The Comeback of the Inspired Housewives

Don’t expect a follow up of the popular soap opera.  There is more serious stuff than TV intrigues, felony or other evil behavior. Instead I want to discuss the understanding of gender roles and family dynamics in times of recession –real life.

The idea to write about this topic evolved when I found an article in the December issue 2010 of Newsmax with the title: “The Down-on-their-luck wives club”.  The title caught my attention right away and I wondered what was behind it.

The Recession-Prosperity Comparison

Let me start with the survey by researchers Marybeth J. Mattingly and Kristin E. Smith of the University of New Hampshire.  The survey considered the population survey of May 2008 and 2009 and compared the findings to May 2004 and 2005 – recession versus relative prosperity.  The study was published in the journal Family Relations and revealed some interesting results.

American families are experiencing the effects of the ‘Great Recession’.

From December 2007 to January 2010 the US economy lost 8.4 million jobs.

The statistics, in conjunction with high losses in investments, unprecedented housing price declines, and mortgage foreclosures earn this recession the distinction of the worst recession in decades.

Families are responding to the deep financial strain caused by the Great Recession with an increase in wives labor force participation.

The current recession, with heavy job loss among men, has pushed many families to rely on wives as breadwinners to a larger extent than in the past.

Women are looking for and commencing work and they increase their work hours when their husbands stop working.

Wives are seeking jobs more often than they are finding them.

Wives earnings tend to be lower than husbands. Therefore families may still take a hit financially, if they rely primarily on their earnings.

Some of the consequences of the Great Recession reflect dramatic changes in the roles of women and men in society.

Women now hold nearly 50% of non-farm payroll jobs. Given that three-fourths of recent job losses accrued to men, many married women have increased their role as economic providers.

For more details on the survey: Family Relations 59 (October 2010)

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The way out of desperation into inspiration

When you read the results of the survey you might feel desperate and frustrated.  Maybe you are one of the housewives, maybe you could become one of the housewives or maybe you know a housewife who was forced back into the labor market whether she liked it or not. No matter what your position, I invite you to look at this topic with an open mind.

Every situation, no matter how great or miserable, involves a new perspective – a chance for a new beginning.  Yes, you don’t like change and you would rather keep everything warm and cozy the way it is.  Life does not work that way. Suddenly and without doing anything, you find yourself in a flow of water, a strong stream pushing you forward even though you don’t want to move forward.  You want to stay just where you are but the stream is too strong to resist.  It forces you into a direction you don’t want to go, but there is not much you can do.  You resist and resist until you lose all your strength and energy and finally surrender weakened and deeply hurt.  This is a painful scenario and this is exactly what happens when you try to stop a force that is stronger than you are – the force of nature.

Now look at a different scenario.  Again, suddenly without doing anything, you find yourself caught in the middle of a strong stream of water pushing you forward relentlessly.  You feel the power and you realize that you cannot fight it.  Instead you use all your strength and energy to stay in the flow and become one with the stream.  You allow the power of nature to carry you until it comes to exhausts itself.  You look up and continue your path from there.

Two scenarios and two different outcomes. I guess we agree that the second scenario is much more inspiring and creates a more positive outlook on life.

When you realize that you cannot stop the flow, ride on top of it.  You might even enjoy the ride that brings you to new places with new outcomes.  Become a winner and not a victim.  As much as you liked what you had, look forward to want you can achieve.  This brings me back to the headline that caught my attention: “The Down-on-Their-Luck Wives Club”.  I don’t agree to this headline, and I don’t think you need to lose your luck in these tough economic times.  Instead, I prefer “The Comeback of the inspired Housewives” who reinvent themselves and are more successful and happy than ever.

Be a woman and act like one.


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About Hertha Wolff-Arend

I am a business coach and writer located in Paso Robles, California. I am the author of the book Be a woman and act like one. Succeeding in business and life’’ and I write a blog for women with the same title. I give motivational speeches and offer leadership and personality trainings to women. I also work with business owners and managers to support them in their leadership skills and personal development. As a strategic consultant, I also help companies with their communication and marketing strategy. Born and raised in Germany, I spent most of my adult life in Europe. I have a German university degree in languages and economics and I worked for many years in the advertising industry as one of the few female managing directors in Germany for major international advertising agencies such as Young&Rubicam, TBWA and Bates. My client list consisted of mainly blue chip clients, where I was responsible for their communications strategies and the development and execution of the advertising concepts. Just to name a few clients: Lufthansa, Danone, Kraft Foods, Bosch, Singapore Airlines, Ericsson, Campbells etc. In 2004 I relocated with my husband and son to California. I graduated from New Venture West in San Francisco as a Certified Integral Coach and started my own coaching practice in 2007. I am fluent in German and English and have conversational skills in Spanish. Aside from my dedication to work and family, I am a passionate dressage rider. I am devoted to supporting women in business, with a focus on women in the lower and middle management who are aiming at a career in the higher ranks or who want to develop their own business.
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