Will You Get (Or Give) Your “Wife Bonus”?

wifebonus

Malika Favre

So I’m picking and choosing my way through the articles that interest me in the Sunday edition of the New York Times and I come across an article titled Poor Little Rich Women. I might have not read it except it was on the Opinion page (one of my favorite sections) so I started to skim it and came across the term Glam SAHMs which is short for “Glamorous Stay At Home Moms”. That got my attention so I slowed down and read more carefully.

Wednesday Martin is an anthropologist and researcher who moved into the Upper East Side of Manhattan which, unbeknownst to me, is the home of the super, super, super wealthy. She describes the women that she met in the parks and playgrounds as graduates from elite colleges often with advanced degrees, married to very wealthy men some of whom ran hedge funds or private equity funds, and who stay home with their 3-4 kids under 10 years old.

These Glam Sahms devote their life to a particular kind of parenting…

Instead they toiled in what the sociologist Sharon Hays calls “intensive mothering,” exhaustively enriching their children’s lives by virtually every measure, then advocating for them anxiously and sometimes ruthlessly in the linked high-stakes games of social jockeying and school admissions.

…and a particular kind of personal development…

Their self-care was no less zealous or competitive. No ponytails or mom jeans here: they exercised themselves to a razor’s edge, wore expensive and exquisite outfits to school drop-off and looked a decade younger than they were. Many ran their homes (plural) like C.E.O.s.

All this might sound fairly ordinary in that it’s not how most of us live but it doesn’t surprise us to hear that these things are true of others. But then come the “wife bonuses.”

The article reports that many of the Glam Sahms receive a year end bonus that might be dependent on their husbands bonus but is also determined by their own performance raising the kids or keeping the domestic budget. The bonus is a big deal because it can lead to a shopping spree or the opportunity to break into a new social circle or maybe even some financial independence.

A Few Reflections

1. It’s been four days since I read this article but I still laugh every time I think of me sitting down with my wife, reviewing her year, and telling her the bonus I think she’s earned.

2. This seems like a very condescending view of marriage and wives. Who am I to review my wife’s year and pronounce judgment on it? This sounds more like wife as employee than wife as companion and partner.

3. And husbands are going to give their wives bonuses if they are so in shape and in style that they look a decade younger than they really are? Who can do that and for how long? There’s no hint that the wife reviews the husband’s performance although I saw one journalist on twitter suggesting that men could be rewarded for keeping up their dad bod.

4. Do dads really want to be so removed from their children that their development is something that is considered mom’s job? I know I don’t.

5. This sure seems like a warped sense of love. Is it love that “performs” hoping to receive financial reward? Is it love that has a list of expectations and dispenses or withholds a bonus depending on whether one’s spouse lived up to those expectations? I sure am glad that my wife doesn’t “love” me like that. I’m fortunate that her love for me isn’t contingent on my performance because I’m pretty sure that I fail more than not.

6. A husband and wife are called to model their love for each other after God’s love for them. The Bible says that God loves me because…well because he loves me. His love sure isn’t predicated on my performance and for that I’m eternally grateful. He’s good to me even though I don’t deserve it. That’s the amazing truth of grace. God loves me unconditionally and calls me to love my wife with that same love. The “wife bonus” has no place in God’s economy.

But it still makes me laugh.

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