Whose money is it?
Tue 25 January 2011
, Eleanor Blayney, CFP , www. womensmedia.com
Yours is yours and his is ‘family-income’?
The recession is over! Apparently it ended quietly last year in a windowless office of a dyslexic statistician working for the National Bureau of Economic Research. That means recovery should roar in any day (or decade) now to mow down the bumper crop of “For Sale” signs still sprouting in your neighborhood.
We are as uncertain about our recession terminology as we are about its demise. Was it the “greatest” or was it the “worst” recession since the Great Depression? Talk to a Goldman Sachs executive and a GM worker, and you’re likely to get completely different answers. My personal favorite is “Mancession” to refer to the far greater number of men than women who’ve lost their jobs in the economic skid. Of working age Americans, 10.4 percent of men were unemployed in October, versus 8.8 percent of women, according to the department of labor.
Women are no longer just the bread makers, but increasingly the breadwinners in their households. The number of women who out-earn their husbands is now 22 percent, having quadrupled since 1970 due primarily to the higher number of women earning college and advanced degrees. Many women do not, however, feel unalloyed pride with their educational and professional accomplishments. Some worry that it might tarnish their shining knight’s armor if he is no longer the main dragon-slayer and will rarely admit this role-reversal to their friends.
Other women resent the burden of being the primary or only provider. “I can’t help but think it’s MY money,” confided a woman participating in one of our money issues circles. “I know he can’t get a job, and that he would completely support me if the tables were turned, but I still feel like I should now get to decide what I do with my income.”
Still other women divorce their husbands once they are no longer needed for either procreating or providing – the two most powerful incentives for marriage. It has been reported that among couples where the wife out-earns her husband, the divorce rate is 38% higher than among couples more traditionally yoked.
At the bottom of it all, there may be a basic reason why women are not celebrating their workplace gains. They are just too tired. The role-reversal of spouses is often asymmetric: she is stepping into his shoes, but he has not entirely stepped into hers. The bulk of dependent care and household tasks still falls to her.
Women’s ascendance in the workplace is not a cyclical phenomenon. When economic recovery really does come to our towns, it’s unlikely that women will retreat quietly to their kitchens. What they have gained in the recession will likely be leveraged by GDP growth to make them even more professionally powerful than before.
What will change, must change, should change (take your pick) is the definition of masculinity, which will expand to include domestic prowess and childcare mastery. There’s some evidence that men in their thirties and forties are getting this better than their fathers did. But if your man still resists, you can share with him these statistics reported by Michael Kimmel, a sociologist at New York’s Stony Brook University: For men who take on increasing responsibilities for housework and dependent care, their own health as well as that of their wives and children improves, their children do better in school and have fewer behavior problems, and the reported level of marital satisfaction increases.
Just in case these facts are not compelling enough, throw in this final tidbit: the sex gets better and more frequent. In the New Normal, doing the dishes is now classified as foreplay.
Read more: http://www.womensmedia.com/money/255-the-new-normal-wears-lipstick.html
About the Author:
Eleanor K. H. Blayney, CFP®, is president of Directions LLC, an online organization dedicated to educating and engaging women in personal finance. She is a licensed Certified Financial Planner and the author of Women's Worth: Finding Your Financial Confidence (2010), which speaks to women about the major financial issues they face, and The Home Budget Workbook (2010), a straightforward guide for creating and maintaining a practical budget. To learn more about Eleanor, visit her website.
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- Make your money work at home too (21-12-2009, Marie-Pauline Luger & Dorieke Mulder)
- A tricky question (05-09-2009, Henriëtte Prast)