Today I am going to be sharing with you an excerpt from the new book Getting to 50/50 by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober!
Getting to 50/50 is a book that explores women being able to successfully “have it all” by splitting responsibilities with their partners. What if your husband did half of all the chores? What if your husband split all the nighttime feedings? In order for a dual working household to function without strain and resent, do you need an equal partnership? It is an interesting social study into the dynamics of the nuclear family and the demands on working parents.
“By sharing their personal experiences as mothers, wives and successful businesswomen—and unparalleled analysis of social science research—the authors show how, if we are willing to change the way we perceive our choices in career, marriage, and childrearing, we can have much, much more of what we want. Getting to 50/50 offers a practical roadmap to help women—and men—stay engaged with their kids without sacrificing their careers (or, for that matter, their sex lives)!”
Chapter 3: What Working Women Gain from Motherhood
It’s the money, honey
We need only look to our parents’ generation, when far fewer women
had incomes of their own, to see how money can shift the balance
of power in a relationship. As one woman said to us, “My mother
enjoyed her life and didn’t work. But in our house my dad was kind
of a prince. My mom has always encouraged me to work because
she wanted her kids to have more equality in their marriages.”
Sharon recalls her parents arguing a lot about money. Her mom
didn’t work, her dad did, and power and money were intertwined.
The price tags stayed on every new dress, coat, or sweater until
the purchase received her father’s approval. When Sharon made
her own money, clothes were no longer a source of conflict; they
became a pleasure. Once married, Sharon found that she and Steve
agreed on most things, but if Steve thought something was a “waste
of money,” Sharon bought it on her own dime.
Reflecting on how money shapes marriage, one woman in her
sixties said, “It surprises me that this still goes on, but some of my
wealthiest female friends are put on budgets by their husbands. And
it’s not just an upper limit on what they can spend, their husbands
actually review their credit card receipts as if their wives were subordinates.
It’s quite belittling.”
Shopping with a friend for work clothes, Joanna realized that
even thirtysomething peers could see money as their husbands’
domain. “Won’t Jason be angry when he sees that bill?” her friend
asked. Joanna explained that she and her husband have equal say on
money—that they both contribute and trust each others’ spending
Maria, now in her eighties, spent her life raising six children with
a military spouse who was frequently stationed out of the country.
Like Sharon’s mom, she depended on her husband’s income, but
Maria also had a secret weapon of sorts: a monthly check from a
small rental property she successfully managed for decades. Whenever
Maria wanted to buy something that was not in the budget,
like a plane ticket for herself or an expensive piece of sports gear for
her kids, she used the rental income. Maria and her husband argued
over finances, too, but she often cut those conversations short by
telling her spouse, “I paid for it with my money.”
Money can’t buy you love but it can get you the freedom that
makes it easier to love everyone in your life. Being a breadwinner
lets you provide for your family—and take care of yourself, too.
The topic of money is a particularly interesting one to me when it comes to trust in a relationship. Ultimately, the person who makes the money does have the power. For a woman to give up her career in exchange for being a stay at home mom, she is essentially trusting her husband to provide for the household, be diligent in career advancement, treat the money as if it is not just his, and most importantly not divorce her because she no longer has the immediate means to support herself.
That is asking a lot out of a generation who watched their parent’s generation explode in divorces. Personally, I don’t ask for permission to spend money. Of course, I am a working mom so I don’t know if I would still feel this way if I was not working but as far as I am concerned, it is our money. If my husband wants to buy something it’s not my place to say no unless there is a sound family justification for him not to. I expect the same in return. I do not believe in micromanaging another adult. I will not phone him every time I want to buy a coffee nor will I justify why I did when I get home.
I do believe in equality. I think inherently women and men have different strengths and a relationship will reflect the balance of responsibilities based on who completes the task better. As an example, I have a better memory so I make sure things like the car is inspected in the proper month it needs to be to avoid a ticket. My husband takes out the trash because it’s heavy. We don’t nit-pick each other, but I can tell you that being a working mom would be nearly impossible for me if my husband did not pitch in. I also feel like I am missing out on a lot by working. I have pros and cons to both situations, keeping my career or giving it up to be a stay at home mom. I believe the choice is unique to each family, but if you are a working mom who has been seeking out a way to make life a little less stressful… this is a good read!