My husband and I try to do weekly lives on my Facebook and sometimes ask for topic suggestions. Someone suggested the topic “Should the man pay all the bills in the relationship?” several months back. We obliged and were tuned into the thoughts of many regarding the subject. It brought on the discussion of gender roles, amongst mostly millennials, to the forefront.
What are gender roles? Gender roles refer to the societal way of thinking that suggests certain jobs, dress, and actions are assigned to a particular sex (either male or female). Gender roles begin in childhood from telling boys they can’t play with the kitchen set to telling girls they can’t play with the football. Society is set on distinguishing these amongst children. These stigmas stick with us from our youth through our adulthood.
A lot of people hold on to the mentality of the 1950s and 1960s when the men were breadwinners. As time has gone on, and women have begun working outside the home, the responsibilities of both parties have changed. As of March 2020, woman out earn or make the same as their male spouses. In the 1960’s women made <5%of their husband’s salaries. Much has changed since the 1960s.
I grew up knowing that men were expected to be breadwinners simply from television. In my early years, growing up in a single parent household, I only saw my mother as the provider in every way, and from what I could see, it was a struggle. When I went into middle and high school I lived with my father. I was taught to be independent and always aware of my finances. I didn’t grow up with the expectation that I would ever need a partner financially to sustain me.
I purchased my first home on my own at 23 and lived there until my, then, boyfriend moved in. I earned a decent salary as a nurse and was able to maintain my household alone but with him there we simply split costs. This seemed like the logical way. I wasn’t expected to pay more simply because I earned more. I’m aware that some expectations were that he paid all the bills regardless of our incomes. I was happy to split bills, because the way I saw it, we both were saving. It was during that time that people questioned me about my “roommate-type” situation. We maintained those living arrangements through getting married and mostly function the same way today with the exception that we have joint banking accounts.
This brings me to the subject in discussion. Are men expected to pay all the bills in the relationship? If so, why is that? I’m perfectly content paying my fair share. Times have come a long way from where women stay home, clean, tend to the children, and ensure dinner’s on the table at 5:30pm every evening. In today’s world, many women work just as much if not more than their spouses. Most women continue to care for the home and children, while some are perfectly content outsourcing when needed. It’s a known fact that gender roles are transitioning. Women are doing “manly” jobs, attending college more than men, and are making bank, while men are starting to be “stay-at-home dads” and keepers of the home.
Relationships are partnerships. If the woman being the breadwinner and paying all the bills works for that particular couple, society should not be able to take away from what works for them. When a man is expected to pay all the bills, a vast majority of the time, he also feels that he should control all that takes place in the home. Should this be fair too?
Society has to be very careful painting the narrative of the expectations of the man and the women within a home. For example, I’m the breadwinner in my home but my husband helps me keep house by doing laundry, cooking, cleaning the kitchen and cleaning the bathrooms from time to time. He also works full-time outside the home as well as homeschools our son. His contributions to our home are invaluable to me because he understands that I need his help. If he made more than me, I’d still have the expectation that he helped out around the house and his income wouldn’t change that. We both understand the significance of our partnership and know that our money combined sustains our household. If there was a time that one of was fortunate to stay home, we’d accept that as well.
With more singles today, people are growing into self-sustaining individuals long before they’re in committed, long-term relationships. When coming together, they each should be assets to one another regardless of the amount of their income. Remember the partnership and nothing will be lost. And do what you need to for yourself because that’s your business.
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