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Should women spend their income on family expenses?

November 9, 2009

A reader, Rohit, sent me an email asking me my opinion on an issue many couples face. This problem afflicts a small section of urban educated couples, but it does seem to have become a serious source of conflict and at times it can lead to a break-up. The question is:

Should a working couple share the financial burden equally?

A part of Rohit’s email:

With changing times in educated urban class dowry is no more. Since the girls are also working and earning more the Indian girl has to share the marriage, honeymoon & family expenses equally along with boy. But Indian girls are using word tradition and demanding the guy is responsible for expenses.

Rohit feels that this is most unfair.

Minal, a reader, has contributed to this post. She writes:

This would be a classic case of what you would call pseudo-feminism. These women, and some men coolly forget the fact that rights come only with responsibilities and duties. If you wish to equal the men you should be prepared to equal them in their burdens too.

Minal calls this a “selective form of feminism.” On one hand women are freed from the pressure to perform traditional household duties like cooking and cleaning, and yet they are unwilling to share other responsibilities, and this could mean financial responsibility or “outside” work which is traditionally a man’s job. For example taking the car to the garage or fixing things around the house or spending her salary. Minal believes that the total responsibility of the house, should be shared equally and that each partner has to come to an understanding about what he/she feels more comfortable doing. It’s not what one partner does, but how much she/he does that counts.

Well, if a woman is earning and the man is sharing the household chores equally with her, it makes sense that her salary be considered a part of the joint income.

What I feel uncomfortable with is the squabbling over the division of duties, and the reasons are personal. My experience was very different. For my husband and me sharing fell into place naturally. When it came to my earnings we never discussed it but I spent as well as saved it. My husband never asked me as to how much of it I spend and how much I save. Now when I look back I think we spent about 90% of his salary and about 60-70% of mine, and well, my salary was less than half of his. However if we ever needed money for a major expense, out came my cheque book and it was never a big deal. It could be a washing machine or a small out-of-town trip, but if we fell short, as we invariably did in those days, the money would come from my savings. In any case, both of our accounts were joint accounts.

The responsibility of the house was entirely mine, which meant supervision of household help, grocery shopping, supervision of workmen, cooking and looking after the children. This was not because my husband didn’t want to help, but simply because his job at the time involved a lot of travelling, often 15-20 days a month. His working hours were almost double that of mine even when he was in town. If he was home he was always willing to help with breakfast and invariably made the morning tea. I never resented the fact that I had to take on the major share of the household responsibilities (and no, we had no cook and no ayah) because I knew my hubby was working very hard. And I was too, although it was at a different thing. More important, this had been my choice. If I had chosen full-time work my husband was ready to support me. And in fact he did, about five years later, when I decided to go back to full-time work.

But I can see where couples can run into trouble. When there is no compromise, from one or both sides.

I believe that feel this issue of women being reluctant to share their income is more about personalities rather than anything else. If one partner is more selfish he/she is likely to shirk his/her duties and it may have nothing to do with “modernity” or “feminism” or “working women.” Just as there will be men who will not lift a finger in the house even if their wife is on her feet the whole day, and sometimes half the night if there are small children, there are women (who could be housewives) who expect their husbands to come home from work and cook for them. Just as there are men who expect their wife to bring in the salary and hand it over to them, and also have a hot meal ready for when they come home, there are women who refuse to think of their salary as that belonging to the family. Maybe it is because they feel insecure, but the result is that her spouse may start to resent the fact that he is working inside and outside the home, but his wife isn’t.

I am quite sure that there are far more women at the receiving end of the stick than men, but amongst the highly educated young middle class, it is possible that both men and women are equally guilty. However I have no numbers to provide here. One will have to delve into all the recent divorce cases amongst modern urban couples which have taken place due to a rift caused by the division of responsibilities and see whether it is the man who is to blame for not contributing equally to the household (financially or otherwise) or the woman.

(Photo is copyrighted to me)

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110 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2009 3:49 pm

    A good topic. Money is never a problem for today’s urban middle/upper middle class. Both work and both make enough money.

    The problem comes when a child is born. The pressure on the mother becomes very high. Some of them take a short break, but many others (some of whom I know) expect the grandmother’s to take care of the kids while one partner or even both go and stay onsite (to another country) for even couple of years leaving the little kid behind.

    We all know how difficult is bringing up small kids (Age 1 to 4). What is stopping one parent (man or woman) from taking a break and looking after the child ?? How difficult is it to defer the ‘onsite oppurtunity’ to a couple of years or if needed even resign and take up another job during that sensitive period of the child? Or are we still in ‘Awe’ of Americaaaaaa’??

    But these parents will get back heavily during their old age. That’s for sure.

    • Naveen permalink
      November 9, 2009 10:52 pm

      DI,
      I think your comment is as usual, very insightful. What I wish to add here is the mental agony of the child at such a tender age, parting with the parents that he trusts the most.

      The idea of bringing parents abroad just to look after the kids-changing one set for another every 6 months -also irks me. Its such a pathetic house arrest. Hope our generation learns how to get our things in order -all by ourselves.

      • vasudev permalink
        November 10, 2009 11:01 am

        what you said reminds me of my cousin and his wife, both retired professionals with private practices in kerala, ardent temple goers, socially active personalities who have this twice to amrica and twice to anglisthan trip every year for ‘baby-sitting’ (as my remorseful cousin puts it)

        about working parents reminds me of that incident at bangalore when the ayya made some money on the side by renting out a drugged baby to the street beggar for 100 bucks per day (hmmm..even the baby is so thrifty that it started earning right from nipple sucking times)

        working women of course should equally share the expenses of household, what with women’s lib and all that. but women generally tend to be a bit on the pessimistic side and would try to save for a rainy day in the middle of sahara..most women feel unloved and uncared for and think their husbands might run away.

        vasudev, exactly, women often have separate bank accounts for this very reason. I am not saying it is a good thing to be mistrustful, but I don’t put a value judgment here. And as for child care, the services are pathetic in India. – Nita.

  2. November 9, 2009 5:08 pm

    When we started our life, my wife didn’t have a job and then we spend 100% of my salary to keep life rolling. And then when she got a job, she saved all of it. And it came handy when we bought our first car (coz I did not have any savings from my salary).
    There was nothing like she saved or he saved when it comes to neccesities or urgency. We just take one cheque book and start writing.
    I think in families with dual incomes it always good to save one salary or as much as possible and it doesn’t matter who saves.

  3. November 9, 2009 5:27 pm

    The whole issue arises from the perception of looking at the individual salaries as ‘my money’ ! the husband and the wife noth look at their individual salaries as ‘my money’ and hence the financial responsibility of the family/house, as traditionally shouldered by the Man in the house gets related the man’s salary.

    Why cant the couple look at the combined income as a Family income and spend it together. Whats the big deal.

    Although I would like extend the same principle to a father and 2 sons living together and earning from different sources. The moment each one begins to think of their personal income versus expenditure, problems begin to sprout. if the family members agree that all income is family income and the concept of personal income is removed, life would be much more peaceful since all will spend as much as needed and save as much as possible for the family and not for an individual. Same applies to a working couple.

  4. rags permalink
    November 9, 2009 6:22 pm

    I can only speak from my parents experience. Both worked and earned almost the same amount and their money went into a joint account. There was never a concept of ‘my money’ or ‘your money’ for them.

    Though my mother did the major share of household work my dad would help with shopping and managing the finances and I’ve never seen them quarrel over money matters, they simply agreed to share the expenses. (though I do feel my mother contributed more towards the household because she worked both outside and in the home).

    Ofcourse they can’t be compared to the present generation as they never seriously considered the concept of divorce and took it for granted that they’d live on together, so they never felt the need to handle finances separately. Lack of trust is a major problem with the present gen. This is a cynical generation alright…

  5. November 9, 2009 6:36 pm

    I have surrounded by professionals/ families where both are employed. And truthfully I never heard of this debate. Of course considering my parents do the same thing together(they are CAs), there is no need for this debate.

    As far as I see it, saving is important. What matters is that people save, I don’t think this debate can arise in a place where there it is too onesided, so instead of fighting over things, I don’t think people should bother about %s etc..

  6. November 9, 2009 7:13 pm

    Quite a good analysis of one of the very delicate issue of current time. But no solution insight except better understanding and accommodating each other.

  7. Tara permalink
    November 9, 2009 8:43 pm

    I think it is most unfair that only one person takes the burden of the family. However it all depends on individual cases. Each couple has to make their own decisions regarding this. It’s all individual and if they don’t agree they should not get married.

