Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Dog That Caught the Car

We've worked hard all our lives to justify our feminist ideals. We chose academic degrees in medicine, law, engineering, and business and we studied hard. Upon graduation we competed for the best opportunities in the field and won the positions. Once there we put in extra hours earning the respect of our supervisors and peers.

In a word, we have arrived.

And like the proverbial dog that caught the car, we are not quite sure what to do with our hard earned success. Because our husbands did not arrive with us. They have not enjoyed the same career success. On the contrary, they are embarrassing failures.

No problem. We're doing well enough for the both of us. Our relative success only makes us prouder of our achievements.

But that is a problem. Because that's not what we signed up for when we married. Rather than icing on the cake, it has become a fly in the soup.

And it's not just the embarrassment of having to explain to family, friends, and colleagues what it is our husbands do or, rather, don't do. We feel overwhelmed by the burden of being both breadwinner and homemaker.

If our husbands had been as successful as us then we could have hired maids to keep the home and nannies to care for the children while we each pursued our successful careers.

But now we realize that will never happen.

And, as if to add insult to injury, our husbands are equally unhappy with the situation. They feel emasculated by their failure to be the primary breadwinner in the family. Sure, they willingly allowed us to pursue our careers but always with the expectation that ours would be a supplementary income and that keeping the home would remain our responsibility.

This situation breeds resentment from both the wife and the husband each directed at the other and at the situation in which they now find themselves. Patience runs short, affection wanes, libidos atrophy, empathy dies.

It's no wonder, then, that marriages where the wife is the primary breadwinner are 40% more likely to end in divorce.

But divorce is not the answer.

Rather, we must adapt our marriages to our unexpected, perhaps even unwelcome, status as the primary or sole breadwinner in the family.

And in order to adapt our marriages we must first adapt ourselves beginning with the recognition and resolution of our conflicting desires.

We love being successful in our careers. We are rightfully proud the fact that women who work hard can outearn men, such as our husbands, in the workplace. We enjoy the self respect and adulation that comes from realizing our dreams.

But we also dreamed of marriage to a husband who would provide for us and the family as our fathers did. We can't help but feel disgusted with his failure to measure up to our expectations.

We bested our husbands in the workplace and now we resent our own success. We caught the car and don't know what to do with it.

We must resolve these conflicting desires for our own peace of mind and for the sake of our marriage. And the best place to begin is by bravely confronting reality: For whatever reason, we are now the primary breadwinner in the family. No amount of nagging our husbands is going to propel him ahead of us, even if we wanted that, which maybe we don't.

Instead, let us savor our success and make peace with our husbands on new terms. They may not be what we hoped for but that does not make them useless or unworthy of our love and respect.

The solution, of course, is staring us in the face. We can't do it all and we don't need to do it all. We are not giving up our role as breadwinner so we must look to delegate our homemaking responsibilities. Not to a maid or nanny but to our otherwise useless husbands.

And that, in turn, means seizing the reigns of power at home. Because men do not naturally gravitate to doing housework and caring for children. We must assert our rightful authority at home and gently and lovingly guide our husbands into a subordinate role as homemaker, supporting the family through their contribution of domestic labor.

We have arrived at the wife led marriage.


  1. This post really bothered me. Maybe it was in the way that it was written but the premise of the post is based on the word 'success'. Success as written here is defined as one's level of earning. So because a wife earns X more than her husband that deems him as unworthy, disgusting, embarrassing to family and friends and a primary source of discontentment because he didn't end up as "a husband who would provide for us and the family as our fathers did".

