With a go-getter attitude, a successful career, and – if you’re lucky – a husband that’s happy to wash the dishes; does the new breed of the female breadwinner really have it all? Victoria Pynchon, self-proclaimed breadwinner and author of She Negotiates, exclusively spoke to Dawn about the modern-day pitfalls of bringing home the bacon…

No one goes into marriage expecting it to be all plain sailing. But when Victoria Pynchon began to out-earn her husband, there were some unwelcome repercussions.

“Being the breadwinner destroyed my marriage”, Pynchon confesses.

“I was the female breadwinner for many years, and it caused enormous conflict. My ex-husband also expressed a lot of animosity towards me, my co-workers, and hated that I sometimes had to work on the weekend.”

And Pynchon isn’t alone. According to a recent Harvard study, couples are now more likely to divorce if the husband fails to live up to a ‘breadwinner stereotype’. The study found that couples who had married after 1974 had a 2.5% chance of divorce when it was the husband who earned more; but the odds were up to 3.3% if he didn’t.

Yet it is still rapidly becoming the norm for more women to bring home the bacon. Thanks to decades of protesting for equality, men are gladly handing over the pressures of being the sole earner, ‘house-hubbies’ are a thing, and most women have embraced this opportunity to financially support their families.

So, why do statistics suggest a link between breadwinning wives and divorce? Surely after fighting the housewife stereotype for so long, we should all be happier? Or is it that perhaps now that we have a choice; many of us just don’t like the newfound pressure?

“The issue for me wasn’t about the money at all – well, he could’ve at least paid for his own therapy – but it was mostly that he just didn’t work,” says Pynchon.

“When most women have problems in this situation, it is rarely about the actual money. It is about responsibility, fairness, respect, disrespect, anger, resentment… So, if you’re willing to work any issues out, you just have to look past the money aspect and ask what it really is that you’re not working together on. But my ex just wasn’t working, and I had friends at the time who were experiencing the same thing, too. Another issue for me was that I always had to wonder, ‘why do I have to be the designated person to work in such a stressful profession?’ So, I guess you could say that I became resentful too, but it was only ever tied to work and responsibility.”

With intense feelings of resentment becoming seemingly unstoppable, Pynchon’s ex-husband came to his own decision that he could never make enough money “to make a difference”, and so, their marriage came to an end. But did escaping this toxic relationship make her any happier?

“I am much happier today compared to how I was then,” Pynchon laughs. “I am married to a man who has zero resentment towards me, we are both financially supportive and I only spend the money I make. I guess the one thing I have learned is that there aren’t any official rules that a breadwinning wife must keep in mind for a successful marriage; it can totally depend on the couple.”

And what’s next for modern day breadwinning wives and house-husbands? One thing is for sure; they’re on the rise. But unfortunately, there are many women out there like Pynchon who would argue that we’re a long way off from a world where challenging old-fashioned stereotypes will never affect our relationships.

BREADWINNING WIVES’ SURVIVAL GUIDE: By the Experts and the Real Women Who Make It Work

  • •“PLAN YOUR FINANCES TOGETHER”. Jo Pyott, a purchasing manager for an international mining company has out-earned her husband for over ten years. “My advice would be to open a joint bank account and put the same percentage of both of your income into it. You should always financially plan together regardless of who is earning, and for us, doing this also meant that my husband didn’t feel like he was being kept.”
  • “RECOGNISE IT AS CHANCE OR CHOICE”. Beth Aubrey*, a lecturer and magistrate, worked for many years as the sole breadwinner for her husband and son. “Make sure that you both always discuss how you feel. In my experience, the difference between it working out or not is usually down to honesty and whether your personalities are right for it. The situation shouldn’t be forced on each other.”
  • “EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITY”. Jenny Garrett, executive coach and author of Rocking Your Role, says that even if you haven’t chosen to be the breadwinner, you can choose how to engage with being one. “Embrace the fact that you have this opportunity to blaze a new path. But at the same time – and especially if you’re the only one holding the purse strings – you must ensure that you recognise what your partner brings to the relationship, too.”

*this name has been changed.

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When you go through a divorce, it may feel as though your happiness is a million miles away. But sometimes, hitting rock bottom is what we need to make a change. Divorce Coach Emma Heptonstall and real divorcee and mum Jessica Harris* joined us at Dawn to provide their top tips on getting that mojo back right where it belongs.

 

LET GO OF YOUR ANGER

There’s no doubt that divorce can be a bitter pill to swallow. But bringing any toxic or negative elements of a relationship into this new stage of your life can easily prevent you from finding happiness again.

“Any nastiness and bitterness you hold will always damage you much more than the other person,” says Harris. “I understood that my son needed to be close to his dad, and so we remained amicable. We even sorted out our custody deal in the pub. When you go through a break-up, it is important to not get so caught up in the anger or bitterness that it prevents you from being happy.”

Heptonstall agrees, and says it could even cost you more in the long run. “Chances are, you won’t want the divorce process to be lengthy and drawn out. But getting stressed or bitter about it is more likely to make a divorce take longer, and possibly even cost you more money.”

 

TRY NEW THINGS

“Spend time figuring out what it is that you want,” says Heptonstall. “It is easy to solely focus on the children’s needs, but they’re not extensions of you and eventually they will leave home; so, address your own emotions to find a new sense of happiness.”

And trying out new things may be the last thing on your mind when you first get divorced, but Harris says that a break-up is actually the perfect opportunity to start meeting new people.

“I remember thinking that I just needed to start doing things. I couldn’t just keep things the same. So, the first thing I did was book a long weekend cookery course in Tuscany. It was a group holiday in a beautiful Tuscan villa. It was the first time I had gone away by myself and it felt very empowering, and it helped me rediscover myself a lot. I went on to book a single parents holiday with my son, revamped my house, had a big 40th birthday party, and tried out new exercise classes. Trying new things really does help you get your mojo back.”

 

THINK ABOUT DATING AGAIN

Just because you might now be focusing on your own needs doesn’t mean you can’t think about adding someone new to the picture.

“After about 7 months of focusing on myself I started online dating”, says Harris. “I felt ready by then. I hadn’t dated since I was 24 years old, but I suddenly had so much spare time that I didn’t want to spend just sat at home. It’s very cliché but when many of your friends are still married you can suddenly feel like the odd one out. This is why it is good to get out and back into the dating game”.

Heptonstall says that you should only date once you feel ready to let go of your ex. But if you can take on any lessons learned from your last relationship, dating again is incredibly healthy for you.

“When it comes to dating after separation, it is healthy to introspect and look at the lessons you have learned from your ex,” she says. “But after spending so much time investing more into your own emotions, your value system and finding out what is important to you – then why shouldn’t you get back into the dating game?”

*this name has been changed.

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Reality? Or just a long list of urban myths and country fantasies?

The high cost of city life and its concrete jungle reputation are what many would argue as extremely valid reasons to move to the countryside. Sometimes the prospect of having your own front door and a private garden is just too tempting to turn down.

But outside of the city, is it always rosier?

Lucky for you, we spoke to two ladies who have been there, done it, and want to share their experiences so that you and your family won’t find out the hard way.

 

 “Moving out of the city to have a baby brought an unexpected bout of maternity loneliness”

When columnist Robyn Wilder, 42, moved out of the city to have a baby, she didn’t expect a tumbleweed to follow.

“We moved because we got priced out of London – we could afford to live there as two people, but not three. We looked at our options: we wanted an affordable home closer to the countryside, but with easy access to the city for work. The ideal place was quite close to my husband’s family, which seemed apt now that we were starting a family of our own.”

Wilder and her husband reasoned that Kent – a county known as the ‘Garden of England’ – was, although surrounded by countryside, resembling a quiet, London suburb. Although here they could afford to rent a three-bedroomed house with a garden.

But with a Lidl and a designer outlet as some of the area’s highlights, “it is not the sort of place that London people visit at the weekend.” And after having her first child, Wilder soon experienced a downside of moving away from the city: maternity leave loneliness.

“Moving out of the city was definitely part of it. You are alone with a baby for hours and hours, with all these new emotions – including fear – doing very solitary activities that you’re not used to. You can conquer it, but you have to work hard. I do miss the immediacy of the city.”

So, how would new mothers avoid the loneliness that country-living may bring?

“My advice is to go out and make new friends. That can be hit and miss, [but] you just have to keep at it. I don’t think either place is preferable for bringing up a child, but it is too expensive in the city. The city can make me anxious, so I’m a better mother in a less populated area.”

 

 “I was so sure about my urban choice but having three has really made me question it”

For journalist Rebecca Ley, her own childhood involved living in a quiet, Cornish cottage by the sea: but that wasn’t what she wanted for her own family. Living 10 miles from the nearest town, she spent most of her youth swimming in the ocean, blackberrying and walking along clifftops. Now raising a family of three in London, she’s wondering whether the benefits of the city outweigh the price of city life.

“I moved to London for University and stayed for work. I loved the city immediately and never yearned to go back to rural Cornwall long-term. The best thing about the city is the diversity, in terms of culture and things to do. But the worst is the disconnect from nature, and the air pollution. I was always so sure about my urban choice – but having three has made me question it.”

Ley moved to a part of London which she has described as “up-and-coming, in estate-agent speak.” Scattered with bearded young men in checked shirts, and pretty girls on bicycles. At times, it is grimly urban. Despite this, London still enthrals her, and Ley says we shouldn’t just assume that country life is more beneficial for bringing up a family.

“I do miss the countryside and think that in some ways it’s a better environment for children. Schooling is harder to get right in inner city London and there isn’t much chance for free outdoors. However, the city has so much to offer, [and] it is all about trying to make the most of that on their behalf. They have the world on their doorstep: that is a fabulous thing in many ways.”

“With lots of children, [I do] fantasise about opening the door and letting them run free, which feels impossible in the big city. But ultimately, that’s a bit of a fantasy borne of exhaustion. In fact, as the parent of a country-dwelling child, you would just spend a huge amount of time ferrying them around in the car. So, the city can always offer freedom too – just a different sort.”

 

THINKING ABOUT RELOCATING? PROPERTY WRITER NIGEL LEWIS REVEALS HIS TOP TIPS FOR MAKING THAT BIG MOVE.:

Moving to the country…

v  Remember you will probably need to become more involved with community projects and activities to integrate yourself into the community.

v  If you’re used to the buzz of the city, separating yourself from it entirely might make you feel extremely isolated. Make sure you still have transport links back into the city, even if you don’t work there.

Moving to the city…

v  Research into different areas of the city before you move. For example, with London, do not treat it as just ‘one singular city’; but as a collection of different towns.

Remember that even in a city there can be areas with countryside elements. If you’re thinking of London, consider Lee Valley, Crystal Palace, West London, or St Margarets.

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There is no more romantic and recognizable gesture than when one steps down onto one knee, and presents a ring to the one he so dearly loves.

Symbolising a promise of marriage and everlasting devotion, this traditional custom has been popular for centuries, and so the proposal has slowly become one of the most memorable elements of a couple’s journey.

After the question has been answered in the affirmative, a glimmering engagement ring is then slipped gracefully onto the bride-to-be’s finger, and a kiss seals the commitment of his promise, just as it traditionally seals the wedding vows.

Although there is no clear historical origin of the idea of proposing on a bent knee, it is a highly symbolic gesture that embodies the very essence of commitment and love. Some believe that the gesture bears striking resemblance to many other ceremonial events and historic origins, such as in royalty, when nobles would kneel whilst being presented honours from Kings and Queens. Paintings from the Middle Ages also portray men on bended knees to courtly women they were utterly devoted to, but whichever the case, the custom is engraved deep in romantic history.

It has always been deemed a sign of deep respect, and a surrender to another’s love; which still resonate with our values today.

Even in history, marriage was as much about love and desire as it was about social and economic stability. The engagement ring itself is a custom dating back to Ancient Rome, and it was believed to symbolise everlasting union and the love’s eternity.

For contemporary couples, the importance of the proposal must not be underestimated, and every fine detail must be perfected to confirm the proposal is a moment that both lovers will remember and cherish forever. A flawless marriage proposal can be the difference between a yes or a no, and it is a moment that should be tailored specifically to the couple with no room for error.

When to propose…

Selecting the perfect date and time are important factors in a proposal. February is the month of love, and so it is not surprising that 20% of women wish to get engaged on Valentine’s Day. Other annual holidays and events, such as News Years Day and Christmas also remain popular with contemporary proposals, since the events naturally evoke feelings of blissful romance and joy. However, when declaring one’s devotion, possessing originality and tailoring the date and time to something unique to a relationship, such as an anniversary, adds a personal touch that can evoke passion and deep, sentimental emotions.

 

 

How to propose…

When it comes to planning a wedding, everyone is well versed on the role of a Wedding Planner, but how many have ever considered using a proposal expert? Here at Wedding Status, we advise those who wish to enhance the glamour of this moment, should consider employing a proposal planner.

It is easy for one to assume that a proposal planner takes away any originality that one may seek from a proposal, however, this is far from the truth. The most respected proposal planners assist in tailoring luxury proposals entirely for one’s significant other, and all of the finer details are simply perfected to the upmost standards to ensure no mistakes.

Whether it be discovering the most luxurious private manor, or sourcing the finest red roses to romanticise the scene, ensuring these important details are perfected can create an ethereal fantasy that a lady just has to say ‘yes’ to.

Here at Wedding Status, we recommend premier firm The Proposers, who are one of the highest rated proposal experts in the world, and have even been named Europe’s most sought after proposal planners. Their planning experts have access to stunning, exclusive proposal venues and are the creators of high-end proposals and extraordinary romantic moments, designed with the modern couple in mind.

 

Selecting the ring…

Undeniably, the ring is the most important element of the proposal. Selecting the engagement ring is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and as such a significant purchase, it has to be flawless. Transforming feelings of love and devotion into a fine, bespoke piece of jewellery is an exciting thought, but there are also some practicalities that should be remembered. Firstly, only source gemstones from professional, well-respected experts that can spend a significant amount of time getting to know you and your desires. Not only this, but trusted jewellers can provide oneself with peace of mind when it comes down to the lifelong integrity and beauty of such an important investment. The cut, clarity, colour and carat are incredibly important factors to consider, and only an expert jeweller will be able to advise on discovering the ‘one’.

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