and earning large amounts of money, this can prove to be a serious problem that should be addressed if relationships are to be left intact.
For such a relationship to stay stable, work needs to be done like any other relationship.
A couple needs to talk about their finances and assure each other that their roles in the relationship still remain needed and appreciated and that different pay checks don’t have to change this fact.
Couples need to learn to talk about their finances regularly and not only when a problem arises this helps you decide how to spend how to spend your money and helps you know how each partner is dealing with the cash flow in the family.
A couple also need to have a financial autonomy or a bit of space. We are all born individuals and need to sometimes do stuff independently and so maybe a couple could decide to get one common account where they deposit a given amount of money for the family and each an independent account to cater for their own personal needs.
Earning more doesn’t have to be a problem to your relationship; it can instead be a positive thing, if you work at making it just that.