When the Wife Brings Home the Bacon

"My husband's a guy," added Carrie. "He picks and chooses what chores he does." Carrie, like several others, said she still does most of the housework, even though she's also the breadwinner.

Independence

"I'm just very, very independent," said Gail. "I can't imagine being dependant. I know how to turn on the dependency and make it look like I'm dependent if I need something, you know, but that's a marriage thing." Several women emphasized the importance of their financial independence.

"If something happened in the relationship or, God forbid, that, you know, he was killed or something like that, I know I could take care of myself," said Lisa.

Pressure, Stress, Worry

"It's a stressor," said Rachel of the pressure in being financially responsible for the family.

"I get a little antsy sometimes, especially not being tenured yet," said Lisa, a secondary school teacher. "You know, the bag lady syndrome. What would happen if I lost my job?"

Pressure on Women Different From Pressure on Men

Meisenbach pointed out in one of the interviews that generations of men have felt that same pressure, so is it any different for a woman?

"Definitely," said Emma. "Because there's not that guilt that's added on by your friends that go, 'Oh, you're working, well, what are you going to do about the baby?'"

Elaine noted that leaving the husband at home with the kids can lead to "the mommy guilt complex."

And, of course, she also has to keep her mind on the job.

"It's an immense amount of pressure on me to be a very high performer at work so that I can, with 100 percent certainty, maintain either my employment here or my employability at the same level in another organization," said Diana, a human resources consultant. "It's an immense amount of pressure ... and it dissuades me from going out and finding a job that probably would suit my passions more because my passion lies in areas that don't pay.

Valuing Partners' Contributions

The women clearly struggle to convince their husbands that they contribute much, even if it isn't monetary.

Jan said that when her husband complains that he's not doing enough, just taking care of the homestead, she reminds him of her own domestic shortcomings.

"'Are you kidding me,'" she told him. "I regularly grew mold on my dishes in the sink. I've thrown away a lotta dishes 'cause I couldn't even stand to clean them."

Guilt

Emma probably spoke for many when she said:

"I've just felt this overwhelming sense of guilt like, am I less of a mother, am I less of a woman, less of a wife for wanting to pursue this career and, you know, wanting to have this family? Am I selfish for wanting to have this?"

These are upper middle-class breadwinners, seemingly doing well, but conflicted, nonetheless. But they are less likely than many others to worry about the bottom line.

"It's not, is there going to be food on the table?" Meisenbach said.

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