Are Nigerian men threatened by women who earn more?
A few years back, a guy I was dating had lost his job. So, he came to live with me in my apartment for the period. He had lost the job when his rent was due. Therefore, he could not afford to feed himself for the time either. It was not a big deal to me.
I saw it as extra bonding time as we had been managing a long-distance relationship. He lived in Port Harcourt while I was in Lagos. However, before long, I started to notice weird behaviors from him.
He lied about possible jobs to make it look like he had something great coming. In reality, he was too depressed …or maybe just too proud to actively search. Also, he wouldn’t help around the house which was crazy; considering I had to leave early to work only come back and see his mess around the house.
This dude wouldn’t eat until I came back and cook, then dish some for him. He started to receive a lot of late-night calls from “female friends seeking advice from him”. I could tell he was being an insecure little shit about not being the economic alpha in the relationship. So, I asked to talk.
This dude heaped on me a pile of incidents where he concluded I was emasculating him because he was staying with me.
The funniest instance I think was that I wouldn’t let him; as the man of the house, talk to the generator repair guy, electrician or plumber whenever they came to work. Instead, I would negotiate the price with them to show that I was running things. Waawu! And of course, at the time, I wasn’t as knowledgeable as I believe I am now. So, I actually apologized.
I have since realized that this behaviour is typical of most men in Nigeria.
Social conditioning in Nigerian men believe that they should be the primary breadwinner of the family. As early as primary school, the school textbooks describe the father as the person earning for the family and the mother as the caretaker. Nigerians grow up believing this.
Therefore, it’s not uncommon for Nigerian men to suffer from insecurities; if their female partners or love interests earn more than them. The society’s understanding of masculinity and the resulting gender stereotyping make it difficult for their men to accept anything that is outside the norms. Thus, Nigerian men may be more likely to experience psychological distress; especially if they become the secondary earner in the household or become financially dependent on their female partners.
Unfortunately, in 2020, it’s increasingly common for women to make more than their male partners. It was inevitable, really. With more women than men achieving higher education; choosing careers that only a few years ago were the province of men, better jobs and better money have become available to them. As you would imagine, the money adds a layer of complexity, because it’s a stressful topic that’s riddled with emotion; especially within the context of a relationship.
As some studies have shown, the consequences of traditional gender role reversals in relationships; associated with woman’s higher earnings span multiple dimensions, including physical and mental health; life satisfaction, fidelity, divorce, and marital bargaining power.
Many millennial women, actually, have complicated feelings about making more than their male partners. Because of the disparity in what they earn versus what their male partner earns; they are frequently faced with adjusting their goals or finding ways to negotiate their feelings. They also tend to take on a larger responsibility in managing the household budget.
Here’s what I think though.
Salary or income should not be the yardstick for measuring self-worth for any person, male or female. Self-worth should be measured in a much better way. That way, there are no ego issues when there is a lack of balance between what each earn in a relationship.
Do you agree?