Do Indian Men Feel Relieved Sharing Financial Load With Working Wives?

Do men feel less burdened when women contribute to the finances of the family? Are they comfortable marrying a woman who has a full-time job? We asked Indian men if having working wives strengthened or weakened the institution?

Rudrani Gupta
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"I feel so happy now," said my mother while dressing up to leave for work. She has been a housewife for more than 25 years. But now, she is helping my father manage the family business. Stepping out of the kitchen, putting down the mop and holding money in hand changed my mother's life entirely. And the credit goes to my father who trusted her with the responsibilities. Now both my parents are working as a team to manage the business. Do men feel happier and less burdened when women support them financially? My father uttered a loud yes! 


This altered reality in my family made me wonder what other men think when it comes to having a working wife. Do they feel less burdened when women contribute to the finances of the family? Are they comfortable in marrying a woman who has a career and a full-time job? Will they be fine if their wives earn more than them? To get the answers, I interacted with some men in my social circle who are currently single. And their responses changed my perception. Do you know how? Let's dig in. 

Do men want wives to earn only during adversities?

"Definitely," said Sameer Singh, a statistical analyst based in Bengaluru, when I asked if he would be comfortable with a working wife. "Look, in today's world, everyone wants economic stability. With the inflation, rising living cost, who else could be your business partner or economic partner if not your life partner?" he said. Hailing from Balia in UP, Sameer confessed that earlier he didn't think about having a working wife. "Earlier, our economy was not that big. Even one person earning could suffice the needs of the whole family." He further added, "Also, back in day, the society was not open for working women. But now it is." 

Shivam Prakash, a government employee, also believes that having a working partner is necessary in the current economic situation. He said, "In the age of inflation, it is impossible to sustain a family for a single bread-earner. I have always wanted a working wife." 

Jenish Trivedi, a research scholar, said that a man from a middle-class family would want his wife to support him financially to overcome the financial crunch. But, a man from a wealthy family who is already earning enough to pay for the luxury of the entire family, will not care if his wife is working or not. 

While the economy came up during the discussion, I had one question that irked me. Is the will to have a working wife as unpredictable and fickle as the economy? If tomorrow the economy improves, will men desert the idea of having a working wife? Will women be pushed back to the kitchens? 


The economy certainly is at its worst phase. But one of the reasons why our economy is not growing is the lack of female labour force participationStudies suggest that an increase in female labour force participation will improve the living standards of the country. There will be more labour inputs and hence more output. Moreover, India's GDP could increase by 27 per cent if it increases its female labour participation to the same level as men. So clearly, the economy will improve if more women are encouraged to work in paid jobs. Shouldn't men change their perception that working wives are required only if the economy is down? Rather, they should encourage women to work as long as they can to improve the economy. 

But Jenish also added that he personally would be happy if his wife is earning. This, he believes, will provide her independence and agency. He put up a raging question that are men happy just because women are supporting them financially? Or are they just selfishly stress-free because their burden is being shared?

How male ego still stops men from accepting independent women in their lives

Pankaj Kumar, an aspiring entrepreneur, brought in a new perspective. He said, "I don't want to marry a working woman as it will cause clashes in ego." Startled at the reply, I quickly asked the reason behind it. "We won't be able to establish an understanding or equality. If my wife earns in a different firm, she will have worries of her own which will only add to the pressure that I will be facing. We won't be able to understand each other as our fields are different and so are our tensions." However, Pankaj did say that if his wife helps him in his business, then certainly he will be happier and feel less burdened in terms of finances.

But, Nitish Gupta, a PhD student, said that it is true that many men will not be happy to have working partners. Why? "Men got some real egos and they use it to polish them with their own money and like to dominate women. At the end of the day they have to look like men for society and tell society that they take care of their wives like the so-called ideal husbands," he added. "But this is a temporary scenario we are talking about. In the long run, both should be financially independent. And I definitely would want an independent partner." 

The male ego is certainly turning men blind to reality. It is keeping them in the mythic world where all women do is serve men while men protect them through their money and power. The idea of protecting women gives men a false image of themselves. They assume that they are stronger and hence society considers them eligible to protect women. But, it is time to wake up, dear men. Your strength doesn't depend on how much you protect your wives or other women in the house, whether financially or socially. Your strength is visible when you respect them. The male ego is only going to create disillusion and differences. But once you shed that off, you will see a life that is balanced and better than before. 


How difficult it is for men to break the cycle of patriarchy 

Last but not least, will men's conditioning allow them to accept a working wife? All the responses above are from men who have been brought up in patriarchal families. And yet, they are willing to break the chain. But how difficult could it be to unlearn years of conditioning? A struggle that cannot be fathomed. 

Speaking about this, Tauseef, Associate Auditor in Hyderabad, said, "Men who have been conditioned to believe that they are responsible for financially supporting the family will not be able to accept working wives. Even if they are willing to, the guilt of not being able to fulfil their duty will overwhelm them." At this point, he shared a glimpse of the situation in his family. When his father's business was going through a rough time, his mother, a government school teacher, supported the family financially. She paid for his coaching classes. But this made his father feel ashamed and utterly disturbed. Tauseef's father never stopped his mother from earning but he did feel bad for not being good enough. 

However, Tauseef too is ready to break the chain of shame. "It is definitely true that things become easy when your partner too supports you financially," he said without a sense of shame. 

Problems still exist, but a ray of hope is now visible

It is clear that today's men are comparatively more open towards the idea of having a working partner. There is a requirement for more knowledge about the importance of female labour force participation and acceptance of unconditional independence and agency of women. 

Until then, dear women, don't give up on your career just because of your partners. The struggle is persistent but not permanent. Men too are in the line to dismantle patriarchy and accept the reality of equality. 

Views expressed are the author's own

marriage Patriarchy working women