Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Married to the Boss
Awhile back I posted a little something here called “Direct Report to the Boss Lady” (October, 21, 2008). I quoted couples who avoid arguments over money by the simple expedient of having the wife assume complete financial control. You know, the wife is installed as “boss” at home, with the husband kind of like her “direct report.” Common result: instant domestic harmony plus a steady uptick in fiscal responsibility and financial health.
But there is a subset of wife-led marriages where the wife is not only the boss at home, but on the job. You might think this is stretching the wife-led thing to the breaking point, but you’d be wrong, judging from the many message board postings I’ve seen and saved. I’ll start with several from the Spousechat Excerpts posted here recently:
I know a woman lawyer whose husband works for his wife as an investigator. However, he is home in time to prepare and serve meals. Three women own their own real estate business, and their husbands work as agents for their wives. Another woman owns the family car leasing business. Her husband is her mechanic. I could go on and on with different stories.
My wife is a lawyer. She hires me regularly to do depositions. She is the boss at work and at home. It is wonderful! Men in that position should enjoy!
My husband is a researcher in a business founded by my father. I am now the CEO. I am his boss at work and at home. We have few problems. If I fire him, he can stay at home and do his other work. It is great!
Regular readers will also recall the many postings from Spousechat mainstay, Charles, aka “Mr. Lisa,” who was introduced to his future wife (and boss) by his then-boss, a powerful female real estate agent:
“I [was] an assistant to one of the busiest agents in the entire area, I mean she had years where she sold $25 million. This is the woman who introduced me to Lisa. This woman exuded sexual power, in the way she dressed and in her actions, but never directed it towards me. I wish she had. She treated me professionally. It was usually the younger agents in the office who would make the sexual innuendoes and jokes. I took it all in stride. Anyway, any men who want to see what it's like to work in a female dominated business should try working for a real estate agency. I'll tell you, it really prepared me for my marriage.”
After marrying Charles, Lisa had him resign from his office job to become her full-time househusband. Later on, as he tells it, she gave him a chance, briefly, to go back to work—for her:
“Yesterday, I told Lisa that I would be willing to fill in for her assistant for the second two weeks in July. Lisa had already assumed that I would, as I said, she was very insistent upon it, almost demanding that I do it. Also, I will still be expected to do all of the housework, and give her the personal services she has become accustomed to… Although I worked for women for years, I am still intimidated at the prospect of working for Lisa, not to mention the other women in her office.”
I recall logging on to the Spousechat message board each day during this time to see how Charles’ temp stint was working out. He kept us posted:
“In the office, Lisa can be playful, and it is her office, she even owns the building. She has joked around a little with me, saying things like ‘If you want to get ahead in my company, you'll have to perform under the boss’s desk.’ So, who knows what may happen? I can only hope.”
“The first day, yesterday, was tough. Lisa is an unbelievably busy woman and keeping up with her instructions is a difficult task, I made a lot of mistakes. Then, of course, when I got home, there were all of my other tasks at home to do. I worked till midnight.”
“I think I did OK for my first week, although I was chastised for forgetting a few personal tasks she told me to do. Like yesterday, I was supposed to pick up her dress at the cleaners, but I forgot… I want to re-dedicate myself to making Lisa's home life even more enjoyable.”
Another househusband regularly quoted on this blog, Au876, confided a similar experience to fellow wife-worshippers on Lady Misato’s original Husbands’ Forum:
“My wife is thinking about going into a business with two other ladies starting next year. She is planning to be the senior partner putting up 51% of the funds (she has done very well on her investments). She wants to keep her present job as she makes good money and has good benefits. She is talking about making me quit my job and work for her. Actually she says I would be more or less working for the other two ladies since she wouldn't have much time to devote to the business in person.
“She hasn't made up her mind yet on any of it for sure. She did say she would let me decide if I would give up my job and work for her, and my decision would be a major factor as to whether or not she invests in the business. I don't really want too give up my job. However, what I make only amounts to about 25% of our total income and she thinks she can make a lot more from the business. I have to let her know before year end.”
Fdhousehusband, whose discontinued blog is keenly missed by many of us, faced a similar crossroads. As I recall it, his wife had recommended “fd” to a female friend of hers to work on a trial basis at a nonprofit. Fd turned in such a conscientious performance that the woman offered him a full time position:
Fd agonized over this decision, because, like Charles, he knew he would not be excused from any of his househusbandly duties just because he was working full-time. What should he do? Fd asked his wife for her guidance:
“She addressed me like a schoolteacher. ‘When making a difficult choice, it is always best to analyze the pros and cons. On the pro side, if you take the job, I'll have more money to spend and a girl can never have enough shoes. For you, you get out of the house and the opportunity to do something useful, besides cleaning my toilets, that is…
"’On the con side, you will be a lot busier, so there will be less time on the computer and less down time for you. Also, with more to do, you probably will let more things fall through the cracks and that means I will have to punish you more. Remember, this new job is not an excuse for neglecting your chores.’"
As was usually the case, fd’s wife took the initiative and, via phone calls and faxes with her woman friend at the nonprofit, negotiated conditions for her husband’s employment that would allow him to keep up all his domestic duties through a combination of regular office hours, flex time and telecommuting from home.
