More Success = Less Marriage?

I saw a piece this morning on Good Morning America (legitimate or not, it is my favorite news source) about marriage.  According to GMA, less people are getting married in the United States over all than 30 years ago and 1 in 5 women makes more money than her husband (Woot woot! — not that I think men shouldn’t make money, but I think this stat suggests that we are making some strides on the equal pay for equal work front). One of the women interviewed suggested that African American marriages are down (like 40% down) because more African American women are getting college educations, owning their own businesses, and generally having more success in the professional world so there are less men who for them to date.

You can check out the GMA piece at:

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory?id=9598134

So, of course, this got me thinking about the relationship between professional/financial success and marriage. Men with great jobs and big bank accounts are always winners in my book. (No, I’m not a gold digger. But I appreciate any person who has it together and is on a successful path) But are women who are equally successful at a disadvantage? Did we handicap ourselves on the marriage front because we spent more time in school or we work more than 40 hours a week? Are men threatened by professionally successful women?

The short answer: I have no freakin’ clue. But I have thought about this and discussed it with friends, especially Miss Agnes, who is fantastically bright and works her tail off because she wants to be the best attorney she can be. Miss Agnes and I often ponder how we will find our intellectual/professional equals for mates, especially when we’re trapped behind our desks for far too many hours a week. (Okay, to be fair, she works a lot more than I do.)

I was once at a party with Miss Dubs while I was still in law school. A cute, eligible, hunk of a man (Seriously, I feel like hunk was the best word choice to describe him) struck up a conversation with me and it was going well, until he asked what I did. I said I was in grad school. He of course asked what I was studying. I mumbled, between large swigs of my adult beverage, “law.” Long pause. “So you’re in law school?” I shrugged, “Yeah.” Another pause. His response: “I’m gonna go get a drink.” And that was the end of that. Later, I told Miss Dubs that I was never telling anyone I was in law school again. But seriously, does the fact that I’m an attorney push men away? Do I sound scary or intense? Do they think that I’m too successful? (Clearly, they’re confused if that’s what the impression is!) And is it about all professional/career-driven women? Or do people just think that lawyers are just plain scary in general?

Furthermore, the statistic about 1 in 5 women being breadwinners seems like a step in the right direction for the feminist movement, but (I feel incredibly guilty saying this) maybe I don’t want to be the breadwinner. It seems like a lot of pressure. And I want the option to stay home with my hypothetical children at some point. I feel like if I were the breadwinner, I would have to go back to work. I mean, technically, even if I’m not the breadwinner, I will still very likely have to go back to work. Is it anti-feminist of me to not want to make more money than my hypothetical husband?

I could probably talk about this for days and days… Thoughts? Feelings?

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7 Comments

Filed under Career, Love

7 responses to “More Success = Less Marriage?

  1. There is nothing wrong with how you’re thinking. Being a wife and a mother are huge blessings that we should prioritize once given the opportunity. And there are many women who have maintained their careers and balanced being wives and mothers. If you’re potential hubby does happen to be the breadwinner, that’s less pressure on you and you can put your marriage and kids first. I don’t know about feminist or non-feminist thinking, but I do believe that the traditional approach of a man taking care of his family is much healthier for a marriage. Even if you can earn more money than him who cares? Happiness doesn’t come from $…it comes from how much you can do for others (hubby & kids & family). That’s just my opinion…good luck with all your future endeavors hon.

  2. BBC

    I think your post raises good points and good questions.

    I respectfully disagree with Tightknots’ idea that the “traditional” approach of the man being the breadwinner is “healthier for a marriage.” Also, that putting “your marriage and kids first” is an exact recipe for success. In fact, I think it can be a recipe for disaster.

    I think too many women get sucked into depression when they only put their marriage and kids first. What about putting herself first? It’s all too often that the woman/wife/mother prioritizes herself last, which leads to ultimate disruption in the family and the marriage, not to mention her physical and emotional health and well being.

    Back to the original post. I also think these stats are interesting to consider:

    –Nearly 50% of today’s workforce is women (In 1959, that figure was 29.6%)

    –2 million wives are currently supporting their families while their unemployed husbands seek work

    –40% of wives are earning as much or more than their husbands

    –Women make up 80% of the buying decision in American homes

    All in all, I think it’s good news — and significantly so — that women are climbing the numbers in the workplace and the ranks within the family.

  3. TruthBTold

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/us/19marriage.html?em

    You raise valid points, but you fail to recognize a huge factor: your environment. How many young professionals can there really be in Tulsa, OK? And by young professionals I mean single, educated, and career oriented (at least until 30 or so). If you lived in a city such as NY or San Francisco I think your outlook would be very different. This is not to say there is anything wrong with living in Tulsa, only that people are self-selecting, and most people don’t move to Tulsa for the nightlife.

    • quarterlifeconfused

      I definitely think that environment plays a huge factor in all of this — very good point TruthBTold — but I don’t think that there is a giant lack of young professional types in Tulsa. Contrary to popular belief, we have stop lights, running water, and a lot of successful international businesses. I think there are young professionals here but because this is the buckle-of-the-bible-belt the YPs are marrying very early and procreating often. So single YPs in their later 20s are fewer and farther between.

      • TruthBTold

        It does depend on how you define young professionals, but with regards to your original post, the larger issue is supply within a targeted demographic (of which yours seems to be rather limited). While there may be an abundant number of “Young Professionals” in Tulsa, the majority, as you stated, “are marrying very early and procreating often,” thereby removing themselves from the candidate pool. So no matter how you’re labeling this group, the truth is the pool is very small, and as you age the pool will continue to decrease. I find that even worse is the rate of cannibalization, a term applied to a firm that increases its profits in one division, but at the expense of the profits in another of its divisions. Translated: You’re not looking to marry a guy who has hooked up with all of your friends. And you KNOW that’s an issue in Tulsa.

        This is all simply stating the obvious. So I pose this question: have you ever considered moving to a city with a larger abundance of singles? If so, what is your rationale for your current situation? Your first reaction may be that you shouldn’t plan your life around finding a man, but to be honest, these cities are also likely to be more competitive professionally, increasing your long-run earning ability, etc etc etc. Just saying…

  4. I can’t help but weigh back in.

    TruthBTold — love the name by the way as it is the name of my developing site — makes a good point. While I was living in DC, preparing for my wedding (back here in OK), people thought I was crazy! Way too young to be getting married! Whereas, in Oklahoma it almost felt that I was quickly becoming an old maid…at 24.

    And even though Tulsa does has running water, stop lights and lots of business and personality, it’s just not the same as a major metropolis, plain and simple.

  5. quarterlifeconfused

    In response to TruthBTold’s most recent comment, I think you’re right the pool is shrinking daily and LOVE what you said about everyone in Tulsa having hooked up with one of your friends. SO true.

    My rationale for my current location – I am licensed to practice law in the great state of Oklahoma. At this point, trying to get into the bar of another state is more work and way more money than I’m interested in spending. Plus, let’s be real – getting a job is a lot about who you know and a little about your resume. I don’t have great lawyer connections outside of the state and I have less than two years experience under my belt. Finding a job in another locale = HUGE challenge at this point. I’m not entirely against it, but I think at this point it probably isn’t the best choice for me career-wise. Plus, I’m a giant weirdo about my family and I love that I get to see my parents, grandparents, nephew, etc. all the time! However, I’m sure I’ll revisit the idea of moving as the pool of possible suitors continues to shrink… After all, isn’t everything about location, location, location? Or does that just apply to real estate?

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