Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Men and money – why not earning can take an extra toll on men

Losing your job or taking time out of a career to return to studies / undertake parental duties has massive financial implications for us all. However for men – who are still often perceived as the main breadwinner and provider – the stress can be considerable and really take its toll on an individual’s mental health.

A study in 2016 found that men are twice as likely to feel responsible for the finances in their family or relationship as women. Nearly a third of all men, feel the financial burden in a relationship and believe they are responsible for financial matters, compared to just 14% of women.

This could be for a number of reasons, not least the gender stereotypes we are all exposed to from childhood, or the fact that many of the highest earning jobs are traditionally regarded as being male roles. Either way, when a man is no longer able to bring money into his household for whatever reason, it can impact on his mental wellbeing to a greater extent than for his female counterparts. 

There are lots of practicalities that need to be addressed when you’re not earning, such as going back to basics. Most of us spend what we earn. We earn more, our standard of living increases. Conversely, when our earnings dip, a quick and simple review of our outgoings often shows us that we don’t actually need to maintain our former standard of living and that we can in fact, live well for less. This realisation in itself can help to relieve the financial burden of not earning.

As can reflecting on why you’re finding it so hard to accept yourself as a non-earner. It can be helpful to explore why not earning plays so heavily on your psyche. Often, even if their partner is earning, some men still feel bereft when unable to provide for their family. This points to other issues, not merely a financial difficulty. Working with a counsellor can help you scratch beneath the surface and uncover the true reasons behind your need to be the breadwinner.

This Huffington Post article contains more practical advice about reviewing your finances, it also highlights the importance of spousal support and encouraging men to explore new hobbies and interests when out of work.

Finding something productive to do when you’re out of work serves three purposes. Firstly, it keeps your mind active and provides a constructive distraction from the job hunting/studying or care giving. Secondly, it helps you to learn new skills – or keep the skills that you already have sharp. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – it enables you to add a value to the contribution you make to society that does not relate to money. Often we judge our own success by the amount of money we earn when we are really much more than that. Often it takes a period of non-earning to help us re-evaluate our own sense of self-worth.

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