Wall Street Mothers, Stay At Home Fathers

working mother taking care of her baby

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.

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  1. 1

    As much as I would like to see gender roles erode in our society, I have become more and more convinced that the majority of women have little use for a man who isn’t the primary breadwinner.   I’m just going on what I have observed.   I’m speaking in general terms here.   I understand that there are some exceptions out there, and I would love to hear folks provide some of their examples.
    I have to admit that there is something that is slightly nauseating about knowing that a man must provide the bulk of the financial support as a condition of marriage, which is a big reason why I’ve avoided it altogether.   

    1. 1.1

      “I’m just going on what I have observed.”
      Then perhaps you haven’t “observed” what was in fact a direct quote from the article referenced right up there in the main post:
      “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.”  
      And men may well choose marriage partners for love, but that’s a simplistic analysis.   Unless, of course, the definition of “love” at said man’s choosing contains “status boosting”, “sex (arguably) on demand”,”unpaid domestic support” (whether actual, supervisory, or a combination of both), and “unlimited, unqualified, unconditional emotional support even if at the sacrifice of the woman’s physical and/or emotional well-being”.   That’s another discussion, though.

      1. 1.1.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        m – You always seem to do the same thing – defend women and put down men. Isn’t it PART of relationships for people to appreciate ALL of the things their spouses bring to the table? For traditional men, it would be sex, emotional support, and unpaid domestic support. For traditional women, it would be sex, emotional support, and all expenses paid by men. In the same breath that you’re talking about how men take advantage of women and that it’s not pure “love’, you ignore the number of women who choose men partially for their ability to provide. This consistent one-sidedness and inability to see the man’s point of view diminishes every single comment you make.

      2. 1.1.2

        Evan, she does have a point what she is saying. in   this day and age women are looking for emotional support more, money cant buy this. That in itself is another topic. Its been spoken about right here on this blog

      3. 1.1.3

        The statistic from the article is not particularly useful because:
        1).   Wall Street millionaires represent a tiny portion of the adult female population.
        2).   I suspect the number of women working in finance has gone up significantly since 1980 as well – possibly even tenfold or more.   It doesn’t speak to the percentage of women with stay-at-home husbands, and whether that has increased over time.
        3).   Even if they were talking in percentages, to simply say it went up tenfold doesn’t really mean anything.   For instance, if 1% of women used to have SAH husbands, and it increased to 10%, the vast majority still don’t have SAH husbands.   
        All I can do is go on what I see based on my experiences.   This comes from both the women and men that I know.   I do find it entertaining that you continually want to tell me that what I’ve experienced is not what I’ve experienced, despite having no evidence of the contrary (You know, since you don’t know me).      So, I will invoke the “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence” rule, and bid you farewell.   
        Your last paragraph, while high on shock and entertainment value, is ultimately irrelevant to the subject at hand.   Did you copy/paste that from one of the posts from your blog, Miranda?   Could have been from any them since they’re all the same.

    2. 1.2

      For every person complaining that their partner expects them to be financially well off, there is another person complaining that their partner is too busy with his/her career to pay them any attention.   

    3. 1.3

      About what I make it all I ever needed….and I am no where near making $250K a year so I think its feasible. I couldn’t afford to support a husband however.

    4. 1.4

      Chance, I am sure women like you say exist but there are plenty of other types of women.   Most of the women from my college class for example are co-breadwinners or primary breadwinners.   My college roommate is a VP of a company and her husband is CEO of finance for a different company.   Neither have to work if the other is working but they both do be ause they enjoy it.   My hairdresser is the primary breadwinner.   Her husband couldn’t find a job so they decided that he would stay home.   He’s never really had a steady job when she married him to begin with.   I think you have low expectations for marriage and tend to look on the downside.   Marriage is what you make of it.   Even if you are right, who cares what other people think or society expects.   Find a girl whose philosophy of marriage is symbiotic with yours.   Plenty of men and women have done so and are very happy.   Your fear is limiting you from potentially experiencing something great.