Fd read the resulting document and saw that it contained everything he could have wanted in a job outside the home. “i then realized that these two powerful Womyn [fd’s spelling] had divided my services between themselves without even consulting me. Like I was some beast of burden. Surprisingly, i found this thought very erotic and my erection gave me away. i reached up and threw my arms around my Wife's neck.”
Au876’s “career” choice was slightly different. As Au explained to the Husbands’ Forum at the time, “All she has asked is for me to consider quitting my job and coming to work for her… She has not ordered me to, she is leaving it up to me.”
Those of us in the Forum, as I recall, had no doubt as to what Au’s ”final decision” would be, and he proved us right:
“I have decided to do just that [come work for her] but haven't told her. She did tell me it would not require any more of my time than I presently spend on my job and thus would not interfere with my household duties… I am developing a plan to wrap up something, maybe a poem I'll write, to say I am quitting my job and coming to work for her. She will be my boss both at home and at work. It is hard to believe how totally dependent I am upon her and how much I love it.”
Like Charles on Spousechat, Au876 filed frequent progress reports on his new wife-directed venture:
”Yes, I am wholehearted into the decision. My wife was pleased but not surprised. My present to her was a copy of my letter of resignation to my now former employer. She asked if I had already turned it in because if I hadn't, she wanted to make it clear it was my decision as she was not mandating this. I had already turned it in and told her I knew it was my decision and I had decided.”
“We went to a New Year's Eve party where my wife knew most of the people. I could tell she was really proud of my decision. She introduced me to a lot of the people and when she did she would almost always say something about my coming to work for her in her new business. “
“I officially start work for my wife this coming Monday. Actually as I understand it, I will be assisting her other two partners in whatever way they need me. My wife still has full time employment elsewhere but the other partners are actually working for her since she owns 51% of the business. I think I will mostly be a ‘gofer’ for them and hopefully will be keeping the books. I can do that from the house. Should be an interesting year. I look forward to it.”
“I suppose maybe it was a further move to subjugation when I went to work for my wife. However, it is working out great and has caused me to hold her in even more awe and increased my respect for her.”
“I have put in almost 2 1/2 weeks of working for my wife and her partners now. I was supposed to be putting in about 20 hours a week but it has been closer to 40+. My wife is keeping her regular job for now. Her partners have kept me extremely busy getting the office in order, filing, cleaning, running errands and etc. My wife has been coming in later and she always has a lot for me to do for her. She did make it clear to everyone this week that when she was there I reported only to her (at least for the time being).”
“I am still doing all I have done in the past at home. The lone exception has been cooking her dinner and having it ready when she gets home. A lot of times she is having to wait for me to get it ready. I wasn't sure what my duties were going to be when I agreed to come to work for her. I was hoping I might be keeping the books and sort of be the office manager... It looks like I will mostly be doing mundane office work. So far the most challenging thing I have done is type a few letters for them.”
“My wife asked me last night how I liked it so far and I told her I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing and I felt like maybe I wasn't needed. She said I was supposed to do whatever I was told. She also said I had been a big help so far just in getting the office set up for them. She made me feel better about myself being so busy. I am still keeping her panties clean and loving it.”
“My wife tells almost everyone that I work for her and am her househusband. You know how if you are at some function and meeting someone for the first time, they usually ask ‘and what do you do?’ If the question is asked to me with my wife around, she usually answers for me. She will say something like ‘He does part time work for me in my business and is a full time househusband.’ I have no problem with this. It is what I do and I do it well.”
But now--the rest of the story. As Au eventually confided, going to work for your wife means you can also be let go by your boss-wife:
“My wife called me into her office today and told me she was laying me off. She has bought out her two partners and needs a full time person to assist her. She has offered the job to her former boss and he has accepted. She does not want me to go back to any type of work as she wants me to stay home full time. She said I would still be doing some word processing for her that I could do from the house. I am also to come to the office three times a week to clean.”
Years later, on Spousechat, Charles recounted an almost identical interview with his “stunning” boss-wife Lisa:
“Lisa has told me that I will not be returning to work on any regular basis, not that I did a bad job, just the opposite, but she needs me for other things.”
You may wonder, Have I ever worked for my wife? Sort of. Many years ago, before we were married but going together while working at the same place, she and I applied for the same managerial post. She got it over me (I don’t think the choice was even close). I found myself suddenly reporting to her for a considerable period of time (before being transferred to another department). It was awkward at first, and, yes, a blow to my ego. But I knew darned well that she was vastly better qualified in every way (relating to co-workers, making decisions, weighing alternatives, you name it).
Later on, at the same company, I very briefly became a manager of a minor department and proved how right that earlier decision was. I am not managerial stock, to say the last. Little wonder that, once we were married, the reins of leadership quickly passed into my wife’s capable hands.
There is one related anecdote. I have had some good earning years and some not-so- good years. During one dismal downtime, my wife glanced up from the local paper and informed me she was thinking of turning me into a bus driver. She had just read that our striking bus drivers make $50 grand a year.
I didn't react at the time, but later confided on the Wife Worship Forum that I would try my hand at anything my wife told me to do.
I got a quick reaction from Au876, who was, of course, uniquely qualified to offer an opinion: “That is progress. Comments your wife makes in everyday conversation show her state of mind. Her mention of MAKING you into a bus driver could be her way of letting you know she has the power to do so and you had better shape up if you don't want to do it.”
That’s the end of the line, folks. Please exit to the rear.