As a baby boomer woman, I was raised in an era when women were encouraged to fight for equality. Strive for independence. Seek career success. Be paid the same as men. Break the glass ceiling.
And, like many women my age, that is the path I chose.
I put myself through college. Set my sights on a successful career. Started my own business. Out-earned my husband. In many ways, I’m the poster girl for the independent, strong, successful woman. In fact, I believe this mindset is in many ways responsible for my constant striving for success that I detail in my book, Breaking the Spell.
Once I had children, I had to become Super Woman.
After all, I had been raised to believe I could have it all. Career. Family. So I endeavored to do exactly that. Until I burned myself out. Let’s face it. It’s tiring being Super Woman!
I also recognized that to accomplish all these goals required embodying a lot more masculine energy than feminine. I saw this in many of my friends and colleagues, too. After all, to equal men in the workplace, we had to be like men in many ways.
Throughout it all, I’ve been blessed to have a very supportive husband.
He was proud of me for my success. He championed my career and my businesses. Yet I can see now that in some ways my strong success drive wasn’t healthy for our relationship. The control I exercised in my career and my business, started to seep into our relationship. For years I “wore the pants” in our marriage. I can now see that can be a bit emasculating for a man. And, not healthy for a marriage. Marriage is about partnership. It’s about the pairing of male and female energy.
Things have shifted in the past few years.
I have stopped striving so hard for success. Yes, I still work. I still run a business. I still have a strong mission that is important to me to fulfill. And, my husband still supports it wholeheartedly. However, I have softened—that’s the best word I can use to describe it. And in fact, friends have noticed it and have told me it looks good on me. From my perspective, I can tell you it feels good on me, too. And a nice side effect is my marriage is stronger. It’s more balanced. We’re both happier.
Success and equality are great, but they have their prices.
Yes, I support women in striving for independence. But I also recognize it’s okay to allow yourself to be taken care of sometimes. Frankly it’s exhausting feeling like you have to do it all, all the time.
I’ve discovered that embracing this balance of strong and soft energy is actually quite enjoyable, even powerful. Having the self-confidence to know you can take care of yourself, but being willing to sometimes let someone else take care of you, takes courage and strength. But it can bring great rewards in the happiness arena. And, I believe it’s something many women, myself included for many years, have sacrificed on our climb to the top of the success and equality ladder.
Women have sacrificed their femininity in their quest for success and power. They’ve become too much like men. When the truth is women are not like men. And that’s actually a good thing. There’s immense power in feminine energy. And I believe we need to embrace it.
This may sound a bit submissive or un-liberated to some.
And, I’m okay with that. Frankly, in the last few years, I’ve seen too many strong and successful women that I admired, end up separated or divorced. And my guess is their overwhelming focus on success and independence was detrimental to their relationships. It’s time to recognize that we can have both, success and a happy relationship. But I think for that to happen, we must embrace both the strong and soft sides of our gender. And we must be willing to be vulnerable sometimes.
Love and relationship are the cornerstone of life. As the saying goes, success doesn’t matter if you don’t have someone to share it with. Perhaps if we stop trying so hard to out-man the men, we might just find a happier balance.