Since times immemorial, men have been expected to be the breadwinners in a family and cater to the needs of all family members. A man has always been expected to be at the forefront of financial matters, with his family behind him. With time, these expectations might have started to decrease, now that the world is on the road to gender equality and to debunk such conventional gender roles, men are still not entirely free from this pressure to be successful financially.

Well, till the time, financial success is looked on as an opportunity, it wouldn’t harm anybody. However, the problem arises when men start feeling burdened by this pressure to be successful. For women, being financially successful and stable is looked up to as an achievement, but men are somehow considered inferior if they can’t provide for the entire family single-handedly. Call it a gender stereotype or a myth that only exists in the minds of men, this is how society expects you to be.

Dear men, answer these questions honestly.

Don’t you feel the pressure to pay when you are on a date with a girl?

Don’t you sometimes feel like your entire existence and just running on with your job, and your life has become constricted to it?

Don’t you feel the pressure or the fear to be socially downcasted if your wife earns more than you?

Don’t you feel this constant burden to be in this rat race where you need to earn a salary more than your peers and relatives? Didn’t you ever feel like you had to ‘beat’ your colleague to get a promotion? 

Don’t you sometimes feel like you might be a subject of shame in your own family if you lose your job tomorrow?

You do. Most days, you take it as a responsibility on your shoulders and head on for work with a cheerful smile on your face, waving goodbye to your children, and you are content with your life. But some days, this pressure to be successful in life overpowers you and you feel suffocated and dejected. 

Statistics show that men are twice as likely as women to feel the financial burden in relationships. 1 in 4 men feels that losing their job would make them feel like losing their identities as a person. The amount of stress on a man increases by leaps and bounds if they are entirely dependent on their wives from a financial point of view.

This stress and pressure to be successful acts as a threat for men, in the way that they start questioning and doubting their own abilities, and this has been observed to be a major reason behind domestic violence as well.

It’s a good development that society has come a long way in understanding how men aren’t always necessarily supposed to provide for the entire family, but we still have a very long way to go.  Historically, men have been in control of the economic system and hence, it becomes all the more difficult for us to completely do away with these gender roles in society. The image of a man in society is still constructed as one who is always dependable and ready to be a savior for his entire family, be stronger, and make a greater contribution in financial matters of the family than women.

How is this pressure to be a financial success affecting men?

Studies reveal that this pressure to be successful takes a toll on men and their mental health, quite frequently. Mental stress and pressure sometimes aggravate to take the form of more serious health concerns. When a woman starts earning more than her husband, the situation grows worse and outsiders start passing sly comments, which helps no one.

Stress can lead to grave health concerns, and men often do not even seek professional help for things like anxiety or depression. It’s this well-framed faulty notion of no emotional vulnerability in men that prevents them from opening up about such issues, and they are compelled to suffer in silence. It is hard to understand when exactly does this pressure to be financially successful grow to become a burden that men can’t take up anymore.

The road to reducing the pressure on men to be financially successful

As we said, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a very long way to go in terms of completely doing away with socially constructed gender roles and build a society that treats men and women equally, and nobody has to feel this burden on their shoulders to be a financial success. We need to construct an environment where men are looked beyond their financial worth and their ability to be the sole breadwinner in a family, where it is completely normal for a woman to earn more than her husband and the husband doesn’t feel intimidated at the thought of it, where men do not have to go through a pressure because of such gender roles at the hands of the society. 

Let us teach our children the importance of gender equality in this world. Let them be brought up as adults who build a society beyond traditional gender norms for themselves. Let us raise sons who know that it is okay to cry, to be sensitive or vulnerable, to have cooking as their primary hobby, to develop a career for themselves in sewing. We need a society that doesn’t belittle our men because they can’t cater to what people expect of them. We need to rise above trifling expectations from men, in fact, from anyone in general.  

We believe that we, as a society, cannot achieve this until and unless we teach our kids about the culture and environment that we want them to live in, and it would mean the collective effort of all of us, as individuals, as parents, as teachers. 

Let us take off this pressure to do well from the shoulders of men, and let us be it an opportunity for them, rather than a burden.