Advice to Employers: Please Create Policies Assuming All Worker Are Single

Me and my daughter Motherhood is harder than it needs to be. This is partially because of the inexcusable work/life policies in the U.S., but also because of our own outsized expectations. We are living in an age when the ideal mom is a mash-up between the helicopter mom, the corporate exec, and the earth mama — and there's just not enough high-efficiency, low-emissions biofuel to go around.  –Elissa Strauss,  Why I don't want 'mom friends' We just celebrated "Mother's Day" and honored mothers and other women who help make the world and our families a better place. Every year at this time, I think about what mothers really need to be successful and independent. I say, "independent" because developing policies and legislation that are premised on the notion that all working moms have supportive families and/or spouses is not in the best interest of working moms. Instead, Corporate America and Congress should develop policies and legislation that p

Equity does not exist in households where women make more!

Mom with kids on vacation

"Female breadwinners face a much higher risk for burnout, infidelity, and divorce." 
When She Makes More,
 Farnoosh Torabi
Prince is one of my favorite artists. And, I think that it is genius that the beginning of his famous song, "Let's go crazy" mimics a marriage ceremony. It makes you wonder whether he was suggesting that marriage itself was a path to insanity. If you have forgotten the beginning, here you go, "Dearly beloved, We are gathered here today, To get through this thing called "life" Electric word, life, It means forever and that's a mighty long time, But I'm here to tell you There's something else..." He writes the afterworld in the blank. However, a recent study suggests that "marriage" could be inserted in its place, especially marriage for high earning women. 

Here's the headline, "Even "breadwinner" wives do more housework than husbands". Indeed, the study indicates that despite the career advancements made by women, marriages remain profoundly unbalanced when it comes to childcare and housework.

The article indicates that the consequences of this inequity is this:
"Such divisions can mean that many women may not be able to achieve their earnings potential, harming not only their individual but their family's financial outlook, she added. But it also hurts husbands, who may not develop the social and emotional ties to their families that lead to healthy outcomes."

I think that the interviewers interviewed a lot of polite people, It seems to me that the initial and most pervasive consequence is unadulterated anger--a slow seething rage--that the wife harbors against the husband because day after day she is drowning under the weight of the inequity. 

1.    Living an inequitable life makes for a stressful marriage. 

Equity is a concept grounded in fairness and justice. Under these circumstances where the wife is the primary breadwinner, the concept of equity relates to what is done in the household, who does it, who manages it, and how the spouses each feel about it.

When I was interviewed on a TV show a while ago, I pointed out that woman marched for economic equality--the right to work in whatever field they chose. However, no man ever marched to do more laundry or childcare. duties. So, there is a disconnect at the core of these relationships. In households where husbands out earn their wives, there tends to be role clarity. He earns the money and gets the support to earn that money from a wife who is grateful for the lifestyle his money provides. The higher paycheck also tends to feed his ego and societal expectations.

In households where the wife earns more, roles can become blurry to the point of being unrecognizable. The higher earning wife engages in this exercise of mental gymnastics whereby she may be tempted tot dim her light, under celebrate her accomplishments, and pine over how to protect her husband's ego when his financial contributions fail to match his own expectations of what a husband should provide.

This lack of alignment can crumble the foundation of even a good marriage and creates an unsustainable model.

It is an unsustainable model because it requires too much from the wife. As the article indicates, in an effort to protect his ego, she often takes on the responsibilities of running the household, "women's work". And, she has to take on the mental load and financial responsibility associated with providing for the family. However, she doesn't get the "supportive wife" most men in her position get. Instead, she often gets a resentful husband who rebels by failing to embrace the supportive tasks that could reduce his wife's stress.  And since he resents her for providing what the family needs, it can be a recipe for disaster.

2.    Living an inequitable life can destroy relationships.

What is described in this article, and what too many high earning wives experience, is incomprehensible bullshit.

No human enters a relationship with the expectation of carrying another adult and the family's financial sustainability on her back while changing diapers, drying tears and doing car pool. Living an inequitable life destroys confidence in the other spouse, erodes trust and stifles romance. For men who are experiencing marital issues and are in this situation, the road to marital happiness is a well paved roadmap--adopt a more equitable model. Make a list of the household duties and see whether you or your wife are doing more of the mundane yet mandatory tasks required to make the family work. If she is doing more of those tasks and is carrying the financial load of the family, resentment is brewing...

Sure, there may be other marital issues to deal with. However, if your wife is experiencing unadulterated,  slow seething rage, one of two things will happen. She will be in constant conflict with you. Or. she will swallow her bitterness until she chokes on it.

That resentment can consume the entire relationship and can defeat even the most committed of spouses. Although that truth seems fatalistic, it is not. There is a way to salvage the relationship and make it good again--pursue marital happiness by acknowledging the reality you are both experiencing instead of resisting it and create a model that works for both spouses. Failing to do that will likely result in the marriage collapsing under unmet expectations and the bitterness that comes with believing that you are living a life that you did not sign up for.  Ironically, both spouses suffer from that.

If you are living in a marriage where the wife earns more, how have you preserved it when your marriage doesn't follow traditional roles?

Related Articles