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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When the wife is the breadwinner who is the looser?

For the last few days, Maina Kageni and Mwalimu have been discussing about women who are the main breadwinners in their homes. Should the husband keep off the wife's money? Should the husband live according to his or his wife's means? As always, money matters are sensitive. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Just opinions.


My Human Opinion

Whereas more women are becoming the breadwinners in their homes, we should be asking 'what are the men winning?'. That's for another day.

There is nothing wrong with the wife being the main breadwinner, for a period of time. Yes. I believe the wife can win bread but it should not be indefinitely, unless the husband has a disability or illness that he cannot work. Or he is on death-row, of which he wouldn't qualify to be a active 'husband'.

Therefore, for temporary situations like studying, loss of one source of income, an illness or accident, the man of the house should bounce back and retake his position as the breadwinner. That's why there are two of you in the marriage isn't it? When one is down the other picks you up. Even if the bread he can win is smaller, he should win it nonetheless. And work towards winning a bigger piece of bread.

Now the problem with most men is this ego monster. True, it is easy and very much possible for the bread winning wife to loose respect and honor for the husband, especially if the bread winning status prolongs. But is would take a man with the proper dosage of esteem not to turn around abuse (emotionally, physically, socially or financially) the wife. Instead he should encourage her to greater heights (for their family's sake) as he sorts his business. Otherwise he would misinterpret everything she does as being madharau to him—the 'short-man' syndrome!

Besides, all primary bread-winning women whether they say so or not don't want to be the primary breadwinners. Even the miss independents wouldn't mind marrying a rich dude. Ask the Basketball Wives.

My Biblical Opinion

The famous, but not easily available, virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 works.

 Proverbs 31:14-18
14 She is like the merchant ships,
   bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
   she provides food for her family
   and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
   her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night.
So working is a must. Now, breadwinner or not, women always want to rule over their men. But that's not their place.
Gen 1: 16 To the woman He said:
“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
Anyway, the days of the Bible were different in many ways, but there was no lack of wealth women. A good example is Lydia. She was a wealthy business woman who opened up her home for the church in Colossae. Though we are not told whether she was married, widowed, single or divorced we do know she had a household, from which we can make assumptions. But she had positive influence on her household and used her wealth and status to greatly assist Paul and the church.
Acts 16:11-15
Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi
 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district[a] of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.  13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
Some say Lydia wasn't as wealth as many believe. Or that she was indeed a slave. That is neither here nor there. The bottom line is there should be no loser.

The bread winning woman should still maintain respect and honour for her husband. And the not bread winning husband should try all means to continue (or start) winning the said bread and not use excuses and become a couch bread—potato.

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