    I'm sure you are speaking to some but what about all of the women who want to be the head of the household who don't out-earn their husbands, or choose to stay home and raise a family instead of work, or who barely out-earn their husband, or who earn more but don't have the prestige he has via the public nature of his job?
    Is success really all about how much money one makes? And if that is the case, are those women who are neurosurgeons more valuable and worthy as a person than a female primary care physician? By tying success to $$ there is an implicit failure by all who don't meet the standard of the highest paying female. And if success is tied to out-earning one's spouse it again is tied to his earnings rather than some specific standard.
    Starting a WLM based on the above circumstances seems far less than ideal. Shouldn't a wife be valued because of who she is, rather than the letters that come after her name? Isn't intrinsic value so much more important to one's value than the labels the world puts on you? A female may be the attorney making much more than the auto-mechanic but when the transmission fails, whose occupation has more value? Hmmm :)

    Love your post - and am so glad you have written but this one isn't sitting so well with me - and I'm the primary earner in my family and although I am, I do not look at my wife with disgust, or am embarrassed to tell my family how little she earns in comparison to me. Rather, I value her as my Mistress and as he head of our home. I kneel before her daily and confess my submission and acknowledge her leadership. I fulfill the tasks she has told me I must do and none of this has anything to do with how much money either of us make in our respective jobs.

    Would love to hear your thoughts.... I need to end now. My wife just gave me an order I must attend to. :)

    1. I can well understand why this would rub many men the wrong way, perhaps even some women. But while this situation is specific to some marriages (such as mine), and not to every marriage, still, it represents one of the most challenging marital situations, one that is most likely to end in divorce if not correctly resolved.

      To some extent, I am channeling my "inner bitch" here but these sentiments are not extreme for those women who find themselves in these circumstances. I really did think these thoughts two decades ago when I found myself the primary breadwinner and I know for a fact that there are many other women out there who are contemplating divorce for the same reasons.

      It is absolutely true, however, that success can be measured in many different ways and that is, ultimately, the point of this post. As you can learn from my book, after my initial frustration with my husband we restructured our marriage and he became a my househusband.

      You should never read my posts as applying to every conceivable situation. Not every husband should be a homemaker and not every marriage should be wife led.

    2. From my perspective you are missing the point of this post, and getting hung up on things you think were implied. There is an excellent point of observation here with recent feminist achievements in the workplace that is worth examining. The disgust and resentment of our own success doesn't come merely from besting men financially, but because nothing automatically changes even after that happens. After the dog catches the car, then what? Women are seemingly expected to carry it all? They are left expecting to be breadwinners and homemakers. This is a big reason why divorce rates increase when the woman becomes the primary breadwinner.

      What I believe Lady Misato is hoping to encourage, is that as women achieve their different successes, it becomes imperative that adjustments in the home take place. As the woman learns to delegate homemaking responsibilities the marriage can avoid unnecessary resentments and frustrations.

      One thing I have learned while achieving success in the workplace, is that people tend to avoid giving credit where it is due, and making appropriate adjustments. Whatever company I work for tends to avoid coming to me and saying, 'We've decided to give you the more money you deserve.' Instead I have had to learn to even go beyond just asking, and instead demand what I deserve. Once I become a valued asset in my company, I use that leverage to make them adjust. In the home it tends to work the same. Our husbands may avoid coming to us and saying, 'I want to start taking on more of the housework now that you are doing so well with your career.' So we need to learn to leverage our feminine power and influence to make the needed changes in our homes take place.

      However, certainly as you have obviously learned, there are plenty of other reasons men should be making these adjustments outside of financial success. On that point, I could not agree more.

    3. Thank you, Alannah, that is exactly right.

  2. Fumika's post has a lot of merit even if on the harsh side.

    In my CPA firm, women are just dominating mid level management in large #s and the firm will be run by women within 15 years. And I think that phenomenon is happening all across the country. Many of these women will be married to lower earning husbands. Women just seem to have the "whole package" that many men don't have.

    Pay closer attention to what you see, read and hear. For example, look at TV commercials. More and more are directed at women as the primary decision maker. The message often portrays women as poised/sharp with men as bumbling/ill equipped. The confidence of women is just soaring off the charts.

