In Malaysia, most people still have the perception that husbands are the main breadwinner for their families while the wives are normally not expected to contribute to the family in terms of money.
In a recent study shared by the Melaka state government, it was said that husbands would feel less stress in a marriage if the wife works but earns less income than they do.
“As the norm, husbands are the sole breadwinner of a family. So being a husband is no easy task.” it wrote in the Facebook post while sharing an infographic from the Public Health Malaysia to support its claim.
The infographic shared by the Melaka state government was originally posted n Public Health Malaysia’s Facebook page in 2019, but it was recently reposted by the Melaka state government before it was removed.
Meanwhile, the post from the Melaka state government had triggered netizens to question the validity of the claim. Among them were politicians like Former Women Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh, who criticised them for sharing the study.
After it went viral, Public Health Malaysia had responded to the matter and clarify that they were not an official government agency and urged the people to read the source of the research.
What did the research said?
The post by Public Health Malaysia was taken from a study available on Sage Journals titled “Spousal Relative Income and Male Psychological Distress”, where researchers investigated the relationship between a wife’s relative income and the husband’s psychological distress level.
What they found was that a husband’s psychological distress is minimum at a point where wives make 40% of total household income and increases to maximum when they’re entirely financially dependent on their wives.
Evidently, whoever did the info graphics didn't actually read the whole paper & it's conclusion. Just like the "logging increases tiger numbers" guy. pic.twitter.com/mSAdRnVzFm— Teh Wee Min (@Tehweemin) February 7, 2022
“These results reflect the stress associated with being the sole breadwinner, and more significantly, with gender norm deviance due to husbands being outearned by their wives.” it said.
Meanwhile, the research also found that couples do not experience this problem at the beginning of their marriage, even if the wife earns more than the husband.
The study also concluded that wives don’t feel the same levels of stress regardless of how much their husbands made for a living.
Nonetheless, many Malaysians do not agree with the research and say that such a patriarchal mindset is outdated in today’s world and should not be taken as a benchmark.
A netizen then pointed out that the Melaka state government had only highlighted the issue but not providing a solution, and asked whether it is suggesting the people to get a divorce.
“Husbands like that are not stressed but are suffering from some self esteem problems,” commented another user.
What do you think about this? Share your thoughts!