Whose baggage are you carrying? (Read time: 6 min.)

School 7I was reading an article about female breadwinners.  It talked about the way in which the husbands of these breadwinners felt emasculated and, as a result, the breadwinning wives carried around with them unspoken guilt about their husband’s loss of identity… and it left me wondering:

Whose baggage are you carrying?

I get the mommy guilt, the woman breadwinner resentment, the wanting Superman and finding bliss with Clark Kent.  What I don’t get is why we continue to have this dialogue about how women breadwinners have tougher marriages, greater divorces, and spend less time mothering their children… all because they make at least 60% of the annual household income.

How do you win in a society that says “Damn you for being successful!” on the one hand and “Damn you for being dependent!” on the other?

How is it that women have come so far and still they carry with them other people’s baggage, other people’s issues, and other people’s guilt?

Is it not enough that we carry and bear children, that we’ve spent thousands of years being dominated, treated like property, and tossed aside like trash?

Isn’t it time we put away the old paradigm of expecting men to be bullet proof and women to be soft as silk?

The answer is yes.  But if women breadwinners continue to carry their spouses’ baggage, their boyfriends’ hangups, and their partners’ insecurities, don’t we keep sending the message that women breadwinning is somehow wrong and that the women who do it are, in many ways, committing a societal sin?

Women are breadwinners because they can be, because they want to be, and, in many instances, because they HAVE to be.

This is a sign of forward movement, not a symptom of societal decay.

It is not a woman breadwinner’s job to “make” her partner feel more like a man nor is it his role to become her maid, her housekeeper, or her babysitter.  We aren’t talking about two people who happen to be roommates.  We’re talking about two people who signed up for the same journey, who agreed to enjoy the ride, and who decided that they were stronger together than they were apart.  That means you love who you’re with.  It means you support their highest potential.  It translates into focusing on what makes the relationship work, not what makes the parntership suffer.

We’ve come so far… and, yet, we haven’t.

I remember in college, as women, we were told, “You can have it all!”

What “they” didn’t say is that “having it all” isn’t always a win.

Sometimes when you win, you lose… and, sometimes, when you lose, you win…

So what do you do when you’re tired of carrying around other people’s shame, guilt, anger, frustration, and resentment?

1) You let other people’s  baggage go.  You do this by not making anyone else’s emotional hang-ups, opinions, or concerns your own.  Be very clear about what you think of your woman breadwinner status.  When someone comes your way with negativity, separate their issues from your beliefs.  Say to yourself, “I’m not taking them or that comment personally” and then move on to something more positive.  Change the topic of conversation.  Focus on your goals.  Ask them to stop the negativity.  Walk away if you have to.  Someone can attempt to hand you their baggage but you get to decide whether or not you accept it.

2) You stop defining your life by your role.  You may fill the role of a woman breadwinner but a woman breadwinner is not who you REALLY are.  People like labels because they like to arrange their worlds in neat, tidy categories.  You don’t have to be one of those compartments.  Nobody is their title.  You can decide here, today, that while you might fulfill the role of a breadwinner, you are so much more than that.  You are not your stuff and you are certainly not your breadwinning title.  Begin to define your life by  WHO you are, not WHAT you do… and the title (woman breadwinner) loses all stigma and all unnecessary pressure.

3) You start enjoying your life AND your role.  Bask in the freedoms you have that your great-grand mothers didn’t.  Enjoy what it means to experience financial and professional freedom.  Give thanks that you’re a woman who lives in an age where your influence, freedom, and power have never been more available to you.  Instead of making this role your job, see it as ONE of your callings. Be present to all the gifts and blessings that come with running your own show.  Forget about the cost.  No matter how you slice it, it’s better on the side of financial, professional and personal freedom.

