-“Doctor…I can’t tell my husband how much I really earn—no way.”
In the traditional marriages of yore, there was a clear cut division of labor as men went out to “earn the daily bread’ and women “stayed home” to take car of the children and the hearth. The resulting asymmetry of power gave men a more powerful say and women had to be submissive.The massive entry of women in the modern workforce changed that paradigm, creating another powerful motivation for emotional frustration.
The newfound labor equity empowered women with stronger rights. Nowadays the couple’s earnings go to a “common fund”, usually administered by women, that enables them to pay all the expenses and save something for a “rainy day.” When one of the couple’s members earns more than the other, he/she/sie supposedly assumes the bigger expenses. But it is never that easy.
Women that earn more than their partners usually tend to hide their expenses in order not to offend them, especially if they are out of work or downgraded to a lower-paying job. Increasingly women are wearing the pants at home. Some women downsize their lifestyle to match their partners’ in order to preserve the male identity, their virility and their image for their children. When men earn more, there is not a similarly coy attitude, as many wrongly assume that the bigger paychecks automatically entitle them to more respect.
There are special circumstances where the financial infidelity of one of the couple’s members hides much more than an asymmetry in earning power. When they have an affair with someone else—a traditional escapade of men but women are catching up fast—there is a need to hide the extra expenses. Usually it implies using cash instead of credit cards and a great imagination to cover for unusual activities outside the family realm and at odd hours.
Sometimes the discretionary use of funds that belong to the whole family hides pathological conditions like addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling; it could be a bipolar manifestation of a patient in a damaging maniacal cycle. The whole family will suffer the consequences of this abnormal behavior.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.