When Sandeep Mulay Kumar and his wife were investing in a property in Bengaluru, his mother found out that he was paying less than his spouse Pramitha Ramaprakash because he was earning less than her.
“My mother took me into a corner and told me quietly that the fact that I’m earning less than my wife shouldn’t go out of the family,” laughs the 38-year-old, while explaining how truly entrenched the patriarchal concept of men being the primary breadwinners is when it comes to Indian families.
Her salary is higher
The first time in 2011, when Ramaprakash got a higher salary, Kumar admits that it did bruise his ego a bit. “Pramitha had quit her job after our marriage and moved to the UK because of my career. Six months later, she finds a job, two hours away from my office, and she has been offered more money than I earn,” says Kumar.
Being from a family, where his father had been the decision-maker, for a few honest minutes, he did wonder what his family and friends would say. However, later he accepted that it was money they were collectively earning. The couple moved to be closer to Ramaprakash’s office. “It was easier for me to do this as we were living independently, in the UK, away from parental pressure,” says Kumar. “In India it would have been more difficult to move cities for my wife’s job.”
Marriage, and after that childcare, according to a survey by National Sample Survey of India for 2011-2012, is one of the most common reasons for women to drop out of jobs in India. In 2011, around 50% of unmarried women in the 15-60 age bracket were in the labour force, while the proportion for married women was a mere 20%. The trend is more prominent in rural than urban women, as couples with white-collar jobs can outsource housework, childcare and eldercare—mostly seen as a woman’s job after marriage.
Sharing household and childcare work is the only way that 34-year-old Tripti Abhijata could continue to work as a full-time manager in a company in Switzerland. As she joined office back after her son was born, Rajan Thambehalli, her 34-year-old husband, took care of the house and of their three-year-old, starting his own company for quizzing.
Before having a child, both Abhijata and Thambehalli, were pursuing their own careers—Thambehalli as a consultant travelling around in Europe and Abhijata in Switzerland. After a child, moving frequently wasn’t possible. “We decided that we would move to the location of the spouse who gets a stable job first. It happened to be me,” explains Abhijata. In 2013, Thambehalli quit his job as a consultant, started his career afresh, ending up in “mom meetings”, she says.Continue reading “How to overcome challenges when a wife earns more than her husband”