Stop telling women to marry 'down'
In 1983 a male friend told me if I wanted a relationship I would need to l ower my standards. NO. I am now nearing 80 and perfectly content single and thriving.
"Another accused me of using him and when I asked “for what?” he stopped speaking to me altogether."
Ma'am he couldn't speak because he was murdered. "For what?" I cackled.
My ex-husband and I got married when we were both 30 years old. I told him very explicitly that I wasn't having babies after 35, so if we wanted to have two kids then our window of opportunity was from about three months before our wedding to my 36th birthday. The reason, which I also explained very explicitly, was that I needed everyone in school full-time by the time I turned 40. I was willing to offer myself nearly entirely to our family-- raising babies, breastfeeding, and supporting him in his various professional transformations-- for 10 years but then it was going to be my turn.
I then had two babies (second born four months before my 36th birthday) and held down a solid job with benefits so that he could try a variety of things, finally settling on an IT position. Six weeks before my 40th birthday I gave my job six months notice so that I could pursue my ambitions-- to write a book and see private astrology clients. When I came home and told him he accused me of "not consulting him". I left that job in April of 2012 and by October he had asked for either the freedom to date his newly acquired mistress without conditions or a divorce.
He wanted me to support him utterly in pursuing his ambitions, but he thought supporting me in mine was asking too much. He knee-capped my ambition and my income-earning potential for a decade. And because of the support I offered him while we were married he now has seniority at the company he's worked at for the last dozen years or so and easily makes twice what I make.
The toxic soup of patriarchy and income and ambition always seems to fuck women, whether they make more or less than their husbands. No way in hell I'd get legally married ever again.
THIS --> Meanwhile, the care and maintenance of these relationships, which isolate women from community and offer no meaningful domestic help or child care, is a herculean task that consumes all of women’s labor (emotional, mental, physical, and otherwise).
**Almost like it was designed that way.**
Lyz, I absolutely love everything you write!!!
I can only speak from the Cis-side of things, but this is dead-on. This was definitely a point of tension in my marriage. We started where he made more than me, but that only lasted a few years and in less than 10 years, I doubled his salary. He actually benefited quite nicely from our situation but he would constantly make comments about it. It became a joke at his work and while it was mostly good-natured, I could always feel his weird background radiation about the entire thing. He of course elevated his lifestyle but he had problems with the idea of having a housekeeper more than every 2 weeks. Anything that made my life easier or less stressful was "unnecessary spending." I still got pigeon-holed into the same gender roles while he enjoyed innumerable hours of "me-time." This was a HUGE point of tension - albeit one of many.
We have literally trained little boys on heteronormative gender roles for centuries and only women pay the price. It's no wonder women don't want to marry or are running to file for divorce.
Why is it always the women who have to change? Marry down. Put his priorities first. Sooth his fragile ego. Don't tell him how much you make. Do most of the household (unpaid) crap duties.
When will men be told to change? Hey guys, accept the fact that some women make more money than you do. Boost your egos some other way. Honest to Goddess, I thought we had settled these issues in the 1970's. I really have to live through this again? In only one lifetime?
This was so great, and your personal stories put it over the top. I'm a lawyer, so I think that telling a male lawyer you make more money than him was simply awesome.
I was reading an article last night in the Atlantic about conservatives' efforts to end no-fault divorce. And I told my husband (who married up, income-wise) that the absence of no-fault divorce means people will simply stop getting married -- particularly women who bring a lot to the table. I wouldn't have married him if no-fault divorce was not an option, and he agreed.
I’ve been thinking about this situation a lot lately and how it’s just another backlash against successful women, and it’s getting so tiresome.
When I was 29-34 I was single, had a full-time job in which I traveled all over the world on a regular basis, & was going to grad school at night. I was 5’4”, 130 lbs, ran 10 miles a day & had tons of friends. No boyfriend, though. My therapist told me that I scared men because I projected this strong independent woman (which men are drawn to) but when the relationship got closer, and I felt more comfortable letting down barriers and/or being emotional (eg crying from grief, venting frustration, wanting to become exclusive), the men would be unpleasantly surprised, think “this weepy/needy woman isn’t who I signed up for” and break up with me. The married men I worked with constantly bugged me about being single. Even the CEO told me that I was too picky. When I’d finally had enough & asked him whether he wouldn’t want his own daughters to be selective about one of the most important decisions they would ever make, it kind of jolted him, and he never mentioned it again.
I ended up meeting a guy on line, we chatted for a month before ever meeting in person, we got married when I was almost 38, & he was almost 35. Childless by choice and we just celebrated our 22nd anniversary. Our incomes are similar, although through the years I was sometimes making about $40k/year more than he was. We’ve always split housekeeping. He does more mechanical/outdoor/fix-it stuff because he’s good at it; I keep our social calendar, do travel planning, bc that is my strength.
