In The News
I'm Usually Not Team Gwyneth, But Today I Am
I hate the phrase Mommy and I especially hate the phrase Mommy Wars. I also try to stay as far away as possible from the controversial stay at home moms vs. working moms debate that still seems to rage on so many years after Gloria Steinem and her feminist cohorts burned their bras and began a revolution for women to finally nab their rightful place in the previously male-dominated workforce. So when an ABC news reporter called me and asked for my opinion on the latest Gwyneth Paltrow quote, without even looking at the quote I thought, uh-oh what did the privileged, Hollywood starlet cum rock star wife say now? And I have to be honest- while I think her most recent Goop endeavor is highly self- indulgent and many of her remarks about life in general are absurd, this particular comment resonated with me, and shocker of all shockers I *gulp* agreed with her.
What is all the brouhaha about? Here is an excerpt from the article:
"(Gwyneth) seems philosophical about being unlikely to get another role as brilliantly written as that one—"I don't think I'll ever read a script that good again. Tom Stoppard is a genius"—while remaining positive about the relatively traditional role she plays as a wife and mother, with her husband's career commitments currently taking precedence over hers. "I have little kids in school. I want to maintain my marriage and my family, so I have to be here when he comes home." Hence her recent advice to a girlfriend (who remains tantalizingly unnamed): "She is an actress and in a new relationship with someone else with a big career, and I said this may not be feminist, but you have to compromise. It's been all about you and you're a big deal. And if you want what you're saying you want—a family—you have to be a wife, and that is part of the equation. Gloria Steinem may string me up by my toes, but all I can do is my best, and I can do only what works for me and my family."
The ABC news reporter asked me my opinion of Gwyneth, based on her comments in this interview, and whether I thought she was setting feminism back a generation or two with such a stance. And here's my feeling; I don't think you can have it all. I don''t think you can be in a marriage and have two high powered CEO types without some fall out to said marriage. I think in every marriage there needs to be compromise and balance of all sorts, but particularly when it comes to careers. If both partners are working at maximum capacity- and are not spending quality time with one another on a regular basis, their relationship (forget about the kids) will ultimately suffer. A relationship like that just cannot be sustained.
I explained to this reporter that marriage is hard work every single day. I said that texting, sexting, skyping and phone calls can't possibly replace the intimacy that takes place in a marriage in the small moments- the ones we probably don't even realize we are partaking in. Marriage and it's growth, and our connection to one another as spouses takes place and gets reaffirmed in those late night bedroom talks, making dinners, sharing a cup of coffee before work or even just sitting watching a television show together. And if you are not having enough of those moments in your marriage because both of you are on these non-stop high powered work schedules, ultimately, in my opinion, your marriage will not be able to sustain itself.
Throw kids in the mix and well- you've got a recipe for disaster.
Don' get me wrong, I am not begrudging any women who choose to have a high powered career right along side that of her husband-- but I do think choosing that lifestyle will make it a heck of a lot harder to keep all the balls in the air, and your marriage in tact. And I agree with Gwyneth in this regard. In every marriage, one of the spouses has to decide to let the other shine and take the spotlight, while the other one keeps the home fires burning, and is there to shoulder the family stuff and of course be that source of support for the spouse who is working on all cylinders. I believe the high powered working spouse needs to feel that he/she has that soft place to fall when they get home-- that their family bedrock and relationship is intact and in a way is their sustenance.
Does this make me an anti-feminist- I don't think so, I think it makes me a realist about what it takes to keep a marital connection strong and vibrant. And do I think only the husband deserves to have this career and it's the wife who should be relegated to keeping the home fires burning? Hell no! I think either spouse can be the main breadwinner-- I just don't think they can both do it at a highly concentrated level and at the same time because ultimately something, as in their marriage, will have to give. And so, as surprised as I am- I agree with Gwyneth on this one!