She can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan! Can your wife sing this tune? If so, stay tuned as we talk about female breadwinners … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: WHEN SHE MAKES MORE
Guests: Dr. Dawn DeLavallade
Date: September 30, 2013
Frank: She can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. Can your wife sing this tune? If so, stay tuned as we talk about female breadwinners on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.
Once again, I will be joined by my co-host, Dr. Gayl soon. She is on her way into the studio and we’ll be happy to have her when she arrives.
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Today’s guest is a physician, wife, mother and author, who has several years of experience as the higher earner in her marriage. After a series of ups and downs that she had attributed or at least related to being the breadwinner of the house, she decided to us her own experience as motivation to unite, advise and educate other women who share the same circumstance.
To accomplish this she started actively gathering data and testimony from female breadwinners and the culmination was the book, She Makes More–Inside the Mind of Female Breadwinners.
Her goal is to encourage honest conversation and constructive dialogue about this new trend that’s affecting the face of some American relationships. She is Dr. Dawn DeLavallade. Good morning.
Dr. DeLavallade: Good morning. You say that so well.
Frank: With what? My intro was good?
Dr. DeLavallade: My last name. My last name.
Frank: Ah, DeLavallade. Okay, there’s an actress–
Dr. DeLavallade: You must speak French.
Frank: Well, I failed it a couple of times. So, I’ve got a little background. Wasn’t there an actress or a singer or something named DeLavallade?
Dr. DeLavallade: There was a dancer, yes–Carmen De Lavallade.
Frank: Yeah, see.
Dr. DeLavallade: She’s still around. She’s in her 80’s. She’s still dancing. She was with Alvin Alley for awhile and she is in my family by marriage.
Frank: Got you. Okay, alright, very nice. Okay, down to business. Do you feel more important in your relationship, because you make more money?
Dr. DeLavallade: Absolutely not. No, I don’t. I certainly don’t think I feel more important. I do not think that a person’s worth should be associated with the amount of money that they make. But unfortunately on the flip side, there are many men that struggle with feelings of low self-esteem and low self-worth, if they don’t have that big pay check.
Frank: What does your husband bring to the relationship?
Dr. DeLavallade: My husband is a support system for me and I am for him. First of all, you have to be friends first, of course. You have to support each other in all aspects of your lives. We’re parents, so obviously where co-parenting together and we’re just best of friends and we support each other, regardless of what the income has been.
Obviously, as in most marriages, sometimes when both people are working and are educated, there will be some fluctuation, some back and forth with regards to the income. But regardless, we’ve always been supportive of one another.
He gets to focus on his dreams for awhile. Now I’m focusing on my dreams with the book. It’s a back and forth that’s quite fluid, but has worked for us.
Frank: Are you currently practicing medicine?
Dr. DeLavallade: Yes. I’m a radiologist.
Frank: Gotcha. How long you’ve been married?
Dr. DeLavallade: Twelve years.
Frank: Is there anything in particular that you would say your husband–and I’m, after this question I’m going to leave your personal relationship alone and move on to the book–but anything that you think your husband uniquely brings to your relationship?
You may think you uniquely bring the majority of the money or 60 percent of it–70 or whatever. But anything that you’d say your husband brings to the relationship more than you might?
Dr. DeLavallade: That’s interesting. I will say early on in my career, obviously being a physician, sometimes your education and your obligation to the hospital has to be a priority. That’s just the way it is. So, you’re in a position to make better work life decisions. I would say certainly early on, he did not have the luxury of some husbands of taking the backseat as a parent, being very afraid of the baby and afraid to be alone with the bab. He didn’t have that luxury, because as soon as my son was born, I was back to being on-call and the hospital every couple of nights. So, he had to step into those shoes and a result, they have a wonderful bond.
I would definitely say, when he’s compared to the majority of husbands, he certainly has been a wonderful parent that has been there from day one. Just really hands-on as a dad, even on the nights when I couldn’t be there with my own baby, obviously he was there and he was handling things quite effectively.
Frank: It’s funny you brought that up, because I was just talking to Jeff–my man here in the studio, that works the boards–about just the same thing. And he was saying that when his children were young–when they were babies, he was piggybacking on what I had told him, because my daughter is three–well I have five children.
The three year old, she was an appendage to mom at infancy, right after she was born. I mean, she didn’t want she didn’t want nothing to do with me and I just said, “No problem, forget you then.”
Dr. DeLavallade: Right, right.
Frank: It wasn’t until I began taking her daycare and picking her up from daycare that we really began to connect. Now, I can’t get rid of her and she and her mom–they look each other in the eye and say, “Urgh.” I laugh and joke with my wife all the time that she and her daughter don’t get along.
Dr. DeLavallade: Okay.
Frank: They go at it. There’s plenty of love.
Dr. DeLavallade: She’s daddy’s girl.
