The role of breadwinner is outdated.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 However, in the most cutting edge section of the world, the role is outdated.
In today’s world, both men and women get an education and pursue a career. Both earn an income. The role/position if breadwinner is not only outdated; it is dead. Both partners contribute to the upkeep of the home.
The Challenges To The Role Of Breadwinner
Even more dramatic 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 certain sections 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, based on their choice of vocations.
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 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 towers. There is almost nowhere in the world where a teacher or lecturer earns more than a diplomat. She will likely earn more than he does.
Money And Power
In traditional marriage settings, men who have behaved like money is the sole yardstick for measuring power and 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.
The Traditional Role
In this part of the world, it is for this reason that some men insist that their wives be housewives or belong to a field in which their financial dominance is not threatened. And that is sad. We can only hope that more people get a better understanding of this.
People who are deeply steeped in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are likely run into a problem with this new reality, as the role of breadwinner tends to be strictly restricted to the man. A look at the virtuous woman in 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.
There are those who are unable to reconcile with a situation in which the wife earns more than the husband. It is a big world out there after all. The woman 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. There are billions of people in the world and enough for each person to find a fit match.
What People Bring To The Table
However we choose to look at this, here is a fact that cannot be argued against: People bring lots of 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.
If you are blessed to have a home in which both of you contribute from your respective incomes, that is awesome. The progress of your partner is your progress, without any prejudice to gender. Celebrate all of their progress. It is not a competition to see who earns more than the other or who is superior.