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WHEN SHE PUTS BREAD ON THE TABLE

By NBF News
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Betty and Wale had been friends from the university. They both managed to 'squeeze' out the university with 'Pass' degrees, which of course meant that their prospects of securing paid employment with good companies looked rather bleak.

However providence smiled on Betty and she got a job with a reputable accounting firm. With her good fortune holding up, the firm gave her a loan to enable her find suitable accommodation. Her salary was more than enough to pay the rent on her modest two bedroom flat in Iyana-Ipaja area of Lagos. Betty soon discovered that she could also afford other little comforts of life.

Shortly after she settled down her long time friend, Wale, showed up proposing marriage. Meanwhile, he didn't have a job yet. For some reason, Betty found the marriage proposal irresistible. It was purely a bait but Betty didn't see it as such; friends counseled her to wait a little so that she can 'see' other more economically stable suitors. She ignored the advice and married Wale.

Three years into the marriage, Wale was still unemployed and didn't seem eager to get one. Even after he moved in with Betty, she continued to pay the rent. And with one baby already and another one on the way, fending for the family had been Betty's heavy burden. Notwithstanding that Wale used her car more than herself, cruising around town, she still picked the bills for fuelling and maintaining it.

Increasingly more women are finding themselves in Betty's situation.

Though not ideal, it is sadly becoming the reality for many women these days. When God said he would make for the man a suitable helper, the Almighty didn't intend that women should carry 100 per cent of the burden of providing for the family, which is why the Bible clearly warns that a man that cannot provide for his family is worse than an infidel. they is not ideal but sadly that is the reality of many women these days, says a Christian counselor and minister with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Mrs. Tessy Ileka.

Not the ideal but some love it - Mrs Tessy Ileka, Christian counselor and minister, Redeemed Christian Church of God

A woman being the breadwinner is not meant to be just like divorce because God will not institute something and still make provision for it to be dissolved. Women becoming breadwinners was not the plan of God but a lot of things have changed. That's why we are now seeing a growing number of women becoming breadwinners.

It used to be that the women stayed at home to take care of the kids. If at all she worked, it would be a job with a lighter schedule than the husband but all that has gone with the times regrettably.

A lot of men these days actually love the role reversal and are comfortable with it. Some men would actually rather not work, they'll be driving the woman's car, living in her house (having moved in with her) and she'll still be paying the rent. And when the kids come, she finds herself paying fees as well.

Men kept by women have no shame – Jerome Yaovi Codjo Onipede, relationship expert

I have lots of people sending messages to me that they need women who would care for them both financially and emotionally. We have men who can't even provide for themselves, who want to go into relationship because they want to drain women. They tell me, 'I want a woman who can help me in life, a woman who will provide for me and all that, and you would think they are guys of about 21 but I have men who are above 40 doing this too.

Though it is true that some women in Abuja keep some men in the house, who they clothe, feed and even send them to London but these boys spend their money on other younger women. These men have no shame and they just see it as a way of life.

In the past, society was structured such that mothers stayed at home to bring up the children while their husbands went to work to earn money for the home. Men were naturally designed to be the breadwinners of the family. But all of that has changed with time. Women are going into businesses to either support their husbands or stand as the breadwinner of their families. And a lot of men these days would prefer their women to work so that they can augment what they bring home for the family, no man is willing to marry a liability for a wife. Every man now looks out for a working class lady when it comes to marriage.

It's not a problem if a woman is the breadwinner… Dr. Dayo Daodu, Psychologist, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education

When a woman acts as a breadwinner for the family, it is not a problem especially if the couple have a positive belief system. For instance, when some lecturers at the University of Ilorin were sacked, what do you think happened in their family situations? I believe the wives encouraged their husbands in such scenario and took up the responsibility of providing for the family knowing that the situation would be temporary, convinced that they would not be the breadwinners for life.

A woman's wealth should be at the disposal of the husband – Hamza Edu, Islamic cleric

It is usually recommended in Islam that the woman should put the wealth at the disposal of her husband at least up to the cost of keeping the house, but her right of ownership is preserved.

