Yes, most modern marriages have both the partners share the responsibilities. Each contributes according to his/her own skills, and areas of expertise. The old guard of having the man take all the decisions is slowly being replaced. This is a move in the right direction. But in some marriages, the wife takes on more responsibility. The one who anchors the whole show is the wife. For some reason, the husband does not take on the responsibility, either seriously or because he is unable to.
I have seen families where the wives take on a steady job and they manage the home, kids and a career. They cannot afford to take a leave of absence from work and sit at home. The home fires will not burn. I had seen such a family years ago. I was disturbed. I was of the old fashioned impression that the man has to earn the majority income. The wife can supplement, but the husband does the lion’s share. This marriage had the wife seek out employment since the husband was unable to keep a steady job. She has gone on to work in spite of not being in good health, and has two kids too. Now the kids are well settled, and I hope she takes a well earned rest. The husband does work, but the steady income comes in from the wife.
Now I have been seeing several such couples. Either the husband does not stick to a job, or does not get one to his qualification. Some husbands do not try to even venture into other job markets, earn not enough and do not mind the wives earning more. Fortunately for such ladies, they are earning well; their life styles are fairly comfortable. Some men are highly qualified, but do not get the job to their liking, so feel frustrated and leave. Some men do take up jobs in other cities, but give up since they cannot live away from the family.
The women who pull the load do it without too many complaints. This is when they know the husband is trying all means to settle down. But those women who have husbands who do not look at the larger picture and keep job hopping, can end up with a lot of stress. Their health suffers, and they are unable to do anything about it. The children see their mothers being strong and handling various crises efficiently. They do love their fathers, but will there be the same respect for these gentlemen as they have for their mothers? Of course when the kids are very young, they will not know the financial position. Once they grow up and see their fathers either not doing too much about earning more, or job hopping, they can get affected.
In a relationship the committment has to be from both sides. When one partner does not plan his career goals properly, the other partner ends up with stress. There can be any number of reasons for such role reversals. Some reasons are beyond the couple’s control, some can be set right. During the recession, several people lost their jobs. In many families the women got jobs, the men were forced to be jobless. It can be traumatic for such families. But this is a temporary phenomenon. Soon the men folk have found jobs, and things have settled down. Only they are wary of losing the job again and spend also sparingly.
But those men who constantly shift jobs, giving one reason or the other, need to pause and think. They are not alone; they have a family to maintain. Unless both take on the responsibility together, the family will suffer. Yes, a woman working and contributing is good; but depending on her income to be steady, while the man finds his feet, can be stressful.
One client said her husband has been sitting at home for a few years, not earning. Why? He says he does not get a job that meets his qualification. He is highly intelligent, but lacks the vision that he needs to earn. His family requires his income. She said she pulled on hoping he would settle down in a job, but he has not. He refuses to work, because his needs are met. This lady has no support and her children are still studying. She is hoping to pull on till they start earning. It is quite a few years away, till then she knows she has to toil. She cannot hope to quit and take the stand her husband has taken.
In such cases, what does a woman do? Is it that the sense of resonsibility is more for women? They get into a protective mode, and so will do whatever they can to save the family? Or am I basing this thought on a few families I have seen or been told about? Is this disquiet because traditionally men have been providers, and when they shirk, one becomes uncomfortable? Because traditionally men are head of the family, and this continues, no matter what.