Don’t Listen to that Crap: Your Career Isn’t Killing Your Relationship

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I write for Galtime, and I love doing it. But I have to call them on the carpet for this recent post by therapist Jane Greer,Is Your Career Killing Your Relationship?” Or maybe we just leave Galtime out of it and ask Greer what the hell she was thinking.

Why? Because the very notion that we have to choose between relationship and career sets us back at least 50 years. (And why do that, when we have the GOP to do it for us?). I just think that whole thinking is so, SO damn tired. And quite frankly, insulting.

There’s no question that managing a career and family is a challenge–even when it’s your CHOICE to do so, and many families don’t have an alternative; they need both incomes, period. But what I hate most about this kind of tack is that I sense a finger wagging at me, at all women, saying, “Are you SURE you want to do this career thing? I mean, is it worth it?”

Is it worth it? Women make up nearly half the workforce in the U.S. We’re finally–and slowly–starting to work our way up the chain here and we still don’t earn what men do. (Note only 2.6% of CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies are women.) Yeah, I’d say it’s worth it. It’s a career, not a fucking Birkin bag.

Never mind the fact that she holds up Russell Crowe’s breakup as an example of the damage careers do–as if that’s a relatable example. She seems to imply (though doesn’t say it outright) that Crowe’s wife’s career was the problem (after all, Danielle was filling her time with Dancing with the Stars when she clearly should have been right there on set with her hubby). And as a rule, I try not to make my career and relationship choices based on whatever Maria Menounos is reporting on this week.

She says, “Have you ever asked yourself this question: Which comes first my love life or my career?” (And that’s exactly how it’s printed, with no punctuation after “first,” which also irks me no end.)

The very idea that we bear the onus of that choice, weighing the benefits of relationship or career, makes my eyes roll so far back in my head I can see my own cerebellum. Why? Because you never, ever hear men being asked that question. No one ever says, “Hey Jack, you might wanna ease up. I mean do you need to be on the CEO track? Don’t you have a wife or something? Shouldn’t you be home with her, like now?”

As Melanie Notkin (aka savvyauntie) said to me once over a glass of vino, “You never hear anyone referred to as a career man. Just career women.”

Then, she turns the tables on us real quick, urging her female readers to not take it personally if they’re alone on a Saturday night because your husband has to work,  (You silly, sensitive goose! He’s a man! He has to work!). But, if you’re at the office very late six nights in a row, she says “it may be time to have a talk with the boss and set some boundaries.”

What? I’m all about boundaries–but why would my boss be responsible for my relationship more than his?

And if you must work at this career you insist on having, you’re going to be tired, right? So be sure to “give your partner fair warning. That way, they can make other plans and not feel ignored or abandoned.”

Now you’ll excuse me while I change my huge honking sanitary pad circa 1975 (btw, here’s what you might have used if you were riding the cotton pony at any point during the Ford administration).

This issue came up again and again during this past election: The assumption that balance is a woman’s problem. (Check out Jan Bruce’s piece on forbes.com on the topic.)

While I’m not married myself, I do live on the planet, and it seems to me the strongest marriages are those in which both parties evolve and support each other as pursue career and other goals, and yes, some difficult choices have to be made. And some marriages (many) won’t make it. But this persistent idea that it’s the woman’s fault for not “balancing” things correctly is a lot of horseshit. It puts the onus on women and implies that if it doesn’t work out, it was likely her fault.

I like to think Greer, being a marital therapist with some renown and practicing in the modern age, would agree with me on this, but if she does, she has a funny way of showing it.

Besides, careers don’t kill relationships; people do. And you don’t even need a career to do that.