Every market day, opinions abound on social media about how women earning more than their partners negatively affects the relationship dynamic.
We asked some Nigerian women who earn more than their partners one question: How does your income affect your relationship?
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I earn almost 200% more than my husband, and I think he resents me for it. Anytime I complain about the cost of things, he’d “jokingly” say stuff like, “If big madam like you is complaining, what about we poor people?” It sounds like a joke, but he’s always making offhand comments like that. I can’t tease him about buying me stuff because he’d say I’m richer than him.
I’ve spoken to him about how his comments make me feel, but he’d apologise and then go right back to it after some time. I’ve always had more money, even before we got married three years ago, but it’s as if he only realised it after. It makes me uncomfortable, but it’s my cross.
I walk on eggshells around my husband when it comes to finances. He’s very traditional and believes he should be the one to provide. He knows I earn more but insists we live a life he can afford. One time, I suggested changing our child’s school, and he said he couldn’t afford the fees. When I offered to pay it myself, he was like, “So, you’ll tell people I can’t do my duty as a father, abi?”
I have to hide any new thing I get for myself or our child because he’d start sulking if he noticed. Another time, I sent money to his account to offset an urgent need without informing him. He just muttered a thank you and went about his business. I haven’t tried it again. A family friend advised me to send all my money to him at month’s end and then ask him to give me an allowance so he’d feel like the man of the house. Me, I can’t give a man that kind of control over my life.
My husband appreciates that I bring enough to the table, so he doesn’t feel a way about me earning more. But he doesn’t buy me stuff.
We’re very transparent about how we spend money, and I always tell him before making any payment. I can say I like a particular wig now, and he’ll just say, “Buy it na”. I have the money, but I wish he’d take the initiative and buy me stuff with his own money too. The one time I tried to talk about this, he said, “I thought both your money and my money is OUR money. It doesn’t matter where the money to buy what you want comes out from.” But it matters to me. There’s no surprise or feeling like, “My husband bought me this.”
I’ve been dating my boyfriend for about two years and only started earning more than him when I got a new job in 2023. When I first told him my new salary, he joked about me putting him on a boyfriend allowance since I now outearn him. But he doesn’t ask me for money, and I haven’t noticed any change in him. I can now afford to take him on dates and send random gifts, which I love doing. He’s done the same for me, so it’s not a big deal.
I took on most of our wedding expenses two years ago, and have been the primary provider in the house since then. I didn’t think it was an issue because he also spent his money on us. But he lost his job six months ago and doesn’t seem in a hurry to get a new one. The one time I suggested he help me make the market runs since he was home and I was working late, he threw a fit. I can’t ask him to help me around the house because he’d take offense. But I’ve handled rent and other home expenses without a word for years.
Why is it that I can take up his duty as a provider without complaint, but he can’t assist me with mine?
I’ve always earned more than my husband, and he’s a generally good sport about it. But he can also be sensitive. I didn’t know this when we first got married, so every time I returned from the market, I’d rant to him about how everything was getting more expensive. It was harmless gist to me, but one day, he told me he usually felt bad when I complained about money.
In his mind, it was because I was spending my own money since he couldn’t afford to pay for all the home expenses. So now, I’m conscious about how I talk about money with him. Money has contributed to many of our fights — he gets mad if I try to talk about his spending habits. It’s just a sensitive topic in our home.
*Names have been changed for anonymity.