Frank: Yeah well, I guess that’s about right. She is a daddy’s girl. Now we’ve got a three month old infant and we’re seeing the same thing all over again, where she doesn’t want anything to do with me. If I pick her up, she’s going to blast the whole room and it gets to the point, where I say, “Look–” and I’ve literally told my three year old this, “Look, if you’re going to cry I’m going to put you down.” And if she keeps crying I just put her down and I go on about my business and she cries and I go on about my business and eventually mom shows up.
Dr. DeLavallade: Right.
Frank: Okay, so back to the book. You would think we were here to talk about me. I’m sorry. That’s not the case. The crack in the ceiling, do you think that there is a crack in the perceived ceiling that exists between men and women and the household and what are your thoughts about that, if there is?
Dr. DeLavallade: With regards to a glass ceiling, absolutely. Women clearly make up more of the workforce than we ever had in this country. We’re getting education at greater rates and our male counterparts and those things combined with the most recent recession, where majority of the individuals that were laid off were men. You combine all those things and it’s definitely been a perfect storm for the emergence of the female breadwinner. It really is becoming a new normal and I don’t know when it’s going to slow down.
Right now, it’s definitely a fact. It’s affecting roughly 25 to 30 percent of households with children and the numbers in my opinion are going to continue to get–I don’t want to ay worse, because it has a negative connation, but it’s going to continue to get more prevalent, because for some reason women are just taking advantage of higher education at greater rates than males are right now.
I’m not a man, so I can’t say what the explanation is behind that, but as long as that trend continues, women will be better prepared for the workforce. They’ll be better educated. They’ll be more career-ready to go further in their careers.
Frank: What did you learn from your research? If you could give a general synopsis of what you came up with in terms of the mind of a woman, because I believe that’s your focus–the mindset of–
Dr. DeLavallade: Yes.
Frank: The woman who is doing the higher breadwinning. What did you come up with?
Dr. DeLavallade: I think, for me, I was actually quite pleased to find that the majority of female breadwinners think like I do, and that is, we’re not these bossy, bitchy women that want to wear the pants in our families and in our marriages. That’s simply not how the majority of us feel.
We actually prefer our men to be the leaders, the heads of households, but we do have certain expectations of what their actions are and we want to be sure that our men’s actions are consistent with that of a leader, because we have a choice of whether to submit or follow the lead or not, whereas, decades ago, women obviously, they didn’t have that choice. They were dependant on their mates to just really make a way in this world and be able to survive and now it’s simply not that way.
She can survive on her own, so she’s looking for companionship, she’s looking a partner, but she’s certainly looking for a man who can contribute something to her life and her lifestyle. We do have the luxury of being more selective, but yet we are willing to submit to the right type of man.
Frank: What is leadership? What are those leadership characteristics?
Dr. DeLavallade: Certainly, financial know-how is very, very important for us, because you know the old saying that, “Women think that his money is her money and her money is her money.”
Frank: “Her money is her money,” right. I’ve heard that a time or two. In fact–
Dr. DeLavallade: Yeah.
Frank: Speaking of, guess who just walked into the studio. I suspect that she’s said that a couple of times. “Her money is her money and his money is her money too.” We have in the studio, a special guest.
Dr. Gayl: A special guest. I’m a special guest now.
Frank: Dr. Gayl. Hello, Dr. Gayl. I want you to meet our wonderful guest, Dr. Dawn DeLavallade.
Dr. DeLavallade: Hi.
Dr. Gayl: Good morning, Dr. Dawn, because I can’t pronounce your last name.
Dr. DeLavallade: Good morning. How are you?
Dr. Gayl: I’m well. Thank you, Thank you.
Dr. DeLavallade: Good, good, good.
Frank: Okay, back to those leadership characteristics–
Dr. DeLavallade: Back to the leadership, yes. He must know how to handle money, meaning even if he didn’t grow up having any real financial know-how or preparation, it’s time to get some. Between the internet and Suze Orman and books at the library, there’s really no excuse for–
Frank: Suze Orman.
Dr. DeLavallade: Yeah, there’s really no excuse for men of today to not have even a little bit of financial know-how–a foundation for how to grow this money, how to protect this money, how to create a budget for the household, how to be sure there’s college funding or retirement or emergency funds.
We just want to see that you are going to be a good steward of the finances of the household. That is really, really important for us. And honestly if you don’t see that trait, many times you will see that women will start to separate their money. They will start to have separate accounts, if she sees that he is financially irresponsible. And then, with that comes a whole host of other gills that may affect the marriage once you separate the money. But honestly, she sees it as, “This is my nest egg. As the breadwinner I have to protect my nest egg so I can take care of my family.” It’s that maternal instinct. And if she sees that her husband is not being a good steward of that, she just really excludes him from the equation. She–
Frank: Now that’s yummy.
Dr. DeLavallade: Yeah, less of a liability–
Frank: We can play with that.
Dr. DeLavallade: As possible.
Frank: Okay, so let’s say I’ve got this great wife. She’s a physician. She’s a radiologist. Her name is Dawn and she doesn’t like the fact that I do not believe in saving for my children’s college.
Dr. Gayl: Does it matter what your occupation is? What do you do?
Frank: I’m a radio show host.
