Can a working woman really have it all?

I admit it, I like to think I’m pretty tough.

I seldom cry and when I do, I am instantly annoyed at myself.  So imagine my mortification when returning home from a business trip in Sydney, where I balled my eyes out watching a KATY PERRY TOUR DOCUMENTARY! Yes that’s right, big tough Charlotte sat bawling openly in public (I only cried out of one eye, as my left tear duct has been blocked since birth – very helpful for a ‘anti-cryer’).

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So why would I be crying at a Katy Perry concert documentary? Well, anyone who has watched it knows the documentary follows Katy through her memorable 2011 tour, where she basically performs every night for an entire year, with little breaks in between to fly off and see her husband “and makes her marriage work”. In the beginning, Russell Brand is present at a few concerts, but for good reasons, their relationship is kept out of focus, and instead we are shown the Katy Perry brand and her PR story.

About halfway through the documentary, it appears that Russell Brand asks for divorce, and Perry is shown to be clearly distraught. If she was acting, this girl deserves an Oscar, because to see her pain was truly heartbreaking. It was enough to make tough-all -me break down crying in public.

Katy Perry’s PR didn’t give much away as to the real reasons why their marriage failed, but what was clearly communicated was that marriages struggle under the pressures of long-distance relationships, women who are more successful than their husbands and women who choose not to have children until they are ready. This brings me back to my original proposition – can working, successful women really have it all? Here are a few reasons, in my opinion, why they can’t;

  • Men have egos that predate their physical beings stemming back from being pack animals and ensuring we knew our berry-picking, child rearing place in society. Any threat to this status (females earning more, or having better jobs/titles) could potentially cause conflict, even in a seemingly non-misogynistic male.
  • Working couples are typically more stressed, or have a harder time balancing couple time, exercise, family time, social activities, with children etc. Constant time management stress can affect all relationships. Despite most women being genius multitaskers, sometimes we need to focus on one task at a time.
  • Young women in the child bearing age group are a liability to employers (think paid maternity). While companies will never admit nor openly discriminate, it would be safe to say if I was competing for a job with a male of the same age, experience and education at 25, my male counterpart would have a significant upper hand, as I “might be leaving soon anyway to have babies”. I’m not saying paid maternity leave is a BAD thing, but the reality is, married, childless career women are a liability in the eyes of employers.  So, we work harder, and show our commitment by agreeing with our husbands and telling our bosses we won’t be thinking about kids until our careers have been cemented. Sadly, as the years pass by, the chances of falling pregnant naturally becomes harder and harder. When it is time to have our long awaited babies, suddenly there is pressure for it all to go perfectly!
  • Sticking it out these days in relationships is a rarity. Think about it – if every couple spent as much time, planning and money on their marriage instead of their weddings, do you think the divorce rates might be a little lower? I do. When spending money on a marriage meaning couples therapy, couples retreats, doing nice things for each other, planning dedicated nights out together etc.  These days, a new relationship is like a new iPhone release, a big song and dance is made for a few weeks, then we get over the hype and move on with the latest upgrade. OK it might not be that simple, but breaking up seems to be easier and comes with less stigma then it used to.

But without being too much of a negative Nelly – here are my tips on how we can have it all:

  • Think about your partner and his history early on in your relationship. As a child, did his mother work or was she a stay at home mum?  The answer will go a long way in predicting possible future arguments about priorities in the child rearing/career debate.
  • Talk about it together early on, communicate face-to-face honestly about both your careers, how your time constraints make each other feel. Be honest and open about how you really feel and be supportive of one another’s feelings.
  • Plan time for each other as a top priority. It’s more quality that quantity, but plan your quality time. It doesn’t always happen organically, so don’t always expect it to.
  • Be sensitive to your partner’s ego or public image. It might seem silly, and he might be totally supportive that you’re a top QC and he’s only a clerk when your at home or with your family. I’m sure he is very proud, but be sensitive that this may make him feel inferior to the outside judgmental world.

The answer to this question is – sure, of course we can have everything, but with all the good, comes the trade-offs. Just make sure you work hard at achieving what you really want out of life, and make peace with the trade-offs that come with achieving that – whatever, or whomever they may be.

Top image: lululemon athletica

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5 replies on “Can a working woman really have it all?

  • Rashida

    It’s known and reported by media that even today women are trying to do too much and feeling the stress that affects their health and relationships. Maybe it’s more important for a woman to articulate to her partner that he needs to do more generally speaking.

  • Charlotte

    Thanks for your comment Rashida,
    And you make a valid point.
    Just to clarify- This article wasn’t exactly about me – it was a collective assessment of a lot of marriages and situations I have witnessed over the years.
    Yes I think women need to communicate with their husbands and many husbands are supportive – again this was just a general discussion about some of the considerations regarding women taking on the world and the affect it can have on their relationships

  • Kasia Gospos

    I have lots of luck having very supportive partner who will make dinner when needed, do shopping and patiently wait when I am trying to purse my dreams. But this was not always the case. I had also partners in the past who couldn’t stand that I earned more, had a better job etc. I felt that they were competing with me. Our relationship couldn’t last long. Now I need to just find the balance to keep my partner happy so that I will not end up like Katy Parry!

  • Rashida Tayabali

    Thanks Charlotte! I absolutely agree. It was a general comment. By saying ‘you’ I meant generally speaking! Oops:). Maybe it’s more important for a woman to articulate to her partner that he needs to do more by means of support.

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