London, England–Nice lady–don’t you wish she were your wife? From Family secrets: I wish I had married for money, not love (The Times, 6/17/08):
When Bill and I got married his relaxed attitude to money amused me. He’s a teacher and enjoys his job. I work in medical sales: more stressful, but it pays well. I have, however, become secretly, overwhelmingly, envious of my friends, who can rely on their husbands as the breadwinners. Our first home was a tiny flat in a lovely area, which was fine even when our first daughter was born. Our second daughter’s arrival two years later put a strain on space and finances, so we had to move – and I had to learn to bite my tongue so as not to seem ungrateful.
It was then that I noticed that my best friend Carol’s standard of living was better than ours: her husband is a consultant surgeon and their first home was a five-bed detached house. We bought a three-bed ex council house in a nice street, but I couldn’t help comparing it with friends’ houses. I’ve had promotions, but Bill has no plans to apply for anything beyond head of department, his current position; I think he should go for a deputy head post. He’s a brilliant dad, and with the girls now reaching their teens, I appreciate how well he gets on with them and puts so much effort into their homework and hobbies. I’d never admit this to friends, but I believe that there’s more to life than being good parents. Carol is having a champagne party for her 40th, as well as a week in Paris with her husband and a weekend in New York with their 14-year-old daughter. I pretended to be thrilled, but was sick with envy. I know many people can’t take a holiday at all, but we mix with people who have no mortgages, work part time or not at all, can afford private education and have three or four holidays a year. I feel resentful, especially as it’s the men who bring in the money; and even if Bill were a head teacher, he wouldn’t come close. When out with the girls I hear Susan moan about John’s business trips and I have to pinch myself to keep from shouting that his £250,000 salary must make up for some of his absences. Or Trisha: she inherited a house from her parents, which means that though her husband is on a normal salary, she needn’t work, and spends her time at the gym. Bill tells our girls that they can achieve anything and I agree, but when they start dating, I’ll try to guide them (behind his back) towards men who can give them the sort of life I’ve never had. Feminism’s fine, but there’s a lot to be said for having your bills paid.
Interesting how it never seems to once occur to her that maybe she should go out and work harder to get the money she craves. Sounds like her husband is a much better parent/caregiver than she is anyway. Thanks to Malcolm, a UK reader, for sending the article.