- Should I Get Married or Have a Career?
- By Barrington H. Brennen,
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
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.
- WHAT TO DO?
- 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
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.
- FAMILY LIFE
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.
- PREPARE FOR CHILDREN
- 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