The Ego of Providing
Most men have some sort of innate thing in them to take care of their family. We are stereotypically the breadwinners providing most or all of the income to support those we love. When something goes wrong we try to fix it. If we can’t fix it we attempt to pay to have someone else fix it, or get it replaced.
But what do we do when we can’t be that? When we can’t fix something we feel we’re supposed to? Or we can’t provide something that seems to be our responsibility?
I don’t make enough money to entirely support my family. My wife has to work in order for us to make ends meet. Luckily she only works part-time, but there is still this echo of insecurity and inadequacy telling me I’m not good enough; deriding my manhood and inabilities to be all I’m “supposed” to be.
Lisa doesn’t ever tell me I suck, or that I need a better job, or anything like that. But there are those times when she wants a new pair of jeans, or shoes, or she wants to buy the boys something fun, and the reality of our financial situation is we have to say, “No.” Those moments are the hardest for me — to not be able to easily purchase simple added luxuries.
And they’re exactly that. Luxuries. Extras.
We have a nice house, the boys have a play area in addition to each having their own room, my job offers a health insurance and benefits package, our car is nice, we’ve never gone without food, and I take hot showers anytime I feel like it. I understand that we’re not poor by any means. But there’s this thing in me that wants to give my family more than simply making ends meet.
This isn’t a lament about how I wish I could make more money. It’s about that feeling men get when we don’t measure up. I just want to give my family the best, and it feels like “best” is better than I can offer. So there’s this anguish inside, this feeling of unworthiness, that I can’t offer more than I do.
This is about me. What I can do. How I can be the answer.
Am I worthy of leading this family? They would never make it without me, so… are we gonna make it if I continue to suck at life? How can I keep buying high-waisted skinny jeans and Hot Wheels cars to keep them all happy while also putting 3 meals on the table everyday?
My mind goes to a place that thinks the stuff I buy for loved ones proves my worthiness as a provider. Being the answer to anything, especially finances, makes me feel good. I can puff up my chest, stick out my chin, and say, “Yeah, I bought that. Look at the bounty I have conquered for my house. Aren’t I awesome?”
When I can get over myself and realize my adequacy isn’t determined by my bankroll, I come to a position of partnering with my wife instead. This family isn’t about me, it’s about us. Lisa and I are in this together.
I’m learning more and more in this day and age of vastly two-income households, that it has to be about partnership — shared vision and responsibility between you and your spouse for the family. As the man of the house I need to relinquish my ego and build a home with my wife.
God created Eve from Adam for Adam not so Adam could provide everything for her. It was already provided by God! All they had to do was walk around and grab food off whatever tree. They were taken care of. But Eve was created to be a partner in life with Adam. He was lonely and didn’t want to subdue the earth alone. Eve was to be someone Adam could conquer the world with, not conquer the world for.
Now days we obviously need to work to earn money to provide a home and food for our family. But I don’t think God’s mandate for marriage has changed. He didn’t all of a sudden decide men had a greater burden than women to subdue the earth. We’re in this together and my adequacy can’t be found in a solo adventure.