The Myths, Challenges and Perks of Life as a Female Breadwinner
The Jane Eyre era of traditional gender roles has dwindled into comedic obscurity. No longer are we expected to inhabit ‘separate spheres’ from men (ugh) and banished to so-called ‘feminine’ jobs. So far gone are the days, in fact, that a record number of women today - 40% to be exact - are primary providers in their families. Despite society’s progressive attitudes to what women can and can’t do, a number of frustrating myths still shroud female breadwinners. Read on to get the low-down on what it’s like to bring home the bacon.
Adjust your expectations. If you are a female breadwinner, there’s no point in fighting the fact or shrouding it with flowery language. Own your title as the ladyboss of the house. If you’re struggling coming to terms with such a reality, adjust your expectations. It can be tough to break out the traditional gender roles mindset, especially if you were raised with conservative values. Alas, times move on, and for good reason. Being honest with yourself and your partner is the best way to ensure a healthy relationship and a contented you.
Outsource to save your sanity. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky few, and your partner’s housework skills are sparklingly awesome. But, chances are, they're less than stellar and, if your partner doesn't work or works from home, you’ll find a hundred and one things to complain about when you return from work. After a stressful day at the office, the last thing you want to be doing is stacking the dishwasher and scrubbing grime off the kitchen. Save your (and your beau’s) nerves and, for the love of God, hire a cleaner! Yes, it's an added expense, but when you think about all the fights and stress you will avoid, a cleaner starts to feel like pretty sound investment.
Resentment will sometimes rear its ugly head. A number of women report feeling frustrated in their role as the primary provider. Olivia Mellan, a psychotherapist in Washington, D.C., and author of Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts in Your Life and Relationships, suggests writing your feelings down on paper. What is behind the resentment? Do you feel like your partner doesn’t appreciate how much effort you put into your work and the house? Are you frustrated at their lack of a motivation to earn? Once you’ve got a better idea of why you feel the way you do, try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Perhaps they, too, are feeling some frustration but haven’t been able to express it? It’s always best to go into a conversation prepared for what the other person might say.
Learn to block the outside noise. Never apologise for your success. And never – you hear us? – ever feel like you need to explain your family’s choices to the world. People can suck, and some might even go so far as to judge you for your financial and lifestyle decisions. Growing a thick skin can save you a lot of unnecessary stress, so whenever you face sexist or ignorant remarks, just learn smile and say, “thanks, but it isn't really your place to say.”
Humour is your friend. Laughter can release a great deal of tension between you and your significant other. If you feel like awkwardness is mounting, diffuse the tension by making a joke or playing down the situation. And don't forget to to spend quality time together – doing something fun that gets you both excited will help both of you remember why you're together in the first place.
Be upfront. One of the biggest mistakes people in relationships make is assuming the other person knows what they're feeling or thinking. They don't. By telling them what you expect from them upfront, you'll save yourself a hell of a lot of hassle. Some of the questions you both need to address is who will be in charge of managing and paying the household bills, what kind of minimum salary, if any, you'd expect your partner to earn and how you'll be split the childcare responsibilities if you have kids. These issues need to be addressed regardless of who the breadwinner is anyway, and are part of the package of cohabitation.