Part of me thinks that maybe women not marrying or marrying older is just the next evolutionary step. When humans only lived to be 30-40, they got married at 15; when they started living to their 60’s & 70’s, they married in their late teens/early 20’s. Now that 80-90 years is common, women are marrying in their 30’s and older.
I’m enjoying hearing everyone’s situations & war stories. 😊
Even in the workplace-- don’t be too confident in your abilities. If you don’t have imposter syndrome, there is something wrong with you!! Punished for being smarter than the men, and having the nerve to not hide it.
One more thing: I know few people in this town. I have made buddies with the owner of a local cafe. She agreed to stay open late on the last Friday of this month, October, and November for a queer women's meet-up at her place. The lesbian couple in the next apartment explained to me that there was no regular group for queer women in this town. This is what is going to save me from loneliness: community rather than romantic relationships. I am in favour of the latter but they won't save my life. Only community can do that and because there's not the community I want here, I feel forced to try to build it. With help, of course. The first meeting is this Friday. Wish me luck!
I was dating a guy for a while; not really serious (for me) and it was going OK; nothing too spectacular but no red flags (yet). He asked me one night what my salary was. I asked him why that mattered. He said he made $XX per year and if I made more, that would be a problem. I told him I made more and I didn't understand WHY it would be a problem. He told me I had a month to find a job that paid less than him or we 'weren't going to last'. I stood up, walked to my front door and opened it. I said 'I think we are done'. He was SO mad. He honestly thought I would find an lower paying job to assuage his masculinity! He stalked me for a while, sending links to articles detailing how my life would be miserable if I made more money than the man I was in a relationship with...I blocked him.
In the ancient times, when I went to law school, I ended up sitting in the cafeteria one day next to two bros who were loudly pontificating about their next steps after graduation, namely, the selection of a proper wife. They both agreed that they would NEVER consider any of their classmates from our elite institution - too ambitious, too "know it all" (read - possibly smarter than them, quantifiable by grades or job lined up), not available enough to cater to their needs. They agreed (openly! I was fascinated and eavesdropping as intensely as possible!) that they needed a girl who was smart, but not as smart as them. They had to be a college graduate, but in something "feminine." The ideal was determined to be a teacher, so she would have the summers off to take care of the kids. More than that - an elementary school teacher and MORE THAN THAT a Kindergarten teacher, as they were clearly making that conflation that teachers hate, that the grade level you teach is a marker of your own intelligence. So Kindergarten teacher was, in their minds, the least smart of teachers, but smart enough to laugh at some of their bro jokes and hold down a job that wouldn't embarrass the bros (while clearly signaling lesser status), and would have the same schedule as any future children so the bros would never have to be bothered with them. It was horrible and chilling and a real eye-opener.
My church has congregations for single adults to try and help them find spouses. There are 4 times as many men as woman and all the men I met there are...less than desirable. Yet, there's the expectation that I, a successful, professional woman, will give up part of myself to be more available to those men.
No thank you.
I’ve been married for over 30 years. I love my husband. If I could do it again, I wouldn’t get married.
I was engaged to marry a man in a relationship where I would have to constantly shrink myself. He would literally pinch the back of arm at dinner parties if he thought I was talking too much or too loudly. He constantly belittled my work while expecting me to pay for everything including the wedding. I thought this was the best I could do. I thought maintaining this tolerable level of unhappiness was somehow a strength.
3 months before the wedding I found out he had cheated on me and was planning a sexy evening the night before our destination wedding with a female friend. When I confronted him, he said he wished I’d found out after the wedding so I’d “just have to deal with it”. I left and am now happily married to a wonderful woman. Don’t settle and don’t marry anyone who demands you take up less space. These dudes aren’t worth your one beautiful life.
I collect women's memoirs. A trend I noticed was when the woman made more than the man, nearly inevitably, he would embezzle from her. Kathy Griffin, Debby Reynolds, Shirley Jones...etc. I vowed that if I ever struck it rich, I would not let it happen to me. Then my business took off. And during the forensic accounting for the divorce I found out he'd begun stealing money from me since the week we married.
On my second date with my husband when I was 20, I told him I wasn’t getting married until I was 27 and established in my career. He thought that was great and proposed anyways a year later. And I said yes. But he was always true supporter and left behind a corporate job to stay at home and raise our 3 kids since I traveled so much, making me the sole breadwinner- which was a terrifying in 2002. It was interesting in our affluent area to have men reject him for his decision, including his dad. My mom kept asking why I wasn’t staying home. I kept saying: because I make more than he does. So I’m giving a high five to the men out there who don’t measure their self worth in dollars.