REAL WORK: Hard Day, Was It Dear? ; You Both Work Hard, but Which of You Gets to Whinge about It? KATE MULVEY Investigates the New Order
Mulvey, Kate, The Independent (London, England)
Last week, a report from the University of Hertfordshire overturned the assumption that men benefit more than women from being in a relationship. Sophie Crossfield, who carried out the research with 40 dual-career couples, reported that women who would traditionally take on the supportive role are now too busy and therefore not as available as they used to be to soak up their partner's worries. The ensuing debate rumbled on all week. Depending on which columnist you read, the solution is either a) for women to stop whingeing about trivia/boasting about success and return to ego- stroking, or b) for men to come out of the emotional ice age and deal with women as equal partners.
Clearly, whoever is to blame, now that women are going out to work at a higher level than ever before, how we deal with what happens when we come home again at the end of the day must change.
So how do you and your partner approach that tricky decompression period between work and home life? Step one: give male partners space to chill; give female partners time to talk say the experts. "What women don't understand," says Denise Knowles of Relate, "is that if a man seems to switch off and watch the television, say, it isn't that he doesn't care, it's just that he needs to change gear. Women on the other hand are thinking about what's for supper as they are hanging up their coat. She thinks he is ignoring her and doesn't care and he thinks she is nagging him on purpose."
Step two: accept that while one partner might want advice on work worries, the other may just need sympathy. Rowe: "The woman may tell her partner about an argument she has had with a colleague and he will tell her what she must do. It is more than likely that she already knows what to do, but what she wants is her feelings acknowledged and some sympathy."
Another possibility, says Rowe, is to use techniques more often found in co-counselling. "The first person talks for five-10 minutes. When they have finished their partner will reflect back on what he or she has said, which means they have to listen. They mustn't criticise or give advice but just reflect. This method is about learning to listen and seeing other people's point of view."
But just how easy is it to put such principles into practice? We asked two couples what happens when they get home from work.
THE TRADITIONAL COUPLE
Claims manager Soraya Brown, 29, lives in Wimbledon with her multimedia producer husband Greg, 43, and their young son. Greg also has a teenage son from his first marriage. Soraya regularly works long hours and travels a lot, while self-employed Greg can start work at 10 if he wants.
Soraya: I have a very stressful job driving around the country and dealing with clients' claims. I am usually mentally exhausted after a day of dealing with irate customers, but as soon as I've finished work, I've got to pick up the child from nursery and get dinner ready.
But no matter how tired I am, Greg always thinks he is more tired. Last week, after a really awful day with about five unreasonable clients, I was nearly in tears. I tried telling Greg but as usual he half listened to me while watching Question of Sport, then he murmured something like "you'll be all right" and got back to the telly. That is pretty much how it is around here. He tries to help, but like a lot of men he thinks his work is far more important. So no matter how I feel, we always end up discussing his work. A couple of months ago he went on tour for a week in Ghana. He went on and on about how stressful it was. I mean gigs on the beach in the heat and entertaining clients over three-course dinners hardly sounds like tough graft to me. Sometimes I am just too tired to be bothered with his problems and we inevitably end up having a row, so to keep the peace I end up listening to him.
The fact is he's not really …
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Publication information: Article title: REAL WORK: Hard Day, Was It Dear? ; You Both Work Hard, but Which of You Gets to Whinge about It? KATE MULVEY Investigates the New Order. Contributors: Mulvey, Kate - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: January 16, 2000. Page number: 11. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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