Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Do Career Women Make Rotten Wives?

An anonymous contributor asked for my take on an article concerning the latest Career Women Debate: Do career women make rotten wives? My answer is... yes they do, and no they don't.

If a man is looking for a traditional Betty Crocker style wife, then a career woman would definately be the wrong choice. If a man is a muslim extremist or a member of the Shantar Religion and believes in the subjugation of women, his best bet would not be a career woman.

However, if a man wants someone who is a mental equal, is dynamic, interesting, and exciting, then a career woman might be just what he's looking for. NOTE: there are stay-at-home moms that also fit this description. I was one, once. But I am not the sort of woman that can remain a "shut-in". Most career women will agree.

Interestingly, this questionable article is based on American studies. Many European males cannot fathom the American male's perspectives, or so my European friends tell me.

This article says "If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy. They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do. You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do. You will be more likely to fall ill. Even your house will be dirtier."

Let's tackle this, one statement at a time. First, "If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy." Yes. I agree that most of us would be unhappy. However, this doesn't mean that there isn't room for compromise. Children are not helpless forever. At a certain point, women can certainly return to the workforce. Additionally, men could step outside of the traditional role and become the caregiver, instead.

Second, "They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do. You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do." Ahh, but why would a woman be more unhappy if she makes more money than her husband? So often, these studies neglect the why.

I surmise that the career woman would be more unhappy only if her husband is. After all, money is a nice thing which provides all sorts of extras. So it can't be the money itself which would upset her. But a surly husband who feels that this is somehow de-masculizing could make a career woman wish she were as poor as a church mouse.

So why would a man be unhappy if his wife makes more? If he falls for the traditional American expectations, then ultimately he believes the wife should be "barefoot and pregnant" and at home. But perhaps its time for the American male to become a little more civilized and grow beyond his neanderthal roots. For the men who have such a poor self image that they are threatened by a woman with earning power, I suggest... "get some therapy!"

Third, the article asserts that men "...will be more likely to fall ill." Perhaps that's because in a traditional setting, the woman stays home and nurses the sick children and gets the brunt of the sicknesses. In a true partnership, husband and wife take turns and therefore the husband is exposed to more "yuck".

Fourth, we hear the warning to men that "even your house will be dirtier." Well, duh! Learn to pick up after yourself, then! If you want to hire a maid, look in the yellow pages. Why is it that women must clean? Are the duties somehow attached to sex organs? You've got a vagina, so you must cook and clean. You have a penis, so go mow the lawn. Aren't we past all this silly sexual stereotyping by now?

Finally, we're cautioned that women are more likely to cheat on their husbands if they're career women. Well, of course that's true. If a woman isn't isolated at home, she will have more opportunities... just as men have always had. The key to this is that a man can no longer take his wife for granted, any more than a wife could ever take her husband for granted.

I remember reading of a book that was written in the 50s, admonishing women to make sure they are clean and pretty and attentive to all their man's needs when he got home from work at night. There is no mention of how the husband should behave.

The tables are turned, and we now have equality. It's high time that we have a book written for the neanderthals which still skulk about in our society. They need the social and marital skills which have always been expected of us women.

One more thing: I am not saying that a woman who stays at home is less than a real woman. I stayed at home with my baby for 3 1/2 years, and it was the toughest job I've ever had. But I prefer to do something other than that now, and I prefer a companion who understands and accepts that. Until I find one, I am happy to live alone.


Tabasamu said...

ooooh! Firsties! This is another great Saur post. If you ever run for president, you've got my vote. Hell, I'll do a write-in! Saur For President!


Edge said...

I want to be in a situation where my wife has the option of staying home or working. My SIL is a SAHM. It drives her nuts sometimes, especially since she has a masters degree, but she wants to be home with her kids for a few years.

It's hard for women either way and I am the first to appreciate the situation. Somewhere in this, however, I wonder what God's design was for it and I don't want to sound preachy, but I recall woman was made to be the help-mate if literally translated. Not the "hired help" or the "helper-sex-slave", but rather an equal to share life's burdens.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Jef, OK, let's look at it from the religious perspective of a Christian fundamentalist. Help-mate doesn't mean that she has to stay at home. She could be the "help-mate" by working, while hubby stayed home, or she could be "helping" by working, too.

I admire your SIL for staying at home. It's a tougher job than any other out there. The workplace is a piece of cake in comparison.

I believe women should have both options. I just don't believe a woman should be pilloried if she chooses the career path.

TC, ;o)

United We Lay said...