Dr. Gayl: Okay.
Frank: And she doesn’t like the fact–and it doesn’t even matter whether Dawn makes more money or me. But for the sake of this conversation, we’ll say, Dawn makes more money than me and yet I don’t believe in saving for my children’s college tuition. I think it’s unnecessary. I am fine with my children going to a community college and it’s not a big deal to me.
Now, Dawn may very well disagree and she wants our children to go to Harvard and she wants–well, I don’t think Harvard charges tuition to a certain–yeah. Maybe she wants our kids to go to UVA and that UVA isn’t cheap and she wants a nest egg and all of that good stuff.
Well, my positioning is different than Dawn’s and yet I believe my positioning to be sound and not demonstrating any lack of leadership, but Dawn disagrees. How do we handle that? With me being, as you said, and as we have agreed to in the past, the leader or the head of the household. How do we do that, Dawn?
Dr. DeLavallade: If you want to use that specific example, then I would say, the way that things are handled nowadays with the student loans, you’re either going to want to save up now or you’re going to be forced to pay student loans during your retirement.
If it were me, I would say I don’t want to put myself–when I’m 65 years old, I don’t want to be paying student loans. I don’t want to be responsible for my children’s student loans. But unfortunately, that is the reality of what’s happening to parents and students today.
So, to me I would say as the breadwinner I am being very honest with you. I would say, “That is not logical to me. I am not taking that approach. I am going to prepare for college in some form or fashion.” Even if I don’t make the goals that I set for them, at least I’m doing something so that I can prepare, because ultimately somebody’s gong to be responsible for that and it’s not going to be me in the future.
Dr. DeLavallade: I would honestly and I’m being very honest here–
Frank: That’s what I’m asking for.
Dr. DeLavallade: To me that would be a sign that, that would be a lack of financial leadership. I’m being very honest with you.
Frank: I got you.
Dr. DeLavallade: That’s how I would interpret that.
Frank: However, I am suggesting that my children pay for their own college tuition or they save for their own and they attend a school that is affordable where they can pay. So, like I said, a community college or something of that nature. And if that were the case, I don’t see student loans as necessary for me to take out for them to take out or any of that.
Mind you, I’m saying this, because in part, that’s the track I took. I’ve got degrees. I’ve got quite a few of them and I did at some point, accumulate student loans, but I also accumulated the understanding that community colleges work well and that they’re very cheap and can be very good.
I appreciate your candor and what you’re saying in terms of your honesty about financial irresponsibility, but if my wife and I look at the history and what I was able to accomplish without accumulating the student loans and me wanting to see my children take on a similar ethic and experience without having a hundred thousand dollars in debt or without me having to save a hundred thousand dollars along the way up until that point.
I don’t see how it could really be argued, shall we say, or just concluded. It can be argued, but I don’t see how that can definitively be concluded that my way of doing it is financially irresponsible, but I’m listening. This is why we have–
Dr. DeLavallade: I think I’m getting a better understanding of what you’re saying. And obviously, you all would have to sit down and have that conversation. There’s no guarantee that by the end of it, you’re going to see eye to eye. And then, at that point, she has to make her decision of okay, is she gong to follow your leadership or not? But if she is the breadwinner then maybe ultimately she feels like she’s going to be the one left being responsible for this money and she had to really make a decision if she wants to make herself liable for that necessity in the future for that college money.
I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. I appreciate where you’re coming from as well. But I think it depends on your mate for that, really, how she’s gong to respond.
Frank: Very nice. Thank you for humoring me along this experience. Tell me about your husband’s experience along the way. Oh I said, we were going to leave your relationship alone. Can you–
Dr. DeLavallade: Yeah, you did.
Frank: Okay, alright, okay.
Dr. Gayl: She like, “And I want it to stay that way.”
Dr. DeLavallade: I’m okay. I don’t have any qualms talking about my experience. This is all part of my journey. I started this–
Dr. Gayl: It’s the basis for your book, right?
Dr. DeLavallade: Yes, and I started this when I was in a place–I was ashamed, I was embarrassed, I was resentful, regretful. All of those feelings and I didn’t quite know how to navigate those feelings and the day I really stepped forward and said, “I am a female breadwinner. This is my circumstance,” it was so freeing that I have no problems talking about my particular circumstance, because when I come forward, it inspires other people to come forward as well and–
Dr. DeLavallade: And as a society, we’re never going to reach a place of healing and acceptance until we stop hiding.
Dr. Gayl: Now do you–
Dr. DeLavallade: There’ll be 15 couples in a room and statistics tell us that maybe 30 percent of those couples are in this predicament, but if we’re all hiding it, we’ll never be able to find the support system, we’ll never be able to take advantage of the wealth of information that we have between us, help each other, guide each other, advise each other, until we come out of the shadow and talk about it.
Dr. Gayl: Do you think there’s a difference between going into a relationship as the woman or the wife being the breadwinner verses you going in as equal or the roles being turned? So, say for instance, you get married and the husband is the breadwinner, but somewhere along the way the wife becomes the breadwinner. Do you think there’s a difference in that scenario verses if you go into it with the wife being the breadwinner?