    So in order to remain content in marriage, we men have to adjust or our wives will discard us. It is considerable pressure to be a high achieving high earning female (I'm married to one). If we can't measure up financially, we have to be the support spouse meaning do everything possible to make her life easier. Unless the couple hires out help, the husband has to do the majority (or all) of the housework. The husband has to do errands for his wife. The husband has to be the one to be more flexible to take the kids to school/practice/etc. And if kids are involved, he has to make sure that she's valued as a mom. While we can excel as househusbands if needed, we can't replace being a mom and we need to take away all of the mundane tasks of life so she can focus on being a mom and a breadwinner.

    And if we don't, there will be major resentment from our wives. We all know that if she's not happy, we won't be happy. I'll bet you that the next generation of women won't hesitate to accept a support spouse and may well expect it. So Fumika is not off-base in her overall assessment.

    I would love to fast forward thirty years or so to read/study the state of marriage. I suspect she's ruled the home for some time/generations. Now let's assume she rules the workplace. I only see three scenarios. Men try desperately to catch up in education and then the workplace. Women decide they're better off being single. Or third, men swallow their pride and accept a role as the second spouse. Women are going to be in the drivers seat, just like in the commercials that I've been seeing on TV. The women are not driving alone either as their husbands are in the passenger seat (and kids in the back)! She clearly is in control and in charge and he face/smile shows it.

    Fumika says that we've arrived at the Wife Led Marriage. I'm in one of those and I know my role - my wife comes first and she doesn't need to command it. I do all of the housecleaning, the laundry, the grocery shopping and her errands. We've been married for thirty two years and we're pretty happy. It was hard for her to get used to me doing all of this but she would never change it and now she expects it. I'm ahead of my time. The # of househusbands are going to skyrocket unless the education lightbulb goes on for men.

    A female breadwinner majority in marriage - could it really be the new normal in thirty years? I think it's possible. Will the history books say that "It's a woman's world".

    I love my wife and I'm not intimidated by her success. In fact, my role as a househusband of sorts has contributed to her success. I sort of have two jobs and one is to work for her. She knows that she's the boss and so do I. When you're on the same page, a wife led marriage can be a very happy marriage.

  3. Thank you for this insight into your relationship, Ms. Misato. I have read this blog for some time. So far in my life I've fought against my submissive urges and the desire to be the supportive and subordinate partner, because of the fear that a woman would be, at best, tolerant of it. It's never felt like an option to me to end up in that "dream" role if my partner didn't prefer and want me there -- not as a compromise or as a fix to a difficult situation. In many ways, your post is a good anecdotal case for why I feel right to fight that side of myself and work past it. Life is a rough beast and the last thing that I would ever want is to put a wife or a girlfriend in the position of resenting her power and responsibility.

  4. A brilliant and insightful post. It captures, in a nutshell, the position that my wife and I found ourselves in, and one that seems likely to become the norm as we transition into a female focused economy.

    She's been incredibly succesful in her career as a marketing executive, really going from strength to strength, whilst I've struggled to earn a regular wage as a freelance illustrator. I've tried, but it's been very tough for the past 6 years or so.

    But really, I can't complain, and my wife earns enough that we live comfortably, and want for nothing...but after a rough patch, we both realised that things had to change. We just couldn't go on pretending that our relationship dynamic was ever going to be what we thought it would be when we got married. Then I stumbled upon FLR, and slowly got up the courage to introduce my wife to it - and truly, we've never looked back, and our marriage and sex life are incredible. Stronger than ever before. In fact, we often joke that we have the stereotypically perfect, 1950's  marriage, 'though with the gender roles reversed, of course!

    We are a team. My wife's role in our relationship is provider, boss, head of the household, teacher, and seductress. My role in turn, is to obey her unquestioningly, take care of the domestic duties, cooking, cleaning, laundry, as well as dedicating myself to her pleasure and comfort when she gets home from a hard day in the office.

