Dear Sir Stan, my husband is driving me crazy, I need help don’t know how to deal with this situation and to make matters worse, he is falsely accusing me of infidelity. The whole things started when his business ran into trouble, his finances got affected and he was no longer able to adequately support us, even to pay the kids fees was a huge problem for him. I watched him struggle and that made me very unhappy. I have a fairly good job so I naturally rose up to the occasion and started chipping in where necessary, food, kids’ fees, rent etc. Initially my husband was very appreciative of my efforts, he thanked me regularly and even promised to pay me back everything I spent with 100% interest. I always waived it aside insisting it was as much my responsibility as it was he’s. As months passed I started noticing that my husband became more and more agitatated, we were always very cautious not to tick him off at home, the kids and I will tip toe around him to avoid being shouted at. It progressed into him accusing me of usurping his powers, relegating him to the background and looking down on him. He started questioning my source of income, claiming I was sleeping with my boss and he was paying my bills. The peace we once knew completely disappeared, we will argue and shout at each other for hours. I fear my kids are being affected by this, I am at a loss and I don’t know what to do.

This is a very common scenario when a woman has to step in and cover for her husband, many families have been broken because of the confusion that arises from this role swap. While it is unnatural for a woman to assume the role of providing for the family, it is perfectly in order for her to step in and support her husband when things are not going well for him. This however causes a lot of friction especially if the woman is allowed to play this role over an extended period of time. The time it takes for issues to start coming out depends on the temperament of the couple. It is difficult to blame either the woman or the man for issues that may arise in situations like this, in most cases each plays a specific role which may aggravate the already delicate situation. 

Men who use money as a tool to control their wives find it very difficult to thrive in a situation where the woman now becomes the bread winner. Being conscious of his practice, he becomes overtly attentive to every little thing the woman does when it comes to spending her money, he will pick out the most salient gestures and misinterprets it as insults intended to remind him of his inadequacies. Men generally find it difficult to accept the situation where they have to depend on their wives. it is difficult for them to accept that they cannot effectively call the shots when the money is not theirs. Situations will arise when a woman will question something which she has always had reason to question without problems, but because of the man’s financial situation, he will assume she is trying to control him or assume leadership of the home because of his condition. He will question even ordinary greetings and react negatively to jokes which he used to find very hilarious, it is close to impossible to please some men in this situation. The woman looking too good is alway a problem for him, he believes that she may begin to give other men attention to make ends meet. A man in this state has very low self esteem and will see everything his wife does as a plan against him or an attempt at making a caricature of him. 

Women either reacting to the way the man maltreated them when he had money or just letting the new power of being the provider get to their heads will frustrate her man sometimes unintentionally when things go bad for him. These women will verbally and through their body language remind the man that power has changed and do everything to show that he no longer has control. There are women who will develop negative behaviors like, disobedience, infidelity, sex starvation and refusing to cook for the man. These is their way of either revenging for previous hurt or showing their displeasure with how things are for the man. As a woman, if the responsibility of caring for your husband falls on you, be nice and humane, it is not easy for him, he will definitely overreact sometimes, understand that most of it is beating himself up that he can’t take care of you and the kids. Do what you can within your income , do not do anything foolish or defile yourself for money, he will not understand that you did it for him or because of him. When you get frustrated rather than bottle it up and let your body language send terrible signals, talk to him about it, let him know your fears and challenges. Assure him regularly that your money belongs to him also and he is can direct you any was he pleases. Without money, his house is probably the only place he will be respected and loved. Treat him like a king, it boosts a man’s confidence to struggle harder for survival. 

The situations above can only arise when friendship and understanding is lacking in a relationship, we should understand that there are little adjustments which must be made when roles are swapped as a result of a man’s inability to provide. Common sense should teach a man that if your wife is the one providing, you must give her a certain level of respect and recognition almost as much as she accorded you when you were the one providing. You cannot order or boss a woman around and expect her to use her money go to the market and cook for you. Even if you used to do that in that past, you should understand that roles have changed. Certain decisions should tactfully be left for her to take and fund. You cannot be a dictator without money, it just doesn’t work, no matter how understanding a woman is, sometimes she will be forced to take decisions and implement them while intentionally or unintentionally sidelining the man. It is not practicable for her to always go to the man for just a verbal approval before she takes decisions which she is expected to pay for. A wise man will be patient, understanding and appreciative of her sacrifices and keep reminding and promising her that things will better soon. 

The macho man approach in situations like this is dead on arrival, any attempt to foist your plans or instructions on her and expect her to pay for it will be met with stiff resistance. It maybe wise to avoid things like excessive drinking, smoking or keeping unnecessary late nights, you cannot do that on a woman’s income, I believe it is insensitive for a man to find time and money to indulge in these things while a woman toils to keep the family afloat. Do not accuse her of infidelity especially when you have no proof or reason to suspect her, I understand most men use this as a weapon to blackmail the woman into becoming unsettled and defensive, the danger is, after accusing her of infidelity and you still remain in the marriage, you may have shown her what will happen if she actually cheats. The deterrent most women have from cheating is not knowing what her husband will do if she does, not knowing if he will send her away or forgive her. When you accuse her wrongly, she will defend herself insisting she didn’t do it, you will be forced to accept and let it go because you know she didn’t do it, this shows her exactly what to do and what you will do if and when she actually decides to cheat. 

Develop a close friendship, let the money be ours rather than mine no matter who is earning more, it may be you today and her tomorrow, remember that the only constant thing in life is change, it can all change at the blink of an eye. When you have money involve him/her, make him/her a part of the management of your finances for the sake of tomorrow. Treat each other well and share everything, in times of plenty and in times of lack endeavor to remember that no condition is permanent – Sir Stanley Ekezie