  8. Lakshmi permalink
    November 9, 2009 8:53 pm

    I read recently about a couple who spent too much time making sure that they shared expenses equally and forgot to enjoy their marriage.

    It is great when both feel same way about whether sharing equally or not. Whatever works is different for each couple and if there is agreement in viewpoints then why worry.

    I always believe that husband and wife should share in a marriage, it need not just be expenses. House work, childcare, every single errand – it all matters. If there is caring attitude then there will not be a need to squabble about the details.

  9. November 9, 2009 9:17 pm

    DI, yes there are some grandparents who take care of the children, but I agree with you that it is most unfair on the older person. Overall though I think India is in transition. You have a lot of working couples but child care facilities are not up to the mark. People are willing to pay, but they don’t get the value.

    Xylene, that’s exactly what I mean! I always wonder about couples who have to thrash out this issue! I mean one cannot go by something like every month you have to pay this and every month I have to pay that or that you pay half the expenses for this or that…it has to just fall into place naturally, there has to be that understanding.

    Hemant, while I agree with the working couple thinking of their income as a joint income, it’s difficult for me to think the same of two brothers. They will have different kinds of families, their children will have different kinds of education and so on, and it becomes very complicated and can lead to break ups.

    rags, when you talk of the lack of trust, I too think that this is a major issue. And yes, that generation was different. Men were uncomfortable with household chores and women would not let them do them.

    vishesh, there is no problem when the couple gets along and there is an understanding. Otherwise, as in the case of Rohit, they start to argue even before they are married!

    Tara, I agree with that. In an arranged marriage in particular these issues are best talked about before the marriage.

    krunal, true.

    Lakshmi, I agree with that too. All work matters, not just paid work. Nothing is more disappointing than a person feeling a sense of superiority because of the earnings. This is in a way a denigration of housework. Actually the way a mother looks after her children has no substitute and no monetary value can ever be put on it.

  10. November 9, 2009 9:48 pm

    @Nita: Looking back at my own comment, I think it is slightly irrelevant ;) to the topic but since it is very rare to write the first comment here, I thought I might as well use the oppurtunity to showcase one of the problems faced by the current generation… :)

  11. November 9, 2009 11:24 pm

    Firstly I am not sure if I agree on the use of word “Indian girl”, somehow I don’t think its limited to Indian woman as such.
    I have a feeling that somewhere down the line the quest for equality has been lost in the name of feminism. I mean wasn’t the whole idea of female equality the main issue one needs to look at?, so when it comes to expenditure, why wouldn’t we share them?. much before feminism made its rounds into head lines, I have seen people really sharing expenses, I mean we had to in order to make ends meet.

    I like the idea of joint accounts, not literally to the name, I mean isn’t marriage a joint account?, so yes its more like two people earning for the account, and taking care of expenses. As much as we have our personal expenditures, and want our spouse not to dictate how much and what we spend on, somewhere I see a need for each other to think about “joint account expenses”, and fortunately I think the sense comes in automatically with marriage.

    Rambler, thats true but there are some women who are insecure about the future and therefore want to have a separate account. I think in such cases the man can be understanding, unless ofcourse there is a need for the money. It depends on the couple finally because in the long run the woman is going to use the money for the family isn’t she. As Xylene pointed out, the money is saved, even if it is in her account and she is unlikely to spend it on herself. – Nita

    • November 13, 2009 8:20 pm

      Rambler, The word ” Indian girl” is used because most of the Indian girls think that the running of family & expenses incurred has to be borne by husband only and it is his duty of husband as per Indian tradition.

      In western world the concept is clear after marriage the income and expenses has to be shared equally and the property acquired during marriage belongs to both.Since India is in transition and lack of understanding is giving rise to divorce rate.This may be one of the issue for some couples.

      • November 18, 2009 2:30 am

        kumar, you would be surprised if you were to speak about a similar subject to a westerner, and see how much similar people think around the world, when it comes to marriages and stereotypes

        • Danny permalink
          June 7, 2011 4:52 pm

          im totally surprised that they wouldnt spend on the family??? not somethign i have ever heard of before, how strange! in the west marriage is a union of money as well as love.

  12. November 9, 2009 11:49 pm

    I totally agree that couples should share the burden of expenses if both are working. How they share it depends on how much they earn, how they plan to save, who is the better saver and more financially sound, etc etc. This has to come from discussion.
    It is rather odd if, all things being equal, one of the partners refuses to spend sighting tradition. Something seems missing here…

    However, this is a personal equation between a couple and I don’t see how one rule can apply to all. For example, there are still marriages with dowries. If not, a large amount of wedding/festival expenses are indeed borne by the girl’s parents. So some women may (MAY) want to save up to help repay their parents for the expenditure? Just guessing…

    But such issues can easily be discussed by couples, right?

    Nita, some couples can handle this easily, but others do need some “thrashing out”. Financial planning is not such a bad thing, especially with cases of divorce and separation becoming common. It is also useful for the future and old age, correct?

    I have to agree with your analysis that this may have more to do with differences in personality than a man-woman issue. That makes the most sense.

    SS, true, it’s odd if a woman refuses to spend her savings, but frankly if a man even before we are married keeps talking about spending my money, I might get a little suspicious! :)

    • November 12, 2009 8:27 pm

      “it’s odd if a woman refuses to spend her savings, but frankly if a man even before we are married keeps talking about spending my money”

      Nita, Its not your money .. after marriage both husband and wife’s money is family’s money.It belongs to both of them. Of course, financial planning and discussions are made and finalized before marriage in any culture. You can’t shy away talking about the girl’s money before marriage.Nothing wroung in having financial discussions before marriage. Couple can plan prior to marriage where to spend the girls money.

      Kumar as usual you are bent on misquoting me as you have done several times before on this blog. I said before marriage. Before marriage my money does not belong to anyone, certainly not to my future husband. Anyway, it’s best not to argue. As long as on principles we agree, there is no point. – Nita

      • November 12, 2009 8:39 pm

        Nita,What i meant to say is financial planning has to happen before marriage not after marriage & waiting to have differences over it.Its better to have financial planning before marriage and as part of financial planning their is nothing wroung talking about girl income and where to spend.

  13. Joss permalink
    November 10, 2009 1:49 am

    One way of dealing with the money situation that we tried is to say that contributions to household expenses are ‘from each according to his means’. When my partner and I started living together we tried this, and as he was earning four times as much as me he put four times as much as I did into the joint account. This worked OK although it depended upon being able to predict how much the bills were going to be. When, however, I lost my job, my partner found himself paying for everything, including my allowance. Luckily he was willing and able to do this. I have no say over his discretionary spending, nor does he over mine. As his pocket money is much larger than mine it could be annoying for me to see him splashing out on things I myself can’t afford. Luckily, however, he prefers to save. Now that I have written all this I realise how lucky I am to have him. I must remember to thank him when he comes home from work.

    Joss, you seem to have a good understanding with your partner. But why undervalue yourself? Don’t measure the contribution in terms of money only. – Nita

  14. November 10, 2009 3:18 am

    Nita: Interesting expression “financial burden”. From discussions with young Indian professional women, I find that Indian men are quick to discuss women’s incomes and their right on it to buy themselves a lifestyle they couldn’t possibly buy on a single income. But at the same time, there are other expectations that remain firmly ensconced. “Professional with family values (translation: do all childcare, and look after my parents)” is a common descriptor used in Indian matrimonial ads even now.

    For the sake of balance, how about a post next on “Should Indian men do as much house work as their wives do?”. ;-) The basis of this? Research shows that even in developed countries, women do a lion’s share of housework and childcare work; also single women do far less housework than married women do.

    The serious point is that it is simplistic to call women “selectively feminist” without also acknowledging that most Indian men remain “selectively modern”. They need to realise women’s expectations of a partner as much as they seem to want to claim their right upon their wives’ incomes.

    • November 10, 2009 7:30 am

      Shefaly, I was in a rush right now but could not help but immediately reply to your comment. You have articulated what was on my mind. If you notice I have mentioned the housework aspect and was saying it in a more indirect way. I am glad you caught on and expressed it directly. I agree with you wholeheartedly! I too think that this selective modernity is very common. There are men who feel they have a right on a woman’s income because as she is working, she must be modern and share, but when it comes to other traditional duties, they take a rain check. In 2009 this is not forgivable. Times have changed. In fact I know a young couple (now, in 2008) who was almost divorced because of this! Both were working and she had a more demanding job (she was in advertising) and he had a job with more regular timings. They had a large income and so there was a cook and a full time maid. However, the household help had to supervised, right? Despite the help, sometimes there was no tea in the house and at times nothing to eat! :) Well, the boy said that this was her job to at least supervise the household help. After all, she didn’t have to cook or do any housework. . Surely, she could at least supervise the maids? She refused, saying that she worked longer hours and had a high tension job. They almost split up but a marriage counselor saved their marriage.

