It’s not the fifties any longer. Only a small minority of families fit the classic pattern where dad goes off to work at the same company for forty years while mom stays home and takes care of the house and kids.

In today’s world it’s just as likely that the wife is the one out making money, often as much or more than the husband does. A challenging economy, changing industries, and the information age may all contribute to the husband being between jobs, underemployed, or choosing to take care of things at home because his wife has a better earning opportunity.

There’s nothing wrong with women working and making money, even a lot of money. But it’s important to acknowledge and address the impact such a reality may have on a husband’s psyche. Some men may welcome the chance to be at home while their wives provide financially. But for a great many men such an arrangement, whether necessary or not, is uncomfortable. When you earn more money it can create conflict.

I’m not sure who first said this, but it’s true: The fact that you bring in enough money to meet the financial needs of the family does not lessen your husband’s internal burden at all, or silence his need to be a provider.  Tweet that.

God built into a man the responsibility to take care of and provide for his family. He feels that responsibility as a burden, a necessity, a mark of his identity. When he can’t fulfill that responsibility because of circumstances, illness, age, or some other reality part of him feels as though he has failed in some measure.

It’s not within your power as a wife to remove that burden from your husband. He may be honestly proud of you, and extremely grateful for the money you are able to bring in. But part of his soul still feels like he’s not fulfilling his responsibility as a man if he can’t provide for you and the family.

If you find yourself in that situation as a wife, here’s how you can help lessen the hurt your husband may be struggling with:

  1. Tell him Thank You for wanting to provide. Even if circumstances prevent him from making enough money, acknowledge and be grateful for his desire to do so. Let him know how much you appreciate him for wanting to take care of you, and how that makes you look up to him as a man. Talk about this issue if he needs to do so.
  2. Show him respect. Most men thrive on a steady diet of respect. Actively look for things he says, does, and believes in that you can comment positively on and celebrate. Listen to his perspective on things within and outside of the family. Notice and encourage the good parts of his character.
  3. Don’t flaunt or hide your money. Marriages are always healthier when both parties are open and honest about money, and talk through financial decisions together. Plan your budget together even if you are the better money manager. Don’t push extravagant purchases that would show how much you make and how little he does.
  4. Respect his attempts to earn money. His need to provide may spur him to try a new business, attempt to reenter the workforce, or learn some new marketable skills. Unless it will put the family in danger try to celebrate any such efforts he makes. You can be his biggest cheerleader.
  5. Celebrate your relationship. Nurturing friendship, intimacy, fun, and growth doesn’t have to take a lot of money. But it does take being intentional. Don’t neglect things such as date night, communication, and prayer together.
  6. Honor his lead where possible. There are many areas where your husband may be eager and able to lead regardless of any job situation. Such areas may include major family decisions, child rearing, and spiritual leadership in the home. Respecting his lead where you can will help him feel like a man.

Money, or the lack thereof, can create significant conflicts. Money affects emotions, and is a symbol of power. Don’t allow your higher income to come between you and your husband.

Your Turn: Who earns more money in your household? Does that cause any conflict or friction between you? Leave your comment below. 

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