Frank: That’s a good question, Dr. Gayl.
Dr. DeLavallade: I think so much of men and women reactions to this really is very individual, based on their upbringing, their background, what foundation they had when they were growing up. But I will say it’s very relative, but I think you’re probably, may be a little bit more difficult for a man who was the breadwinner– well it depends. We know there are different subsets of men.
Dr. DeLavallade: We know that some men who relate their self-worth to their income. We know there’s that type of macho man who thinks that he should be bringing in a certain amount to the table. And then there are others who are very secure in who they are and they don’t necessarily associate income with self-worth and they’re okay with it. And then there’s another subset who honestly are just loafers, right? They’re just loafers. They have no problem with the woman–They’re just a male version of a gold digger.
I think it depends on the type of man that you’re dealing with, but I would imagine that if he started off as a breadwinner, sure he’ll feel a bit of discomfort about the roles changing, but as long as there’s open communication and I think they can get through it.
And really sometimes men need to see that relationship with a breadwinner is actually something that can help him reach a better place in his own life. Maybe he can reach a place in his life that’s more fulfilling. He can have more happiness. Maybe he can do something he’s passionate about, because he’s not so bogged down with some of these financial responsibilities and duties. He has that woman who is able to bring money to the table. I think it’s all about reframing our prospective about what it means to be with a female breadwinner.
Dr. Gayl: What about the woman? You mentioned reframing? What does she have to reframe and how does she have to reframe?
Frank: She needs to know–
Dr. DeLavallade: Well–
Frank: That the–
Dr. Gayl: Let her answer, Frank.
Frank: She needs to know that the host is the boss. She needs to understand that he gets to make the call and that he gets to pick who’s going to be on the show. Let me see, what else? And that he’s the boss. That’s what she needs to know, period.
Dr. Gayl: Are you done? Are you done? How did that make you feel? Did that make you feel real masculine right there?
Frank: Don’t psychoanalyze me. At least do it well. That wasn’t even good. Excuse me, Dawn. we have these tiffs around here. Okay, back–
Dr. DeLavallade: Oh, that’s okay.
Dr. Gayl: He has issues. He has issues.
Dr. DeLavallade: I think for her what she has to do is sometimes she has to– it’s almost like a grieving period. It depends, because so many of us as young girls, we still have this fantasy of the knight in shining armor, someone who’s going to sweep us off our feet and take care of us and shower us with gifts and diamonds. We, still, at times have that fantasy–at least when I was growing up. I was a 70’s baby. I don’t know babies of the millennium will have that same fantasy, but I did and it definitely took some time to say, “Wow, I mean, never in my life having a man who will take care of me.” It took time for me–
Dr. DeLavallade: Right. No, really. It took some time for me to get beyond that, to really say, “Okay, you are blessed with what you have. You have accomplished so many things. You have been able to provide a comfortable life for yourself and your family. Own that, be happy with it, be proud with it.” Again, it just takes time to rationalize through it and get over what can be a period of grieving.
Frank: Am I correct in whittling down kind of what you just said, too? You had a heart-to-heart with yourself and you just told yourself, “Shut up.”
Dr. DeLavallade: Yes.
Dr. Gayl: Well, not even telling yourself shut up.
Dr. DeLavallade: Stop whining.
Frank: She said, “Yes.”
Dr. Gayl: Well, because you just wanted to agree with the host, but I’m going to say–
Frank: I said, “You need to realize that the host is the boss.” I didn’t say the guest.
Dr. Gayl: I know what you said. I know what you said, clearly. Now, I think it happens at some point and, especially for, I want to say successful women or career-oriented women. In your 20’s and early 30’s, I think you’re striving to be equal to your male counterpart or you don’t want to be viewed as less than, that it’s kind of like, “I want to strive.” You want your equal, you want to be with someone who’s your “equal,” whatever, whether that’s occupation or education or with regard to income. But it seems like, well at least, how I’ve asked my friends about this–it seems like after all that’s accomplished, you’re like, “Well geez, if you aren’t with someone–”
Frank: “You’re alone.”
Dr. Gayl: Right. You’re alone. You’re like, “What’s most important? Is it the fact that he has 10 degrees and he’s successful in this, this and this or is it that, he’s successful in whatever it is that he does?”
Frank: Or that I have a partner, period.
Dr. Gayl: Period. And what are the other things besides monetary value that he can bring to the relationship?
Dr. DeLavallade: Certainly being the best at whatever you’re going to be is a bonus. For instance, my husband–and part of it is, you have to sort of know your mate, but once I of got to know my husband very well, I said, “Well, I think he would really be happy if he was in a position–a little be more empowered some how in his life. Felt more like he’s in charge, having more authority.” I allowed him, not to say allowed, but–
Frank: I think that’s the word you wanted to use.
Dr. DeLavallade: Well, you–
Dr. Gayl: That was the unconscious.