In the normal sense, the woman shouldn't work – AbdulFatah Oladeinde, Islamic cleric

In Islam, the woman is entitled to her wealth but the man is the head of the family. He however does not have right over her possessions save what she hands over or gives to him. This situation once happened to Prophet Muhammed, PBOH. He was 25 and the woman was 40. He worked for her as a shepherd and they later got married.

In the normal sense, the woman shouldn't work. Her preoccupation should be to take care of the children, her husband and the home generally, and should even be paid for doing so. According to Sharia, the woman is the 'minister' on the home front, but if she must work, it shouldn't be in a mixed environment (that is where there are males). It should be where her honour would be protected and she would not be exposed to danger.

A woman can be breadwinner if situation compels – Dr. Ishaq Akintola, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).

Islam gives women the right to work and earn a living but it must be the type of job that the husband approves. A woman can also be the breadwinner if the situation compels this but she must remain humble and obedient to the man. Being the breadwinner does not confer authority on her.

DAODU: Women need serious pre-marital counseling
You know the man is quite active in the world of work, and anything that happens there affects him. With the global economic meltdown, men have become the most affected. And in a situation where the couple has a negative belief system, there's bound to be a problem, especially when the wife throws it in his face that he is jobless or good for nothing.

So in order to avoid the disgrace and embarrassment, he often leaves the house and returns very late. In that unhealthy situation, the woman sees it as an opportunity to flex her muscles and impose her economic might. The problem had been there before then. These are called persona-socio problems. That is why our women need serious pre-marital counseling, they should study the man before marriage, so that they don't get in and get a shock. When a man is hunting for a woman, there is a lot of deception.

This is the reason some women would opt to be single parents. And it's worse in this part of the world because the in-laws may also be blaming the woman for their son's predicament.

When women are the breadwinners the effect is mostly negative as the children will be more 'mother-centred', than 'father-centred', because it will be obvious to them, and that is why when they grow up, they tend to take care of their mothers more. Especially for the female children, they will develop scant regard for men which could be carried over into their own marriages if there is no conscious reorientation. And because the women who are breadwinners report their husbands to the children, their minds become poisoned, even the males.

For example there was this case of some children who beat up their alcoholic father because he destroyed their mother's shop under the influence of alcohol. Their father had always acted irresponsibly, while their mother took care of their needs. They were coming home from school one day when they saw what their father did, they just carried him and beat him up. It was their expression of disgust for their father.

But generally though, the effect is milder on the male children as they would learn from the status quo and would not want a repeat episode in their own lives. But for the female children the consequence is more grave because they would grow up to see men as just agents for making children.

ONIPEDE: When the woman becomes the breadwinner some things could go wrong. It's like this, the man thinks this is what I should be doing and this is what you are doing. He feels inferior and there is a level of guilt at this point on the part of the man and it would get to a point she would get tired as a breadwinner because there is a certain point in the life of a woman she would want to be pampered. Initially she might do it excitedly especially when she is younger but when she gets older at about age 37, naturally at this point she wants to be listened to more.

At that point in her life, she wants a lot of affection because of the changes going on in her body. She wants to be told, 'I love you' more often, she wants to be spoiled more. But when she doesn't get this she gets tired because she is shared and shared. She has been giving and not receiving.

A woman who gives and gives becomes drained, vulnerable and depressed. So when she meets another man who tells her 'I like what you are wearing' and he gives her little gifts that she cannot afford then, there is a problem. At this point she becomes very vulnerable because she feels good about the attention. So a woman who is a breadwinner is at risk of becoming vulnerable to other men's attention. And she is not likely to fight the feeling.

What would she want to fight the feeling for? She is feeling good and appreciated outside, you see it is true that she loves her husband but some things are missing in her marriage – the intimacy is no longer there, the transparency is also not there. You know intimacy is about loving and being loved. It's about building and being built up.

Knowing and being known but all she knows is her husband's needs and the children's, no one cares about hers. In this scenario, there is a lot of tension, resentment and the man becomes less attractive to the woman and she no longer respects her husband. More over, a situation where the woman is the breadwinner could become the wrong modeling for the kids. The girls particularly could start thinking that it is right for the woman to be a breadwinner and thus they become quite ambitious.