Saturday, August 26, 2006

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This seems like a good weekend topic

Well, I see the blogosphere is ablaze with talk about this Forbes colum by Michael Noer:

Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career.

Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage....

Not a happy conclusion, especially given that many men, particularly successful men, are attracted to women with similar goals and aspirations. And why not? After all, your typical career girl is well-educated, ambitious, informed and engaged. All seemingly good things, right? Sure…at least until you get married. Then, to put it bluntly, the more successful she is the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you. Sound familiar?

Read the whiole thing and then coment away.

I'm shocked, shocked that Noer's article, "provoked a heated response from both outside and inside our building." Indeed, after a few days, Forbes felt compelled to publish a side-by-side rebuttal by Elizabeth Corcoran.

Online reaction from Laura McKenna and Jack Shafer, and on a related topic, Bitch Ph.D. Shafer has the key point:

Forbes' definition of a career woman is extraordinarily broad, including any woman who has a college education, works 35 hours a week, and makes more than $30,000. So, if you define non-career women as all the "undereducated" who work part-time and make less than $30K, it becomes painfully obvious why female careerists are more likely to divorce than non-careerists: They can better afford to get out of an unhappy marriage than their sisters.

That may be bad news for all the schmoes getting dumped, but it's great news for the gals. So, go ahead, young ladies. Get your degree. Even go to grad school. Gun for that corner office if you want to and get the guy. If you divorce, make sure to stick him with the shared subscription to Forbes.

I'm sure both Noer and Shafer would point to this Jacqueline Mackie Massey Paisley post to support this argument.

posted by Dan on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM


I wonder if career women are less inclined to marry a non-career spouse than career men.

posted by: Lord on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM [permalink]

Interesting that Shafer describes getting a divorce as "dumping" someone.

I hadn't known that a 16 year old ending a summer romance was doing the same thing as a wife divorcing her husband-just "dumping" somebody. All relationships now involve no real commitment.

posted by: John Salmon on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM [permalink]

It seems that Noer draws conclusions from statistics to which Corcoran objects because the conclusions do not apply to her own marriage. Shafer's contribution is the assumption that the marriages of career women end on their initiative. This may be partly true, or even mostly true, but is unlikely to be entirely true, as professionally successful men devoted to their careers may lose interest in first wives with careers in favor of younger women with loyalties less divided.

Having said that it is no more than common sense to assume that a marriage begun as the result only of mutual attraction rather than with some level of agreed expectation as to the kind of family life it will produce will have reduced chances for success, regardless of its female partner's career orientation. It is of course possible that women less interested in a career than in having and raising children are likely to give more thought to this than women absorbed with their professional lives.

posted by: Zathras on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM [permalink]

After reading Jacqueline's pathetic soliloqui on her love life, all I can say is that she deserves to be alone. After hearing all my life about how shallow men are, now I read that among young, successfull, attractive, sexy, blah blah women, she is so special that most men can only dream of asking her for a date and that American men should go to a 3rd world country where the women expect less. ¡Hijole! Ya me voy.

posted by: OpenBorderMan on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM [permalink]

That may be bad news for all the schmoes getting dumped, but it's great news for the gals.


So a career woman's ability to dump an unsatisfactory spouse is 'great news for the gals', but a career man's ability to dump an unsatisfactory spouse leads to jokes about 'trophy wives' and criticism for his lack of commitment.

Interesting double standard.

posted by: rosignol on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM [permalink]

This Noer fellow is a complete shmuck. Or he's simply a provocateur. Either way, he's wrong and not worth the time of day...

posted by: PG on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM [permalink]

Michael Noer's article, "Don't Marry a Career Woman" has some valid points.

Michael Noer article Don’t Marry a Career Woman provoked a rush of criticism that besieged the experts. My criticism and where I agreed, comes down to this; his article was true for some career women and completely untrue for others. The questions that I’m suggesting is this, did his article have more truths in it or was it just plain imaginary? Mr. Noer didn’t write an article that wasn’t backed up with research, he provided some facts and not one boycott article I’ve read thus far addresses those. Statistics can be a writer’s dessert or poison depending if what you’ve claimed is in the minority so therefore possibly pointless, or within the majority and worth discussing. The backlash for his audacity to write the article, brings a hidden light where social biases prefer to not see.

Topic 1) Mr. Noer wrote…”a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.”

In the last forty years, Americas social conscious has changed. Some men and women feel obligated to be a caretaker for their children and spouses. Some men and women feel honored to be caretakers. Some men don’t equate their manhood with any caretaker role at all and some women don’t equate their womanhood with a caretaker role either. Our passions are changing and unfortunately, our economy and the value of materialism has left an impression on the American family. Today, the majority of women still desire to care for their children first and if they have to work, the typical preference is part time and not full time. It is because of this reasoning that women are happierif the husband is the primary breadwinner but unfortunately, many of us don’t have this opportunity to utilize a choice. Economics have come into play and an option for the choice to stay at home is limited.

Topic 2) Mr. Noer wrote- “…the more successful she is, the more likely she is to grow dissatisfied with you.”

This statement is about human nature and its premise is non-gender specific. One of the advantages to having a career is it builds your confidence. This factor can come home and there walks in a puffy spouse, whether male or female; success at the job, can build you up with your presumed superiority at home. It’s very rare, considering human nature that when we can climb the ladder of success, we can remain humble. Periods of dissatisfaction within a marriage is a given because all marriages have seasons of struggles. For many, the test of ones character does come into play with career achievements and this is a behavioral fact and not a gender bias. When you’re the big guy at work or you have some power at the workplace, to come home to a job that doesn’t have awards on the walls isn’t an easy adjustment. You receive pats on the back all day long and come home to a job that doesn’t have praise wrapped around its little finger. You take that situation and tie it around any periods of struggle within a marriage and yes, it’s easier to become dissatisfied with your spouse. Topic 2 is true for both women and men.

Had Mr. Noer written a non-gender article about how success at the workplace can create dissatisfaction with ones spouse, the article wouldn’t have been controversial. And, there are articles out there on just that but our sensitivities on women’s rights have clouded some of the finer parts of accuracy in his article.

Topic 3) Mr. Noer wrote- “Women's work hours consistently increase divorce, whereas increases in men's work hours often have no statistical effect.”

I saw this argument as ambiguous. It’s more widely accepted for a man to spend more time away from home than a woman. If a career woman works full time men tend to feel abandoned, where a woman does not. Again, if a career woman is a mother, she is still expected to carry more of the parental responsibilities than the father. An increase in divorce, due to a woman’s increase in work hours is because we’re raised in social climate that teaches differently. Do I think that’s acceptable? No, I don’t but Mr. Noer’s argument is still nevertheless, true.

Topic 4) Mr. Noer wrote- “The other reason a career can hurt a marriage will be obvious to anyone who has seen his or her mate run off with a co-worker.” He also wrote, “The work environment provides a host of potential partners…"

Opportunity sparks options and opens doors for betrayal by both men and women. You can have an affair at Burger King but if you have a job that provides financial stability the temptations for an affair has fewer drawbacks. If you rely on your spouse’s income you’re less likely to jeopardize your marriage. If you rely on your spouse’s income you’re less likely to leave an unhealthy marriage. This is human nature that's true for both men and women. Had Mr. Noer written an article stating that most affairs from career men come from the workplace, that wouldn’t have been viewed as controversial.

Topic 5) Mr. Noer wrote- “They will be unhappy if they make moremoney than you do. You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do.”

One's frame of mind towards their spouse who makes less money or stays at home is tested by our value in materialism and the male ego. It’s not a woman’s fault if she makes more money than her spouse but most men would agree, it’s a jab to their ego. Socially men are geared for the provider role and yes, it causes problems. It’s just another area where society hasn’t progressed but it’s still a very real problem that supports Mr. Noer statement. What's also causing this? We, both men and women interpret a higher income as being a better provider. Work ethic is no longer enough because attaining wealth is admired by so many.

Topic 6) In other words, a good marriage is associated with a higher income, a longer, healthier life and better-adjusted kids.

When both spouses have careers the labor specialization has a greater opportunity for equal grounding but once you throw children into the labor realm, the dynamics change far more.

Interjecting my personal reflection

With my own personal struggles as a single mother and working on my career, I found I had no time to be a mother. I remember getting up at 6 am, dropping my kids off at the sitter at 7:15 and I was off to work. At the end of my day, I picked up my kids, drove through traffic and got home around 7 pm. I still had to accomplish homework time, cooking dinner, bathing, getting their clothes ready for the next day and all of this, within two hours before bedtime. I was spent. I lasted a few years and I couldn’t bare it any longer. There is a very popular erroneous American parenting quote, “Its not quantity but quality time.” Children need quality and quantity time with mom and dad. It becomes their lacking when they don't have both. So, I sacrificed my career and in time, I realized I made the wrong decision. Why? I allowed my children to not be first because I feared I couldn’t provide for them. So I stayed in an unhealthy relationship for a few years instead of taking the bull by the horns and saying enough. Lessons learned.

Children first

A full time career choice leaves parenting time down to two or three hours a day during the work week and often, that isn’t enough. If your happiness comes through a career first and you're a better parent for it, than by all means you should, but that doesn’t excuse a lack of character either. There are enough statistics out there that support that one parent being at home when children get out of school, creates a more balanced kid. Time and quantity is of the essence. When one spouse comes home at 6pm, and the other spouse was able to tend to the children’s homework, do the shopping and prepare dinner, there is more time in the evening for quality fun time with the kids and spend more quality time together as a couple. Those dynamics are simply true but often comes with criticism. As Mr Noer suggests in his article, kids tend to turn out better adjusted when someone is home or in my opinion, at least part time. I agree.

Wounds and Fears

I look back historically at my sisters suffering and I carry that in my heart and how inequality cost them happiness. To have no choice but to surrender to an unhealthy relationship because of the fear in loosing a god-given right for their children, deeply saddens me. To not have the right to own property or have a career, deeply saddens me. The brave women in our history will always marvel me but if we don’t take back our integrity for the family unit; our children will continue to reveal their shortcomings from our choices.

Many of us don’t have the options to be home with our kids and we carry guilt over this. I believe if our hearts have the right motives than our sacrifices should be guilt free. If we strive for a career to have big screen TV, nice cars and to attain materialism, than that’s a job that should be dismissed. If strive for careers because we can't keep a roof over our heads than we should work. If we work jobs to build our confidence, inflate our egos than that’s a job that should be dismissed.

If you were to take Mr. Noer article and replace all attributing “female” and “male,” words with non-gender “spouse” wording, you will discover that this article wasn’t very controversial at all. Why? Because the subject at hand does have some merit but our sensitivities stood in the way of reason. Rewording the article does shade some light on this and with lesser biases, we're more open to some of his conclusions. We must not let our fears create road blocks. The non-gendered version carries both the male and female possibilities in Mr. Noers argument. If you can find her and his truths in this rewritten version then there are some truths for the career woman as well.

To close,

Mr. Noers article has more insight to offer than not. Women and men can have careers, children and a happy marriage. This is true, possible and it happens. The time you spend serving these can show up as a great savings account when you’re older, a bigger house, more vacations, a happier marriage and balanced children. Our choices can also show up with unhappy children, an unhappy marriage and a bigger house to settle in divorce court.

posted by: Raven Smith on 08.26.06 at 08:49 PM [permalink]

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