    And the benefits of serving and pleasing her cannot be overstated! ;)

  5. Ironically, it is Feminism itself that is destroying the "wife-led marriage" since feminism by its very nature fails to recognize the biological differences between men's and women's needs.

    This site suggests that the masculine and feminine roles are very important to marriage, including a wife-led one (a remarkably un-feminist claim). In fact, the author recommends in cases where the man has lost his sense of masculinity that he take martial arts classes to regain his masculine sense (see the "Protect Your Knight" article).

    I don't think this approach will be adequate for most couples where the man is a "house husband" though because the "Protector" role has become obsolete in contemporary culture anyway. Sure, we can pretend in the developed world that husbands are going to ride to the rescue of their wives, guns a'blazing (and many would be willing to), but this is just not likely to happen. Think about it ladies, if you get into a situation where you're in serious danger or being attacked, will you call your husband or the police? Hmm? For better or worse, modern government has usurped the Protector role from husbands, making it a secondary aspect of masculinity.

    That leaves the "Provider" role as his primary one, which men, until recently have overwhelmingly assumed. A bread-winning husband can dominate the world outside and then come home to be entrapped by the beauty and feminine charms of his wife. She can control him in a very real sense with the unique powers of her sexuality, but they both know that though he's unable to resist her, he's *her* strong man. Basically, this is the Queen/Knight dynamic that this site promotes and many married people like, and it is balanced (and traditional, I would argue).

    Sadly, a "house husband" is neither the Protector nor the Provider of his emancipated bread-winning wife, so he simply will not be considered masculine by her or by anyone else. The studies mentioned on this site confirm that this new, feminist dynamic is not only unacceptable to most husbands, it is unacceptable to most wives. Women, traditional and feminist, dislike un-masculine men despite feminist rhetoric. Period. Think about it slowly: the author of one of the Internet's top site about wife-led marriage is lamenting that her husband isn't financially leading. Why not just admit that Feminism's role-reversals are screwing up marriage? "Never!!! Feminism has to be good no matter what the results say!"

    ...But fortunately, feminism HAS left a sexual relationship option for men and women which does not depend on traditional gender roles at all. There is no need here for the romantic, traditional Queen/Knight dynamic in this sexual arrangement. It's called the Mistress/slave relationship.

    In fact, it's the truest kind of "Female-led relationship" because the woman dominates everything, so here the man has absolutely no need to be masculine in the first place. He doesn't need to have any pride in being his woman's Protector and Provider because his mistress strips him of it, and she doesn't need to mind if he is below her in all ways because she can take other lovers beside him.

    While I have my own doubts about the viability of marriage based upon the Mistress/slave dynamic, you as a feminist woman can be certain that there are legions of men ready and willing to be your slaves. Don't you want that?

    1. The wife led marriage cannot be simply the reverse of a husband led marriage for all the reasons you cite, and more. That is why it require careful explanation. The Mistress/slave model is popular in porn literature but it is not sustainable for complex reasons. The Queen/knight model, by contrast, is not only sustainable, it is amply exemplified in history. It is, in short, a rediscovery, not a new thing.

    2. 'The Queen/knight model, by contrast, is not only sustainable, it is amply exemplified in history. It is, in short, a rediscovery, not a new thing.'

      Just ask Ruskin.
      He said around 1865...

