Category: Marriage

Phyllis Richman addresses Harvard’s concerns about her home life

In 1961, Harvard University sent a letter to Mrs. Alvin Richman noting that while she seemed like an excellent candidate for their Department of City and Regional Planning, they did have some concerns about her personal circumstances. Fifty-two years later, award-winning writer and restaurant critic Phyllis Richman has finally taken the time to write Doebele’s requested essay.

The rise of female breadwinners, and the betrayals of U.S. policy

Over at the Guardian, I’m writing about the new stat that 40% of breadwinners in American families are women. With women making up half the workforce, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re an increasing proportion of primary earners. But the 40% stat doesn’t tell the whole story. For starters, the majority of that 40% are single moms — the breadwinners in their families, yes, but not because they’re married to men who make less. Those women make an average of $23,000 per year. The third of breadwinner women who are married to men are significantly wealthier, with a combined family income averaging $80,000. And when you look at divorce and marital satisfaction stats, the happiest couples are those who both work, but where the husband makes more money. Stay-at-home moms have higher rates of depression and marital dissatisfaction, and unhappiness comes in again at the end of the spectrum where a wife out-earns her husband. A strong majority of Americans also believe that the best situation for a child is with a mom who stays home (only 8 percent believe the same about a kid with a dad who stays home). These problems are complex, but traditional ideas about gender play a strong role, and those ideas shape the social policies that leave working parents between a rock and a hard place. Our particularly American gender traditionalism coupled with our idealization of individualism-as-freedom (without recognition that such individualism has generally been a male pursuit, enabled entirely by an unpaid female at-home support system) creates major cultural disincentives to implementing the kids of policies that could actually help families. The full piece is here, and a section is below:

Vote for Huma

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine features Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin, and details how they’re rebuilding their marriage and Weiner’s political career in the wake of his boner-photo tweet scandal. I wrote about it in my Guardian column this week, and more broadly the script that politicians follow when caught cheating: Lie, then admit, then apologize with wife in tow, then stage a come-back. And sure, sometimes (often) we should forgive them because their stupid personal flaws don’t impact their ability to govern. But also, I’d like to see political wives have more options. People stay in marriages for all sorts of reasons, and staying in the relationship after an affair isn’t necessarily a bad or wrong choice; none of us are inside these marriages, so we have no idea. But it would be nice if there were more acceptable public models:

Punting on Marriage Equality Won’t Prevent Culture Wars; It’ll Undermine the Supreme Court’s Credibility

Political commentators, at least on the left and center, seem relatively convinced that the past two days of marriage equality hearings in the Supreme Court won’t result in an opinion extending same-sex marriage rights to all people in the United States. They might be right, but I’m not sure why so many left-of-center folks seem to be warning the Court not to move too quickly on marriage equality. I get why the socially conservative right is doing it — it’s a threat, essentially. “Do a think we don’t like and we will FREAK OUT!” And they will surely throw a mild temper-tantrum if the fundamental right of marriage is found to include same-sex couples. But “Oh jeez, the religious right might act like toddlers again” is not a very good reason to delay granting a group of citizens basic constitutional rights. Also: Contrary to what has somehow become an accepted truth, Roe v. Wade did not ignite the culture wars. Abortion was controversial well before Roe, and while abortion rights were secured in a small handful of states (four, I believe), they weren’t going to move ahead in many more because of conservative, religious push-back. The idea that a Roe-free U.S. would somehow have led to the broad securement of abortion rights without controversy is flat-out wrong. As is the idea that marginalized groups of people should have to wait for the tides of public opinion to turn before they get rights. Which is what this piece in the Nation is about:

Grover on Marriage

Love knows no color or texture, and marriage is when two people get married. In this clip from a 1983 episode of “Sesame Street,” Grover and a little boy named Jesse define the concept of marriage. I’m not going to give away the ending, but their definition involves kissing, hugging, being friends, helping each other, and being between a mommy and a daddy. Wait, shoot, not that last one.

How to be traditionally married

Today, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a day after it heard Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in that state. The Hollingsworth audio is worth a listen if you have an hour. There are a lot of things that stand out about the arguments, and I’ll be writing about them in various places around the internet (hopefully) today and tomorrow. But one piece that, unsurprisingly, was hammered by Mr. Cooper, the attorney for the anti-marriage-equality side, was the idea that marriage has always been a certain way, and allowing same-sex couples to marry would change the entire institution in a way that had never been seen before. Which is kinda true, except of course that same-sex marriage is already legal in a bunch of places and Armageddon has not arrived. And also, marriage has been fundamentally changed in ways never seen before dozens (hundreds?) of times over. The vast majority of folks who crow about their support for traditional marriage are in (or seek to be in, or support) decidedly un-traditional marriages. So for all the female proponents of “traditional marriage,” I hope you are following these rules: