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How, exactly, should a working wife contribute to the home?

Marriage is all about compromise and understanding, so when couples discuss, the issue of responsibility frequently comes up. Last week, while at an official assignment…

Marriage is all about compromise and understanding, so when couples discuss, the issue of responsibility frequently comes up. Last week, while at an official assignment at a ministry, a lady was chatting on the phone with a friend, talking about how her husband expects her to take care of feeding at home as her contribution. She went on to narrate how he said he will take care of all other responsibilities in the home. In her words: “His excuse is that since I’m a working mother, I should be able to contribute my quota.” She kept chatting and walked away to another office, while I sat and wondered in what ways a working wife should contribute to the home.
Lizzy Ogbueli, 44, is a schoolteacher and she says she would not advise a wife to shoulder the responsibility of feeding in the household. “It is the more expensive part of home management. As wives, we would always contribute one way or the other in running of the house. There are things we can pay for like the maid’s salary, laundry, water or electricity bills. I always tell my husband that he is the head, while I’m the neck. So I would advise that women leave the feeding of the family to their husbands. Feeding takes a big chunk of one’s income, as such not to be done by wives at all.”
Khadijat Adeyinka, 34, is a banker and she feels the wife should handle the purchasing of foodstuffs in the home while leaving the rest for the husband as far as he’s capable. “With feeding, she gets to manage well. It is always advisable for women to take up feeding if at all the idea of helping out in a home comes up. You are a helper so take the responsibility with love and also earn respect doing so. But on the other hand, if the wife starts feeding the family, automatically she becomes the husband, so African mentality might not permit it. But personally, I’m OK with it.”
Grace Apeh, a 35-year-old seamstress, says she does not think it is proper for a man to give a wife a specific responsibility in the home. “A wife is a helper and whatever she deems fit, she brings. The problem is that all these men who want to share responsibilities with their wives did not contribute a dime to her education forgetting that she has parents and siblings to take care of. Why should he advise her to take up feeding? Does he know what it takes to feed a family, no matter how one tries to manage? It’s his responsibility to take care of the family.”
Fatima Saleh, 45, is a pharmacist. Speaking from experience, she said: “Let me tell you what I did when I was working that earned me my hubby’s respect till today. I took care of the finances because I am prudent when it comes to spending, more than he is. I always give him 60 per cent of whatever I earn and keep 40% for myself. Meanwhile, he did everything. Bills, food, rent, clothing, toiletries, giving our parents money, buying gifts for people, or giving people money and so on, and then I get a little every week from him. If you read the Holy books, you will understand that we should be a pillar of support willingly for our husbands but while doing so we should learn not to bite more than we can chew.”
But Hassana Abdul, a 37-year-old nurse, objects. “Her husband is a good man and they are hard to come by these days; some would use the money a wife earns and gives him with love to marry another wife. If it works for one, doesn’t mean it’ll work for all. It absolutely depends on the parties involved. I cannot give my husband money. He won’t even collect as he respects himself when it comes to such things. If I give him money, he will tell me I want to insult him. Don’t start what you won’t be able to finish. Feeding is really expensive. It may seem like nothing if it’s just you and hubby but by the time your family gets larger with children and relatives by then it’ll be too late to ask the husband to bring money for food.”
Marriage Counsellor, Hajiya Maryam Abdullahi, says feeding is the number one priority in a family and is the responsibility of the man. “When issues like this arise, understanding and wisdom plays a great role. I think this issue is relative to families and the responsibility to take up. It should therefore be discussed between husband and wife and best decision taken for the good of the whole family. Your husband being the head doesn’t mean you are not supposed to contribute to the upkeep of your home. If you are capable, why not?  Without the neck, the head can never stand. Meaning you need each other to function as a proper family.”
Abdullahi concluded: “I’ll want to advise women not to go seeking more opinion this kind of issue from friends, as they may not tell the truth. Whatever support you have to render in your home, do it without hesitation. Seeking opinions may deter you from receiving God’s blessings and husband’s love because many will give you biased advice. As wives we could help our husbands out once in a while.”

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