How much time do you spend with your husband?
Between over-the-top schedules, meetings, errands, and seemingly 24/7 social media demands, those of us lucky enough to have a job are operating on warped speed. There is little time left in the day to connect with your spouse at night.
Ifeyinwa Offor Walker, a 29-year-old woman who holds no less than three degrees consciously made the decision to put aside work and focus on her marriage. And she willingly walked away from her VP job at an educational non-profit to do it.
In Washington Post’s The Juggle, Walker documents how she has received backlash for taking time off for her marriage. People immediately assumed she was sick, having a baby (she is childless), or needed time to take care of aging parents. The thought of her quitting her well-earned job just to spend time with her husband was not a believable explanation to many who questioned why a person would, especially in this economy, quit a job she loved.
Yet her motivation was simple:
I took time off because as a recently-married, three-degree-holding, child-free, 29-year-old woman in New York, my priority is growing a solid foundation for my marriage/relationship with my husband.
Her priority is her husband. How does that sit with feminist, pro-woman ideals? Walker says she believes it will help strengthen her marriage for a lifetime. Perhaps she also thinks that by the time the couple does have kids, their union will be so strong, it will be able to withstand the demands of raising children.
Juggle writer, Paula Szuchman thinks the reason Walker received such harsh criticism is because marriage is becoming obsolete. In our country, work is more appealing, more admirable and definitely more valued than marriage.
I’m on the fence…
There’s something offsetting about going through school and earning those three degrees only to find a nice guy to settle down with and then quit your job. It reminds me of the old-fashioned notion of women going to college solely to find a husband. That is the exact opposite of what I would want for my daughters.
While I don’t think many women would aspire to do what Walker did, I wonder how many men would, if any.
My colleague Katie Allison Granju recently wrote about the financial dangers of staying home with your kids. Just imagine the financial ramifications (not to mention guilt) that could possibly come about as a result of staying home to be with your husband!
Yet at the end of a lifetime, what matters are the people you shared it with, not the corner office, or the promotions or any material goods. With so many couples shriveling up during the child-raising years, it makes sense that couples need to put as much as they can into their relationship before the children come along. Then when the baby has colic, the twins are fighting, or junior is being bullied, you both have built up enough patience and stamina to make it through. Parenting is nothing short of challenging even on good days, and the hard times are when you need a partner who will share your concerns the most.
But what happens if even though the woman has given it all she’s got and given up her career, divorce still occurs? Where does that leave the wife?
Does a woman giving up her career to focus on her husband strengthen a marriage or is it an unwise choice at best in 2011?