      • November 10, 2009 12:47 pm

        Nita: You are very right there. Friends of mine in India, who employ a small army of staff for chores and domestic stuff, run it like a programme team, providing them time-sheets and tasks. That takes time because it requires organisational skills & planning including keeping up with irregularities such as visits by friends and family who need picking up and dropping, and who generate extra house-work. Someone has got to do it. But only a few men do it. When they do do all this, they also have to be strong enough to withstand the jibes from other, less evolved men. And their own families sometimes. So men have to learn first to be secure enough in their masculinity and know that doing chores does not reduce it but makes them a thoroughly modern man.

        Men can no longer have their cake and eat it too. They have got to help with the purchase of baking goods and then with the baking!

        exactly shefaly. men can’t have their cake and eat it too! And it’s not easy managing a staff of household help, because my experience is that they are difficult to manage. As they are not educated, and often have a lot of emotional baggage, one has to handle them gently. Their poverty also means that one has to be generous and sympathetic. Not everyone can manage it. Now in urban India we are seeing a lot of problems because people treat their household help like dirt. So in addition to organisational skills, there are human resource skills involved, plus humanity.- Nita.

        • November 15, 2009 5:43 pm

          Sigh. Shefaly – that is my life you’re talking about. I do have household staff but I run a full complicated household with two little kids who are not even two years apart, a guest room that is never empty. People to be picked from airports, dropped at railway stations, my parents friends asking favours of me, their tickets to be booked, random people stopping by to stay with me and much more. In addition to this a job and I have my hands full.

          Nita – my life is something like yours. With a travelling husband who earns some 5 times what I earn, I can’t afford to be making comparisons and yes, he spends more than I spend naturally because he earns more than I do. And just like you, all big ticket items come out of my salary- holidays, gadgets etc – while his does the daily bread and butter.

          Do we fight over money? Often enough. But I think its just a marriage thing. Couples will fight over anything – before we became earning members it was everything else.. not we’ve added money to the mess!

      • November 10, 2009 2:01 pm

        Nita: Here are two posts recently written by two of my friends: One on women’s guilt where in comments I ask who teaches women guilt and who reinforces it: http://bit.ly/4b7e9r and the other on housewifery skills: http://bit.ly/2JLL7Q. Of course these thematic threads are as relevant to Indian women as they are to western women so I thought some of your readers might like to read them. Thanks.

    • November 10, 2009 7:52 pm

      I agree with Shefaly.
      ‘I find that Indian men are quick to discuss women’s incomes and their right on it to buy themselves a lifestyle they couldn’t possibly buy on a single income. But at the same time, there are other expectations that remain firmly ensconced. “Professional with family values (translation: do all childcare, and look after my parents)” is a common descriptor used in Indian matrimonial ads even now.’

  15. November 10, 2009 6:46 am

    I think this is a personal issue and couples should decide for themselves…Theoretically, if a woman is earning, she should also contribute towards household expenses…

    yes, but if one forces then it can break up a marriage. Is it worth it? – Nita

  16. rags permalink
    November 10, 2009 7:45 am

    Yeah, its true. Even now most men think that chipping in with household chores is not their duty but rather a favour that they ‘might’ consider doing now and then. That’s the attitude of most Indian men. Would you believe this, many of my male friends who are doctors themselves want to marry non-working women so that they can have someone who’ll do all the household duties without a complaint for the rest of their lives. And they are so sure they won’t marrry a doctor because that would lead to ‘ego’ clashes. Which simply means that they want to marry someone whom they can dominate for the rest of their lives.

    rags, surprsing to hear that there are doctors who want to marry non working women! What sort of people are they I wonder! I mean, I am not of your generation but even then several of my boy and girl cousins who became doctors, wanted to marry doctors! I even have a few friends who wanted to marry doctors. I guess you should just avoid these “traditional” types. It’s one thing to not impose his will on a woman and letting her make up her own mind whether she wants a career or not, but quite another for a man to insist on a house wife, or for that matter a career women. Like Vinod mentioned there are women who might voluntarily choose to be at home, and I know of a case where a man forced his wife to leave the kids with his mother and go and bring that fat salary of hers home! – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      November 10, 2009 8:03 pm

      Rags, if I may ask a seemingly impertinent question – where is the dominance if they actually find a woman who is more than happy to do household chores? I would think dominance would be where they compel a women into a fixed role which that woman does not want to do.

      • November 11, 2009 2:38 pm

        This can be an issue later on in life.

        One of my friends got married rather early (arranged marriage/traditional family). She was okay being a housewife early on in the marriage when she had kids to raise etc.

        However, after a few years, she got a good job opportunity and wanted to take it up. She was feeling bored at home since her kids were now in middle school and fending quite nicely for themselves.

        Hubby refused and pointed out that she had accepted his “No working” condition 12 years before when they had got married.

        She ended up not accepting the job!

        The point is people change; and you cannot hold such hard and fast rules

        Hi Nishita, it is sad to hear about your friend. And I know of a case where the poor woman only wanted to join an NGO for volunary work for 2 hours a day and her husband refused! It is shocking that men in today’s day and age behave like this. And frankly if any man lays down “rules” whether a woman should work or not work, this is a red flag. This person will want to control the person. I doubt that such a man will be a good understanding partner in other issues as well. He clearly does not believe in gender equality. He wants a slave and a servant at home! – Nita

    • Vinod permalink
      November 10, 2009 8:11 pm

      Rags, correct me if I’m wrong…but there are a lot of urban middle class women there who are highly educated and talented, capable of earning a comfortable living themselves, who find happiness in simply caring for a family, who desire little more than an acknolwedgement for their contribution and a quota of attention from their husbands.

      If such women choose to stay at home, are they a ‘subjugated’ lot?

      Is it really dominance in the mind of men who desire such women? Are values which promote the segregation of roles necessarily MCP-ish? Can there be men who believe in this role segregation but who also recognize the value of the role played by women as homemakers as equal to men?

      • November 10, 2009 9:31 pm

        I used the word ‘dominate’ because they somehow felt that marrying a doc(who was an equal as far as profession was concerned) would lead to ego clashes. Why would someone have an ego clash with the spouse if they treated the other as equal?

        Hmm… I have nothing against women who volunteer to stay at home to take care of the household work. There maybe many women who might be satisfied with doing household work.

        But from what I have seen most of this ‘volunteering’ happens by coercion either by their own parents or the husband. Women are somehow programmed to think that they have to quit working to take care of the family, I know of so many who gave up their bright careers and they never really managed to get back to their careers once the children grew up.

        Financial independence is important not only from a practical point of view but also gives you a psychological boost. Taking care of children is important too, if both parents work they need to figure things out between themselves so that they can manage their family without one having to sacrifice their career.

        I don’t understand men at all , so I don’t know if it is an inherent desire to dominate which causes them to want segregation of roles. I do know one thing though. Some men are plain lazy and gender segregation of roles suits them perfectly.

        Men/women, most people still don’t value a homemaker’s contribution as money is the only thing that most people still value. Of course, there are many men who do value a homemaker’s contribution but they are a minority.

        Yeah, some women might be happy doing household work even if they have a bright career ahead of them, but what happens if the man loses interest in them and walks out one fine day? While the man would have something to fall back on all the woman would have is broken promises. And promises don’t pay bills.

        • Vinod permalink
          November 10, 2009 9:43 pm

          Well said, Rags. Great answers

  17. November 10, 2009 8:26 am

    I agree with Minal and most of the arguements you have put down here.

    When a woman decides to work, it is her understanding with her husband on how they want to take forward things. They have to reach a kind of an equillibrium where no one feels harrassed or used! When that feeling creeps in, you know you are in trouble!!

    exactly Nova. If one feels used, it can be the beginning of the end of the relationship. – Nita

  18. November 10, 2009 8:39 am

    I agree with your analysis Nita. It’s more about personalities. If one partner is more selfish he/she is likely to shirk his/her duties and it may have nothing to do with “modernity” or “feminism” or “working women.”

