The stories here are real life examples, I have changed the names to hide and respect the identity of those who have been through these experiences. The three stories here span across three different cultures. Since this blog aims at solutions to problems and issues, I have listed some personal opinions on how the men in their lives could have helped them in that particular situation.
Husband of a woman who is rejoining work after maternity leave: “Honey, you really do not need to work. We can live very well on one income, it would be best if you leave your job and look after the baby. I have drafted a resignation letter for you, why don’t you send it after a talk with your manager?”
While discussing this with me, Raji sobbed as she mumbled, “He didn’t even ask me if I wanted to continue with the job and my career.” Already on an emotional roller coaster after the baby’s delivery, she feels it would be too much for her to oppose his thoughts since her husband is on a very demanding job working more than 10 hours a day.
- How you could have helped in contributing constructively towards her return to work:
Even though this husband’s intentions might have been good, it certainly would have been much more empathetic of him if only he had paused to ask her first: “Do you want to want to join work now or want to take an extended leave? How can I help you as you now plan to join work and we have a little baby at home?” Or simply opening to a discussion would help, “let’s discuss the options we have right now.”
Cathy was always interested in starting her own business and the dreams of entrepreneurship were always close to her. A few years back, not without a lot of struggle she did manage to launch her own business and it was such an achievement to her. She would discuss with great energy and enthusiasm with her husband on her future dreams to take it big and wanted to involve him in her plans and future course of action. Far from being supportive, her husband never missed a chance to tell her how some of her past plans had failed, it was not only discouragement but he emphasized now and then how dominating she was becoming. All the altercations drew them apart resulting in a divorce hardly a year after she had launched her business.
Cathy still misses him and wishes only if he had been supportive and understood that is was her passion speaking and not her dominance over him.
- How Cathy’s husband could have supported her entrepreneurial dreams:
It is not uncommon to see different career aspirations and goals between spouses, the essence of a healthy marriage lies in how well you can respect the other person’s self-growth efforts and also on how well you can manage with your own egos in case the woman does better than the husband. Instead of bombarding her with discouragement, Cathy’s husband could have taken time to analyze why he feels so about her starting on the entrepreneurial path. Is it because of his personal insecurities or because of the fear of losing her to her greater cause? Good effective communication, avoiding accusations and self analysis before judgement are essential aspects in maintaining marital bliss.
Zeba had struggled during her school years to get good grades; it was only during high school that she truly enjoyed learning at school. She managed to complete college even though it took her more time than others. Now at age 30 she is all set to continue further studies, a course that she is very passionate about and wants to pursue a career thereafter. Her father is much opposed to her joining college at this age, he says, “It is time you got married and settled down. You could not do well at school what makes you think you would not be a failure now?” He is not willing to support her financially if she does not comply with his direction of thoughts and actions. She now itches to cut off relations with her father and move on to continue education; she is trying to support her college fees by working two or three part jobs. It is draining her emotionally and physically but her fighting spirit is one to be reckoned at.
- How Zeba’s father could have helped her move towards her dreams:
Often parents miss out on discussing their financial situation with kids, it is essential and so is a supportive and encouraging communication. Zeba’s father could have taken time to talk with her on her getting back to school dream and instead of blocking the communication by accusations and discouragement, the right approach is to respect the other person’s thoughts and ideas and also discuss practically on why he would not be able to support her financially if that was the main reason for his disapproval.
Even a few words of encouragement can help do wonders for the so called “under-achievers”. When a woman gets emotional support, she can achieve the unachievable.
A note to all fathers, husbands, partners –You can be our heroes, you can be the wind beneath our wings. All you have to have is empathy, understanding and respect of what we do.
A little help and support from a spouse or trust from a father can help shape the destiny of a woman and be the pavers to her progress towards her career dreams.