      '....… Nay, if you can suppose this, take lastly the evidence of facts, given by the human heart itself. In all Christian ages which have been remarkable for their purity or progress, there has been absolute yielding of obedient devotion, by the lover, to his mistress. I say OBEDIENT;—not merely enthusiastic and worshipping in imagination, but entirely subject, receiving from the beloved woman, however young, not only the encouragement, the praise, and the reward of all toil, but, so far as any choice is open, or any question difficult of decision, the DIRECTION of all toil. That chivalry, to the abuse and dishonour of which are attributable primarily whatever is cruel in war, unjust in peace, or corrupt and ignoble in domestic relations; and to the original purity and power of which we owe the defence alike of faith, of law, and of love; that chivalry, I say, in its very first conception of honourable life, assumes the subjection of the young knight to the command— should it even be the command in caprice—of his lady. It assumes this, because its masters knew that the first and necessary impulse of every truly taught and knightly heart is this of blind service to its lady: that where that true faith and captivity are not, all wayward and wicked passion must be; and that in this rapturous obedience to the single love of his youth, is the sanctification of all man’s strength, and the continuance of all his purposes. And this, not because such obedience would be safe, or honourable, were it ever rendered to the unworthy; but because it ought to be impossible for every noble youth—it IS impossible for every one rightly trained—to love any one whose gentle counsel he cannot trust, or whose prayerful command he can hesitate to obey.'

      Sesame and Lilies. Lecture II.—Lilies: Of Queens’ Gardens

      John Ruskin

  6. How can you call your husband an "embarrassing failure" and yet you claim to think of him as a "proud knight"? The gulf between those two is a mile wide. It sounds like you really have a lot of unresolved hatred toward your husband because his career failed 20 years ago.

    1. Yes, the tension is certainly there and had I not resolved as I did the frustration would certainly have gone unresolved, or more likely, have ended in divorce. My purpose in sharing this is to alert other wives both to the danger and to the solution. My husband is now my proud knight.

  7. I’m a female who stays home with her children as well as a now retired RN. This is a load of crap. Where is the love and respect for each other. You are talking about people as if their value depends on their submission. I thank the Lord for my strong masculine husband and I thank the Lord for my own feminine nature. I have nothing to prove bc my value was placed in me at birth.

    1. I appreciate your point, this was a very harshly worded post, by design. However, I don't think you appreciate the difficulty that some women find themselves in when they outperform their husbands in the workplace. The sentiments expressed are very real and quite common.

      Adjusting roles in the marriage is a necessary step toward restoring and maintaining love and respect in the marriage. The alternative, the wife carrying both the financial and domestic load, is beyond unrealistic.

      As I've noted in other blog posts, when wives outearn their husbands this setps up a dangerously destabilizing dynamic into the marriage. Culture has simply not kept pace.

    2. Hello proud F.H.M.

      There are no studies that refute the basic claims in the brief essay above.
      There are instead a raft of studies that support it.

      This is apposite....

      'A study in the Harvard Business Review published Tuesday showed that women who earn more than their husbands commonly suffer from “status leakage,”

      “......when wives believe that the statuses they worked so hard to achieve at work are at risk because of their husbands’ lower job status, they could experience a different kind of status spillover, which would include feeling embarrassed by or resentful of their spouses’ lower job status, and fearing that their status could be compromised by that of their husbands,” the study explains.'

      ...and further....

      'Some new data about divorce and non-marital breakups contains an unexpected finding, and I think it underscores the fact that we're in the midst of an ongoing evolution in what people want and seek in their romantic relationships.'

      'How to explain? I find that these data are consistent with what I and others have seen clinically.... it’s often the woman who expresses more overt conflict and dissatisfaction about the state of the marriage.'

      The second link may interest you, as it compares married to non-married women's levels of satisfaction. This female dissatisfaction only develops after marriage itself. Not before.

      The reality of contemporary female dissatisfaction is not an assertion, instead it is a fact demonstrated by data.
      Therefore, it is not 'a load of ****'.
      The writer is offering a solution, not causing the problem.
      The solution is for men and women to revolutionise their understanding of their respective roles and to then develop a new/different social dispensation based on this new reality. As stated above.
      The socio-econimic environment has already changed, people would be happier if they caught up.

      I'm trying to.

      John R.

