Marriage is a make or break for all people regardless of gender. And especially so in the case of working women today. If women think it is what determines the love quotient, personal life, standard of living, and progeny then that is still a singular view. In all my coaching and mentoring years, what I have observed is that, women make crucial life decisions based on conventional measures, although their lives no longer match their mothers or grand mothers. They seek living role models to watch and learn from, because they don’t have any who really comprehend the dynamics of corporate lifestyles. Many end up using traditional benchmarks in partner selection that eventually bring conflicts in lifestyle and routes.
The women in emerging markets are worse off than women in more progressive nations. They may often be the first working woman the family ever produced. Have competitive and demanding work experiences just like any other woman from a developed world. But what makes it harder for them is that a working woman in these parts, still plays old world roles along with the new one. The new one includes being socio economically independent, intellectually contributing and a voter almost everywhere, in company, society, clubs or country. Study in India….
Domestic changes :- It is sad that a vast majority of working women still claim of receiving little to no help from spouse in the domestic scene. While some men are indeed changing to be supportive to their wife, they are few that are hands on. And the few there are, admit to having lowered personal expectations rather than turn into helpers and co-workers inside the house. An independent survey I conducted showed 73% of the women agree their men are not fussy about food, eat what they get, are not cleanliness maniacs nor hell bent on perfect house keeping. Asked how many men actually help in the house that percentage dropped to 26% with varying descriptions of what help meant. So it still is in her list of To Do’s for most parts.
When it is her Career :– Helping domestically is one aspect, the other is the area governing career, aspirations, change and occupational demands. This is where He takes centre stage and she is still wheel number 5- the stepny. If movement to Germany happens for the husband the woman needs to quit but the number of men willing to quit because the wife has earned a 5 year rotation to the US is very ….very rare. There are not really many examples of homes where the woman is more successful and the man being comfortable with it, steady in view and also alright with looking after the child or helping in the kitchen. Of all the women I have known in my 22 years of working which should mean a brush with over 10,000 women I known through my work circles, 2 were women leaders with husbands who didn’t speed on careers the same way but were wonderful supportive men. I hold immense respect for the 2 men, who I don’t have the privileged of knowing well; but even from afar, their greatness is apparent in how they allowed her to fly.
Not all women think so far when they are of marriageable age. Many just end up making partner choices following the benchmarks most others before them took, which no longer is relevant to them.
Life is like 2 rail roads running parallel. One is professional and the other is the personal rail road. They travel together, not one without the other. Any disturbance in any one areas will certainly impact the other rail road. Thus it is important, that you marry right to be able to stay on the professional track as well. Likewise if your professional aspirations demand a certain speed, investment in hours, locations, travel etc you have to be clear of your selection of partner. A very traditional home with a very conservative man will not give the room, leverage and support to live out her dreams like he does his. If her career expects a modern, liberated, travelling, world exploring, global citizen well adapted to being globally presentable and working odd hours it is impossible to even consider a life partner from very traditional ideas. It will not be practical to stay Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for a life time.
The Clash :- Many unsuccessful marriages today come from such situations where the woman has moved on to the 21st century but she married a man from the 19th. And to be fair to men I would like to add that when boys and girls went to school in the 60’s to 80’s they dint really see working mom’s and mom’s raised kids with old world values of girls being care takers and their boys needing to marry very subservient women – not knowing times will change and the game would be entirely different. Women moved fast because they were the beneficiaries. Many men lagged behind quite a bit because by then they were already steadfast as grown up adults. Change is hard then on. The worst hit are the Gen X therefore. And also explains why many women in their late 30’s give up jobs as jobs start to demand more from them in their growing careers. Gen Y is far better off and with time the new generation of men are more and more open, interested and keen to be married to working women since they comprehend the value of intelligence used, monetary support and partners independence.
The Need :- If society and companies really want the working woman to work, it is time they work with their men to allow it to happen. Women need men and vise versa. Be it work or personal lives; we are interdependent. To think this is a woman’s subject and will be a flag they stump everywhere is fallacy. So when we seek a paradigm shift in attitude and behaviours it has to be led by our men. That is when it will be beautiful to watch and experience it.