4) You continue to speak the truth about your experience of the journey.  No more shame, blame, or guilt about days when you don’t love your role.  Some days you won’t.  No more apologizing for being brave, brilliant and daring.  You were born that way.  Why apologize now?  No more acting as if you wish it were the Leave it to Beaver decade.  Talk to your grandmother.  You don’t.  Tell the truth about your experience of this role and don’t shy away from being candid about both the ups and the downs.  Our daughters and granddaughters will either benefit from your wisdom or learn painfully from your silence.  You get to choose…

And, above all, NEVER believe that your power costs anyone else their own.

 It is the most insidious lie society has ever told and they tell it so strongly about women.

Men don’t apologize for being brave.  Why would we ever apologize for being strong?

Run your show, own your value, and speak your truth…

#sherunstheshow

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5 Things the Pew Research Report on Women Breadwinners Isn’t Telling You (Read Time: 7 min.)

pew reportOn May 29th, the Pew Research Report on Breadwinner Moms came out and it caused a firestorm of controversy.  The mere fact that the percentage of households with breadwinning moms went from 11% in 1960 to 40% in 2011 was enough to make the world take notice.  Every media outlet was declaring the rise and dominance of the alpha female.  But, having read that report in its entirety, there are a number of things the report did not cover.  It didn’t discuss the quality of life lived by families where the wife is the breadwinner (socioeconomic status, quality of life, marital and familial satisfaction).  It didn’t dive deeper into what support and resource measures are required to help young, single, never married mothers do a better job of providing for their children.  It didn’t look further into the disparity between the percentage of people under 30 who felt that women breadwinning in a marriage or family was no issue versus the increased number of people in their 30s and 40s who felt that it was (hint: maybe it’s because most under 30 aren’t married with kids yet and most in their 30s and 40s are… #justsayin).  And the Pew Report provided no concluding thoughts on where the discussion needs to go next, how to create a paradigm shift for the 40% of households where mom does run the show, and how husbands and wives can embrace the new experience of family life without losing their identities and sense of purpose in the relationship.

The Pew Report was a starting point but it’s not a report that you look at and cry, “Return women to the home!” or yell, “More power to women!”  This is a much more complicated issue than either of these proclamations can even grasp.  What we need now is a bigger conversation, a deeper dialogue, one in which we unashamedly and fearlessly open our mouths and our lives to the realities of what it means to be women breadwinners in a world that still doesn’t fully embrace the idea.  It’s time for husbands to rally with their wives and openly discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of being Mr. Mom, Mr. Desi Ball, the husband of Sandra Bullock, or Reese Witherspoon’s sidekick.  We need to talk about the phenomena that happens all too often when a woman rises in her career… only to find her marriage falling apart at the seams.  We need to get into the discussion about why some men can’t hang with a powerful woman… even though they’d met her before the altar… and why some women lack the tools and skills necessary to embrace their divine feminine side and wind up feeling like the “man” when there’s a time to be the woman, not the boss.

Women breadwinner relationships are complex.  All relationships are.  But to narrow that down to one 18+ page report and to have Fox pundits acting like misogynistic coo coo birds and to have media outlets all over the world crying “Look what happened while we were asleep!” as if this revolution hasn’t existed since the beginning of time is an absolute slap in the face to the millions of women who fought and died for every right every woman has today.  Your great-great-great-grandmother dreamed that May 29th would come.  She dreamed that her female offspring would have even half the opportunities we have now… but never in that dream did she imagine that people would question the fall of man or the destruction of the family simply because women contribute more by being MORE of who they are.  If the tables were turned, we would never question a man’s rise financially, educationally or socioeconomically.  We’d pat him on the back and say, “We knew this day would come.”

It’s high time we gave every woman breadwinner a high five and say, “I knew this day would come.  Well done powerful lady!  Well done!”

Want to know the 5 things I believe the Pew Research Report

on Women Breadwinners isn’t telling you?

Click below and listen my podcast on it:

https://soundcloud.com/womenbreadwinners/women-breadwinners-and-the-pew