    Both my parents were working and my mother was also responsible for housework, she contributed whenever required, and they had some joint accounts and also some individual accounts. This issue never came up, because if money was needed for family expenses it did not matter which account it came from – it was spent for the same family and home.

    IHM, where my mom was concerned, she always had a separate bank account for her earnings and it amused my dad rather than anything else! :) Because he knew that she was not the kind to splurge it on herself. And she never did! When her savings became sizeable, she bought an apartment, in the joint names of both of them. My mom is pretty good at realty and she made a good buying decision. My dad never told her put his name there, but she did, without any discussion. When a woman saves her money in a separate bank account it can only for two reasons (most of the time) 1) that she is insecure about the future and thinks of what will happen in case of divorce, or 2) she wants to save. There may be other reasons but I think these are the main ones. – Nita.

  19. Vinod permalink
    November 10, 2009 10:27 am

    I think even if the husband is the sole breadwinner, he should engage his wife to think about finances. I think, regardless of who earns, the couple need to sit together and discuss the priorities to which the financies must go (or be saved). Money is only a means to making a happy family life. Holding onto it sentimentally (‘my money’, ‘your money’) is to miss the forest for the trees.

    • November 10, 2009 7:45 pm

      I agree Vinod. Finances should be discussed and planned together.

      One hears of men ‘surprising’ the family with a new television or a washing machine, I feel such things should be jointly planned. The person who is going to use the gadget should have a say in buying it.

      • November 11, 2009 2:40 pm

        In addition, god forbid if something happens to the man; the woman should be knowledgeable enough about various bank accounts, investments etc.

        Far too few women bother about it at all

  20. Vinod permalink
    November 10, 2009 10:29 am

    In my mind, helping with household work is nothing short of foreplay. (Is it my hormones talking?)

  21. November 10, 2009 1:23 pm

    I guess it all boils down to mutual understanding. If you are together, you are a family and it is all combined income to be used where required.

    If the woman (or the man) has inhibitions about sharing ‘their’ income, then that probably points to a deeper insecurity somewhere in the mind.

    AD, that is it really, insecurity. – Nita

  22. Vinod permalink
    November 10, 2009 2:58 pm

    It is interesting that many married commentators of this blog have joint accounts with their spouses into which their family funds go. When I was studying law, one of my (female) law lecturers discourages us from using joint accounts with their spouses. That somehow translates to better security in case of divorce. I reckon Indians don’t get into marriage thinking of divorce as a reality…but then I suppose that translates into insecurities for women, given the highly patriarchal nature of Indian society. And hence we see, ‘my-money’ mentality.

    vinod, I understand the “my-money” mentality because my mom has it. True, she of a different generation (she is 72) but I know she always had this fear. As her earnings were little (she was a school teacher and you know how badly teachers were paid during that time) she wanted to save every penny of it. Finally she used it for the family. – Nita.

  23. November 10, 2009 5:01 pm

    Just a few minutes back me and a few colleagues of mine were having a discussion on whether a man would be comfortable in doing household chores and let his wife do the part of earning money. Interesting point to discuss and ponder on, given the strong prejudices we for the most part of our 24 hours are carrying in our mind. I see no reason why a woman cannot or shouldn’t contribute to family expenses in case she is earning. It all is in our mind. There is no role that education or anything else can play in it.

    Given the current set of ‘gender equality’ we all are dealing with, somehow in our everyday life, it is only a matter of time since when we would have no inhibitions in letting our women be the sole bread-earners for our families. It all starts somewhere. Only the ‘start’ takes a lot of time to initiate and set a path for others to follow!

    Partha, even now there are men who feel secure enough to let their women be the sole bread earners or the main bread earners. This could be because they could be carrying the child care responsibilities, setting up a business or simply in a creative field which gets them less money. I think it shows a lot of security on the part of a man. His “ego” is not hurt because he knows that each of them have different skills. Money making skills are not necessarily the only skills to be admired. – Nita.

    • November 12, 2009 4:07 pm

      I agree Nita! I know of couples where the husband has ben able to set up a new business because his wife was earning well. In another case he is still working on starting an NGO, which has been a dream for both, since she is earning more it was decided that she would earn while he manages the NGO.
      And money making skills are not the only skills that deserve admiration!

  24. November 10, 2009 6:15 pm

    It will depend upon individuals and no one formula can work for every one.
    Ideally,so long it possible,both the partners should work and both should contribute towards the expenses.Grand Parents being there for the children and grand children is a reality which grand parents enjoy.
    The economic pressures are going to increase many fold,hence every one should be contributing to the kitty.

    BKC, that is ideal isn’t it. I too know grandparents who enjoy doing it, but all may not. In India today unless there are grandparents, other child care facilities are not available. I never had this luxury of grandparents as we were living far away, but always envied those who had! I personally do not mind doing this for my future grandchildren, because I know hard it is for the parents. If it is voluntary, its fine I guess. – Nita

  25. November 10, 2009 6:24 pm

    CONTD.
    I know of a couple in Singapore where both are working .
    The wife took the usual maternity leave for three months and it was time to get back to work.The husband came up with a super idea(how is it done technically,I don’t know).He installed a camera in the house where the maid was taking care of the child.The camera was hooked on to his laptop.While at work,he was able to keep a check on his kid and the maid as she maintained the feed routine to the kid.

    This is absolutely necessary! I would have done the same if I ever had to leave my kid with a stranger. – Nita

  26. Vinod permalink
    November 10, 2009 6:39 pm

    Am I the only one here who would be more than happy to be a proud house husband?

  27. November 10, 2009 10:13 pm

    Don’t you people think the current society is putting too much of pressure on a young woman? First, she is expected to do a professional degree. Then, she is expected to earn a lot of money, then her family needs to give gifts during marriage, then she needs to take care of children/mil etc and cook even while working in a full time job!! If men had to do so much, most of them would have run away to himalayas!

    Are we in the name of social security just burdening the woman more and more? Are people taking advantage of the rights and financial independence of women and making them do everything??

    The irony of all this is, the incomes these days are high enough that it is enough that one partner works, to run a family.

    Some times it makes me think that all these rights of women campaigns unfortunately and inadvertently puts the maximum pressure on the women as men are inherently pathetic at taking care of kids and sometimes cooking!

    Probably (this is just a suggestion) women could look at less stressful jobs which do not take the whole day . And if the woman is not able to do that, men need to come forward and take up such jobs. There are enough variety of jobs these days. I don’t think both the partners need to work full time to run a family unless they stay in the United States or Mumbai where the cost of living is so high.

    Destination Infinity

    • November 10, 2009 10:44 pm

      DI: “Are people taking advantage of the rights and financial independence of women and making them do everything??” Short answer: Yes.

      As for “..women could look at less stressful jobs which do not take the whole day..”, you may need to take into consideration that a woman doesn’t have to put her ambition and ability on the backburner just so she can conform to an old-fashioned idea about the role of women in the family. :-/

      • November 11, 2009 6:07 pm

        That’s why I said “If the woman is not able to do it, the man ought to”. If both the partners are concerned only about their careers and just don’t make enough time for the family, both of them will have to face the music during their old age which is – ‘Utter loneliness’. Superficial alternatives like they ought to have an active social/friend circle etc. can at best give mental satisfaction to people who think like that, today in their younger age.

        Destination Infinity

    • November 11, 2009 7:08 am

      Yeah DI, women might want to take less stressful jobs (the so called pink collared jobs) but at the end of it all people simply end up saying that women don’t have the ‘skills’ to reach top managerial positions. That’s what happens. There are so many men who think that women can’t reach those top positions simply because they lack the ‘managerial skills’. They never factor in all the sacrifices that a woman has to make towards a family. Women are also not taken seriously in the public sphere because of this.

      • November 11, 2009 6:32 pm

        There are certain roles that men are more happier to take up (Not necessarily better at) and certain roles that women are more happier to take up. But there are always exceptions. If certain women want to have a successful career life, they can, and have always been able to do so. What ever has been the past, they can certainly do so in the present.

        But my argument does not concern the exceptions. What if a woman (or a man for that matter), wants to stay at home, take care of kids, cook – Is she (or he) allowed to do so in this present situation? My point is, people have taken advantage of the ‘Financial Independence’/ ‘Rights of women’ etc. and made the woman to work full time as well as expect them to take care of the house work/ kids etc. Don’t you think this compulsory double work is putting a lot of pressure on majority of urban women today, especially when a lot of husbands (save some) are not willing to share the house work and are pathetic at taking care of the kids ?

