Mr. Khumalo had become tired of his marriage because he felt his wife no longer respects him. She had always been a serial entrepreneur but he never really allowed her work because he was working with a reputable bank in Pretoria. He went to work while he insisted she stayed at home to take care of the children which did not go down well with her but had to obey him just to keep her marriage. But even while at home her restless spirit managed to set up an online shop and she built a delivery system that required someone else to do the leg work for her and started earning funds that her husband was not aware of.
Interestingly, he had bought a number of items on his wife’s online shop without knowing she was the owner of the shop and had bragged about the efficiency of the owners of that online shop to his wife.
Somehow he lost his job in the summer of 2014 and things went bad for him financially. All his efforts to provide proved abortive and that was when he sat to have a talk with his wife on the need for both of them to find a way to meet their needs. She pleaded with him to allow her step into the city to strike some deals. He reluctantly allowed her not knowing that she was already making good money from her online shop. In no time she started bringing in good money and broke the news to him that she was the owner of the popular online shop that many people in the Southern African countries placed their orders from.
She became the provider and that became a major issue for him because the roles had been reversed and unlike before where he was the one dolling out the funds she was the one doing the disbursements and that really hurt his ego. In no time he started hanging out at the bar with drunks and call girls because his ego was bruised and read negative meanings to what his wife was doing. He sent a mail to me in 2016 after listening to one of my sessions online and asked if it was right for a women to be the breadwinner of a family because he feels it would make her disrespect her husband?
In family systems engineering we have defined marriage as the coming together of a man and a women from two different nations to create a new nation whose culture will promote the best interest of every citizen and give our world rest. We see the family as a nation and a couple as a team in family systems engineering and that is why we don’t really believe in the breadwinner paradigm to marriage because we believe it violates the tenets of team and nation building.
In our approach to family finance we believe that every citizen that is mentally fit to work should be allowed to work and earn honest income for the family. We feel that no human being must be denied of his/her rights to add value to the society and earn from the value rendered. We believe this does three major things;
1.     Promotes the dignity of persons – Work is an expression of the essence of our humanity and not just what we do to feed ourselves. A human being should feel less than a human being when he/she can’t contribute anything to the society. The big question we often ask is what would have happened had she not gotten married? We often assume everyone would be married and that is why we have zoned house keeping and home building to the constituency of a woman and that has come with the assumption that the man is created to be richer than his wife. But one question we may never get to answer is how much of a bread winner can a man be if he marries the daughter of Bill Gates and he makes his daughter the heir apparent to his wealth?
Would we still call that husband the bread winner?
There is something that happens to the esteem of a human being who has the capacity to contribute and add incredible value when that is stifled and restricted simply because she married a man. I honestly believe that is one of the reasons for the high rate of depression among wives. Or how would you feel if you have a PHD before to a husband? The person who wields economic power can actually make the lives of everyone else miserable if care is not taken.
Work promotes the dignity of persons and in family systems engineering we believe the potential of every citizen must be allowed to thrive because there is no guarantee that a child will turn out right if the mother spends 100% of her time with the child. Parenting is a role that requires specific skill set and you can’t assume you have it when you have not mastered it and for the record a system can be built to raise your kids and still contribute your quote to the development of our world. No woman or man’s potential must be stifled because of marriage.
2.     It increases our internally generated revenue as a family – If the husband is the only one working and his entire income is 10000 USD monthly while their monthly expenses as a family is 9000 USD it simply means what they have to create a future and take advantage of investment opportunities is just 1000USD but imagine if the wife also earns 5000USD monthly from her job or business? It means what they have to create a future rises to 6000USD and that makes their journey towards financial freedom faster. Often times the standard of living for a family drops when the breadwinner dies because the woman has not been groomed on how to earn so she has to start life afresh but what happens if she has already mastered how to earn?
3.     It boosts the economy of a nation – When a couple earns they can also contribute to the growth and development of a nation through taxation. And if they live in a sane nation with a responsible government that increases the government’s ability to provide more infrastructures and reduce crime rate.
