How can I deal with conflicts about marital roles

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In most countries men are in positions of power so obtaining their support and help can be very important. If you intend looking for employment or would like to start your own business having the support of your husband could be enormously helpful.

If you think your husband may be against your plans, try using the following strategies to gain his support:

1. Before talking to your husband think very carefully about your plans. If you do not know exactly what you want to do, and how you are going to do it, how can he be expected to understand your plans and to support you?

2. Take a firm, but non-confrontational, stand in discussions with him about what you want to do. It is important you discuss your ideas with your husband but you will almost certainly achieve more by staying calm and friendly than by yelling at him or by crying.

3. Execute your plans in consultation with your husband. If you ask for his help and advice he will almost certainly feel less insecure and suspicious about what you are doing and should recognise that you can both profit from the changes you are striving for.

4. Explain to your husband that his life will improve if he supports you because your family income will increase and you want to spend the money you earn on your family and home.

5. Point out to your husband that as the head of a wealthier family his status, and the prestige of your family in the community, will increase once you are earning money. Some men are afraid others will look down on them if they are no longer the sole wage earner of their family. Explain to him that this is rarely true and that, in most cases, the husbands of working wives enjoy even more respect.

6. Suggest to your husband that the incremental income from your work could allow you both, together, to provide a better education for all your children (boys and girls). Every father cares about the future of his children and recognises that in the modern world a good education is the key to success and a well-paid job. If your husband wants the best for his children he should not deny them this opportunity.

7. Demonstrate - using as examples women who have gone out to work or who have successfully started businesses in the same way you want to - how their families have benefited.

8. If, after attempting all of the above, your husband is still reluctant to allow you to work, try to find other family members to help you resolve the conflict and to support you. You could also meet with other women to seek their help and support and to ask how they managed to change their husbands‘ minds.

IMPORTANT: Do not question the supremacy of the male or claim equality with men in general. Your husband should not feel threatened by the changes you are seeking.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en021006