  8. Hello all. My name is Bill. I'm married and my wife and I both work. We have four kids. The youngest is now 20. And while I do make more money than my wife, I also take responsibility for the vast majority of the domestic role in the relationship. In fact, my wife also relies on me to do countless mundane tasks/errands for her. Perhaps you would say I'm her administrative assistant. Why do I do this? Because it reduces her stress (and thus my own) and I'm good at these things. I'm also pretty sensitive to the demands on wives who are career oriented and the toll that it takes. I choose to eliminate any burden for her at home so it can help her to achieve workplace success without having to sacrifice motherhood time (which she is great at)plus having some time for herself (e.g. to exercise). For years, my wife struggled with this role reversal as she's old fashioned but I think she's come to see that it works. I fully believe in the concept of if "mom's happy, everyone is happy". It's my primary job to try and achieve that goal. From what I see and hear, more and more women will out earn their husbands going forward. Earning more often comes with added stress. It seems very natural for a woman to have resentment if she carries the load outside and inside the home. As husbands, it seems that we either need to take steps to earn more to lessen the pressure she might have or take on the home duties and without complaint. To do neither puts the husband in a very vulnerable role within the marriage. I choose to be Hazel Burke (showing my age). Maybe I'm ahead of my time. Maybe I'll be part of the majority at some point. I wonder if getting the husband to be the domestic spouse is largely in the wife's hands. Demeaning the husband continually could cause defensive reactions from the husband, even if it's deserved. My wife can pretty much get me to do what she wants and she does it lovingly. Don't most guys, at least the smart ones, want their wives approval? If yes, perhaps women need to consider the "manner" in which they influence their husbands to get their way. So I support what Furmika says but ask her, and others in her situation, to think about "how" to best get your husband to buy-in to his new role. And if the husband won't step up, maybe he needs to be single. It really is fascinating to see how the workplace is changing. If husbands find themselves lagging behind, the concept of "helping her" at home may need replaced with "it's my job". Until a husband accepts and embraces their role, friction will certainly exist.

    1. You make many excellent points but, in particular, this is the most important comment:

      "Demeaning the husband continually could cause defensive reactions from the husband, even if it's deserved. My wife can pretty much get me to do what she wants and she does it lovingly."

      The harshness of the post that some have reacted to is not, I repeat, not the ideal. It is the harsh reality of many marriages where the wife is carrying the dual load.

      The solution, as you suggest, is for the wife to adopt a more loving approach to leading the marriage, or for the husband to invite and facilitate this.

      Wives who give into resentment simply don't appreciate their own power. Husbands who nurse their resentment don't appreciate how loving a wife led marriage can be.

  9. This article sounds like it is referencing an article in NY Mag titled "Alpha Women, Beta Men - When wives are the family breadwinners" that painted an extremely gloomy picture about this situation. The problem with that NY Mag article is it focused on extreme cases like a starving artist and a wife who was a senior executive.
    The more mainstream case is that the husbands are good, hard working men but just don't have the killer instinct to do what it takes to be successful any more. You look at the recent Florida election cheating and I don't know who to be more angry at, the cheaters or the people letting them get away with it. The second group is white Christian men who talk "muh principles, muh values" to cover up the fact that they are too chicken to fight. It seems like if Ann Coulter or Marine le Pen were in charge this would never happen. I never thought I would say this in my lifetime, but I find men to be absolutely useless as leaders for this kind of reason. In contrast, women behind the scenes can be pretty ruthless bitches and sometimes you need to be that way to win and get what you want. For that reason, I must say I am starting to actually feel genuine admiration for women.

    1. I've painted the same gloomy picture of wife breadwinner families in previous posts but that is based on the natural default that such marriages tend to fall into.
      The 'extremes' depicted in the NY Mag article are no long as unusual as they used to be. Yes, they are looking at NY marriages, but even in ordinary households, you often have a husband who is unemployed or underemployed and the wife holding a professional job such as a nurse or accounting. All that is required is for the wife to be outearning the husband for this problem to arise.

      But when the wife leads the marriage through erotic power it is not gloomy but glorious.