Aiming to please the big earner

Vishal sent us a link to an article entitled “When She Earns More, Men Aim to Please”. It profiles some couples in which the woman is the main earner. Reading it, I just kept feeling a little creeped out. Let me try to explain. First we get this anecdote:

Derrick Hayes’s wife, an oncology nurse, makes twice the money he does in his job as a juvenile corrections officer in Columbus, Ga.

And he since she brings home much of the bacon, he wants to make sure he’s offering her some perks too. He leaves affectionate notes around the house for her and tries to keep the house tidy. And he wants to make sure he shines in one special area.

Since she is “handling certain areas of the relationship” like making most of the money, he said, “you’ve got to handle your business.” By “business,” Hayes means sex. “You’ve got to be creative. You’ve got to be good!”

Now, it’s really great that Hayes is doing housework and caring about pleasing his wife in bed, don’t get me wrong. But it’s creepy that this is *because* she earns more money than he does.

Then, at the end, we get an anecdote about Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and her husband Daniel Mulhern. He now stays home with the kids, and he’s admirably honest about the way that he feels conflicted about this. We do in fact live in a culture that stigmatises this, and it’s not surprising that he finds it a bit uncomfortable at times. But somehow I still found this anecdote creepy, and I’m not entirely sure why:

“One of the things we did,” Mulhern said, “is that we now have time at the end of the night when Jennifer has half a glass of wine and she gets me my tea. I may be inclined to do it — she is busy working, emailing — but I make her get my tea. It is the one classic traditional feminine thing that Jennifer does and we both tip our caps to the power of culture and a time long gone by.”

I think, but I’m not sure, that what bothers me is how important it is to Mulhern that he *makes* Granholm get him his tea. Still, they’re a couple struggling with the oppressive norms they grew up with, and maybe this is a good and harmless outlet for that. what do you think?