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.
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.
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.