Heart to Heart
Can a woman be successful and still be submissive to her man?
Posted Friday, October 25 2013 at 00:00
While some men view a financially stable and successful woman as the ideal one to marry, others believe she is a threat to their superiority in the family set up.
Richard Ouma, 29, is a young man ready to start a serious relationship.“serious” in this case means a relationship that will lead to marriage. However, he is somewhat skeptical. Not that he is timid, no, his reservations are elsewhere: “I will think for a moment before I make the first move,” he says. “I will ask myself; what is it that she doesn’t have that she will be looking up to me for? If I realise she has it all, I will rest my case.”
Ouma is hesitant to propose to a woman he considers more successful than him. He would want to marry a woman who will be submissive to him but the doubts whether a successful woman can be. Ouma might not be the only man with this dilemma as Dr John Kamulegeya explains: “Men want women who are submissive to them yet as women become more successful, they along the way tend to lose the submissive element.”
Kamulegeya has reservations himself. “I don’t want a failure,” he says, but he is quick to add: “I want a successful woman but not one who is more successful than I.” Kamulegeya says success comes with many demands. “Take for instance a woman holding a senior position in an organisation, the demands that come with her job might require her to be away from home often, and if she is the household provider, she will just be informing you about her trips but not seek permission from you.”
Success and submission
Who is a successful woman? Ouma says: “She is running her own business or holding a very high profile job that pays her handsomely. She earns far more than the husband, maybe double his salary. She owns her property and she can afford to do anything she desires.” There are definitely various measures of success besides success itself being relative. “You simply know that you and that woman are a class apart. You can’t match her purse,” insists Ouma.
And a submissive woman? “When she is not the leader at home,” Brian Sekamatte simply puts it. Pressed to elaborate on what he really means, Sekamatte explains: “She recognises that there is a man in the house who is the leader. She consults and doesn’t make her own decisions.”
Submission from a woman is held dearly by men and they agree that it is such a crucial aspect in marriage. It ranks highly on their priority list. Men want to be respected by their wives. Yet as Kamulegeya says respect does not come naturally. “Respect is not automatic, it’s earned,” he says. “There are things you must do to earn her respect. But if you can’t contribute anything at home; things like food and rent, and instead all the bills rests on her head, then what you have to forget is respect from her.”
Success is an assert to both partners
Success to either partner should ideally be looked at as an asset, not a liability in the home. Eric Settuba, a married man and father explains, “A successful wife contributes favourably to the financial and social wellbeing of a family.” However, Settuba notes that some men and women find it challenging to manage a marriage where the wife is more successful.
“How does a husband adjust and support a more successful wife and she accepts leadership of a less successful husband?”
Paying the bills, for instance, is considered a primary role of a man in a home as cooking is for a woman. So when the woman pays the bills, the situation can be more complex as Settuba poses: “Can the men take on the other (women’s) roles?”
Daniel Birungi, who has been married for four years, says the solution lies in the man loving his wife. “If you love her and it’s clear to her that you really do, she will give you all the respect,” he says. Birungi argues that women naturally respond to acts of love. “What it takes is to know her likes and dislikes. If you approach this well, it’s likely that things will work out.”
Gunilla Ouko Mukisa, the vice president affluent banking at Barclays Bank, says that what matters is the value a couple attaches to their marriage. “When marriage is important to you, then you make it work,” she says. Ouko who has been married for seven years says: “My role is to support my husband. God has blessed me at my work but my husband is still the leader at home. Some roles don’t change no matter what position a woman holds.”
Respect does wonders
Beatrice Kacwamba Lugalambi, the general Manager Business Development and Marketing at Centenary Bank, seems to agree. She says that respect for family values and one’s perception of work are the determining factors. “I separate my job from my family. I respect my husband. I don’t have to elevate myself at home because of the position I hold at work,” she says.
Birungi says men should be able to provide leadership in their home. “Your leadership position must be felt in a home,” he stresses. He says a man should for instance be able to plan for the little he has and show ambition to succeed in what he does. “An understanding woman will respect and love a man who is focused and hardworking.”
Stella Nabaloba says it is the issue of men’s ego that makes some feel threatened by women’s success. She argues that successful women, just like anyone else, have feelings and can settle in serious relationship and be submissive to their husbands. “It’s the issue of character,” she says. “Definitely personalities differ but some characters are not changed by success or fame.”