Jewish World Review Dec. 5, 2002 / 30 Kislev, 5763
Men as Beasts of Burden
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | Dan is an actor, but can't make a living at it. So he works as a mock patient in a medical school.
That job doesn't pay much, so at night, Dan, 54, moonlights as a waiter at a large restaurant. He says, "It's almost ¼ mile from the kitchen to the farthest table, so when I get home at one in the morning, I'm exhausted. But I'm still so wired, I need a couple of glasses of wine to get to sleep. If I'm lucky, I get five hours of sleep before I have to get up again."
Dan is married. His wife, Denise, 53, says she's a musician. But during their years together, her average income is just $800 a year. When Dan begs Denise to get a job that pays, she objects, saying," But I love being a musician. I'm trying to make a living at it." Dan shrugs his shoulders and lets it go. "I hate conflict," he says. Meanwhile, Dan continues to drag himself through life like an ox yoked to a plow, a beast of burden. "I don't know how long I can keep this up."
Statistically, he's right. There are eight widows for every widower. Of course, some of this caused by genetics, but working two jobs until one in the morning and then drinking yourself to sleep can't be healthy.
I have a number of clients like Dan. Like him, these men accept their plight of having to work, work, work at jobs they don't like, without really questioning it. Men have been preprogrammed to be the hunter, the provider, to keep their nose to the grindstone, no matter what.
Men, this is the feminist era. You have the right to ask your wife or domestic partner to share life's financial burden. Women can no longer legitimately claim not to have earning potential. Most companies and nonprofits make real efforts to ensure that women have opportunities in the workplace. Indeed, I've found that today, women are having an easier time than men in getting hired and promoted.
So, mister, if you feel like a beast of burden, you have the right to insist that your partner get a job that will help with the bills.
Of course, you may encounter resistance, for example:
Unfortunately, Dan continues to fall for Denise's excuse: "I love being a musician. I'm trying to make a living at it." With Dan having to continue holding down two jobs and with that 8:1 ratio of widows to widowers, I hope he will live to see her successful.
(Names and minor details have been changed to protect my client's anonymity.)
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