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November 04, 2013

Hard Wiring?

These guys must not have gotten the "marriage strike" memo:

When it comes to “having it all,” men want more: 79 percent of male respondents said that “having it all” included being in a “strong, loving marriage,” compared to 66 percent of women. Eighty-six percent of men say the calculus includes children, compared to 73 percent of women. Men are also more likely to describe themselves as “family-oriented” than women are. And the proportion of women who don’t prioritize relationships in their definition of success at all has almost doubled—from 5 percent to 9 percent—since last summer.

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The Atlantic Wire’s Zach Schonfeld seems surprised by these findings (which Citi and LinkedIn say are based on a “representative” sample of 1,023 American professionals). He calls the gender discrepancy “staggering,” notes that women are “increasingly defying gender stereotypes by deemphasizing marriage, relationships, and children in their definitions of success,” and asks, “are men more obsessed with 'having it all' than women are?”

We blame feminism for this.

Posted by Cassandra at November 4, 2013 07:17 AM

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Who doesn't like "having it all" when someone else has to "do it all"?

Posted by: Texan99 at November 4, 2013 12:27 PM

Once I was forced to attend a seminar on 'work-life balance.' The... ah the right descriptive term escapes me, so I'l go with 'professional motivational speaker'... who gave the talk went on and on for nearly two hours about how important it was, and how individual: "No one can tell you what the right balance is for you," she must have said a thousand times.

Then she passed out a worksheet with spokes from a central point, labeled 'Work' and 'Family' and 'Health' and so forth, with hashmarks from 0 to 10. After you marked the relative importance of each, she asked you to draw a circle connecting them. "Could you get far on a wheel that looked like that?"

So 'no one can tell you what the right balance for you looks like,' but we can tell you that they all need to be prioritized exactly equally for the wheel metaphor to work. I guess we're left free to decide if everything is a zero or a ten, at least. ("But you get farther on a bigger wheel!")

Posted by: Grim at November 4, 2013 01:04 PM

This may be a mostly-female way of thinking, but I had a very similar conversation (in the broad outlines, at least) with a young person on my team last week.

We were talking career paths and goals, and I was telling her that it's a good idea to have a short term (where do I want to be in a year?) and longer term (where do I want to be in 3 years? 5 years?) plan.

How do you decide what that plan should be?

Well, it kind of depends on what kind of life you want for yourself, and that tends to depend on how old you are, your family structure, etc. For instance, many young people are hired in on the low end of the salary scale, so promotion and pay growth are important goals. More senior workers usually are on a less steep pay/promotion trajectory - they're already being paid more money (b/c they have more experience) and they can't expect the same growth in pay as someone starting out unless they're prepared to work extraordinarily hard.

For years, I wasn't interested in promotion for several reasons (primarily, I had so little control over our lives b/c the Spousal Unit was in the military). I was the anchor in our family, so my professional growth was far less important than my home life.

After he got out, we decided to try and maximize our income for 5-10 years to catch up on all that retirement saving we couldn't do earlier b/c I stayed home with the kids and we married so young.

Women really do need to think about kids because the cold, hard truth is that most men don't see it as "their job" to care for small children. So if a woman wants children, odds are she will have to take primary responsibility for them, at least until they're 10 or 12, whether she wants to or not.

I would have the same talk with a male employee (in fact, I DID have the same talk with both my boys when they graduated college, and they made very different decisions). You have to balance being employable with your family's and employer's expectations and the demands of your job. People can and do choose less challenging (and less well paid) jobs because they don't want the pressure, and conversely they may put up with more stress and less free time in return for more money.

If I had a dime for every enlisted Marine who told me they wouldn't consider being and officer b/c officers had to work longer hours and take more crap when the spouse was on active duty, I'd be independently wealthy :p

That said, it sounds like that woman really needs a class in logic! Or physics. Or geometry.

Posted by: Cass at November 4, 2013 01:39 PM

"The... ah the right descriptive term escapes me,..."

I vote for 'asshat'. Only because the other words that came to mind aren't really *family friendly*.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at November 4, 2013 02:51 PM

By "the right descriptive term escapes me" I didn't mean that I couldn't think of any. I just meant I couldn't think of any that a gentleman might direct at a lady. :)

Posted by: Grim at November 4, 2013 04:17 PM

Couple of questions.

1) If 79% of men desire a “strong, loving marriage,” what percentage has it been over history. It could still be a "Marriage Strike" if the rate has historically been higher.

2) 79% of men desire a "strong, loving marriage", but 86% of them desire kids. I really hope those are men who already have the kids but have given up on re-marriage. The alternative that these guys desire future kids, but not a spouse is just too sad.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 4, 2013 04:54 PM

If your wiring is hard, well, go back the the Troll caption contest. That'll take care of that problem.

And if it doesn't I don't want to know about it.

Posted by: Oink Cadre™ at November 4, 2013 05:22 PM

I fear Tex's sentiment is much too close to the truth, and the central issue is that men and women think of these terms in different ways.

Having volunteered that, I also think it's encouraging that the survey confirms that most men still desire a stable family situation. I've seen articles describing the 'Men on Strike' theory, and don't care for that proposition.

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at November 4, 2013 06:45 PM

A few thoughts:

she passed out a worksheet with spokes from a central point, labeled 'Work' and 'Family' and 'Health' and so forth, with hashmarks from 0 to 10. After you marked the relative importance of each, she asked you to draw a circle connecting them. "Could you get far on a wheel that looked like that?"