I think it's difficult for women no matter what. Too much is expected of them and too little credit and compensation is given to them. Women are still judged by a double standard in the workplace and in society. Their work is somehow less valued. Society is still surprised when they're successful. And men largely still have the desire to keep them int he home, taking care fo the children, while they make the money. If it were financially sound, it would probably be the expected norm once again. I blame this partly on religions and their constant assertion that women are not as important as men. I don't use the word equal because we are nto. Men and women are inherently different and should embrace this edifferences, but they should not allow those differences to "prove" the inferiority of either sex.

Ed Abbey said...

Now here is a subject that I only recently became aquainted with. I'm an engineer and my wife is doing post doctoral research. We both like our jobs. We now have a baby who will be three months old in a couple days and thus my wife's maternity leave draws to a close.

We are in a situation where either of us could stay at home and be parents and live comfortably off the other's salary. But there are always complications. My wife works off of a grant with a stipulation that she must work until this time next year. After that, she will have to get another grant or maybe get her own lab, salary and benefits. I have a stable job with salary and benefits and it didn't seem wise to give it up for a career based on grants that may or may not be renewed. Thus the delima. After much deliberation, we decided on daycare for a year and re-evaluate things after my wife's grant is up.

We both love our careers and would never give up on either for long term. Staying home with a child would only be a short term option until they are in school full time.

Anonymous said...

The biggest thing that I found amusing about the article was the fact that it didn't take into account current enrollment trends in higher education. It looks as though most men won't have a choice in the coming years and will soon have to learn how to better compromise. I currently work at a Univeristy that has a 64% female population. The gap between female/male enrollment in higher education just keeps growing. On the other hand, my mom worked from home part time and I think it was very valuable to have her to be the one to raise us, (instead of a daycare) and to have her easily accessible in the case of an emergency. I have committed to myself if and when I have kids, there will have to be a compromise in which one parent spends time at home with the children. I absolutely do not think it is healthy to raise a child in a daycare system. As for the rest of it, it is just plain hooey but I do hope that Forbes takes a hit in its subscription level due to the article.

Saur, any chance you could set up a generic e-mail address for people to send questions to you?

The Lazy Iguana said...

Well - I would HATE IT if the woman made more money than I did. And if she made enough to swing a condo on Brickell Ave overlooking Biscayne Bay I think I would just jump off our 30th floor balcony! Or maybe go out in my 25 foot power boat that I can keep in a dry slip and drown myself.

OH WAIT! I changed my mind. That would not suck at all. Hell, I may even be able to retire early!

Mow the lawn?!!? Not likely. Condos on the 30th floor have no lawn.

~Deb said...

Hmmm, now a woman who stays home in my opinion, has MORE of an opportunity to cheat...because of all her free time.

Ed Abbey said...

anonymous said, "I absolutely do not think it is healthy to raise a child in a daycare system."

Why? Evidence to support your view?

I was raised in a daycare environment due to being raisded by a single mom who had to support two kids on her own. I graduated top of my class and have an excellent job. I think I'm intelligent and mentally stable. What bad effects could come from a daycare?

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

I was a stay at home Mum for many years, but I say AMEN to equal rights!


Anonymous said...

Although I was simply stating an opinion and evidence can be found to support or weaken my opinion I quickly googled and found a few articles about the negative effects of daycare, especially in the first three years of a child's life, it can lead to a more insecure and unruly child. Does that mean that is always the case? Of course not and that is not what I said, my belief is simply that if you have choosen to have a child then as a parent you should want to raise that child, not have a daycare raise your child. Take the responsibility of making that child into someone who can be a positive influence in society. Now obviously the unexpected happens and some people are not left with a choice, but some people choose to do that for more selfish and career driven reasons. My feeling is that when you have a child you lose the right to be selfish because you chose to have a child. Not to mention the fact that daycare is a rather unregulated business and children are subject to abuse and neglect. This is simply childcare, it also does not include latchkey children, those who roam free after they are out of school, which there are plenty of statistics on as well. As I said there is plenty of material to support my opinion and plenty to weaken it, high quality childcare can be very beneficial for a child, especially high quality preschool programs. My opinion still remains that a parent should raise their child.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Anon of 2:20 PM, an interesting point of view (very traditionalist) and I agree with your opinion that, if possible, a parent should be home with their child. However, what about the parents who honestly cannot make ends meet with only one income? That's when there are no other options but daycare.

And daycare has its benefits: children are socialized at an earlier age, for instance.

Now, I've heard it argued that raising kids on a low single income can still be done. However, the quality of that life is often so poor that it is not beneficial to the child and only causes resentment in the caregiver who feels forced to stay at home in substandard conditions.

Tea, And wasn't it the toughest job you've ever had? I gained a great deal of respect for the stay-at-home parent during that time.

Ed, I think that results can vary greatly. Sometimes daycare's fine, sometimes it's not. It depends on the parents, the kids, and the daycare center. For the most part, I can't see how it would harm a child greatly - especially if the parents are very interractive with the child when they're not working.

