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Equality (for Women) Like Charity…Begins at Home

On Saturday, our country witnessed some of the largest marches in recent history in cities across our nation and in cities across the world.

Interestingly, many of the random women interviewed by the media could not specifically articulate why they were there. Nonetheless, the mission on included the following:

The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

The remaining portions of the group’s mission statement can be found on the website above and they are laudable goals.

As a family law attorney, however, I am shocked on an almost daily basis that women still, overwhelmingly, take a back seat to men when it comes to their relationships in marriage. Equality for all people is and should be a fundamental right for everyone in this country. But just as the saying “charity starts at home” rings true, so should equality start at home, and this concept should be the centerpiece of every marriage.

It just does not seem to happen. This lack of parity in the relationship also seems to be a recurring theme that I see in couples getting divorced. Small wonder.

Here are a few examples I see all too often:
* The Wife has no idea of the husband’s income

* The Wife never sees the joint tax return (sometimes the husband just covers up the numbers and says “sign.”)

* The Wife has no credit cards that she obtained with her own credit, and maybe has a credit card that her husband “gave” her to use….and which he can take whenever he chooses.

* The Wife has to inform the Husband of every place she goes, or better yet, he tracks her every move through her phone, or even a tracking device on her vehicle.

* The Wife is not on any of the Husband’s bank accounts…or they have one joint account that the Husband “sparingly” deposits money on an “as needed” basis.

* The Wife has no idea of the true state of the family’s finances…neither the assets nor the debts….and she often gets quite an unpleasant surprise when divorce time

Does there really need to be an “alpha male” in every marriage? (And does it have to be the man?) Well, according to a fitness site I found that listed 25 characteristics of an Alpha Male, one included that:

The alpha male knows how to treat a lady. He respects women, often because he’s had some great one’s in his life. He’s chivalrous. He helps his lady at every chance. He helps her reach her dreams, all-the-while moving closer to attaining his own.

If that is true, then even an Alpha Male can carry on a marriage based on equality. If the Alpha Male respects women because he’s had some “great ones” in his life, then it follows that not only do strong women raise strong daughters, but that strong daughters are often developed because they had some great men as role models in their lives.

So, to all those women who trekked many miles to march this past weekend, who said they were marching for “all women,” who brought their young daughters to set an example, I say, great! But when you get back home, if you want to ensure that the strides in women’s rights that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers helped achieve have some real meaning, then start your “march” by marching right into your living room, and demanding that you have an equal place in your marriage alongside your husband. And for you husbands who are guilty of any of those actions I described above (or a cornucopia of others…and you know what I’m talking about), think about whether you want your daughters to be in that same untenable position you’ve put your wife in…or whether you want her to be a strong, independent and equal partner in a relationship. If not, I’ll be seeing one of you in my office soon….and we will have a lot more work to do to untangle the inequitable web that developed during your marriage.

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