……….rethinking Breadwinner – A better approach
Unknown to many breadwinner has not always been the original concept contrary to what many have taught over the years. It was a circumstantial paradigm that was developed to promote family life but that was based on the assumption that the woman is best suited to handle the kids while the man is best suited to bring in money. While that may not be totally bad it fails to promote the individual potentials because we have seen cases where the man is actually the best person to raise the children while the wife is best with money making because of her make up as a serial entrepreneur. I believe we have lost a generation of women to home making whose strongest traits of invention or business development was sacrificed and we have put unnecessary burden on men whose best expression may actually have been in raising children and working from home.
The problem of the breadwinner approach is that it assumes that every family practice the same system of governance where the man is stronger, more intelligent and more hard working. But haven’t you seen men marry more intelligent women? Or how do you explain the fact that some men now have their wives as the head of a conglomerate?
Family systems engineering offers a better approach to the breadwinner syndrome because while it may not be totally bad it has created a form of competition where people struggle to win the bread and tear their love apart because the one who holds the bread controls the mood of the family so a woman who feels her interest was not protected by the man when he was in charge of the bread grows to retaliate when the script is flipped and she now controls the bread. In some cases even when she is still submissive the man feels disrespected when in actual fact it is his insecurity that is troubling him.
I think a lot of generalizations have been taught over the years that we may need to rethink and question all over again.
What is the Family Systems Engineering recommendation?
1.     Family as a nation of dream teams – We believe if we flip the script and change promote couples as teams as against individuals we will come together and create a family vision, values and systems that promote the best interest of all and where everyone work together to create a nation that is desirable for everyone’s potentials to find expression. This paradigm states eliminates star players instead it promotes the team and that is why we often say that ‘Star players don’t win or lose matches; teams do’. What this does is that it makes us see whatever we do for or against ourselves as to the team and not my spouse. So for example if I fail to clean our space because I feel it is a woman’s responsible our team is perceived as dirty and not my wife.
2.     Income as internally generated revenue that boosts our family economy – The bread winner syndrome promotes the concept of resource control which means the one who generates the resources must control it even when he/she doesn’t have the capacity to multiply the income and create a future where the passive income from the nation’s assets can take care of her living expenses. We believe whatever a couple makes must be perceived as our collective internally generated revenue. That way everyone develops a sense of belonging and responsibility knowing fully well that we are all contributing something to the development of our family. This concept goes further to say that the family must have an economic plan that seeks to be financially free within a stipulated number of years(financial freedom is that state where what you earn passively can take care of your living expenses).
The question we often ask at the moment is ‘Can your family economy survive a recession’?   When we all deploy our God given abilities to add value to the family economy we will create a better future faster and have the health to enjoy the wealth as against looking for how to pay our bills at age 60 still looking for another job. However we say that the best person in the team with money management must be our minister in charge of the economy and there must be full disclosure of whatever is earned and every disbursement must be budget based. Here it would no longer matter who brings in the highest amount and that person may not be in charge of the management of funds because whatever comes in is now the internally generated revenue of the economy even though we will make a budget based robust provision to take care of the workforce of our family economy.
3.     Celebrate your uniqueness – The family systems engineering approach believes that you must first decipher the uniqueness of your family and celebrate it as against box yourself into the corner of generalizations based on what you have read or people have taught over the years. If your husband is the one that is better with children and prefers to work from home there is no rule that says a woman must stay at home. These rules were created by human beings and if it doesn’t work for your family why insist on it?
You are different and your spouse is different and whatever theory or paradigm that doesn’t promote your best interest must go no matter how long it has been in existence. Where competition begins to give way to co-operation in your family you might want to pause and check what is responsible for it and flip the script so that you can promote your best interest and preserve what you both feel for each other.
The bread winner syndrome was an invention not a law that is cast in stone and the beauty of it is that we can question it and see if it still serves our best interest in this age and time. If it doesn’t there is nothing that stops us from embracing something else that promotes the dignity of our persons, maximizes our potentials and promotes the best interest of our family economy. I believe if we embrace this new approach it will ease the burden on our men and also improves the creativity of our women and ultimately eliminates stress and depression while it fosters co-operation and team work.
There is no bread to be won because both husband and wife are no longer working to win the bread but to build a developed economy that can survive any form of situation or recession.
Isn’t that a better pursuit?
I honour you.
Praise Fowowe
Trainer- Family systems engineering certification

April 17, 2017


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