Another essay up on Catholic Match, this one on man as provider:
Okay, so what constitutes ‘providing’?
Well, in this sense, to provide simply means that a man gives his family what they need to live; not just in the sense of what they need to survive, but a context in which to live and grow as healthy human beings (‘life’ is more than mere biological existence). A man gives of his own to sustain his children’s lives just as he gave of himself to beget them.
This begins before he even has children. When a man marries, he is said to take his wife into his own house. That is, he provides her a new home: a new context in which to live her life. This is, in fact, part of what a marriage is (the question of why it ought to be the man who does this is too intricate to deal with here).
It ought to be clear that this is a wholly different question from what sphere of life that home is formed in. Mr. Darcy welcoming his wife into a fine house richly furnished and heavy with tradition is not for that reason a better provider than Mr. Gargery welcoming his wife into a humble blacksmith’s cottage. The point is that in both cases, a form of life and a context for living it is provided by the man out of what he has to offer.
This is absolutely a necessity of the married state, and a man who is unwilling to provide for his family is as unworthy of marriage as a man who is unwilling to remain faithful to his wife. Rich or poor, a man takes care of his own and provides for them.