The Anonymous Widower

Do Successful Women Have a House Husband?

A news item in the Sunday Times today is headed Top women need ‘him indoors’

It goes on to discuss how quite a few of the top women in the City have husbands who are at home.

I will not answer my question directly, but talk about my relationship of forty years with C. Or more particularly our careers.

For the first few years, we were very typical although, some would say that your early twenties are too young to have children. We had three before I was 25 and C was 24. I worked hard to get on and by that time I was starting my first business. I was working at least 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we were living in a fouuth floor walk up flat in St. John’s Wood.  So if you have to live in crap housing make sure it’s in a good location.  Just north of Regent’s Park can’t really be better.

When I sold my first business, we moved to the Barbican and C went to UCL to do a law degree, as Politics from Liverpool, where your tutor was Robert Kilroy-Silk, doesn’t really prepare you for the world of real work.

For the next fifteen years or so, I was part of the team creating Artemis, whilst C was getting her career together as a barrister. We were both working hard and I got the financial rewards when the company was sold.  C meanwhile gained a reputation as one of East Anglia’s foremost family barristers.

When we moved to Newmarket to start the stud, we started to evolve a new way of working together. We still had our individual careers and interests, but I would spend more time on other things, as C was now very much the major wage owner.  It allowed me to develop ideas, some of which worked and some didn’t. And then when she moved to Chambers in Cambridge, which was very much Internet based, I became much more of her support at home.

As we didn’t have young children anymore, I couldn’t be described as anything more than home support.

So in some ways we’d almost come full circle.

I suspect our model has not been untypical and I’d recommend it.  As the major wage-earner changes over the years, does it really demean the man to be the one who oooks after the house, when his wife can earn three or four times he can.

But we also did a lot of things together.

Shopping for instance.  Some of my friends are incredulous, that for most of our life together we did the general shopping together too. When we were in the Barbican, we’d push the children up to Chapel Market next to the Waitrose I now use.  So life has now come full circle in more ways than one. 

Clothes shopping was often together too. C was better at choosing clothes for me and in many cases the reverse was true. I remember the year she died being in Zara and C was looking at a sun dress on a hanger.  She said that it was awful and I then picked it up, realising that it would be just her size and style. She bought it and wore it all the summer. Remember that I am a designer and also an unusual man, who was taught to make clothes by his mother.

If I have any regrets about our relationship, it was that I dodn’t do more cooking.  I taught myself in a few days after she died and like doing it.

So I would suspect that although house-husband is too strong a word for it, most successful women and successful men for that matter have a strong partner at home, who can help or even take charge of the mundane and suggest other ways in the serious part of their career. As an example in the latter, I helped in a few of C’s cases, by using my knowledge and experience to improve her arguments and in some other cases, I have suggested ways of improving her returns from the work.

And then there’s the need for a cuddle and more, that we all need!

Living alone is not a choice we would make for ourselves.

July 3, 2011 - Posted by | Business, World | , ,


  1. […] mentioned in the post on house-husbands that I have various skills and strangely one of them is dressmaking. Or it used […]

    Pingback by Every Picture Tells a Story « The Anonymous Widower | July 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. I think when both partners are working, you need to reach an arrangement in which each of you do what you are best at and most enjoy.

    Comment by liz | July 3, 2011 | Reply

    • Even if you don’t agree it formally, “who does what best” often is the rule. I know one couple, where the husband does all food shopping and the cooking and the wife most of the housework, the washing and the ironing.

      Comment by AnonW | July 4, 2011 | Reply

  3. Just curious if you would similarly praise an article titled “top men need ‘her indoors'”? Why is it that when women stay at home they are oppressed and in need of “liberation” but when men stay at home they are being supportive? Do you think the feminists should admit they were wrong to condemn the so-called 1950’s model of the breadwinner and the homemaker? So much for egalitarian relationships.

    Comment by Cyniall | July 4, 2011 | Reply

    • I think you’ll find that behind a large proportion of successful people, be they a man, a woman or gay, there is someone very close to them sorting out and managing the domestic side of their lives and sharing the problems and worries of life. Feminists are right to condemn the stereotypical 1950s relationship, but many in those days were very egalitarian in the UK,l with the woman working to make ends meet. Also the Second World War liberated a lot of women and gave them responsibilities they’d never had before and they didn’t want to go back to being the little woman.

      On the other hand, a lot of people did go back to the stereotype, just as there are still a lot of couples who abide by it now.

      But that sort of relationship wasn’t for C or me.

      Comment by AnonW | July 4, 2011 | Reply

      • You didn’t answer the question: would you similarly praise and recommend an article titled “top men need HER indoors”? it is monumental hypocrisy to assert women in “stereotypical 1950s relationship” are/were oppressed, and then to praise and recommend exactly that same relationship with men in place of women. When men stay at home, it’s something you “recommend” but when women stay at home they are in need of liberation and are mocked as “being the little woman.” I think in all fairness YOUR 1950’s style relationship of breadwinner/homemaker, should be equally condemned and you should be equally mocked as “being the little man.” Or, more sensibly, if you think that is such a wonderful relationship type, then perhaps you should recommend it to more women, since they seem to have been convinced that not having a career or your own and being dependent on your spouse is a bad thing. Please tell them that that is wrong and your experience has been so wonderful that you recommend they quit their jobs and stay at home to support their spouse’s career.

        Comment by Cyniall | July 4, 2011

  4. We never agreed it formally, we just do it.

    I do know couples where the husband has a very demanding job and they have chosen that the wife doesnt have a paid job, but looks are domestic issues, BUT also has a range of activities outside the domesticness which provide the fulfillment that hoovering doesnt. They certainly oppressed, it is their life choice.

    And will say it before someone else does. Gay isnt a gender. I know exactly what you mean, but my gay friends would be wanting to lynch you!

    Comment by liz | July 4, 2011 | Reply

    • I wasn’t saying it was a gender. I could have added sisters who choose to live together although that is rarer these days, but in my parents generation it was quite common.

      Comment by AnonW | July 4, 2011 | Reply

  5. I think the only thing that you could say, is that everyone needs a strong domestic relationship that suits them.

    I should also say that after forty years of an equal relationship, where sometimes I was the main earner and at other times my wife was, i don’t like the situation I am in now. After all so many jobs, like putting up shelves, clearing up after a meal and doing the shopping, are so much better done with someone you truly love and respect and they are a true chore, when you are alone.

    Comment by AnonW | July 4, 2011 | Reply

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