Why Does It Always Surprise People That I Wear the Financial Pants in the Household?

I am the main income earner (the sole income earner in fact) and my husband is the house keeper.
Publish date:
April 30, 2015

I keep hearing about people who support gender equality and having more women in traditionally male dominated roles. From celebrities, both female and male to those who work it on the hashtag campaigns to those close to me, my friends, family, colleagues and next door neighbors. They all have a say and all want their voice heard.

However, they don't seem to truly believe in any of it, for whenever someone learns that I am the main income earner (the sole income earner in fact) and my husband is the house keeper, their response is often more surprised (and then wondered what was wrong with my husband) than to accept that it can be normal practice.

“How does that work?”

"Wow, aren't you brave!"

"You poor thing! I hope he finds a job soon!"

They say it as if it's the worst thing in the world, yet, I know if I were a man with a housewife, no questions would have been asked.

Frankly, I am sick of hearing these responses!

My husband and I met during a four months volunteering commitment in Peru. It was in an environment where we had no electricity, running water and modern hygiene facilities that we had to work and live with each other. Forget traditional dating!

We got to know more about each other by ways of team work and having to make do with what is available to us, which became the foundation of our relationship when we eventually "hooked up," we stood as equals.

I work in IT, a traditionally male dominated field with a corporate ladder and environment often constructed to suit men rather than women. I also have a second job as a freelance writer, which take up most of my other time when I am not analyzing technical solutions. You could say I am always "at work," but I do manage to arrange trips away with the husband and we spend time in the evenings chatting over a glass of wine.

My husband used to work in a factory, however since meeting me, he has decided that he wants to do more in his life than just manual labor, so he quit his job and began full time tertiary studies. He is the first person in his family to go to university, at the age of 26!

That was in 2006. Since then, I have supported his studies and my travel-holic lifestyle while he continue to seek higher qualifications at the same time cooking for me and keeping the house clean.

And yes, let’s just be clear about this. I work, he doesn’t. That’s it. I pay for rent, I pay for groceries, I pay for our holidays, and when we got married, I paid for it all.

Having a spouse at home is a concept that the society has long established as the norm. The only difference in our situation is our gender. The idea that a man could have a housewife is commonly accepted but throw in the term "house husband," then suddenly we have a problem.

For his role in our relationship, my husband has been called "pussy-whipped," "weak," and "lazy." Some men, who haven’t got a concept of household requirements, consider him "lucky" to be able to just do nothing.

To those people, I say this: My husband is the most hard working and motivated individual I know. He could easily choose to hide behind the male ego and refuse to do anything, but the fact that he is willing to put himself through an education which he never had the encouragement to do when he was younger, having to study alongside students much younger than him shows he is braver than most other men I know.

He is manly enough to accept his role in our relationship, and he is neither weak nor lazy.

The amount of work he has to do equals to the hours I put in at the office and writing. Our lifestyle is about team work and sharing responsibilities, like all marriages should be.

“But it’s not right! A man should be the one taking care of his wife!”

That response, believe it or not, came from my own mother, whose upbringing taught her that men and women have very specific roles in society.

Bu my husband is in fact taking very good care of me -- spending at least 3 hours a day cooking (breakfast, lunch and dinner), cleaning up after a wife and 2 cats (not an easy job, for I admit myself I am not the neatest person to live with), going on grocery runs and still squeezing in time for full time Masters level studies.

When I am sick in bed even with the curse of the period pain, he is there bringing me hot teas, closing the door to stop the cats annoying me and holding my hand wishing that he could do more.

As far as I know, majority of husbands don’t do this, especially when it involves period pains. There is no arguing there that he isn’t taking care of me.

Also I really, really don't like being described as the one who "wears the pants in the family." I have quite a few nice dresses and skirts I like to wear, thank you very much.