A new definition for the male "provider"

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We need to shift our understanding of what it means for a man to “provide” for their family.

Earlier this week I was moving a couch with my buddy Nash.

Just before I met him, I had a conversation with my wife about our financial situation and how we are structuring our accounts.

The conversation shifted as I started to talk about the urge to contribute financially. I talked about the part of my ego that was tied up in my ability to support the family equally with my wife Miki, who is the primary breadwinner in our household.

This is true for 49% of all couples with kids these days and this number is growing rapidly.

We talked about how much of this was conditioned into me by things like the media and popular tropes in society. We also talked about how some of it was just an innate biological desire to protect my family…which shows up for me as financial support in this scenario.

Nash smartly chimed in, “but what does she need you to provide?”

This stopped me for a moment, I had this immediate recognition that I had a desire, maybe even need to provide financially that I was projecting onto the relationship.

I was finding some sense of self worth and validation in my ability to provide financially. More specifically, to contribute equally.

Nash’s questions showed me that “providing” can and should be a number of things. Most importantly, you need to understand your partners needs so that you can truly provide for them.

What does she need to feel provided for…

Maybe it is a certain level of financial contribution…ask her.

Maybe it is a certain amount of present time and emotional support…ask her.

Maybe it is taking on other responsibilities around the house…ask her.

I’m changing my definition of what it means to be a provider.

Our definition of provider should not be limited to financial support…

A provider is someone who is considerate enough to ask their partner what they need and committed to providing that for them.

It could be finances, but it could be a lot more.

This understanding feels more equitable and actionable for the times we’re living in.

Make your agreements known — try this with your partner.

Ask your partner what she needs to feel provided for. Give them enough credit to know what they need.

Even if you think you’re clear, setting clear agreements is always beneficial for long term success in a relationship.

Questions to ask:

  1. What do they expect you to contribute financially

  2. What do they need you to provide emotionally?

  3. What do they need romantically/sexually?

  4. What responsibilities do they need to own for the family/house?

  5. What do they need from you time wise?

When you understand ALL of these things, you can become a TRUE provider.

Miki and I are doing this later today, let me know how it goes for you.

andrew horn