        I can only see this issue going one way: Mushrooming of more day care centers for the kids and consequently more old age homes, for the parents later on.

        Destination Infinity

        • rags permalink
          November 12, 2009 1:16 pm

          Yeah, you are right, this compulsory double work does put a lot of pressure on a working woman. I guess it ultimately comes down to this, if a woman is able to juggle both housework and a career let her do it, if she can’t its better to stay at home until atleast the kids grow up rather than suffer a burnout as a result of overwork and also lead an unsatisfactory domestic life.

  28. November 11, 2009 3:17 am

    I think we cant generalize here… Its upto each and every individual I guess… The better the understanding between the couples… They will manage in better way…

    kanagu.

    without understanding the marriage cannot work! – Nita

  29. November 11, 2009 9:01 am

    Well, in my case, my wife earns more than I do .. We both work in a same company, same technology .. But as I went to US for higher degree and then while I came back and joined the organization, she already had 3 yrs experience in the company and she had a higher cadre and hence the salary than me .. Bu it’s never an issue between us ..

    About the esxpenses, we hv not fixed anything like this will be taken care by u or this will be taken care by me .. we r quite flexible .. Most of the daily expenses are born by me but when I m on the verge of touching the threshold value, i ask money from her .. This way we can balance it out ..

    Soham, you are the true modern man I guess! :) – Nita

    • Raj permalink
      October 2, 2011 7:58 pm

      It seems you an another victim for the biased society. Why should you drain it all before touching her pouch. Something went terribly went wrong in you. No wonder you get the award of wonderful modern man!!!.

  30. vasudev permalink
    November 11, 2009 12:12 pm

    The idea of an indian male (husband) baby-sitting w/o seeking out a job or resigning his job so that his wife can work and he can do the household chores is a situation MOST UNPALATABLE to his wife herself (and to none else).

    Most indians, of whichever generation they be in past or future (whether 10 generations earlier or 10 generations henceforth) have a singular tunnel vision which broadens for a short duration maybe pre-marriage but after marriage gets back into the same tunnel travelled by many generations before. quite automatically, whether herself more educated than the husband or equally educated, a normal indian woman allows herself (or takes the lead, prompts, gives hints, encourages etc) in subjugating herself and adopting automatically the ‘lesser-than-thou’ role. i am yet to see any educated woman proclaiming she is a step higher than her husband (even if she is the ceo of a company where her husband is only a gm). the woman does not like that. she likes to be treated like a child, requires affection, seeks guidance from her ‘mature’ man and generally likes to do things ‘in consultation’ with her husband. wherever the woman takes the upper hand she has less respect for her husband and she feels looked down upon or sniggered at by the society. i have also seen many of my professionally qualified female class mates and now (surprises! surprises! a whole lot of the newly joined professionally qualified engineers and engineers cum mba women colleagues) giving up their lucrative jobs once they have had a delivery. it is an individual choice and not coerced by the husband. the woman decides she must take her further duty as child rearing.

    • November 11, 2009 6:39 pm

      Vasudev, the ‘King Maker’ has always had more powers than the ‘King’ – Don’t you agree? :)

      Destination Infinity

      • vasudev permalink
        November 12, 2009 11:29 am

        hmmm! do you think it would improve the dna?

    • Lakshmi permalink
      November 12, 2009 6:19 pm

      True, women perpetuate the system as much as men do.

      • vasudev permalink
        November 14, 2009 8:50 pm

        lakshmi…objection:

        what about ‘polygamy’?

        • vasudev permalink
          November 14, 2009 8:54 pm

          addendum:

          i ain’t referring here to ‘draupati’ please but to more likely: saudi arabia???.

  31. November 11, 2009 2:10 pm

    Good post Nita,

    I had been pondering over the idea of Pseudo-Feminism, for the past two months or so.
    Your post is very much in sync with what I’d been thinking…

    I personally am a feminist, gender-equality-advocate. But this ‘bitchy-feminism’ is doing so much harm to even the efforts done by guys like us.

    I could go on and on…. but I stop here.

    Sands.

    Sands, it’s important to distinguish feminism and pseudo feminism. A lot of disgruntled males might dub demands for equal rights as pseudo feminism but pseudo feminism according to me is when women denigrate their own feminity and look down on women’s work. True equality is when each woman can decide for herself what kind of a life she can lead without looking down on other women or on men. Unfortunately some men in our society think that they should force their women in their choices (go to work, don’t go to work, sit at home, don’t sit at home) and this is inequality. – Nita

  32. November 11, 2009 2:33 pm

    Nita,

    I don’t want people jumping at me for using the word-combination : ‘bitchy-feminism’ … it may not be so politically correct… but most of my friends (male and female) agreed upon the basic idea when I discussed with them.

    Sands.

  33. Lakshmi permalink
    November 11, 2009 6:16 pm

    I think there are too many things involved when it comes to ‘equality’. Of course ideally couples should share everything including expenses. But then we still don’t hear of both sides sharing the marriage expenses. It is still the girl’s parents, no matter how highly qualified or competent the girl is. When the set up is patriarchal to begin with and so completely so, I can understand the girl feeling insecure, and doing her best to stay ‘safe’ financially, and playing so that somewhere the balance is righted.

    • November 13, 2009 9:59 pm

      @Lakshmi,

      In most of the traditional arranged marriages the boy and girl will be having little say except for to say yes or no for the boy/girl.The elders decide all including the financial discussions/planning.When the girl’s parents spends for marriage and gifts it is considered as part of deal and i believe no girl wants to get it back from her husband thru saving her salary or in any other manner in her lifetime.
      Its possible when the girl is the main bread winner for the family and may take a loan for her marriage expenses & may repay.I agree These things can happen.But in an ideal situation should Indian girl say no to share expenses of the family saying its the husbands job as per tradition.You are correct ideally the couple should share the expenses.

  34. November 11, 2009 10:16 pm

    one of the practical thing is to set up different primary accounts and contribute an equal percentage of the income to the household expenses.

    thanks a practical solution! – Nita

  35. phantom permalink
    November 12, 2009 4:40 am

    Should women spend their hard earned money on family expenses >> of course YES. Isn’t the whole point of marriage to create a singular, symbiotic unit, where the individualistic is optimally balanced with the cumulative?? So yes, of course, any earnings from either spouse, should all go into the family pot.

    Should a women have an independent financial profile >> YES. And I say Yes regardless of whether a woman earns her own income or not. If she earns her own income then she has literally earned the right to develop her own independent financial profile, indulge her own consumer needs, while in balance with the requirements of the couple/family. If she does not earn an income (either by virtue of being a housewife or engaging is some non-income-earning activity like charity etc) then that does not and should not reduce her right to have as much financial independence as her spouse.

    Should a women indulge her professional ambitions, aspirations, talents and potential >> Absolutely, 100% YES. As humans living in a world where a shockingly huge proportion of the global population never even get any chance to enjoy the comforts and opportunities that are available to the more privileged ones…..each of us owes it to ourselves to take every opportunity we get, and to truly deploy our skills, talents and abilities. It is a pathetic state of affairs when a young educated woman is relegated to the fulltime duties of wifehood/motherhood without even being given an opportunity to engage herself into the professional world and to experience growth across the professional, personal, emotional, intellectual and life-experience spheres. This happens more often than lots of people think and is not just a syndrome in small towns / villages….I have seen this happen to people I know and know of, from the metros, and from urban upper middle-class families too.

    Should a woman feel deprived because she is not able to achieve as much career enhancement/ opportunity as her male counterpart >> NO. I say this only because no-one can have the cake and eat it too. Millenia of biological, physiological, social, cultural evolution have rendered women with maternal instincts & desires and the capability to rear a family. God gave man physical strength, ability to think in a liner fashion and to drive , and in turn he gave women (among many other things) the ability to give birth, coordinate a home, and be the primary point of engagement in child rearing. It is not a burden, but rather a gift and a hugely valuable (from a life continuity, emotional gratification perspective) deployment of a woman’s resources, to engage in the process of starting a family and subsequently devote the first few years of her child’s life towards partial / full-time housewifehood. If, after the kid is slightly grown up, the mother/wife decides to re-enter the professional arena, and she finds that she has “fallen behind” in the career enhancement race, compared with male colleagues….then that should be no reason for disappointment as the woman should realise that this perceived imbalance in career trajectory is only a direct result of having engaged in a socially acceptable, emotionally indulging lifestyle process that should really more than compensate for the slow down in career growth / achievement.

