Perspective On Breadwinning – View From The Female

In Neal’s previous post,  he shared how his wife being the primary breadwinner early on in their marriage changed the dynamics of their relationship.  In this post I’ll attempt to look at this difficult subject from the woman’s perspective.

The topic of breadwinners encompasses much more than just relational dynamics and social norms. This is an enormous subject which, in order to address properly, we would need to include discussions on our burdensome tax structure, our welfare system which encourages fathers to be absent, an education system which has failed to equip young men for the marketplace, the breakdown of the family, and the societal shift that has encouraged the emasculation of men in nearly every segment of our culture. But, for the purposes of this article, I will focus on only two areas: relational dynamics and the importance of a two parent family.

Neal and I share a similar story regarding the beginning of our marriages.  I was barely twenty when I married my husband and I was the primary breadwinner at first. I worked for a large commercial bank, had become certified as an investment officer, and within a very short period of time was working my way up the corporate ladder. My husband was in the process of finishing his degree and was working part time at a local restaurant. Unlike Neal, though, my husband didn’t lack ambition and didn’t need a kick in the pants from me. He was incredibly motivated and the hardest working man I had ever met. I knew that I wasn’t going to be the breadwinner forever and was content with that knowledge.

My husband had a goal of building a business and allowing me to stay home when we eventually had children. He worked nights and weekends, and we went years without a vacation. I never complained about his work schedule because we were working together toward a goal. Sidenote: Women, if you’re complaining that you’re married to a man willing to work nonstop to provide for your goals and dreams; you’re doing it wrong. You’re contributing to the emasculation prevalent in society today.

Not four months after our first child was born, five years into our marriage, I was able to quit my job and come home. We made a ton of sacrifices to live on one income, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. Those  thirteen years at home with my children (and our two nieces) created a foundation for them that I know would not have been possible without the hours I poured into their lives.

Then in 2008, the economy collapsed, and we faced the very real possibility of losing everything we had spent nearly fifteen years building. We had made it a priority for our entire marriage to have one of us home. More importantly to us though, was to stay married and not have our children become products of a split home. Knowing that finances are the number one reason that people divorce,  I went back to work.  There are some that will say we could have cut deeper, made more sacrifices, moved back in with family, etc so that I could stay home and maintain our “traditional roles”, but I knew that I could contribute, so I did.

Now, after nearly four years back in the full time workforce, and doing a job I absolutely love,  I can say for certain that if I had married a lesser man, this would not have worked.  Also, if for the prior fifteen years of our marriage had I been nagging my husband about his failures and not showing him the respect he needed, I’m certain he would lack the confidence necessary to reverse roles. Like Neal, my husband has struggled with the changes in our family’s dynamic.  It’s natural, because men are wired to provide for those they love, at least good men are.  Did you catch that last part? Good men are…

These are the type of men I believe, as a whole, we’re not raising today.  We’re raising boys more content to conquer the next level of the latest video game rather than men working to conquer their next career goal.  We’ve raised insecure, entitled boys who refuse to grow up.

I am a fortunate one.  It takes an incredibly secure man to not only work full time at his business, help raise two children, support his wife in a very high profile field, contribute to the carpools, take care of the house, and cook most nights too. How many men do you know that no matter what, will stick it out?  Men that will, when necessary, do the unpopular and unglamorous job of playing the support role.

Neal, Erickson, and Ben Domenech…..

“We don’t fully know what this does to men’s sense of motivation.”

“We don’t fully know what this does to men’s sense of motivation.”

“We don’t fully know what this does to men’s sense of motivation.”

View the story “Ben Domenech Bounds Into the Breadwinner Brouhaha” on Storify

….are all correct in their assessments that men, by in large have fallen behind. Women, we’re partially to blame for allowing it but, not unlike other markets, when there is a void, something inevitably rises to fill it. Today, according to this study, women are doing the work men simply will not do. Whether that means earning a living or raising the children, or both.

It’s clear from the Pew study that men are absent.  In short, I believe this study shows a trend toward women becoming stronger, not because they want to, or have the natural abilities to, but because they must – to survive. Women have become stronger because men have become weaker. Women are providing out of necessity, and we should not fault them for it. I doubt the majority of the women that are raising children on their own would choose that life over having a loving and supportive helpmate alongside them. The problem is there are so few of those men out there.

Society is changing and not for the better, I don’t think that’s in question at all. The decline of the family is not merely an “evolving family dynamic”,  it’s a crisis.

Conservatives should be looking for ways to support single moms and primary breadwinners, not tear them down for not meeting the standards set by “traditional roles,” and demean them for taking the lead.  Conservatives should support policies that empower the individual regardless of gender to live out their dreams and they should be championing policies that reward success, instead of incentivizing failure.

Our family is not “traditional” by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re pursuing our idea of happiness and empowering our children to pursue their goals and dreams.

Isn’t that what the real American dream should be about?