Sebastian Molano on why the old marriage model doesn’t work anymore.
One of the traditional pillars of masculinity is the ability of a male to provide. Under this view, it is a major duty of each man to find all the needed resources for his household. Love, tenderness, and words of support are not as important as providing a roof, three meals a day and education. A man is valued by his ability to bring that paycheck to the table each month, deriving pride and satisfaction from it. This, regardless of how much he hates his job, how long the commute takes or how he feels about it. The feelings of such man are not as important as the fulfillment of his responsibilities.
I have seen this for so many years, in the eyes of my dad and in the lives of many of the men that I was surrounded by growing up. Those men were taught by their own fathers that a real man is a man who provides for his family, and in doing so, prove their value to themselves and to others. For many years of my life I believed that part of my charm as a single man resided in my ability to be portrayed as a good provider, a good financial provider.
This scenario was valid under key assumptions. For instance, the man was the primary breadwinner. Also, when women were working but their contributions to the family accounts were marginal. Men had stable jobs where it was possible to build a career and retire from the same company. But most importantly, one single partner working, in this case the man, was able to bring enough money to satisfy family needs.
Today these assumptions do not hold.
As the economic conditions have shifted, job stability is the exception not the rule. One income per household is not enough to provide a roof, three meals a day and education for a family. If all the variables are changing, why should we assume that traditional versions of masculinity may remain untouched?
In this quest for a new and needed masculinity, being a man today is not about being able to provide financially for your family on your own. It is about taking care of your family financial situation with your partner. It is about talking about goals, dreams and spreadsheets. It is about taking the “I am the man, I manage it” mask off and feeling vulnerable: vulnerable but empowered to take charge of your financial situation today and for the future.
Being a man today demands not feeling emasculated if your partner makes more money than you, because bringing less money to the table than your wife or your partner does not mean that you have failed as a man, or that you are half or a quarter of a man. In a relay race, each participant takes turns based on how the race plays out. The same principle applies in life: being a stay home parent or being professionally happy is as important as bringing enough money home. Sometimes the challenge is about how to make it happen. And sometimes it comes down to how much money is enough money.
Today, being a man means that you do not have to sacrifice your dreams and hopes for a paycheck, and if you do, it is because you and your partner are working a strategy, a plan so each of you find the space for doing what motivates you in life.