I think this is sort of…

I think this is sort of funny. Salon and The New York Times both recently published pieces about husbands losing their jobs and wives deciding how they're going to cope with the economic issues. But the pieces are incredibly different in tone -- one's told from the POV of a spoiled rich girl (in that very tone), and the other from the POV of a probably even richer couple. It's worth taking a look at the two stories:

Salon: For Richer or Poorer?

NY Times: Daddy's Home, and a Bit Lost

It makes you think about what the editors were trying to do to their readers.

The subject itself is interesting and worth discussion too, of course. As I said in David's blog (where I first ran across the Salon piece):

The gender roles/expectations shes talking about, especially as they relate to long-term partnerships, affect most of us. Me, certainly. Fighting about money is the number one cause of divorce in America, and its nice to see someone willing to own up to how her own assumptions fed into those gender dynamics.

Shes a working freelance writer, and was throughout the time pre/post marriage. I imagine her income was substantial but erratic, much as mine is when Im not teaching. But its a lot cheaper to support one than two, and she never expected to have to support a spouse  much less a spouse and eventual child.

Thats one of the things that I didnt realize until about ten years into my relationship with Kev (around age 30)  that despite all my egalitarian beliefs, Id never expected Id have to support more than myself. Whereas most men grow up expecting to support themselves and a family. Which influences career choices even in college, which influences salary ranges, which helps contribute to the wide disparity in earnings, which, when a family is choosing between childcare and a second income, often leads to the woman staying home, because she earns half as much and it just makes sense. This stuff is pernicious.

I think very few people have those conversations early in the relationship. The assumptions are very widespread, because the practice has been very widespread. My friends who actually have relationships where both partners earn equally (or the woman earns more, or the man doesnt earn at all), are very rare, statistically speaking. When you throw in the whole have a child or two or three, breastfeeding, want a parent to stay home with the child in the early years, that aggravates the issue considerably.

This is all mightily aggravated by the current surge in unemployment  thousands upon thousands of men who had every reason to expect that theyd be able to support their families now just cant. Making pieces like this not just timely, but critically important, as men have to figure out how to judge their self-worth when they cant provide for their families, and women have to re-evaluate their family and career choices.

2 thoughts on “I think this is sort of…”

  1. This was excellent. We are coming up on the 1 yr anniversary of my husband’s layoff. They say finances (or lack thereof) is the #1 cause of divorce. It certainly does cause strain. But when in the position myself, I wondered how people in financial straights could afford to divorce. Attorneys require retainers. We couldn’t even afford to divorce.

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