Wall Street Mothers, Stay Home Fathers

This blog is about equality and commonsense. I’ve long made the argument that smart, strong, successful women need to start dating like men – who choose partners for love, not money. Sure enough, this idea is starting to gain traction in, of all places, Wall Street:

“The number of women in finance with stay-at-home spouses has climbed nearly tenfold since 1980, according to an analysis of census data, and some of the most successful women in the field are among them.” This should be no surprise. All relationships are about compromise, and if she’s working 70 hours a week for Goldman Sachs, he’d better be available to the kids. However, it’s far from a perfect solution.

Smart, strong, successful women need to start dating like men – who choose partners for love, not money.

“Many discovered that even with babysitting and household help, the demands of working in finance made a two-career marriage impossible. The arrangement can be socially isolating, they said, leaving both partners out of a child-rearing world still full of “Mommy and Me” classes. The couples told of new questions of marital etiquette, like who makes the big financial decisions or buys the wife’s jewelry when she makes upward of a million dollars a year and the husband earns little or nothing.”

Yep, that’s how it goes. And although it may make both women and men profoundly uncomfortable to step outside of prescribed gender roles, it is often the only way things can work, presuming that she is in the prototypically masculine breadwinner position. Continues the article:

“Along the way, the couples have come to question just what is male behavior and female behavior, noting how quickly their preconceived notions dissolve once they depart from assigned roles. The men echo generations of housewives, voicing concern over a loss of earning power and car pool-induced torpor but also pride in their nurturing roles. The women describe themselves as competitive, tough and proud of every dollar they bring in. “We’re almost like an opposite ’50s couple,” said Mr. Skinner, Nicole Black’s husband. “I’m staying at home, I do the dishes, I do the laundry, I do everything the housewife does. I’m just a dude.”

Similarly, now that these women are competing in what used to be exclusively a man’s world, they are expected to behave like men – putting work first, over family.

If your work takes a lot of time and travel, you’d better have a supportive and available spouse – regardless of what gender you are.

Ms. Black and others say that is the real gift of a stay-at-home spouse: avoiding domestic distractions and competing better against other bankers, many of them men with stay-at-home wives. If Ms. Black gets a call on Tuesday afternoon asking her to attend an out-of-town dinner the next night, she can go…Being the breadwinner often means being taken more seriously in the workplace, they have learned. When one former banker was interviewing at a private equity firm, she said her prospective employers wanted to know what her husband did and seemed pleased that he had a low-paying but flexible job and handled more parenting duties. It dawned on her that the presumption men had often benefited from — that they would not be diverted by household demands — was finally applying to her too.”

In short, there are only so many hours in a week to work or be available to your family. If your work takes a lot of time and travel, you’d better have a supportive and available spouse – regardless of what gender you are.