A woman leaving a career after marriage may to some seem quaint and old fashioned. The pervasive influence of feminism is powerful and subtle at the same time. Many women are sold on feminism and a career path starting at a very early age. Yet there are many women who still choose to leave the workforce behind after they walk down the aisle or when the first child comes along. Here are three stories of married women who left a high-powered career behind, to embrace a traditional marriage and the role of being a wife and mother.
Sarah and her partners ran a successful business in Washington, DC. She hit a wall with her feminist lifestyle when both of her female business partners married and became more family focused. No more partying or dinner meetings after work. She realized that she was missing out on something, and that was the love of a good man. She made marriage a priority, and within a short period of time found her life’s partner. Interestingly, he was not expecting her to jettison the working world and become a stay-at-home wife.
She explains, “When we were first married, my husband was frustrated that I wanted to stay home and be a wife. I married at 43 and had been running a stressful business for years I was exhausted. He thought that since we didn’t have children, I should get a job to share the burden of finances. Although I was hurt that he did not understand how drained I was, I understood that he too was a man of the times and brainwashed by feminism. It took some time, but I finally convinced him that he married a woman who was gladly downwardly mobile. As he saw me maintain a clean, orderly home, and support him in every way I could to make his working life easier, he was able to happily accept my decision.”
“If I were working, my husband and I could really live it up with material goods. On the other hand, with both of us working, we would probably not have time to enjoy what the extra money could buy. So, we live in small house in a working-class neighborhood and love our freedom!”
Darlene, at the age of 26, left an industrial sales career where her aggressive personality got her promoted to that position where she was competing with a lot of men. She never really felt that she was suited for such a job and was burnt out by the time she got home. She had no energy left for making dinner or tending to her husband’s children from his first marriage.
When she became pregnant, she was relieved to slow her life down, and soon decided to leave her big salary behind in favor of raising the children and taking care of their home and her husband.
Now that she is home, she now says their complimentary partnership works a lot better. She says, “When we were both working, we didn’t have enough time together and more conflict. Now our home is a relaxing place when he comes home. I spend more time on cooking nice meals. It is a pleasure to be in the kitchen. It is a family thing, and the kids are helping.”
Darlene also finds that their family is surprisingly better off financially living off one income. This is how she explains it, “We carefully balance, not a lot of waste (80 cents to $1.20 per person for a healthy, home cooked meal) yet we make 80K less dollars a year. We used to be more irresponsible with money. We ate more junk food. Our cars are paid off, we don’t have to have the newest cars anymore. We made adjustments, and still live well. But we pay close attention to our spending.”
Katherine walked away from a large book of business as a stockbroker after starting a family with a successful entrepreneur. She was part of the first wave of women who received their stock brokerage licenses in the late 1970’s. She married at the age of 35 and retired after their first child was born. Following the example of her mother and grandmother, she managed the family business accounting and investments. “My husband is a true entrepreneur and risk taker and visionary; I am more conservative, and he has no interest in the details of managing money. We worked very well together because of our differences. There were many disagreements along the way, but I let him make the final decisions after talking it out.”
On switching from the professional world to child rearing, she says, “Being at home with four children was more of a sacrifice in the beginning when they were young, but now at age 68, I am reaping the rewards of having grown children who are making their way in life. My daughter and one of the daughters-in-law are both full time at home. My second daughter-in-law is working two days a week as a nurse and is home the rest of the time. I am thrilled they have chosen those paths.”
She left behind a lucrative career, but by combining her talents with the ambitions of her husband, they amassed a family fortune. Today, Katherine and her family are blessed to be able to travel the world and live in a beautiful waterfront home. Now, with her children grown and on their own, she serves in women’s ministry at church, belongs to her local garden club, and volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center.
Katherine’s recommendation to other women is to “make sure you have your priorities in order.” In her case that looks like “God first, family second, career third.”
These three women seemed to have given up a great deal, income, status, and work friendships. Yet, in our interviews with them there was little to no regret expressed. They seemed to have moved into their new role and embraced those responsibilities with pleasure. We assume this is the case because women are naturally suited for child rearing, homemaking, and supporting the goals and ambitions of their mate. And, they are relieved of the stress caused by the conflict between the needs at home and the demands of work. We hope these stories inspire more women, especially those in the throes of making a decision to leave the workforce.Feminists often begrudge such choices, because it doesn’t serve the feminists’ agenda of assuring that women make as much or more money than men and have an equal or superior seat at the table of corporate and political power.
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