TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – There has long been a tradition among MEN that they wear the pants and have the final word at home. “To wear the pants” means to be the person in the relationship who is in control and makes decisions. This position is often bolstered by men who say, “wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands” (Eph 5:22).
With over 60% of Jamaicans identifying themselves as devoted Christian’s, christianity is an inextricable part of Jamaica’s society that has helped shape the lives of its people, hence references from the holy book.
As a result, many Jamaican women are becoming the breadwinners in their households. According to the International Labor Organization, Jamaica has the highest percentage of female managers, with 59.3 percent. There is often a perception of greater authority associated with a larger purse. In a situation where the woman is the breadwinner, does she have more control and decision-making power? Under the present circumstances, is the concept of “submission” less valid?
In addition, women are preparing themselves for management roles and responsibilities through their higher education at a faster rate than men. Among women, some 40 percent attend tertiary education institutions in Jamaica, with a population of 2.7 million, according to the Global Gender Gap Index; Barbados ranks first on the index.
There are 2.29 times as many women as men who attend universities and colleges. Who now makes the family’s decisions based on that fact? Is it a sign that women are more empowered to make decisions about their families? What will men do with this new era of highly educated and empowered wives?
As husbands and common-law partners attempt to balance being the men and being able to deal with the demands of can-do women, the social shift has caused stress in some marriages.
According to one young woman, despite becoming the main breadwinner in her family, she sought to comfort and reassure her partner that nothing had changed between them. In return for his earlier efforts when he was their primary provider, she now felt honoured to be able to do more for them. Because he had become reliant on her to support the family, he had become depressed. Having to deal with that was very difficult for him.
It can be challenging for some men to deal with changing situations, especially when they have to ask their wives for money. The fact that she is now more capable of handling their investments is causing him to tussle with her.
Nevertheless, maturity allows one to see the issue from a different perspective. Marriage is about teamwork, as they say, and it is about “teamwork that makes the dream work”.
A win for either spouse benefits both of them. As a result of her promotion, he will increase, and as a result of her degree, he will advance. As a result of either party’s accomplishments, the relationship and the entire family are elevated. Relationship dynamics should not be affected by higher education and better earnings.
The issue of “who wears the pants” must be confined to discussions on fashion or religion. Relationships and marriages flourish when both partners support each other – both can wear the pants.
From a Christian perspective, the virtuous woman, the standard-bearer for Christian wives, is also an overachiever, and this does not affect their relationship. Scripture depicts her husband as being extremely secure, which is why he praises her success.
“Submission” for wives is considered an act of honour and respect. Nevertheless, there is a scriptural directive for mutual submission (Eph 5:21) prior to “submit, wives”. As such, if a woman is able to make the important decisions for her relationship regarding matters of finance, wonderful, she “wears the pants” in that regard.
If she is an educator, fully versed in academic matters, then she wears the pants as well. Teamwork will ultimately triumph in the quest for family success.