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.

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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)

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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?

Thoughts?

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.