It’s a classic story. Boy meets girl in college. Girl dislikes boy, but then asks to be friends five years later. Boy says no, but changes his mind mind after they both go through bad breakups. Girl and boy start falling for each other. Boy freaks out after they finally act on their sexual tension. Girl doesn’t want to see boy anymore. But then boy confesses his love, and they live happily ever after—with two nice incomes.
Marriage has changed, because women’s opportunities have changed. Women graduate more, they work more, and they earn more than they used to. These are all good things. But marriage has also changed, because people want new things from it. Men don’t want a homemaker, and women don’t want a provider. Men and women both want a partner, someone who can help with their emotional and financial needs. So they wait until they’ve settled into their careers to tie the knot, and they try to find someone who’s doing the same. This is also a good thing.
But the consequence of all these good things is more inequality.
For the Atlantic, Matthew O’Brien discusses a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research that shows “assortative mating” — partnering with people who are like you — is on the rise and has contributed to a 25% increase in income inequality. In the end, it is the fault of women, who keep going to college and wanting to marry for things they learned watching too many romantic comedies (love, etc.).
Koa Beck at The Atlantic writes about spouses who support their partner’s career, or the “do-it-all spouse,” who was embodied by Vera Nabokov, the wife of Russian author Vladimir Nabokov:
Vera not only performed all the duties expected of a wife of her era—that is, being a free live-in cook, babysitter, laundress, and maid (albeit, she considered herself a “terrible housewife”)—but also acted as her husband’s round-the-clock editor, assistant, and secretary. In addition to teaching his classes on occasion (in which Nabokov openly referred to her as “my assistant”), Vera also famously saved Lolita, the work that would define her husband’s career, several times from incineration, according to Stacey Schiff ‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning 2000 biography, Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov). With Vera by his side, Nabokov published 18 novels between 1926 and 1974 (both in Russian and English).
And it hasn’t been just wives supporting their husbands careers (which I suspect to be the case in a heteronormative society)—Virginia Woolf and Edna St. Vincent Millay had husbands who “assumed a Vera-esque role”: