15 August 2016


A woman's best protection
is a little money of her own.
Clare Hoothe Luce

This time several years ago, a friend of mine, Lila, had to go through a very difficult phase of divorce. Difficult it was because her soon to have been former husband and she ran into a whole lot of complications. Their relationship, as it often happens, started out passionately, developed rapidly and within the next six months, she found herself a married lady. A year later she had been a mother. Already when she learned she had been pregnant, Lila's husband, let's call him B., insisted on her quitting her job as a senior associate at a law firm and staying at home cherishing a 50's dream family. She didn't object. After all, her husband had been earning enough to support more than one family, if needed.

Lila and her children, which she had already had two of within three years of her marriage, had never known refusal, they would have everything they have ever wanted and more, whenever they wanted it. B. had been an outstanding husband and father, admittedly.

At some point, however, Lila made up her mind to return to work and occupy herself with something that required a considerably more zealous brain activity than just cooking and shopping, because she noticed she had started degrading. Besides, even though she has always been a family girl, she has also been a careerist to the marrow of her bones, starting the very university bench.

She was lucky to have a 24-hour babysitter and a regularly visiting cleaning lady. There was little left to do now - persuade the husband she had to work. Which turned out to be a rather tricky task. He may not have been categorically against it, however, he couldn't wrap his head around why she would ever consider working. Wasn't he earning enough for her and the children, he asked the night Lila brought the conversation up?

To every argument she made for the women at work, B. uncompromisingly made against. Such as children would have stayed all by themselves for too long, they would have fallen behind at school, and eventually, stopped recognizing their mother at all. Not to mention that they, as a couple, wouldn't have had as much time to themselves, and lost intimacy as a result. You know how it happens.

Lila gave in because she thought no career was worth the dissonance in the relationship with her husband. Especially that, let's admit, there really was no financial struggle in the family. A decision worthy of a wise woman.

Merely a year later, however, the dissonance proved itself unavoidable and they ended up fighting almost every day for the reasons that are not very important right now. During one of those fallouts, in the heat of the moment, B. asked for a divorce and Lila didn't object too vigorously. As a result, she found herself facing something she had never thought would have ever happened to her. Starting this very point, her life turned into hell.

My poor friend... B. filed for the divorce before she knew it. He had power, influence, contacts; she had him and the children, something she'd given her whole life to.

Apparently, he intentionally set out to turn Lila's life into a nightmare, because he was determined to literally leave his wife without any means of livelihood whatsoever, not only in a financial sense. He decided she had been a horrible mother and therefore the children were to stay with him. It came to the point where B. wanted to try and deny Lila the right to communicate with her children at all. Just because he felt like it.

Naturally, the court had denied the application, since no grounds for that were discovered, but little did he care for the court and its' decisions. B. had declared he wanted Lila nowhere near his children. She had spent two excruciating, humiliating years fighting with the man she had once loved for the rights she had been denied the minute she was born a woman.

Those reading SFS for some time now, know that I am far from being a feminist. I do believe that women and men are different on so many levels and I do believe that men and women have their own purpose in life, that's why they are so great together. I take pride in being a woman, in case anyone might think I am in any way undermining us, girls. And I take pride in being different from the men. However, I can't stress enough that I fully support moral, political and legal equality.

It is not very relevant who and why was responsible for what happened between those two, especially that for any misunderstanding between a couple usually both are to blame. What really matters is that today, in the 21st century, in western culture there still are men who regularly pursue to destroy a woman's life. It is heartbreaking that often these are the very women they had once been in love with. But it is outright scary that more often than not they succeed and the society does very little to prevent women from getting hurt.

Apart from all the obvious reasons, such as: gaining professional fulfillment, leading an interesting life and being interesting yourself, proving yourself worthy, pursuing a dream career and raising stronger children, a married mother should also work in order to be financially independent and overall stronger, at least partly. Even if at a particular moment it seems like there is no financial struggle. Probably especially if there is no financial struggle.

Life out there is very diverse, indeed. Not all women want to work, and not all women want children. And some women wish for both. Not all women, at the same time, are willing to sacrifice career for children, and vice versa, not all of them see suitable for themselves to leave their kids unsupervised for too long, in order to spend hours at work, especially when there is no financial need for her to earn money. Lila has always been the kind of woman who wanted both, she is a good mother, but she also is a very good lawyer.

Had she gone through with it, and persuaded B. that she absolutely needed to work, perhaps today she wouldn't have been so torn, humiliated and depressed. She wouldn't have been looked down at and scornfully addressed as a housewife by her own husband (though personally, I think that being a housewife is a sort of career by itself, however, it is a subject for a completely different article). Not because she would have had an equal influence her husband had had, but she would at least have avoided feeling played so ruthlessly.
The names in this story have been changed.


Have you ever had to deal with injustice towards women who didn't work? What are your thoughts on women aspiring to balance career and household? And what about you, are you a working mother? Share your experience in how (un)important it is for married mothers to work.

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