Till ca­reers do us part

A new gen­er­a­tion of smart, ac­com­plished women is learn­ing the hard way that just be­cause a man says he’s en­am­oured by a suc­cess­ful woman, doesn’t mean he ac­tu­ally wants one. Now they’re rewrit­ing the rules on love and mar­riage

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Leigh Mo­han has never har­boured any il­lu­sions about the was asked to star in a fash­ion ad; ear­lier this year, she graced the cover of

plus-one,’ she says.) Al­ways the go-get­ter, she sug­gested they launch a ven­ture to­gether, but he re­jected that idea, too, con­fess­ing just how much he be­grudged play­ing sec­ond al­ways been hon­est that work was her top pri­or­ity, a fact that wouldn’t change whether she wore his en­gage­ment ring or not. ‘When you spend all your time breath­ing life into some­thing, you don’t just ditch it for a re­la­tion­ship,’ Leigh says. A year later, he broke off their en­gage­ment.

To be clear, Leigh’s story isn’t a case of mis­matched al­pha girl frus­trated by her beta guy. Leigh says she and her ex were drawn to each other pre­cisely be­cause they had so much in common: both were Type A, Ivy League says, stemmed from the fact that her ca­reer de­manded much more support from him than his did from her. And though he claimed to be a sen­si­tive, in­vested part­ner, the im­po­si­tion proved just too much. ‘I think men still feel but women do this all the time,’ she says. ‘I know so many women whose hus­bands are launch­ing startups, and that’s the pri­or­ity. Men have it eas­ier be­cause women are will­ing to put up with a lot more. Men are less will­ing to do that for women.’

It’s an in­creas­ingly fa­mil­iar re­frain echoed by work­ing ex­am­ple: Pep­siCo CEO In­dra Nooyi, who in an in­ter­view this sum­mer re­marked, only half kid­ding, that just as a woman is build­ing her ca­reer, ‘that’s the time your hus­band be­comes a teenager, so he needs you’. Re­la­tion­ships where wives out­earn their hus­bands face par­tic­u­lar strife and could be twice as likely to di­vorce. Gen­der norms are largely to blame: even as­sertive, hard in the ‘wifey’ depart­ment once they get home, fold­ing laun­dry and load­ing the dish­washer to re­as­sure their ‘threat­ened’ hus­bands. Not sur­pris­ingly, this ‘sec­ond shift’ fu­els a whole lot of ac­ri­mony. ‘Women still feel pres­sured to be the do­mes­tic doyenne,’ says Farnoosh Torabi, au­thor of When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Bread­win­ning Women. ‘You feel you have to do it be­cause you’ve been con­di­tioned to think you have to do it.’ But those gen­der norms cut both ways, with some women re­port­ing that the os­ten­si­bly pro­gres­sive men who pur­sued them in part be­cause their ca­reers were such a turn-on (call it the Clooney-Ala­mud­din Ef­fect) end up balk­ing at the bur­dens those ca­reers in­vari­ably have on their re­la­tion­ships. In other words, they say they want a suc­cess­ful woman, un­til they ac­tu­ally have of Global Wealth & In­vest­ment Man­age­ment at Bank of Amer­ica, and once re­garded as the most pow­er­ful woman her ex-hus­band were in their 20s and just em­bark­ing on while his sput­tered for a spell. When she showed up an hour late for din­ner, he rolled his eyes. ‘The eye roll is all you need to know to pre­dict di­vorce,’ she says. ‘It’s been shown by re­search to be a not-very-well-hid­den sign of con­tempt. And once you’ve got con­tempt, you’ve got a prob­lem.’ Corinna Perkins* saw her mar­riage to a renowned sci­en­tist im­plode when she grad­u­ated from business school and landed a job with a top-tier con­sult­ing got in­volved, I felt like part of what ex­cited him about me was that I was smart and pow­er­ful and could keep pace with him, in­tel­lec­tu­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally,’ she says. And sud­denly, things like my not be­ing home so much, which had been a source of fric­tion but not ir­re­vo­ca­ble, coun­selling, but Corinna says the ther­a­pist pressed her to scale back on her work sched­ule – a re­quest, she feels, that would never be asked of a man on track to make part­ner prob­lem, says Corinna, is that she was sur­rounded by women who’d made stark choices in their lives: re­lin­quish­ing ca­reers to ac­com­mo­date their fam­i­lies or putting off mar­riage al­to­gether. ‘I wanted some type of hy­brid, but I looked around and no­body had what I wanted,’ she says. ‘My ex-hus­band wasn’t wrong, and I wasn’t wrong. There were just no mod­els for us to look to in terms of what a mar­riage could be like.’

‘We’re in the mid­dle of this sea change in terms of gen­der roles,’ says Anne Weis­berg, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for strat­egy at the Fam­i­lies and Work In­sti­tute. ‘It’s messy and com­pli­cated and it’s go­ing to take a long time to sort it all out. In Lean In

Even AS­SERTIVE, HARD­CHARG­ING CA­REER WOMEN find them­selves over­com­pen­sat­ing in the ‘WIFEY’ DEPART­MENT ONCE


rec­om­men­da­tions: don’t leave be­fore you leave, sit at the

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