I’ve noted before that more and more women are making more than their partners and spouses, and although statistically in many jobs, men still make more than women, the balance of monetary “power” in many relationships is shifting. So how is this balance holding up in the recession? Turns out, it’s shifting even more toward women as their status as breadwinner continues to become more and more prevalent. According to a New York Times study. over the passed year – as companies from Citibank to GM announced massive layoffs, 82 percent of the people getting laid off have been men. It won’t be long before women become the majority of the American workforce.
Is This Good News?
This can be both good and bad news. It’s good because more women being primary money-makers is an opportunity to finally disprove the outdated idea that supporting a family is a man’s job. But on the other hand, for many, this isn’t what they had in mind. Being forced into a breadwinning role because of far less-than-stellar circumstances is probably far from what most women had in mind. Making more than a partner because the partner is out of work is not really something positive.
CNN.com talked to a few women who know about these pros and cons first hand. One women laments that now her boyfriend of 17 years has become needy, saying, “We haven’t gone out to a restaurant since and are buying store brands at the market. He’d never admit it, but he’s become more needy. When I’ve had a stressful day at work, it’s hard to come home and be upbeat and supportive.”
Another woman blames the recession for her breakup, as her boyfriend had to relocate to find work: “Between September and January, my boyfriend has been laid off four times. He applied for tons of jobs in Los Angeles, but got zero response. Then he posted his resume in Boston, where he’s from. He got 10 calls quickly. We decided it was best for him to move back to Boston. The recession has split us up.”
Yet another working woman explains how the duties have shifted to her stay-at-home spouse: “My husband Paul is now responsible for keeping the house clean, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, taking our son to practices, helping with homework, plus walking the dog.”
Communicating With Your Partner Is The Key
I’ve always stressed in my practice and with my patients, the power of non-judgmental communication, or what I call “Smart Heart Dialogue.” This type of communication is even more important now, when egos are fragile, stress abounds, and tempers are short. It’s important that each person give the other a place in which they can be honest and – just as importantly – a place where each person knows the other is going to take their honesty to heart. What good is a conversation if no change comes from the concerns voiced? It’s crucial to have constant, two-way communication, but each person must also be committed to making reasonable changes if necessary and compromising when applicable.