THE TWO-PAYCHECK MARRIAGE: How Women at Work are Changing Life in America by Caroline Bird

THE TWO-PAYCHECK MARRIAGE: How Women at Work are Changing Life in America

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

In the years since Caroline Bird documented the marketplace handicaps of being Born Female (1968), women have challenged those discriminations and effected much change until today the two-paycheck marriage has become the norm, a response to inflation and a reflection of altered consciousnesses. Bird carefully explores this new, probably permanent phenomenon, sifting through motivations and household adjustments and speculating persuasively on likely long-term effects-on family life and workplace suppositions. It's an expansive overview, recognizing economic exigency as primary yet spotlighting ""pioneer lifestyles""; in surveying the broad range of attitudes (""Traditional"" or ""Contemporary"" marriage, ""Reluctant Housewife,"" etc.), she introduces both recent trends (""a professionally successful wife has become a status symbol for a certain kind of professional man"") and highly indicative actualities (""The more money a woman earns, the less likely she is to be married""). Many of the findings are unsurprising: among former full-time housewives just starting to work, housework is the first casualty, and other priorities are quickly rearranged. The strongest, most controversial section here covers ""nonsexist bookkeeping"" (ways to compute who works, when and why) which takes into consideration personal feelings and modern predicaments--such as the woman who gives her entire paycheck to a child care-giver, enabling her to continue her own career-building. And the weakest part concerns child care, which dutifully cites Kagan on the possibilities of quality care without indicating how difficult it is to find and which too cavalierly generalizes, ""whatever else a mother does, she spends surprisingly little time interacting with a small child."" As Bird indicates at the outset, this does not tell women ""how to juggle family and career,"" but it does describe how families have made the adjustments--managing disrupted schedules, sex-and-housework tensions, and, in many cases, more balanced relationships.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1979
Publisher: Rawson, Wade--dist. by Atheneum