Dr. DeLavallade: You understand what I mean, but what I said was, “Okay, I’m willing to take on all of the household expenses and financial responsibilities and I’m going to support you as you start your own business doing something that you love.” So, as an entrepreneur, he’s loving life right now, because first of all, he has chosen a field that he’s very passionate about. He’s his own boss, he has employees, so obviously he gets to be quite authoritative with them, making the decisions here and there and it just added that extra bit of enhancement to his life, I think, that he kind of needed just knowing the type of person he was.
Obviously, he works very hard at it as an entrepreneur. He is wonderful at what he does, so even though he’s not the higher earner, he’s extremely good at what he does and I’m so proud of everything that he has accomplished in the business that he has created, that it doesn’t matter.
Money doesn’t matter as much to him. He’s happy doing what he’s doing. He doesn’t worry about who’s paying this percent of the mortgage or this percent of the light bill. He’s doing what he loves and he appreciates it.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Dawn DeLavallade, physician, wife, mother and author of, She Makes More, a book that describes the newest breed of American wife, the breadwinner. Please Dawn, tell us how they can find more about you and your work.
Dr. DeLavallade: My website is shemakesmore.com. My email is: email@example.com. I have a Facebook page, which is, facebook.com/shemakesmore and I’m on Twitter @drshemakesmore. My most recent initiative is monthly teleconference for female breadwinners. It’s a free teleconference and when people go to my website, which shemakesmore.com, there will be a pop up screen that says “Join the inner circle,” and once you provide your email, I’ll send you the instructions on how to join the call every month. It’s really just a support system. It’s a safe space for female breadwinners to share. We have an expert on each call that will help provide us with information and advice on how to maximize our circumstances as female breadwinners, whether it’s finance or counseling or health and fitness or whatever it may be. It’s a really exciting adventure and I’m super happy to be involved in that.
Frank: Do you have a nugget or something of what you guys have explored during your safe space? What might a group of female breadwinners discuss? What’s an issue that comes up? “My husband’s a bum?”
Dr. DeLavallade: No. So far, the calls have really been based on whatever the theme of that evening is. For instance, we’ve had a marital counselor one night. We had a finance expert. We’ve had a life coach helping you realize your dreams, because once you’re the breadwinner, you often put your own dreams on the backburner, because you’re so busy keeping the household going and taking care of everyone else that you let each day go by without saying, “Hey, am I really happy? Am I really fulfilled in my own life?”
We’ve been really staying on topic so far, but definitely in the near future I’m going to have just one call where we just, where there’s no script. You call in and let’s just chat, let’s just talk. But so far, definitely women have been concerns about, “Why can’t I find time to workout. I’m so busy picking the kids up, fixing dinner, doing this. I can’t do anything for myself and it’s affecting my productivity and my ability to feel fulfilled in my life.” So, that’s certainly a topic that comes up quite a bit.
Finances–unfortunately, as breadwinners sometimes we use money as a bit of a Band-aid to apologize. Many of us feel very guilty for this circumstance and sometimes it’s the husband that’s imposing guilt on us, because, again, his self-esteem is suffering.
Sometimes society can make us feel very guilty, so many times we are apologizing for earning more and sometimes we use our money to say, “I’m sorry.” Use it as a Band-aid and as a result, we’re squandering away money in areas that really are not in our best interest and not in the best interest of our family. It’s several topics, and again, this is a new venture for me and I’m looking forward to many, many candid discussions with ladies.
Frank: You’ve thrown some interesting things out here that and I’m jotting them down and hopefully we’re going to get to them all, but this–you got it going on, Dawn.
Dr. DeLavallade: Well, thank you.
Frank: You said, allowing your husband, now is–if your husband is the lead of the family, the head of the family and you were mentioning–I pointed it out a few minutes ago, but I made note of it–a verbal note about, allowing him, is he truly the lead? If you have to allow him to lead, is he the lead?
Dr. DeLavallade: No. I allowed him to step away from financial obligations and focus on starting a business. When I said allow, I meant in that term. And if the tables were reversed, he would allow me to do that, so you really allowing that person to follow their dreams, to follow their passion and that’s just a word that I think describes it the best. I apologize if I offended you, but–
Frank: No, you didn’t.
Dr. DeLavallade: But that’s just–oh, okay. Okay, great. But as far as the head of household position is concerned, to be quite honest, a woman who is the breadwinner, she does have more leverage. She feels more empowered to say, “I expect more from you,” and to be quite honest, if she discovers over time that he’s not taking the leadership responsibility seriously, she will step into those shoes.
She has no qualms about that, because she’s capable and again, this is very different from women of decades ago. She is capable of running that household and she knows that. She has to make the choice to follow you or not, and I know it sounds harsh, but I think it’s better for men to understand that it is indeed a choice.
She does not have to follow your lead, but she wants to. But in return for that–you know what they say, “To whom much is given, much is expected–” she has certain expectations of what a leader is and she’s not going to just willy nilly follow someone just, because they have a y chromosome.
Dr. Gayl: Now, is that because in her profession, she’s typically in charge and accustomed to being the leader that that carries over the home life?
