Secret lives of breadwinner wives

Every time you turn around it seems there's another rah-rah story about the rise of the "alpha earner" wife -- women who bring home most of the bacon while their husbands happily shuttle the kids to and from soccer practice.

I am just such an alpha female, apparently -- as are all of the married members of the Women in Red -- and I'm tired of the pep rally.

What gets left out of the Norman Rockwell portrait of the new nuclear family is a muddy little truth no one wants to discuss: It's not easy being the breadwinner, and many women are having a hard time in that role.

Despite knowing that the man they were choosing to marry was not likely to become the primary earner, some women secretly harbor the wish that their spouse would start bringing home the bucks and support them for a change.

That's a problem. While I can understand feeling ambivalent about being the primary earner, especially when kids enter the picture, women who nurture Cinderella dreams put themselves in a financially precarious position.

The rise of the alpha earner

Take Anna. A hard-driving Washington, D.C., lobbyist who knew from the moment she met her struggling-actor husband that she always would be the breadwinner, she is still finding it hard to sort out her own expectations.

"The great thing about him is that he really doesn't care about money," says Anna, 42.

"On the flip side, the problem is that he doesn't care about money -- so I have to," she says. "That's a big burden."

It was a relief to hear Anna's unsparing take on what may no longer be a trend but a new world order.


Tags: Wives | lives | EARNER | breadwinner | bacon | Alpha | anna

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