Traditional roles of the man being the breadwinner and the woman taking sole responsibility for childcare are rapidly being turned on their heads, but while this is undoubtedly positive progress it can lead to tension in relationships.
For generations men have been taught it’s their role to provide and that means they’re not always happy when their partners earn more and it can lead to jealousy and even break down relationships.
‘No matter how relaxed he may seem, you can’t expect all that social conditioning to evaporate overnight,’ performance coach Dr Amy Iversen told Femail.
‘Accept it. Your success will breed at least occasional pangs of jealousy. For some men, the sense of emasculation will be crippling. Left to fester, these feelings are more than capable of destroying relationships.
‘But it’s not all bad news. Powerful women can build successful relationships. If you accept that the situation needs managing, there are things you can do to mollify jealousy before it becomes an issue.
Here, Dr Amy reveals how to help your relationship survive if your partner resents your success to coincide with The Iversen Practice’s launch of a new ‘Imagine: Inspire: Ignite’ programme for women on their way to the top.
If your partner is a stay-at-home dad, you should celebrate his role and never try to downplay it if you want to avoid tensions, according performance expert Amy Iversen (stock image)
1. Be thankful
Ask him to imagine the alternative. Instead of feeling resentment, encourage him to view your success as inspiration. There is nothing to stop him from doing better.
2. Reframe success
If salary size was an accurate measure of status, accountants would be cool. Respected careers aren’t always the most lucrative. What his career lacks in financial returns may be compensated for in other ways. What’s lost on swings may be gained on roundabouts.
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3. Value his support
When one partner slams the career pedal, the other partner is often thrust into domestic management. Looking after the kids, looking after the parents, paying the bills and fixing the sink. Recognise his sacrifice and thank him for the support. Life would be much harder without it.
4. Make him feel like you’re a team
Explain that you need him to feel happy for you. You’re a team. When one wins, both win. If you end up in competition with each other, both of you will lose. Nothing makes you more of a team than sharing control of the money. A shared savings account with independent current accounts is a great way to pool resources whilst allowing each partner independence. Your success is something to be celebrated together. So are the rewards.
Tensions can arise in a relationship if a man struggles with a change in what he perceives are the traditional roles (stock image)
5. Stroke his ego
Some men can feel emasculated by high-powered women. That lack of confidence can spill into the bedroom. We are attracted to partners that complement us. Celebrate your differences. Remind him it’s not the size of his pay check you’re interested in.
6. Keep your feet on the ground
No career path is free from risk. Industries and bosses change. For now, you’re the one enjoying career success, but who’s to say that will always be the case? As Baz Lehrman said “Sometimes you are ahead, sometimes you are behind, the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.” The same is true for relationships. One day your roles could reverse. Be proud of your success, but keep your feet on the ground.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to take maternity leave, it seems women will be judged poorly no matter which decision they make.
A recent study found that new mothers face negative perceptions whether or not they take maternity leave.
If they do decide to take some time off with their newborn babies, their reputation at work is diminished. If they decide to head right back to the office, the study suggests, they are viewed as less competent mothers.
Researchers at the two universities – University of Exeter in the UK and New York University – interviewed 137 women and 157 men from both countries to determine their attitudes about new mothers.
Across the board – regardless of gender, age, parental status, and nationality – the study participants perceived a hypothetical woman they were presented with as ‘significantly less competent’ and ‘less worthy of rewards’ if she took maternity leave.
If she did not take leave, she was seen as ‘more worthy’ of rewards at work — but less competent as a parent.
7. Never be ashamed of the truth
When people ask what your husband or partner does, what do you say? When your mother asks, how do you respond? If you feel awkward talking about the situation, it can be a sign that you have not come to terms with it yourself.
Successful women frequently downplay their achievements to make them easier for a male partner to swallow. To a man already sensitive about his status, your inability to be honest will cut like a blade.
If he has relaxed his career ambitions to support you, that sacrifice was not made easily. It takes courage for a man to accept a supporting role.
It takes strength to swim against the tide of tradition and the opinions of his peers. It’s not a decision you need to disguise. Take emotion out of the equation. Be open and be proud.
8. Involve him in your career
He might not know your business, but he does know you. Spare him the daily office details and the Christmas party gossip. Involve him instead in significant career decisions.
Open up about that chat with the boss, that promotion opportunity, that annual review. You’ll get the candid perspective of someone who understands you. He’ll get the respect he deserves.
9. Keep his fire burning
Free from the pressures of breadwinning, he has space and time to re-think his own prospects. He has a golden opportunity to plan what next. Even if his days are wrapped up with school runs and family meals, the flexibility of the modern workplace offers the chance to work around your lifestyle. No one needs him to be Mrs Doubtfire. Give him the support he needs to maintain momentum and find new purpose. Be open about the fact that one day the tables may turn.
10. Connect him with similar men
Stay-at-home dads are an expanding tribe. Help him connect with other guys in similar boats. A bit of male bonding offers the perfect antidote to coffee mornings and bake sales. The example of others will inspire him, and help him realise that his role is a natural consequence of broader social change.
11. Talk it out
Keep the communication lines open. If your career is suddenly making greater demands on your life, talk about your options and create a plan together. Tell him what you need from him. Ask him how he feels. Left unaddressed, bitterness and jealousy will bubble beneath the surface. To nip the issue in the bud, get it out in the open. If you want your relationship to be as rewarding as your job, try a little conversation.
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