Dr. DeLavallade: It absolutely could. It absolutely be that. For instance, for me I’m a physician, so that means in the hospital I’m one of the top guns in the hospital. Of the food chain, I’m at the top when I’m at work, so, in order for me to come home and I have to submit to my husband that’s a challenge that men never have to do. They never have to face that. So, this is and added–
Frank: That’s an overstatement.
Dr. DeLavallade: Okay, okay.
Frank: But go on.
Dr. DeLavallade: Well, the majority.
Dr. Gayl: For the majority. That’s true.
Dr. DeLavallade: Maybe we can come back to that. Maybe we can come back to that. But generally, a man would never be asked to be a leader during the day from nine to five and then come home and–
Dr. Gayl: Submit.
Dr. DeLavallade: Step down. Exactly. Submit to someone else. Generally, men are not asked to do that but it can happen sometimes. So, she has to make that choice. She has to just reframe her prospective. When she walks through that door, she’s not in charge anymore. She’s not that leader anymore. She’s not the one that everyone is answering to and that can be hard and it can take some adjustment.
Dr. Gayl: But you know the thing is, I have a couple of friends that I admire, because they are the breadwinners of their household. However, you would never know, because when want to do something or if there’s money involved, they will say, “Let me ask so and so,” or you know “I need to check in.” I think they’ve learned how to do that. They’ve taught themselves how to do that and I’ve noticed over the years, it seems to make their husbands feel like he is the household, like he is the dominant or the breadwinner or the dominant person in the relationship. And I was–
Dr. DeLavallade: Yeah, I think it definitely is something that has to be learned. It may not always come naturally to a woman, but hopefully if there’s some honest discussion *(inaudible) 40:39.
Dr. Gayl: Right. It definitely didn’t come naturally for both of them, because they’re both leaders and they’re both dominant women and they have dominant personalities. They definitely had to learn how to get there. I’m asking and I’m wondering for you, how long did it take you to get to this point with your husband and with your relationship?
Dr. DeLavallade: When we met I was still in school, so clearly that’s a totally different frame of mind than once I’ve completed my training. So, for us, we really met as peers, so it was not an issue for us.
Frank: Was he a student, too?
Dr. DeLavallade: He was a teacher. Yeah.
Frank: A teacher at the University or a teacher just at a school somewhere?
Dr. DeLavallade: No, he was an elementary school teacher.
Frank: Got you, okay.
Dr. DeLavallade: Yep.
Dr. DeLavallade: That was our experience.
Dr. Gay: And then as you finished your education, you finished school, did your frame of mind–did you find that changing? Like, “Wow, I am the breadwinner and I do make more money than you,” coming home and having a different frame of thought and viewing him differently as a dominant person or to have a dominant role in the relationship?
Dr. DeLavallade: Well, he actually started off making more. Once we were married, he made a choice to leave teaching, because he just felt like he couldn’t take care of a family on a teacher’s salary, which unfortunately is one of our social ills. We really don’t value our teachers. We should. So, he decided to leave the profession and enter into something related to education, but not quite in the same capacity.
He was making more initially for maybe three or four years. So, early in our marriage, he was the breadwinner. That really helped us set the stage for what to expect and then gradually mine started to increase and we kept roles pretty much how they were, because that’s how we started.
Dr. Gayl: Right.
Frank: Is a woman who makes more, more likely to leave, what many would consider or what she would consider, a bad marriage?
Dr. DeLavallade: Absolutely, yeah. And that is another key point that we really need to come grip with as a society–is that, she’s really in that relationship for companionship, for love. She wants to be cared for. She wants to be supported and you know the saying, “I can do bad all by myself,” that is the female breadwinners slogan, meaning–
Dr. Gayl: Right. And she probably thinks that, “I can do all these things. I can provide for myself. I I don’t need you–
Dr. DeLavallade: Right. She wants you.
Dr. Gayl: “I want you.” Right.
Dr. DeLavallade: Exactly. She wants that man She loves that man, but if he cannot figure out how to love her, how to connect with her, despite that salary, despite that slip in the income hierarchy–if he cannot figure out how to support her, then she’s not going to stay around.
Dr. Gayl: It’s kind of like, “What’s the point?”
Dr. DeLavallade: Yes, right. Especially if it becomes draining psychologically, emotionally. If they just can’t seem to find the right room. They can’t seem to see eye-to-eye, then again, she can do bad by herself.
Frank: Give me a story of one of the couples in your book. You’ve got some good ones.
Dr. DeLavallade: I love when I have a man and woman that I can bounce scenarios off of. You guys tell me what your thoughts are on this.
Dr. Gayl: Okay.
Dr. DeLavallade: One of the women in the book, her name is Donna and initially she was reflecting back on when she was in her 30’s. Her husband was a blue collar worker. He paid the way for her to go to business school. She came out of school, started working and then as soon as her salary surpassed his, she started to see a change in his behavior. She sees it almost instantly. His behavior started to change. He was very aggressive. He was verbally abusive. He would throw things, turn over things–all of this with her and her daughter around. Especially during tax time, she would see this very aggressive behavior of acting out.