    If anything, I reckon that legislation, governance, professional practise, and social norms should become more understanding of the pressures and challenges faced by women who are expected to engage professionally and then immediately come home to another “job” – kids, housework etc (in terms of commitment required, dedication of physical & emotional resources and ability to consume one’s energy). I have seen my mum and aunts put in a full day in the office, and come home just as physically & mentally drained as their spouses, and then proceed without any delay to clean the house, cook the meal etc. In our case, my dad cooks a lot, so that really does help. If legislation, society and the professional arena were to make things more convenient for working women (by way of more flexi-time, reduced working hours, more availability of part-time roles etc), it would be more gratifying a professional experience for the women too.

    And lastly – should men contribute more equitably to household chores – absolutely YES. Although, there are inherently some pink household jobs, and some blue ones…that is the way it was, and always will be.

    • November 12, 2009 7:51 am

      Phantom, comprehensive and balanced analysis of the situation. I agree with everything you have said, women need to have their financial independence even if they are not earning and it is their right.
      When you say about the home and motherhood that

      It is not a burden, but rather a gift and a hugely valuable (from a life continuity, emotional gratification perspective) deployment of a woman’s resources, to engage in the process of starting a family and subsequently devote the first few years of her child’s life towards partial / full-time housewifehood.

      I couldn’t agree more! If there is one part of my life which gave me immense pleasure and emotional fulfulment it was being with my children. I cannot even describe what I felt, it was like being on a high all the time! Even now I love children and get along well with them, and I guess with my own kids I sort of threw myself into the job with a gusto I had no idea I would feel! There was no way I was going to do some boring job when I had two little exciting tots to take care of. What really bugs is is when pseudo feminists insist that there is something wrong when educated women take care of the home and children. I do not think it requires less intelligence and less education than a career. For gods sake, you are there for two little tender minds, whom you can influence forever! I must have read at least a hundred books on child rearing, I used to read to my kids, I used to prepare them exotic healthy meals, I used to talk to them constantly, I used to take them out to ensure that they had sufficient stimulation and well, I don’t want to list all the things I did here. But it is my habit that whatever I do I give my 100% and therefore I gave up my job immediately after my elder child was born. I did it happily and despite psuedo feminists giving me lectures about how educated people should not do this and “waste” their education, I didn’t care. I think those years were well spent and today my daughters are grown up and are two beautiful brilliant and emotionally stable and happy individuals and that is what gives me pleasure. No, I didn’t do it so that they could look after me in my old age, and in fact do not even expect it. I am happy though that for their own mental health they are close to their parents and are able to share their feelings with us.
      I think it’s about time we valued child rearing and home making, and give it pride of place with other “earning” professions. If society had respected women’s work we would ofcourse never had “feminism” as such. Feminism arose because women’s work has been denigrated and still is. It is stupid I think to undervalue a women’s contribution to the home because she is also the health manager and today with the wrong diet you can die of an heart attack at 45. Children also can turn out to be pretty mixed up. A lot of women, often uneducated. who are housewives provide poor diets for their families and are poor child rearers, and I know many educated “working” women who are better at the job even when they do it part time. Education is very important, as well as a mental balance and the ability to view her work as important, and having the self esteem . All these affect how the child grows up and his emotional stability. A woman who actually believes that she is giving up on a career and is frustrated will make a poor mother and it’s best that she does not ‘sacrifice” herself. It depends on the individual what choice to make.
      I am not saying that a man is not to contribute to the housework and child rearing, not at all, I think men who do it are absolutely great, and wonderful, but if a woman does it for gods sake respect her decision and respect her work!! She is not any less than a stockbroker or a businessman, or a film star, I would say that her work is equally important, if not more.

  36. November 12, 2009 12:27 pm

    An interesting topic. My case has been quite similar to that of yours. When I was working,my husband and I never discussed how much the other was spending on what. or who should spend more or who should save less.or who should handle housework and who should pay bills. If my husband got back home from work earlier,there was no such notion that he had to wait for me to get back and make tea for him.He simply headed to the kitchen and made some for himself and keep some ready for me too.similarly I paid the bills,bought household things as and when I could with ‘my income’.when we were to buy a car it was both of our earnings that went in to bringing the car of our choice home(of course I was the who drove it more often after tha ;) )

    So I believe its all about teamwork. just as it is in an organization,you work as a team in your marriage too.

    came here from Lakshmi’s blog.glad to have stumbled by :)

    Deeps, glad that you stumbled by! :) That’s nicely put, a husband and wife are a team! There are certain things like cooperation and flexibility that should ideally come naturally.

  37. hairanhoom permalink
    November 12, 2009 2:04 pm

    nita i agree with wht u’ve written above – how satisfying it was for you to be a full time mother. most of the women feel this instinctively without any coercion from outside. but the million dollar question hanging in the air with current generation is how much you can trust your partner? when u were a homemaker may b u never had even 5% doubt whether ur husband might break the marriage vows(not infidelity alone) might ask for a divorce n leave u emotionally n financially drained.in today’s world atleast 50% of high end urban women hve this fear.
    one of my friends had a good marriage of 8-9 yrs she was a highly paid proffnl but left her career mid way for childcare but after a decade when she got used to completely trusting the man to stand by, he turned around fell in love with a younger woman asked for a divorce. she went back to work but her career never went to the heights it originally headed. once his high salary was out of picture she suffered a major fall in her life style n living standards. in India courts dont even pay u high alimony – cases gets dragged through different levels of judicial system offering never ending trauma for all involved. to cut down her emotional misery she agreed for an easy divorce parted ways with v less money compared to what she could’ve had if she worked continuosly n if she had kept her money seperately.

    so cant blame a woman if she wants to keep her money seperate – it’s a good precaution. but yes household exp can be shared equally provided husband n wife are in same level of earning. if not it shld be proportionate to the income they make.

    marriages are not anymore what it meant to be for both man and woman. so i guess it’s better to be clear about these things before wedding itself n work out an arrangement which suits both parties.

    hairanhoom, even I can understand why a woman wants to save her money and keep it separate, particularly in cases where she does not know the man very well, or in the initial years of her marriage. I do see the man’s point of view and his feelings of resentment but if he is secure enough in believing that the money will finally be used for their own benefit, then it can work. However in cases where a man is seeing the woman’s salary as a replacement for dowry I have no sympathy for such men. Sure, there are genuine cases that he feels hurt if he is the only one spending and in such cases I think it is important to talk about it and arrive at a compromise. – Nita

    • November 12, 2009 4:17 pm

      I see your point hairanhoom. It’s so common to see one partner giving up a career opportunity for the family, generally the woman, and it is taken as a the right thing to do. No real appreciation of what she has given up – specially if there is a divorce in future.

  38. November 12, 2009 6:30 pm

    Hi Nita,
    Thank you for touching my friend Rohit’s cause. Now he had a break-up just because as his fiancee is not ready to share the family expenses.I had another friend here in Hyderabad who had a break up recently after 3 months of marriage just because his wife is not ready to share expenses.

    You had given a reason why woman shouldn’t spend for her house,family,kids and husband.Rather saying she saves for a rainy day.
    Guy also can save for rainy day and let girl can spend.
    What if their is a divorce say after 5 years.. than Boy will have a zero balance and girl will have savings ..
    If you take an example of Honeymoon it is for both.. Both should share the expenses.
    Similarly everything…after marriage.
    What happens to a boy if he is not ready to share he will be labelled a maizer.

    “However in cases where a man is seeing the woman’s salary as a replacement for dowry I have no sympathy for such men. ”
    Do you have sympathy towards an Indian girl who sees the education and fat pay cheaque of the boy to marry ?

    • November 12, 2009 6:35 pm

      kumar, I agree with you so let us not argue. :) These things depend on the nature and temperament of the individuals. NO, I have no sympathy for the girls who marry for money, not at all. As I had mentioned at the end of my post, I think boys and girls can be both to blame, it depends on the individuals. You see the thing is that girls are insecure about they having to leave their job because of motherhood etc, that is why I think girls are more insecure. I am sure you will agree with that. Boys don’t leave their job for this reason.

  39. November 12, 2009 7:41 pm

    I agree with you that it depends on the individuals.

    “You see the thing is that girls are insecure about they having to leave their job because of motherhood etc, that is why I think girls are more insecure.”

    If a girl is having 100% faith on her husband than insecurity shouldn’t be their.Yes, in some families for the betterment of the family girls may opt to leave the job during parenting but not all.As the girl and boy enter into married life their shouldn’t be insecurity as faith & trust plays a major role from day one.

    We are adapting & following a western way of life.In western world their will be 100% transparency towards the family financial aspects of both husband and wife.Like opening a joint account,having savings in joint names,sharing expenses and all.I and my wife follow the same.
    Indian girl shouldn’t shy away sharing her income with her husband giving the reason of our traditions.Right from dating they should spend equally.They should enjoy the joy of spending.:)

  40. November 12, 2009 8:47 pm

    As you say, I think it depends entirely on the individuals. When both of us were working, we never really checked as to who was spending what or kept an account of what each person spent. A lot of times, if I were out grocery shopping – I would spend, or if husband was – he would spend.. And if we were together – it would be a matter of who had the card handy. To be honest, this was one thing that we never thought about. Now that I don’t work, my account is replenished on a regular basis by husband, so that I am never in need of money. And that goes for our accounts here and in India. And yes, most of our accounts are also joint accs – but I do know a lot of couples who are not comfortable with joint accs.. So I guess it is all dependent on couples – but yes, in some cases people do take it to extremes, sometimes spoiling relationships .

    Smitha, that is what happens when husband and wife has a good understanding, there is no insecurity and no need to talk about it. And even where joint accounts are concerned, often they are only so in name. In actual fact one tends to operate just one account where one is the primary account holder. I had my husband’s name put on it because I have this fear of dying! Or at least I had then! – Nita

  41. November 12, 2009 8:50 pm

    I have been thinking for quite sometime, and all I can come up with is that if you are of the nature to let go and adjust, then things will be smooth. You shall give in a little, and whine a little.. thats the fun of life, but, in the case that you like your things your way, I guess thats when the trouble starts.

    I wonder whether having a joint account will help things, as at the end of it, you do know how much you have saved and whats being spent and for what.

    Aathira, it is entirely up to the individuals I think and I personally do not think joint accounts are necessary. As I mentioned to Smitha, I only had my husband’s name put on it because I felt what would happen if I die? In fact he did the same, for the same reason! – Nita

  42. November 12, 2009 10:19 pm

    Nita,
    Thanks for visiting and you have an awesome blog. It’s already on my blogroll and feed reader!
    We are a working couple too and believe in sharing the finances equally. Surprisingly we never discussed it – it just came naturally – he never asked, I never questioned. I dunno what the big fuss is about – these days most husbands help the wives out in housework and if both are working what is the harm in sharing the finances? Won’t it make life a hell lot easier?
    My views from my experience.
    I liked your other blog too – let me know when I can send you my hand for some palm reading:-)

    • November 13, 2009 9:00 am

      Thanks Minal. I agree that sharing money should come naturally. If it doesn’t it points to either very widely different values or a lack of understanding, which can be resolved. The former may never be resolved. And about the hand reading, I am going to throw open my palmistry blog for hand reading once I have a sufficient number of hand photos on my blog so I get enough traffic from search engines and also the blog has some weight. A few more months more I think! Hope you will be around then! Although I posted there first in July, it is only in the last month or so that I have started regularly posting there.
      (Note: For those who are wondering if this is the same Minal who I referred to in my post, no, she is not the same. The other Minal used to blog regularly but now has no time to update her blog due to family commitments. She has now offered to help me out with research for this blog.)

  43. sadaf permalink
    November 12, 2009 10:32 pm

    I am not sure if anyone has raised this point or not. What if wife’s parents are in need of money? My wife is working and helping to her parents when they are in need. I never asked her or stopped her to send them money.

    • November 13, 2009 9:03 am

      That’s a good point sadaf. I wonder how many men will be comfortable with that. I am impressed with your attitude. Why, there are both men and women who might resent money being sent to parents, whether the boy or girl, and I think it’s wonderful that both of you are helping her parents.

      • November 13, 2009 10:55 am

        This is deviation from the topic.

        Their are Indian women who never allow their husbands to send money to his parents or dependent siblings.

        Wife sharing the expenses since she is working wife.

        Here the boy is not claiming the salary of the wife.He is just requesting to share the expenses as she is earning.And she is in a big job than him.But her claim is since in India the expenses for the family and the day to day expenses needs to be borne by male she can’t spend her money.

        Further, The girl is saying her money is for her and the husband money is for the her and for family as per our indian tradition.She is further saying Rohit shouldn’t expect any sharing of expenses in any purchases in future.So, finally they had a break-up.

      • Lakshmi permalink
        November 13, 2009 5:25 pm

        But tradition expects the family to support the man’ parents and and very often the man may refuse to support his wife’s parents, rather than the other way around.

        • November 13, 2009 7:19 pm

          Indian Tradition expects the man to support the wife’s parents also.Especially when there are no brothers to wife or even if brother is their and he is not taking care.Men who refuse to support wife’s parents will not be known as good husbands.similarly if wife refuse she will also attract bad name in the society.

          • vasudev permalink
            November 15, 2009 9:08 pm

            again the root is a lack of perfect understanding/adjustment between husband-wife.

            ‘you scratch my back, i scratch yours’-the proven way up a corporate ladder and many successful executives have made it big following this simple philosophy.

            am surprised why it cannot work at home?

  44. Payal permalink
    November 13, 2009 2:18 pm

    I have been following this post from quite some time now. I really like the comments posted by everyone. From the current topic what I can understand and as pointed out by many readers is that its all about trust and understanding. I work on 80-20 principle which says that doing 80 % and taking and expecting only 20 %.I think the problem with marriages today is that is more of a contract (50 -50 partnership).You do half and I’ll do other half. Its not as much about who is earning and who is not. Its about what you bring to your relationship and what you expect out of it. If everyone follows this principle then I guess there will be less heartaches, break-ups etc. have tried that myself and believe me, it has made my life a lot easier. Although I’m not married .I have my cousin who lives with me and we both are earning .So when it comes to household expenditure , we don’t question each other on who should spend how much .Whoever I come from office early I purchase the grocery and vice versa.
    We need to understand that everything in life cannot be measured monetarily. Efforts taken to take care of the other person and just listening to his or her problems is equivalent to money a person can bring home or maybe more that that. Lets learn to appreciate such things in life. Or else even if couples are sharing household expenditures equally , the lack of this basic attitude will still result in other matrimonial problems.

    • November 14, 2009 7:39 am

      Hi Payal. I guess I am lucky to have such intelligent and fair commentators. I have not got any “bad” comment so far on this post and that makes me happy. I agree with you that when one does something for the other it is best not to expect too much, because expectations can give rise to problem and love on the other hand automatically makes the other also change his mind about certain things, like sharing of money or something else. Also I agree that everything in life should not be measured monetarily, particularly so in a relationship. The problem does arise though if a partner is materialistic and selfish and demanding. This can bring to the fore the insecurity of the other and ruin the relationship

  45. November 13, 2009 5:14 pm

    I think that the whole issue is a non issue and people whether men or women should be able to accept their monetary capabilities in a matured manner instead of getting down to yours, me, mine.

    doesn’t always happen does it. – Nita

    • November 14, 2009 11:09 am

      I agree that most of the time it does not (around 98% would be my guess). Maybe as a society we should ensure there is a proportionate increase in awareness as the financial capacitiies (both earnings as well as back ups) increase.

  46. November 15, 2009 6:41 pm

    Not taking each other for granted is key in making an equation work.

  47. November 16, 2009 3:24 pm

    Hello, Neeta.

    Interesting and thought provoking post. We would like to feature this post on our blog, “Freedom Blog,” and invite people to comment. While looking for recent posts on topics of common interest, which were expressive, we stumbled upon this post of yours. We are launching Freedom Blog today and would like your post to be among the first set of posts that go out. We are looking at making Freedom Blog a platform for expression in the blogosphere. The aim is to build a network of people from all parts of the country, and around the world as well, feature their posts and encourage discussions.

    The link to your blog will be put up with the post. Freedom Blog should be active shortly. We would love to see you participating as well. Thank you.

    Team Freedom Blog

    • November 16, 2009 3:34 pm

      Dear feedomyourright, I really appreciate your interest in my blog but at least at present I do not post on other blogs. In fact I was part of a very active and popular blog which is one of the top blogs in India and it used to feature my posts, but I have excused myself from it now. I do not want my posts duplicated anywhere else on the web. You can give a link to my blog with a few lines of my post if you wish. If this is not what you need, then I am sorry. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavor. Thanks.