    5. 1.5
      Dina Strange

      Agree. But it has biological evolutionary underpinning. It’s male wolf who goes hunting while the female takes care of the pups in the cave.

      1. 1.5.1

        Evolution, the word , is about change. Life is about change. The instincts of men and woman will be always be there, but as our society grows more self aware, we adapt and change. Couples adapt to what makes them both happy. If unhappy, then leave the relationship. For our society to grow more equitable, men and woman have to appreciate each others strengths and weaknesses. Let go of the ego…..evolve.

    6. 1.6

      I will have to go this route myself, and it’s pretty great!   I am at my first job (in industry) out of grad school with a high salary.
      This is my thought process: What can a guy give me that I can’t get myself? I already have money and financial security and social status (I’m pretty low maintenance anyway). I already have awesome friends. But I don’t have someone to dote on me, make me laugh, and take care of me.   I am completely at peace with the fact that my boyfriend makes less than half of what I make, and that as time goes on, that difference will increase.   I need him as much as he needs me.   Actually, I probably need him more than he needs me (and I let him know this).   I think Evan has said the same thing in his blog, that it just makes sense for women who are high achievers to marry men who are not.
      So Chance, to tie this back to your post, it took me a long time to be open to this sort of arrangement (I’ve always dated ambitious PhDs before) but now that I’m truly happy I did. I think as time goes on, this will become more common.

    1. 2.1
      Peter 51

      It is illegal to ask about her children unless she volunteers the information which most do.

      1. 2.1.1

        Peter 51 – It is illegal, but that doesn’t stop employers from asking anyway.   They know most women won’t report such questioning, and even if we did, they would just deny it.

  2. 3

    Evan. I always thought single, successful and smart woman always chose partners for love.  That has really been the problem. Just a thought!!

  3. 4
    Heather K

    There seems to be a lot of negativity in the comments and I’m not sure why. From my experience, flexibility around gender roles and just flexibility in general is the best way to go in any relationship. In today’s economy, the role of who is the breadwinner might switch over the years and some years the wife might be the breadwinner and some years the husband might be the breadwinner. It’s a long life with a lot of years on earth for us humans and we need to be able to reinvent ourselves. Also, in my experience, both partners in a relationship need to pitch in as needed to do the household chores – and who takes care of them might flip back and forth depending on the year. The key is for the total work – at home and out of home – to be divided relatively equally. My grandparents who were married for over fifty years used to say that each person has to give 100% without looking and that if you only put in 50% because you were afraid of giving more than your share it wouldn’t work. My only exclamation with anyone who has kids and works 70 hours a week is that it is incredibly hard to find time then to bond as a family, not to mention bonding as a couple and getting your own couple time to reconnect without the chores and kids in the background.

  4. 5

    I’d be interested to see the divorce rate amongst these couples.     I’m not being snarky; I just truly wonder how these marriages play out in the long run.

  5. 6

    I work in a creative field…i WISH I had a Wall Street   husband who could take the bulk of the expenses:)   Sigh…

  6. 7
    Dina Strange

    Of my dating experience, when a guy can’t hold a job and expects me to be 50/50, it doesn’t work. I lose respect to him. To me its a sign he won’t be able to provide for a baby and a family and then i question why am i dating him anyway. Since i still want to have both.
    For each its own. I know Madonna is trying to date young guys..but it’s not exactly working. I think its way harder for rich, ambitious women than for rich ambitious men. Societal expectations and biology.

  7. 8

    As I am older, the question of who raises the kids is a moot point. I am a very responsible sort who has a very well paying job and supports a parent long distance along with three households. In addition to my job, I run a small farm. I am often approached by older men who are in very dire financial straits, often of their own making. They want to date, yet some literally depend on the local charity meals to stay fed. I do believe in total equality and as a solo farmer, hardly confirm to rigid gender roles but really do not feel I should be expected to support a man that not only is not responsible, but has little to give to a relationship. I get a lot of pressure to settle in this way, am told I am being elitist and a snob, but I feel letting thesedudes go is a sign of being wise.

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