BTW, your wife sounds like quite a catch! You're a very lucky man, and she's a very lucky woman to have a guy that appreciates her.

Deb, not when everyone else is working! ;o)

The Lazy Iguana, then we may be destined for each other. :D

Anon of 11:49 AM, please see my comments to the first anon poster (perhaps that's you). 64%? Wow! That's an eye-opening number. You're correct - at that rate, the debate is moot and men will be forced to adapt. You can email me at

UWL, good points, but I disagree that men and women aren't equal. The idea is that we are all equal as human beings, not equal in our abilities. For instance, men are inferior when it comes to childbirth and nursing. But overall, I still consider them our equals. :D

Anonymous said...

I stated briefly that it is not always an option for a child to be raised solely by a parent and clearly the parent working and supporting their child is not selfish either, I applaud single mom's, I know their lives are tough, I complain about working and being tired and I don't have a child to raise as well. In many ways a single mom provides a great role model for children because of how hard they must work just to make it by. Is it ideal? Of course not, not for the mom or the child. By the way, the two previous anon posts are by me, guess I will start signing them.


Notsocranky Yankee said...

Wow, I can't believe that is a current article -- sounds like the 50's to me. The only thing I agree with is that a woman would be unhappy if she quit her job to stay at home. I would be absolutely miserable. I thoroughly enjoyed my maternity leaves, but in my line of work, I cannot quit and then come back later. I love what I do and I couldn't give it up (at least not very easily). When I was applying to the airlines, a fellow military pilot assured me it would be fine for my daughter. His father was an airline pilot and he felt that he saw his dad more than his friends did when he was growing up. When I am home, I'm 100% there for my kids. When I am flying, my husband is here for them. I think it's good for their relationship with him.

As for housework, I still do most of it. I can't wait for the kids to do more to help, like I did when I was young.

BTW, the rebuttal by Elizabeth Corcoran was very good, if you didn't get a chance to read it.

KristieD said...

well put saur. I agree with your take on this 100%. If a man has fallen into the belief that women should be suzy-homemakers, then marrying a career woman would not be a wise decision. And i totally agree that the main reason a woman would be upset that she makes more money than her husband is because her husband is upset over it. In this day and age of double-income households, i dont see why it matters, more money is a good thing. And chosing to stay home with the kids should be a joint decision, based on everybody's feelings. If it would work then great, if not, maybe the dad can stay home, and if neither of those is an option, then daycare is always a possibility. People can only be happy with who they are compatible with. If you are not compatible, then your spouse's career status really wont matter in the end. you either love each other for who they are, or you dont.

Grant said...

Your opinions are cute, but we men have tolerated your little outburst long enough. Get back in the kitchen. :p

OldHorsetailSnake said...

No, stay out of the kitchen. You are totally correct, Saur, and don't let nobody tell you different. Whatever happened to 50/50?

Ellen said...

Times have changed a lot since the 50's and 60's when mothers could afford to stay at home with their children. At that time, it was almost a scandel to have the mother working while sending her children off to daycare. My mother didn't work while we were still young, and waited till I was in the 6th grade before returning to the work force. My Father made a decent income, so it was never a question of money with them, only a rule they had set up for themselves before they got married.

But times have changed dramatically since then, and it does take two incomes to run a family now, especially if you are considered "middle class". The price of everything has tripled and quadripled from the times I was a young mother which was not too long ago, really. We could never get anywhere unless I went back to work full time as my husbands salary just covered the basics. Besides, I was just plain bored to tears after the baby years, and needed time away to remember what it was like to be an adult again. Daycare for my son was a private day school that I paid $75.00 a week for, and they were wonderful in every way with his care. I just got lucky that I picked one so well.... and now my son is in college with a 3.8 average. Not too shabby for being a daycare child, and latch-key kid.

FruitfulSpirit said...

Wow all I can add to this is that I am so blessed. I have a man, that shares the house chores, he can vacumn, dust, mop, cook and do dishes and does so willingly. I also share in mowing the lawn, doing the yard work, paint, and other manly chores. He would love for me to make more money than him, but he is better educated than I am so he knows that is not to be so. My Hubby has come out of the dark times, he loves me and we SHARE life equally the best we can.

But you have made some very good points here. Some things do need to be changed and it will have to come from both sexes.

Don't give up looking for a good man. Took me over 8 years of being alone to find this one. He is a keeper!

mckay said...

saur says, "remember reading of a book that was written in the 50s, admonishing women to make sure they are clean and pretty and attentive to all their man's needs when he got home from work at night. There is no mention of how the husband should behave."

hey, baby, it's 2006 and dr. laura has a book out that fits the above description perfectly, called "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." even though it sounds old fashioned, if i were married, or contemplating same, i'd probably buy the book.

re: daycare. i'm a divorced mom and they just raised the tuition at my son's preschool/daycare to 196.00 per week. ouch. i better get off the internet and get back to work so i get a good review come march.

