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Should I Get Married or Have a Career?
By Barrington H. Brennen, 2005, 2021

Question: It was so exciting to read your articles about the need for dads to stay at home to be with children. I discovered that many women are often troubled in making a decision between marriage, starting a career and having babies. How can you help us?

Answer: If men were able to get pregnant, what would happen to marriage relationships? Although men cannot get pregnant, some of them do learn to appreciate women having watched them giving birth. A husband spent two hours in the delivery room with his wife as she was giving birth to their first child. He was shocked and amazed by the enormous pain and discomfort his wife endured during the birth. Hours later he was still crying and was in shock over the excruciating pain and misery his wife went through to deliver their daughter. "Never again," he said with sobbing eyes, "never again will I put my wife through that again." During those hours he gained a deep appreciation for his wife and women in general. He promised never to take advantage of her in any way. It was a life-changing experience.

It seems as though there is still an unconscious belief that womenís sole purpose is to stay at home and have babies. Some husbands force their wives to stay at home. This makes homemaking frustrating and loathsome. When it is the womanís choice, she is happy and contented in being a homemaker. God gave women a womb, but He also gave them a brain. Women should be able to develop their God-given intellectual abilities. Women have the right to be mothers and develop intellectually and professionally. However, if they do work outside the home they often limit themselves to traditional "female" jobs--secretary, maid, office clerk--when they are not suited for such jobs.

Many men look for wives who can "take care of them." They are not looking for a true partner, an equal companion in a relationship. What they want is a baby machine, cook, laundress, and dish washer. Dear husbands, it does not matter how sweet your wives seem to be, or how much they cooperate with your wishes in marriage. This type of expectation and function of a woman in marriage is that of a maid, and not of a wife. If there is a need for a maid, then one should be hired. Women are traditionally expected to be multi talented, untiring, superwomen. In 1993, I did a limited research on women in the Bahamas, United States, India, and some countries in Africa to ascertain the involvement of women in family life. The research showed that " in all cases women were expected to maintain the role of motherhood 100 %, wife 100 %, while they developed a full-time job or career. On the other hand, in all cases, the men fully maintained throughout their married life their careers, but were expected to, or were satisfied with maybe 50 % involvement in children development, and perhaps less than 25 % involvement in household chores. (Woman, Marriage and Career, 1993). Stokes and Peyton (1986) indicate that American women and women of other countries who work at full-time jobs do more than 75 % of domestic chores. Women with preschool age children spend 15.0 hours per week in household labor and 10.2 hours in child care, while men spend 8.2 hours and 2.8 hours in household labor and child care respectively (Lewis, Hayes & Bradley, 1992). In all cases, men are less domestically involved than women, even when women are working full-time.


Earlier statistics showed that 90 % of high school girls in 1958 preferred marriage over a career; but in 1970, only 10 % said they would choose marriage first. The real issue for most women is balancing roles--the roles of wife, mother, and career. For many men it is balancing career with being a father of children, and not career and being a father to children and being an effective husband.

Traditionally, family life restricts womenís career development more greatly than menís.. Unfortunately, some companies will not place a woman in a leadership position if she is married, because they feel family life may prevent upward mobility. This explains why more women have fewer children, hence the increase of smaller families; while other women choose not to have children at all.

An amazing article by Marian Stoltze-Loike entitled "Helping Women Balance the Roles of Wife, Mother, and Career Women" (1992) revealed that after marriage "professional women employed in positions not traditionally held by women tended to leave the labor force, move to a position of lower status or get divorced; whereas women in blue collar jobs were most likely to drop out of work after marriage." On the other hand, wives occupying traditionally female jobs did not show a downward trend in mobility. Another report (Nugent, 1992) discloses that "husbands with positive attitudes toward employed women had more positive perceptions of marriage and had wives who worked for higher wages and greater status." Numerous studies indicate that as the wivesí income and employment status increased, husbands participated more in some of the routine household chores like meals preparation and cleaning tasks (Bird and Scruggs, 1984).

Generally, womenís career continuity is in relationship to their husbandsí attitude toward their careers, their financial opportunities, household responsibilities, and their own personality traits (Nugent, 1992). Hence, the need for a change of the male thinking about the role of women in the home. While it is desirable for women to remain at home during the formative years of child rearing, there is no law (biological or a psychological mandate) that indicates it is the mother who must stay at home with the children. A couple must be free to examine what is best for their own situation.

It is imperative that women take the time to prepare for marriage and having children. Here are a few points to consider. A woman should seek her education and career before making love, getting married, and having children. It is not good when either party at the time of the wedding is uncertain about what they really want to do in life. Secondly, a woman should be functioning as an independent individual before marriage. She should be financially comfortable and/or have the ability to ascertain certain needed assets. Thirdly, to reduce the risk of marital breakups, couples must go through the proper steps of bonding (friendship, dating, engagement and marriage). Women must let a serious relationship last at least two years before getting married. After marriage, couples should wait about two years before having children. They need time to know each other as husband and wife. Too often when couples rush into marriage and rush into having children, the wife must put her career on hold. Unfortunately, it is still extremely difficult for most women to get in the work force for the first time after age 35 than men do. This is why women should have a high level of achievement and success before saying "I do." This would make it easier when or if they desire to pause a career to have children. However, husbands and wives should plan ahead to have children by saving enough money to provide a financial booster in case one parent does stay at home during the child-bearing years.



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