You can imagine how frustrating it would be for a man, who tries his best to care for his family and is unable to do so. Don’t rub it in his face and drive him to depression.
A few days ago, a close friend of mine called to inform me that her husband had been caught in what is now known as the ‘Sanusi Tsunami’ running through the banking sector. From the bank’s perspective, the move was part of a re-organisation exercise aimed at improving efficiency, as well as promoting growth and stability in the competitive banking industry. Fortunately, my friend has a good job and will become – over the next few months – the bread winner in her household.
She joins the league of women who earn more than their husbands. In some instances, the wife earns more simply because she has a better job; in others (like my friend); it is because he has lost his job.
Be that as it may, the Alpha Wife, a woman who makes more money than her husband, has now become a common phenomenon. Within the African context, this is considered an anomaly as the man is expected to be the head and breadwinner of the family. Expectedly, the trend is causing a lot of tension in many homes today as most men feel emasculated!
As an alpha wife, you may often feel overburdened, exasperated, disappointed and even resentful towards your spouse as you feel that you are bearing more than is your share. Let me share a few pointers on how to cope as gleaned from my family and friends who are coping:
- Be patient
The Qur’an teaches us what to do when we face tests in our life; informing us about the reward that we will receive if we are successful in dealing with the situation in the way we are expected to. Qur’an 2:155-157 says ‘Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return”:- They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance’.
Try to be patient during the hard times and always remember that Allah is the Creator of everything and we all will return to Him. Being patient, remembering Allah and turning only to Him for help and guidance during your darkest periods, will help you attain Allah’s forgiveness, blessings and rewards.
Be careful what you share with friends and acquaintances. Many homes have been broken on the altar of words such as ‘I can’t take that’.
- Treat your husband with respect
Address, treat and relate to your husband with respect and courtesy – think of how you would want others to address him. Don’t treat him any less simply because you now earn more than him. As creations of God, we are wired differently. Women want to know their husbands love them, and men want to know their wives respect them.
Remember that what you are going through is not unique to you and Allah knows best why it has happened. As children, we were thought to treat others like we want to be treated. This is the time to put it into practice.
Consider this: If something drastic or irreversible were to happen to you, would you want him to treat you any less?
- Be compassionate
The Prophet (saw) assures us that those who are compassionate in this world will benefit from Allah’s compassion in the hereafter. It is easy to be compassionate to those who deserve compassion, especially the sick, poor, or needy. However, as an alpha wife, you need to show more compassion to your husband.
From an Islamic perspective, a man is the caretaker of his wife and household and is responsible for all her affairs. The Qur’an says ‘Men are in charge of women by (right of) what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend (for maintenance) from their wealth…’ (Qur’an 4:34). Typically, most men are taught from a young age that they are supposed to be the bread-winners and caretakers of their families.
You can imagine how frustrating it would be for a man, who tries his best to care for his family and is unable to do so. Don’t rub it in his face and drive him to depression. Protect his secrets, privacies, honour and dignity and Allah will reward you.
- Be consultative in you communication
Involve him in all decisions relating to running the home. Your being the breadwinner in the home (rather than your husband) does not grant you the right to make unilateral decisions in the home. No decision is too immaterial to be discussed and agreed with your husband. Consult, involve and share with him even if he is reluctant and tells you to go ahead.
- Be prudent
As the family income becomes halved or reduced, you – as the homemaker- need to brush up your finance and budgeting skills. You need to be more prudent and cut out or at least reduce all non-essential/luxury purchases. Make shopping lists, plan ahead, buy in bulk, invest in a good freezer and teach your children to manage their resources and avoid waste.
Not only will this skill help you get through the tough times, it will also stand you in good stead in the long run as a wife and mother. Get tips from your friends and family who are good at making money go far when it comes to groceries shopping.
- Make time for play
Find time and opportunity for play as a couple. Remember the verse: ‘and of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought’? Q. 30:21.
Playing and laughing together will reduce the tension and enhance mutual respect and admiration for each other. Try to relax and smile more often.
- Don’t deprive your husband of his rights over you
The rights of a Muslim over his wife and vice versa have been spelt out severally. It is expected that both the husband and the wife care for each other in all matters – moral, spiritual, financial or physical.
In addition to sex, your husband’s rights over you include your love, fidelity, trust, companionship, obedience, loyalty, kindness, responsiveness, cooperation amongst others.
Do not deprive him of any of these.
So, to all alpha wives out there, I say: as with all things however, do not discount the power of prayers. Pray for your husband – pray that his fortunes change for the better and that he is able to resume his role as the breadwinner of the family. Pray for strength to carry you through the tough times.
Allah has told us that we will be tested – however He also assures us that ‘no soul doth Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear (Qur’an 2:286). He has directed us to turn to Him at all times.
Turn to him and pour out your heart to Him. May He accept our prayers, amin.
Adekemi Adisa is a HR professional based in Lagos, Nigeria. She blogs about faith, lifestyle, career and self development at www.muslimasarena.com and tweets from @MuslimasArena
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.