      • November 16, 2009 3:51 pm

        Dear Nita, we respect your take on this. And if you don’t want your post duplicated, we won’t put up the post. We are looking for a couple of posts to kick-start our blog. Looks like we will have to use some other post instead. Should not bee too tough. Thanks a lot for your immediate response. Greatly appreciate it.

        We might, as you instructed, use a part of your post with the corresponding link to your blog, in the near future. We will also notify you about it while doing so. Hope that sounds good to you. Thanks once again.

        Team Freedom Blog

  48. November 16, 2009 3:47 pm

    And yes, we just read your “Why I blog” section and would like to clarify that Freedom Blog is not one where random posts from the net are copied and pasted directly. There will be periodic contributions from Team Freedom Blog as well, both in terms in posts, and more actively, in terms of keeping the discussion going through comments. And most importantly, being a bunch of students, we have no intention of making money out of Freedom Blog- now or ever.

    We just felt the necessity to clarify that aspect. Also, our design team has just started work and so the blog looks rather amateurish right now. Within a week’s time we should be in a much better position, proud of what we have initiated. Looking forward to your support in making our plan a success.

    Thanks once again.

    Team Freedom Blog

  49. November 18, 2009 5:53 pm

    This topic is getting important in many countires that catch up with more women working and earning. Sharing expences is normal, however I will never understand married coulples int eh West that pay thier dinner at restaurants SePARATELY (!), I have really seen such. This seem absurd to me.

    In a healthy married life this question will not really arise, I belive. In my case, we both know what we ean and although we have separate accounts we just freely use eath other’s money when needed. The rent and other necessary monthly payments are done from both accoutns, more or less equally. But we never count exactly. If somethings gets critical, we just decide together, how to pay.

  50. ramya permalink
    December 3, 2009 9:25 pm

    On the contrary, I heard a friend complaining that her husband does not allow her to financially support her parents. I think its not an uncommon problem in India.

  51. linzi permalink
    February 28, 2010 5:06 am

    well i married a nigerian in june last year have kept him for pass 6 months on my income support and my tax credit why he was waiting to see if he two years stay was accepted and he got work permit. i do all house work duties and also have a voluntary job from 9am to 3pm why my daughter is at school the reason i do voluntary work is because i am finding it hard to get a job in school hours i had no problem providing for my husband why we was awaiting confirmation from border agency. wen it came back of course i gave him money 3-4 times week to go job interviews and expenses, yet now he works he does not give me a penny and tells me h does not have to pay me anything as he does not owe me anything . also he is mistreating me so much yet providig he exes for their children money but he gives me 100 pound for shopping and pays or is not willing to pay anything else. yet i have struggled for months and gave him my last pennies so many times bearing in mind i have a 6 yr old who is not his child but mine.
    do you not think with his misbehaving not coming home at weekends and cutting off all contact with me untill 24-48 hours later if and wen he decides to come home and give me no explanxation of where he has been and what he was doing , he lying cheating and deciet after everything i deserve every penny back i have given him wen we get divorced .

    • vasudev permalink
      March 3, 2010 11:07 pm

      quite a possibility that the progeny of the much ‘culture’ touted indians would also behave likewise.

  52. megan permalink
    March 28, 2010 4:22 pm

    Hi Everyone,
    All the comments are very mature and i really appreciate it. Here is my situation. We are a working couple and I take may be 95% of the responsibilities in the household chores and child care. My husband pays mortagage only ($1900) and i pay rest of the bills includng daycare expenses (around $1500). He sends huge amounts of money to his family without my knowledge (he has his parents, grand parents, brother’s family and sister’s family. Everyone has a source of income but still they want him to pay all their monthly expenses from rent to kids school fees etc). He takes loans and from credit cards. When he is at a point where he cannot pay all the expenses he asks me to share more expenses. I preferred to save the rest of the money left with me to make some investments.
    Now he wants to buy a house for his folks and he started troubling me for money. what should i do in this situation ? Should i share more expenses of his by helping his pay all his loans which he took for the sake of his folks.
    I can say i have no trust on my husband because he does not tell me anything he does for his family. His sister and mother are always filling his ears with words against me and my parents.
    Our marriage is getting worse and i would like to hear what is the right thing i have to do.

    • vasudev permalink
      March 28, 2010 8:08 pm

      trust you discussed this issue of ‘saving for yourself and your future’ with your husband? what is his take on this? what is his problem of obligation when all are earning themselves? why should he squander away his money? are we missing any details here? then again how much is the adjustment between you two people? love marriage?

  53. Raj permalink
    October 2, 2011 8:38 pm

    The point of ancient thinking is wrong is wrong too. We are here because of wonderful ancient thinking. Career is an ego set. “modern” looking for this new ego set is cause for all family trouble. Soon the corporations will diminish and the white color jobs will vanish. How many women would like to do blue color jobs compared to household work-chores?!!!!. Huh capitalism using today’s women for it’s benefit.

  54. James permalink
    February 22, 2012 3:34 am

    Very interesting comments. My wife of 28 years and I just divorced over this very issue. I worked, spent my money on all of the household expenses, kids tuition, vacations, etc. while my wife worked 30-35 per week yet could not get herself to take on any of the financial responsibility. Not even the housekeeper, dry cleaning, etc. Her money went on her personal expenses and if you asked her for anything her simple response would be “I don’t have any money.”

    After a while, the entire balance and self worth in the relationship is challenged and you decide that the other person you married, for better or for worse, can’t get themselves together to share in the good times, well that sure won’t be able to take care of you in the times when you get older.

  55. Mayank permalink
    March 9, 2012 12:30 pm

    Today’s Indian woman are extremely selfish when parting with their income for household expenses . They love to spend the husband’s money and love it when the husband showers her with gifts . The Indian woman must understand the responsibilities but they are obstinate and they don’t. They say it’s a man’s job to provide ; well that is true ; but then as a wife are they walking hand in hand with the husband or just bullshitting him by burdening him with a long list of things he’d do/buy for her. They use the word ”
    tradition” as per what seems convenient to them. There is no concept of sharing in the true sense and marriages are just about a woman finding a scapegoat (man) to fulfil her endless wishes and needs. They are no good and are immature and arrogant.

  56. s.mishra permalink
    July 23, 2012 10:13 pm

    sir,
    I want to discuss my family problem here.I am a contract ayurvedic doctor in uttarakhand and my wife is in indian railway lucknow u.p.We r not living together due to our jobs.My wife is living with their parents in lucknow.we have a 1and half year old male child.many times becoz of my wifes and inlaws nature i have decided to live separately in lucknow.My wife after being quarreled with me for separate home she never agree to come with me to live together that is why i dropped the idea.Still her quarrelling habit persists for separate home of own.After 12 years of working in indian railway she have no saving,no bank balance.When i ask her for her salary her parents and she starts fighting me and never try to discuss with me.Inspite of Her working they took me rs.6000 fix from my salary monthly apart from major expenses in household goods.After 2years of marriage when i asked for her salary,saving,and expenses of her and my offered rupees she and her family made the family atmosfere worst and never let me know.In spite my wife never supported me in my bad economical conditions and providing her full and my part salary to her parents and my baby,my wives parents always blamed me that i am not giving any thing to my family,her parents threw us on the verge of separation.Now 6 months ago i have taken my ATM card back from my wife.That was also a cause of conflict between us.I also offered my wife to leave job and live with me if job is not fruitful for family.She was not agree.
    How can i solve my conflict.

    • July 23, 2012 10:29 pm

      Mr. Misra, I suggest you see a marriage counselor who will listen to both sides and give a solution. It is not possible to provide advise without hearing both sides, and therefore both of you need to go together to a counselor.

  57. shaz permalink
    April 11, 2013 11:05 pm

    I got married when i was 20 years and sponsered my husband from India. when i got pregnant with my first child he wanted me to abbort the baby we went through very rough time. I tried to make it work as much as possible. I married out of my religion and culture
    i married a hindu which i had no problem with. But he has been very tight with his money but when it comes to mine he does not have a problem taking. He can never talk about anything. He is always tired. He accused me to have a relationship which i dont.
    It seems he wants to get out of the realitionship and finding every excuse in the book. He fights every day and tells me I am stupid. I have a hard head to get through. He never understood me and has made my life so miserable. I loved him with all my heart and it hurts too much.
    What should I do?

    • April 11, 2013 11:24 pm

      shaz, it is very difficult for people who do not know you two to offer advise. The best way to help yourself is to get a counselor.

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  4. White-collar sexual harassment, or how India keeps professional women “in their place”… | La Vie Quotidienne

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