She said she wanted to do everything she could to save her marriage. So, when she would go to work and there was a time–she remembered several times, where she was going to get a raise and she went to work and she declined the raise, because she did not want to go home and be subjected to that raft–
Dr. Gayl: Wow.
Dr. DeLavallade: From her husband.
Dr. Gayl: Talk about insecure.
Dr. DeLavallade: When you think back–exactly. She declined those raises. She declined advancing her career, so she basically engaged in self-sabotage of her own career to save her marriage and to try to appease her husband.
At the time of me writing this book, she’s in her 60’s. The husband has since moved on. She is struggling, because she passed up so many opportunities to advance in her career, that financially she’s in dire straits now, because she made those decisions to put him first over her financial security. The question becomes, “Did she do the right thing?”
Frank: Well, I’m going to let Dr. Gayl answer first, because whenever she says, I know I’m going to disagree with and we’ll have something interesting to talk about.
Dr. Gayl: Along the way, I would never had done what she did along the way and that may be, because I’m divorced. In a first marriage, maybe; you’re thinking, “Let me support my husband, let me be there for him a 100 percent. I don’t want him to feel any type of way about our situation.” However, that’s speaking to his insecurities and do you want to be with a man that’s, that insecure about your “status” and what you’re bringing home?
I would think at the end of the day, you two come together, you put your money together, however you put it together or you separate it, however you choose to separate it and there’s more to a relationship than monetary value. That’s just how I view it.
If he is causing her to feel like she has to give up advances in her career, something that she’s gone to school for, she’s worked hard for, then does he really support her and love her? What type of relationship is that?
And then, in your 60’s you’re struggling, because in your 30’s, 20’s or 40’s you let some man that doesn’t care about you or isn’t adding value to you or helping to add value to you, which is supposed to be your primary cheer leader–but he’s taking value away from you and you end up at 60 broke and alone and however she is. Then, that’s sad.
Frank: Okay. I, in listening to a scenario like this, I try to remove some of the emotional buzz words, the things that are said often to get a listener to feel bad about that person. Okay, those things–those emotional buzz words that I heard were things like verbally abusive, throwing stuff, her and her daughter, the tax time tantrums, that sort of thing. Unless both of them, unless I was talking to both of them and both of them agreed that’s what was happening, I would do my best to remove that and how I answer your question.
So, having done that, you said she kind of self-sabotaged her career. Well, it’s not really self-sabotage. She balanced the two. She determined what was more important to her– the peace at home or making more money at work.
Now, to me the use of the term, self-sabotage means that in many ways you think that she should have made more money at work, like that would’ve been the higher level thing for her to do for herself and I don’t necessarily agree. If a couple is interested in being together and having a marriage and that sort of thing, money really need not be the or a primary factor.
You could live off of whatever. I just happen to watch Honey Boo, Boo last night and we’re not talking about people who are rich and they seemed to be enjoying their life. I’m no Honey Boo, Boo watcher. Let’s be clear.
Dr. Gayl: Did you see how I looked at you?
Frank: I just saw it last night, alright? Okay.
Dr. Gayl: Yeah, right. Who you blaming that on?
Frank: That’s on my wife. That’s her fault. Money doesn’t have to be that major or that important of a factor in a relationship. It often is, because of the society that we live in and because we often want things and you want stuff and you want “nice stuff.” But you put those things aside and you determine that’s not that big of a deal to you. It’s not really self-sabotage.
Dr. Gayl: Not even that Frank, I’m going to cut you off.
Frank: Yes, I see. Uh-huh.
Dr. Gayl: Not even that. Yes, you took out the–you call them buzz words, take those emotional buzz words that you stated out, Still at the end of the day, how do you feel about her not–to me the issue was her not accepting the advances, because her husband would feel less than a man or he was not supporting her in her career. What do you think of that?
Frank: The other part is, what was–and even with some of what you just said, there are some emotional buzz words in that, so I’m trying to remove that and just look at the–what was she getting out of this relationship? There are two things, one, I think that they should have had a written agreement about–
Dr. Gayl: Of course you do.
Frank: About when he was paying for her tuition–I think they should have had a written agreement, “Hey, if I pay for your tuition and once you graduate, you don’t owe me anything,” or if that’s what they agreed to. Or “I pay for your tuition, once you graduate, you do owe me something or that sort of thing.” I think that those kind of things need to be ironed out to eliminate possible guilt that–
Dr. Gayl: I don’t care if it’s written or not, guilt is an emotion, you can’t control that.
Frank: You can control how you’re willing to receive it when you can look and say, “Hey look, this is what we agreed to. You’re not going to make me feel guilty.”
Dr. Gayl: When I say, just because you have something written down on paper, doesn’t mean that, that automatically takes the guilt away. Like, “Oh okay, my bad. You showed me that document that we wrote up 10years ago, that says that at the end of the last line, you cannot feel guilty, after I pay your college tuitions. Oh, okay, now let me take that guilt away.” It doesn’t work that way.
