Overheard at 2Amys in Georgetown

To paraphrase a conversation I heard between two 30-ish women at the Georgetown 2Amys a week ago:

Woman 1: Like a lot of the girls I grew up with, I grew up wanting to marry a wealthy man to take care of me. But unlike a lot of my friends, I feel like I need to wake up with a purpose and do something.
Woman 2: So you’re saying you want a part time job? Or to volunteer?
W1: Yeah, maybe.
(and later)
W1: We both really like to travel. But when we come home, it doesn’t really feel like we are coming back to our home.
W2: So what do you think you need?
W1: An interior designer.

Then to paraphrase a conversation at a recent dinner that I was at with a wonderful couple who, like many well-educated 20- and 30-somethings, are interested in both career and family.

Guy: So (wife’s name), what are you thinking you’ll do for work once you two move?
Wife: (discusses options including law firm job, government related work, etc) – “but my long term goal is for (husband) to be the primary breadwinner”
(Everyone laughs, including her husband, perhaps because they are both totally serious about this and – since he’s finishing up grad school and the economy sucks – this might feel a little daunting)

Questions for MSP readers:
- Research has long shown that even when heterosexual couples start out in egalitarian (equal-ish) roles within in their relationship, they often end up in traditional roles over time, after marriage and/or especially when they have children. What do you think about this?
- Is it “natural” (in your opinion) for women to be the primary caregivers and for men to be the primary breadwinners?
- What gets in the way of women (and men) being able to dedicate themselves to both family and work, in your opinion or experiences?
- Considering that research suggests that couples in egalitarian relationships may be more sexually satisfied, what does it mean for couples who fall into traditional roles – even without meaning to? And are traditional roles such a bad thing, or is it just that we need to find a way to give new meaning to traditional roles so that there’s a place for satisfying sex, pleasure, desire and TIME to express intimacy in the midst of child care and errands?


About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.