Modern Wives, Retro Problems

We moms have recently had a darn good run as far as scintillating, empowering, enraging mommy commentary in the media goes, even without the Sheryl Sandberg explosion.


Take this blog you are reading right now, which is going to review an article about a magazine - all about the frustrations of modern day motherhood! Extra bonus: thousands of comments from real live moms that accompany each article, blog and sidebar.


First came “The Feminist Housewife” in New York Magazine. In response: the utterly brilliant article “Do Women Stay Home Because It’s Easier on Their Families?” recently flamed on The Daily Beast. NY Mag writer Lisa Miller and Beast author Megan McArdle took a complex issue and boiled it down to essential stock ingredients.


Here they are:

  • Once married, most American men and women, no matter who is the primary breadwinner, continue to tacitly value gendered patterns of behavior.


  • The cultural pressure to conform to traditional gender roles applies mainly to married females, no matter whether they work or not, when logically it should be men who expand historical parenting and housekeeping roles.



Or as one pithy friend says:


“Marriage is a sucky institution for women.”

  • Objective bystanders can be found in gay couples, who offer insightful if envious commentary that marriage is easier (albeit more constricting) for straight couples, because hetero roles, although unfair, are more clearly defined.


  • In the absence of responsibilities set by gender, the constant transactions and negotiations among couples who try to split child and household responsibilities 50/50 are draining, frustrating, and eventually, deeply boring to everyone involved.


  • Bottom line: for women/wives who are agitating for change in at-home gender roles, the constant negotiations will most definitely take a heavy toll on your relationship's serenity, not to mention your sex life, and maybe won’t help your career or financial security or happiness one iota. Maybe you should just head home - and stay there.


Does all this ring a few bells?


In my house it sure does.


My husband and I have equivalent professional degrees, MBAs from Wharton, 1992 and 1993.


Despite lifelong ambition and competitive zeal, I left my last corporate job in 2006 in part because I was sick and tired of the endless, fruitless tug-of-war at home.



So true. My husband puts me in the position of either reminding (nagging) him (to get up out of bed, to pack lunches, to pour the cereal, to get the kids dressed), or doing it myself (while he sleeps, then reads the paper). I've told him it's not fair. But there is no consequence for him. I am the supreme enabler because I'm not willing to throw my kids under the bus so he learns his lesson. He's got leverage and he's using it.


I'd love to know what type of job this husband who comes home relaxed at 9pm has. If my hubby comes home past 7pm he's usually exhausted and grouchy, looking for comfort food and a stiff drink! I can't say I envy him. What really bugs me sometimes though is the travel. I can't decide if I'm jealous of not tagging along or disappointed that he often misses events at home because of out of town meetings and conferences. When I hear about flight delays, lost bags, dumpy hotels and such I realize its not as glamorous and exciting to him as it may appear to me and the kids.