Saur♥Kraut said...

McKay, but...Dr. Laura is feeding into the old stereotypes again (unless she's being facetious in her title, but explaining inside that marriage is not a 50-50 proposition but a 100-100 one). I only hope she's not so backwards as to be intimating that the responsibility for a happy marriage/home rests on the shoulders of the wife.

Good luck with daycare. It's verrrrry expensive.

Fruitful Spirit, I hope you're right and that Mr. Right is out there for me. We'll see. I'm always delighted to hear of stories like yours, however. It gives me hope.

...more in a min...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Everyone: would like to write more in response, but it's Zen Buddhist's birthday today and I have to go celebrate with her and her family. I'll try to get back to you tonite, or tomorrow morning at the latest. Thanks for the contributions! This is interesting!

Senor Caiman said...


Excellent post.

It's all good. I try to stay away from women in the workplace unless I'm trying to get them to have sex with me. Now don't get me wrong women are great workers. I wouldn't be where I am today without the dedication and intelligence of my female workers. I have a hard spot in my heart for married career women in their early thirties who are frustrated with their home life. I always try to be there for them.

In a nutshell, I love all hot women whether they work or stay at home.

R2K said...

I find much to enjoy about a modern woman. An equal (or better in many areas) isnt a threat to my manhood, it gives me a person I can have as a friend as well as a lover. I dont know if I would respect a woman who would be happy to just serve me all day. You might enjoy having her around to do crap for you, but in the end you might just find that pathetic. Plus, only my mommy does that for me. And no woman can take her place. I mean it, ever see psycho?

Miss Cellania said...

My husband LOVED the fact that I made more money than he did... because otherwise we would all starve.

Now for three months I've been unemployed, and I LOVE IT! I LOVE being a stay-at-home Mom, and I never had the opportunity before, I was always supporting the family. But all good things must end, and I must get a job sooner or later. I SO dread it, but I've learned that no one is ever going to support me; its all my responsibility. I so envy married people, and even divorced people, who have joint custody and child support.

Badoozie said...

i've had it both ways, i like a little mix. not too busy, but doing something.

now, you have the phone number of that cute guy up there with the shaggy hair do?

slopmaster said...

Do what you love. Many women find taking care of their kids, husband and home more rewarding than reports, meetings and cube life. Who could blame them! At the end of the day, women who are stay at home moms are doing much more important work than men who are working for some soul-less corporation. And because women tend to be naturaly better care takers of their kids, it's natural and should be applauded when women choose to stay at home.

If the man wants to stay at home, that's fine, but hopefully not because he's some lazy bum. Hopefully he really has a longing to take care of his kids full time.

My point is, women should be encouraged and praised for their meaningful role as caretakers of their family.

United We Lay said...

That's the poijtn I was trying to make, but I just didn't do it well. Thanks for clearing it up!

daveawayfromhome said...

My wife makes twice what I do, which is kind of sad since she's a teacher. Nevertheless, we've managed to avoid the day-care scene by having me work nights, so I got to raise the kids (at least thru to their school years). I wouldnt have traded it for the world. I keep offering to quit my job and do all the cooking and cleaning, but so far she hasnt taken me up on it (and to be honest, I need to keep my job since our health insurance comes from my job, where it is inexplicably cheaper).

daveawayfromhome said...

Oh, and this is partially at Ellen: There's a bit of a viscious circle with the need for two incomes. In a market economy, those with two incomes can afford to pay more than those without. You get enough two-income families (or worse, DINKs), and pretty soon that ability to pay more drives prices higher, leaving single-income families struggling to keep up.

On the other hand, the idea that we've left behind a golden age of mom at home and dad at work is a bit of a myth. This was really only true of middle-class families. With its shrinking size and enormous debt-load, the middle class will probably continue to look more and more like the lower class of 100 years ago.
Next stop: Child labor!

mal said...

it takes a strong man to marry a strong woman. Could that be why career women are "bad" marriages? I do not think my marriage would have survived if the OH was not stronger than me.

Valerie - Riding Solo said...

go Mal!

I had a strong partner, he had a strong wife. I made more money than him in the last several years, we both loved it! We did chores according to time available and strenght require and many we did together as a team.

I can't imagine chosing to wait on any person hand and foot all of the time who wasn't laid up or ill.

I have been know to bring him an open beer on occasion and I cooked when I was home first. He cooked if he was home first.

I am going to have a hard time finding such a good partner again.

But it is worth the search.