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Labor of love: Some wives forced to share salaries in Saudi Arabia

The men claim that they have the right to take part of their wives’ salaries every month and use it to spend on everyday expenditures

Published: Updated:

Many married Saudi women have voiced concern that their husbands force them to share their salaries with them.

The men claim that they have the right to take part of their wives’ salaries every month and use it to spend on everyday household expenditures but women have traditionally been given the choice to spend whatever they earn as they want.

While many married Saudi women are willing to chip in when necessary, they say the choice should ultimately be theirs and men should not force them to do so, Al-Riyadh daily reports.

As more and more women are joining the work force, numerous opportunities have opened up for them. Their traditional roles as housewives have also changed, making them financially independent.

For an increasing number of Saudi women, full-time motherhood is no longer the only job they have. In some cases, women make more money than their husbands, which is why it is important that married couples set the record straight right from the beginning and set goals for themselves and work towards achieving them.

Mai Al-Ali, a government employee, said every working woman is entitled to keep whatever she earns. It is the husband who should bear the expenses of running the household.

“A wife can help her husband financially in some cases. For example, when there’s an emergency financial situation.

The most important thing is he shouldn’t force her to give up her salary,” Al-Ali said.

She narrated several stories involving working women whose husbands make them share part of their salaries to help run the household.

“Some husbands force their wives to apply for loans and they take the loans for themselves, leaving the women the responsibility of paying off the loans.

This is unacceptable and puts a wife thorough a lot of pressure,” she said. Abeer Al-Nekhaish, a government employee, called for setting limits according to the Shariah by which a husband can ask his wife to give him a part of her monthly salary to help run the household.

“If a wife wants to willingly help her husband bear the daily expenses of their family as a way to get closer to Allah and ask for His forgiveness, she can do that if her husband really needs it.

It is wrong, however, for a husband to control his wife and make give him her salary,” she said.

Awatif Al-Shammary, private-sector employee, said she helps her husband financially as much as she can and feels that it is her duty to do so.

However, she said many husbands do not appreciate the sacrifices their wives make and do not stand by their wives during difficult times.

Layla Al-Juhani, meanwhile, said a husband and wife should agree on this thorny issue right at the outset. A wife’s salary is her own right; she works hard for it.

Abdulaziz Al-Shayhan said a working woman should keep her salary to herself and should not give it in whole or part to her husband.

“If there is a need for her to chip in, she should talk with her husband and agree on how much she should pay toward household expenses.

It’s essential for a husband and wife to help one another. If a wife earns a decent salary and so does her husband, there is no need to help him.

But if the husband’s salary is low while hers is higher, they should talk about how they can help each other,” Al-Shayhan said.

Citizen Abu Majed Al-Shammary believes husbands who make their wives pay to run the household are making their wives feel helpless and oppressed.

“Such husbands always cause trouble when their wives protest or refuse to give them any money. The result is constant marital problems the costs of which will be paid by their innocent children,” he said.

Fahd Al-Amir, head of guidance and counseling unit, Wifaq Society, agreed that many working wives have problems with their husbands over how salaries should be divided.

“Each and every working wife is entitled to her salary. A family who has problems over a wife’s salary is unstable.

My advice to husbands is to fear Allah and never take part or all of their wives’ salaries. It’s better for husbands to be the sole breadwinner as this will increase the stability of a family,” Al-Amir said.

Dr. Farhan Al-Eneizi, psychology professor, said a wife should help her husband financially and never burden him with too many responsibilities.

“If a wife does not help her husband in covering household expenses, the husband will view her as a wife who cannot fulfill her household duties because of work.

Problems will emerge and may develop into constant quarrels over the issue. The end result may even be divorce,” he said.

A version of this article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on February 21, 2015.