Frank: It can work in a manner close to that. I wouldn’t say it the way you just said it, but it certainly can work where we’re clear who owes who what and that maybe he was pointing fingers saying look, “I paid all your tuition, you owe me this that and the other.” And maybe she felt, “Yeah, I do owe him,” but didn’t know where the debt ended. It’s good to know where the debt ends. She says, “Yeah, I do feel as though I owe you something, whatever that might be. Let’s–”
Dr. Gayl: My career not advancing?
Frank: Whatever it is-“And because of that, I will stay in this relationship if I don’t think it’s a good relationship. I’ll stay in this relationship five years or I will give you ‘x’ amount of money or whatever the have you.” I just saying, create the agreement.
Dr. Gayl: Because you’re insecure, I owe you my career. I owe you not being able to advance. I owe you–
Frank: It’s not because he’s insecure, it’s because he’s–
Dr. Gayl: Clearly, it’s because he’s insecure.
Frank: He paid her tuition.
Dr. Gayl: It’s because he’s insecure.
Frank: No, no, no. It’s because he paid her tuition. That’s all I’m saying, because they, he made an investment in her and she could do the same thing. I’m just saying, create a written agreement, whether it’s him to her, her to him, whoever’s investing in whoever, that sort of thing. And the other thing is, she was clearly getting something out of the relationship and she was getting something out of the relationship when she decided to not take those raises and what can I say?
Dr. Gayl: Maybe she was getting companionship out of the relationship, maybe–
Dr. Gayl: Maybe she was giving the fact that she whole-heartedly wanted to be with someone–
Frank: Yeah, may be.
Dr. Gayl: And it wasn’t reciprocated.
Frank: Well, we don’t know that it wasn’t being reciprocated. He was in a relationship. He stayed in the relationship for as long as he did. It sounds as though at some point he left, but we don’t know that–she was getting companionship. That’s what she wanted, well that’s what she got, because she made the decision and apparently at some level for some length of time, it paid off.
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You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Dawn DeLavallade, physician, wife, mother and author of, She Makes More. A book that describes the newest breed of American wife, the breadwinner, Dawn, please tell our listeners again how they can find more about you and your work.
Dr. DeLavallade: My website is shemakesmore.com. My email if you want to share your thoughts or ideas or stories is: firstname.lastname@example.org, and my Facebook, facebook.com/shemakesmore and my Twitter is @drshemakesmore.
Frank: Did you have anything you wanted to offer about that example you posed to me or you have any comments about me or Dr. Gayl’s feedback?
Dr. DeLavallade: Well, this scenario is perfect for one of the chapters called, You Can’t Eat Love for Dinner and really what it is, is it kind of forces us to recognize that sometimes love and finance don’t go hand-in-hand. It does require us to make a decision. For her, she did make the decision to choose love over her financial stability and she paid for it later. Now, that’s not to say that every woman would end up in a worse circumstance, but it certainly requires her to think–think ahead and prepare for what the possible outcomes are, if she does choose romance over finance and when we’re young, we do that.
There is another woman in the book who was 60-something. She had two failed relationships where both times she ended up in the poor house at the hands of her mates. She had a man who wanted to marry her and she was a breadwinner. She simply said, “No, I can’t marry you. I’m sorry. I cannot, I cannot open myself up to that sort of liability again.”
So, she’s in a place where she’s choosing finance over romance and each woman has to make that decision, but I think it really speaks to the fact that they don’t always go hand-in-hand and some times it does take an extra choice to say which one is a priority in your situation.
Frank: You said she–the example that we discussed that she paid for it later, but really, we’re going to pay for it later, whatever decision we make. If she would have made the decision to take the advances or the promotions, she would have paid for it later either way. We don’t know what would have happened down the road.
Dr. DeLavallade: I think we could both agree that, if she’s alone, she made those sacrifices for him, because she loved him and she expected some sort of loyalty on his part and the fact that he has now moved on to another woman. I think we can all agree that, that’s in a worse situation. And the fact that–
Frank: I can’t agree.
Dr. DeLavallade: She has no money. She has no money and no man.
Frank: Well, I can’t agree–
Dr. Gayl: Right.
Frank: That she–
Dr. Gayl: She’s broke and alone.
Frank: I can’t agree that she did it for him. She did it for her and she thought that was the best decision for her at that point in time.
Dr. Gayl: She didn’t it for her, she did it for him. Had she done it for her, she would have taken those advances, she’d be further along and she wouldn’t be broke. So, she clearly did it for him.
Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed dynamics around allowing your husband, who you may call the leader of the family or the head of the household, allowing him to do ‘x, y, and z.’ I found that particularly interesting. Whether a woman might feel more important if she makes more in her relationship and we also kicked around a clinical scenario–kind of a clinical scenario.
I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had, learning about the newest breed of American wives called, the breadwinners.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at: facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or at franklove.com.
On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, my assistant producer, Anayza Stewart and the man back here on the boards back here, Jeff Newman. Love, keep rising. This is Frank Love.
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