World War II. The men came home from war and wanted, more than anything, to have normalcy in their lives.
“Normal” meant getting a stable job, getting married to Betty Sue and having babies.
The fact that many of the Betty Sues had worked in airplane factories, pumped gas and, in short, filled the voids left by the men at war meant nothing.
They melted back into the traditional role of the married woman and passed much of their well-deserved autonomy back.
Still No Power of Money
Next came the little Baby Boomers, who were given absolutely everything to make up for what the war generation had missed out on.
Sure, bras were burned in protest of inequality. Many more women than in prior generations took – and kept – their positions of independence. But after awhile, even some of those folded into the only pattern they had ever seen: that of their mothers who ran the home but turned income-generation to their husbands. These women relinquished their own financial ambitions while becoming part of the “new normal.”
The Choice Seekers
Sometimes things start getting old. The values and interests that were shared – or ignored – when a relationship was fresh can become irritants after 30 years of marriage. The “glue” that comes from raising children weakens as those same children reach their own age of independence.
In the past year I’ve had at least ten women talk to me excitedly about how they see spending their “second adulthood,” the years from about age 55 to 75. The one question that always comes up is, “Do I see myself going on this new adventure alone? Or with my husband in tow?”
The Power of Money = The Power of Choice
About half of the women had developed no financial activity and hence had little option other than ask their husbands to fund it. A couple of women started businesses up immediately, but knew it would take time to reach momentum.
Others had already reactivated skills they had earlier, or learned new ones, and were well on their way to self-sufficiency. They had joined their sisters who had been forced by divorce or widowhood to take the reins of their financial lives.
The Beauty of Choice
The fact that a woman has the ability to strike out on her own does not mean that she will. This, even if it would free her of what she may see as the weight of a spouse with whom she struggles to find a common subject to talk about. I hear words like “loyalty,” “gratitude,” “concern,” and so many others.
As she does a deep analysis of the relationship to determine her path forward, what gives her the greatest satisfaction is knowing that she has a choice.
Whatever her decision, making it without financial constraints validates that decision.
As you make decisions in your life, do you know your decisions are unfettered by financial limitations? Whether it’s a “later-life decision” that’s coming up soon or in 20 years, will you have a real choice?
Let us know in the Comments section below if you think it’s important for women to maintain – or create – for themselves the power of full choice.
Bio: Sharon O’Day fixes financial lives. She is a tell-it-like-it-is money expert with a successful career in global finance, plus an MBA from the Wharton School. Today she specializes in getting entrepreneurial women over 50 back on their game so they can have more money, less stress and more joy. With her “Over Fifty and Financially Free” strategies, they take actions that lead to their ultimate goal: financial peace of mind.