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April 8, 2010

Wife, Redefined

(image courtesy of cute & custom eBay store)

Well, once again, Lisa Belkin has written an incredibly intelligent and eloquent piece that articulates the philosophy of wifehood perfectly. In last week's New York Times Magazine Belkin's story is inspired by her mother's decision not to remarry but instead to be in a committed partnership.

She cites a few statistics (including "working wives in the US bring in 45 percent of total family earnings, and 22 percent of women ages 30 - 44 make 22 percent more than their husbands") that seem obvious to me, probably because of all of the women I come in contact with every day through In Good Company, but that I know many people will find surprising.

What resonated most about her article was the idea that women who returned to the workforce in the late 70's "wanted a wife" to do the "scut work", the type that was work traditionally managed by a wife - e.g. cooking and cleaning.

But as I read this, I thought about how similar it is to running a business - think keeping house.

In our business, my partner Adelaide Lancaster and I often half-jokingly refer to our partnership as a marriage. In the case of our marriage, we have a wife in one another. We have worked very hard to structure our business and our respective roles in ways that allow us to spend the majority of the time doing what we enjoy and naturally do best.

On the whole, those roles maintain opposite aspects of the business but together that division helps us "keep house" and build our business. In our case, we have respect and admiration for the role the other plays and certainly appreciate the hard work involved in the other's contribution.

However there are large components of each of our roles that seem like scut work to the other. It is work that either of us could do but wouldn't enjoy if we had to do it with any consistency. So according to Lisa Belkin's article, in that way, we really do have a "wife" in each other.

Maybe it's time to celebrate the role of the "business wife".

posted by Amy Abrams

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