Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Liza Mundy 3: Women Don't Want to Be Breadwinners, but They Can Adapt

In The Richer Sex, Mundy starts with the fact that 37.7% of husbands right now earn less than their wives.  Late in the book she allows that only 3.3% of husbands have no earnings, are home with minor children, and have wives with jobs.  This book is not really about "breadwomen" - wives who are the sole or even predominant earners in their families. It is about two-earning couples in which, at least for a time, she earns more.

Mundy found, as others have before, that it is harder for wives to respect lower-earning husbands than it is for husbands to respect lower-earning wives.  But Mundy also offers this helpful nuance:  "If there's anything that every woman I interviewed can't stand, it's a partner who seems to be standing still." This makes sense to me. And this may be the main lesson to take from the book:

Wives outearning husbands is not a problem, any more than husbands outearning wives is. What both husbands and wives want is a partner who pulls his or her weight in the family, and who is ambitious to do it better.

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