No, but you can if you marry someone whose relative priorities complement yours (the old fashioned way where the man prioritizes the career over family and the woman prioritizes the family over career, or vice versa). This is the difference between working as a team and working solo.

What doesn't work terribly well is when you both have exactly the same relative priorities, because then you're in competition rather than working together.

If 79% of men desire a “strong, loving marriage,” what percentage has it been over history. It could still be a "Marriage Strike" if the rate has historically been higher.

According to conservative thinking about hard wiring, the number should be considerably lower, as men are "hard wired" to want endless variety and consequence free sex. And here we are in an age where those things are easier to get than before and yet, inexplicably, the hard wiring seems to be absent.

79% of men desire a "strong, loving marriage", but 86% of them desire kids. I really hope those are men who already have the kids but have given up on re-marriage. The alternative that these guys desire future kids, but not a spouse is just too sad.

Yeah. Pretty depressing.

Who doesn't like "having it all" when someone else has to "do it all"?

Tex has a point if "doing it all" refers only to child rearing responsibilities. But if we view the total work as being part child rearing and part being the provider (the traditionally male role) then women aren't doing it all - they're just doing all of "their part" of the job.

Stats show that men do work harder and longer (heh... she said har... oh, never mind) when they have a family to provide for. And that comes with frustrations and pressures of its own - ones that I never really understood in full (I did appreciate them even before I worked) until I had dealt with the stress of working for several years.

I often marvel now at my own urge to put my fist right through the nearest expanse of drywall... I may have felt frustrated/bored/unappreciated as a FT homemaker from time to time, but I don't ever remember feeling this stressed or angry.

Of course I don't feel that way all the time (just as I didn't feel frustrated/bored/unapprecated all the time as a SAH wife and mom). There are just very different tradeoffs involved in each job.

Posted by: Cass at November 4, 2013 06:59 PM

...I also think it's encouraging that the survey confirms that most men still desire a stable family situation. I've seen articles describing the 'Men on Strike' theory, and don't care for that proposition.

Me, too, Mike :)

Posted by: Cass at November 4, 2013 07:00 PM

Women really do need to think about kids because the cold, hard truth is that most men don't see it as "their job" to care for small children. So if a woman wants children, odds are she will have to take primary responsibility for them, at least until they're 10 or 12, whether she wants to or not.

Just to add to the discussion: to be fair, there are cases where the man *wants* to care for small children, but the woman won't let him. I've seen this dynamic play out in person with friends of mine who had their first child. I remember one night, after the wife had picked the baby up and taken him into another room following a minor dispute: the husband said (exact wording): "And she literally takes it out of my hands." Then followed a fifteen-minute venting/ranting session to me and another friend present about how he felt like his wife was monopolizing the baby, wouldn't give him a chance to care for it, and wouldn't even take his input on it. It really stood out in my mind because it was the first time I had ever heard either of them say anything negative about the other.

I'm not saying this is necessarily the norm, mind you, but it does happen.

Posted by: colagirl at November 4, 2013 09:01 PM

I have seen that happen too, colagirl. People can get territorial about certain things and for women, children are one of them.

Good point.

I always laugh when I read one of those articles about women who complain that their husbands don't do any housework, but when they try, the wife belittles or redoes whatever he tries to do :p

The spousal unit didn't really ever chip in much around the house until our kids were gone and both of us were working. I think it helped that he had lived by himself for 12 month stretches several times during this period.

Turns out, he is really picky about certain things. I just didn't know it b/c I did those things all the time.

I can't load the dishwasher to his satisfaction, for instance. He will literally take something out right after I put it in and reposition it - usually better than the way I had it, though not always :p When I am tempted to be irritated about this, I try to stop and reflect that he really does do it better than I do and I'd rather have help than not have help.

And there are things I do better than he does. I think that's one nice thing about getting older - you mellow out a bit.

But I think your friend should tell his wife to knock that off. Women sometimes think men are too rough with babies or small children and sometimes, they're right. But kids are sturdier than they look.

Posted by: Cass at November 4, 2013 09:12 PM

By "the right descriptive term escapes me" I didn't mean that I couldn't think of any. I just meant I couldn't think of any that a gentleman might direct at a lady. :)

I know, Grim, so I thought, being of the non-stand-up equipment variety, I'd go ahead and say it for you.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at November 4, 2013 10:03 PM

Thanks for thinking of me, Sly.

Posted by: Grim at November 5, 2013 04:24 PM

"Tex has a point if "doing it all" refers only to child rearing responsibilities. But if we view the total work as being part child rearing and part being the provider (the traditionally male role) then women aren't doing it all - they're just doing all of "their part" of the job."

Yes, that's it. If "having it all" means "I realize I personally won't have it all because realistically I can do only part of it, and I have to rely on someone to do other very important parts of it," you have the recipe for a successful family with lots of mutual appreciation.

If "having it all" means "I can work 90 hours and week while my husband barely realizes we have kids who need to be reared, and still have happy healthy kids while rolling in dough and ambition," that's a recipe for disaster. So is "I can focus 100% on my career while totally ignoring the work my wife will have to do to keep the home and kids together without a trace of my emotional involvement."

Posted by: Texan99 at November 6, 2013 05:19 PM

If "having it all" means "I can work 90 hours and week while my husband barely realizes we have kids who need to be reared, and still have happy healthy kids while rolling in dough and ambition," that's a recipe for disaster. So is "I can focus 100% on my career while totally ignoring the work my wife will have to do to keep the home and kids together without a trace of my emotional involvement."

Amen :)

I won't even argue with you on this one!

Posted by: Cass at November 6, 2013 05:29 PM

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