My mother loves to tell people I ‘married well’. While my mother’s phrase invokes images of an Austen-esque pairing with a suitably wealthy man, nothing could be further from the truth. What she means is that I married a man who fundamentally thinks my career is ‘cool’ and does all he can to facilitate my success. We talk all the time about all the ‘tips’ for getting to the top, but in fact, having a supportive partner is fundamental.
Plus, we at Female Breadwinners believe these types of men are growing in number; recognising that the smart money is on a female partner who can bring as much financial security to the table as them; if not more. In fact, we routinely get emails from men who are curious where they can meet ‘female breadwinners’. We are not a dating agency, but these emails give us hope that there are men who feel smart and ambitious is sexy.
A life partner who supports your career is vital. You need someone who shares the domestics that men have historically taken for granted. Does he make dinner regularly and share in the pick ups and drop offs for school? It may not be chocolates and flowers; but it keeps a relationship ticking far better. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, observed in Lean In: “I don’t know of a single woman in a leadership position whose life partner is not fully – and I mean fully – supportive of her career.”
In fact, if my only other option were to be with someone who pressured me not to work or to be alone; I’d prefer be alone. I’d be in good company as despite not being wed, women like Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice and Diane Keaton seem to be doing just fine.
When did you have to get realistic about the Jane Austen ideal?