Skip to comments.From trophy wife to toxic wife
Posted on 01/15/2007 7:16:36 PM PST by Lorianne
Decadent stay-at-home wives who take their rich husbands for a ride have finally been rumbled, says Tara Winter Wilson
Once upon a time, there was a truth, universally acknowledged, that a man with a powerful job and a beautiful house must be in want of a wife preferably of the trophy variety. Domesticated, docile yet dazzling, she was the perfect finishing touch.
Not any more. According to research to be published in the journal Labour Economics, the earnings gap between married couples is narrowing. While in the 1980s it was the case that the higher a professional man's salary the fewer paid hours his wife would put in, men today are more likely to want a dynamic high-flier, an equal who wows him as much in the boardroom as in the bedroom.
Poisonous: 'It is like a perversion of the evolution theory: they have evolved into creatures whose function is simply to get the most for doing the least, says one husband A victory for feminism? Sadly not. The reason for this change, sisters, is nothing to be proud of.
Rich men, I believe, have finally cottoned on to the sinister side of the stay-at-home wife: unless you marry an equal who's going to pay her own way, you will end up with a lazy, indulgent, over-pampered slug. For the transition from trophy wife to toxic wife is as fast as the end result is furious.
I should know: many men of my age and acquaintance have become deeply bitter and disappointed about how their wives have changed since they hung up their working wardrobes. I am talking about university-educated women (often Oxbridge graduates) who do a couple of years work in the City before harnessing themselves to a milch cow and "having it all".
Apparently there's a new take on "having it all" and it's not what the majority of us understood it to mean. Back in the 1970s, it meant effortlessly maintaining a beautiful home, entertaining in grand style, raising perfect children, keeping the husband sweet and having some sort of career in order to create financial independence.
"Superwoman" was the phrase coined for these energetic pioneers; "trophy wives" for the less energetic ones. Today it's a whole new ball game.
"It is like a perversion of the evolution theory: they have evolved into creatures whose function is simply to get the most for doing the least," whispered an exhausted husband to me recently. "I wouldn't mind providing her with so much if she just did something for me occasionally. She's never even once cooked me a meal."
"She doesn't know the definition of sacrifice," said another angry husband. "Relationships are meant to be about compromise, but she is more about selfishness. I bend and adapt to her needs, yet all she gives me are ultimatums."
"Can't you just divorce?" I asked.
"Are you kidding?" he replied. "I'd lose everything I've worked for, including my children, and I'd be paying her an indecent amount of money for life."
"There's another reason these husbands don't divorce," added a sympathetic onlooker. "They don't want to admit to failure they don't want to be ungallant. There's an unspoken nobility or gentlemanly understanding that divorce is something they don't do."
Indeed, "something they don't do" is a mantra that extends to practically every area of toxic wifedom. Once an intelligent, educated woman who could hold her own in any dinner-party conversation, the toxic wife will do nothing of the sort.
"They not only become utterly vacant, they never throw dinner parties or entertain anyone outside of their small, closeted circle of other vacant wives," said irate husband number one.
"None of us can understand this: they become obsessed with perfection, grooming, with all aspects of their personal appearance in a word, they become boring."
"Vain, boring, indulgent and lazy," adds yet another voice to the growing army of fed-up husbands. "I have to take the children out of the house every Sunday morning and wander around with them trying to find things to do because my wife must have a lie-in. I'm only allowed back in the house after 11am. Sunday is the nanny's day off, you see."
"My wife," chipped in husband number two, "gives over the whole of the weekend to pursuing what she calls 'me time'. She goes to retreats, yoga mini-breaks, a spa, a health farm, even art classes all of which I pay for, of course. What do I get back in return? Nothing."
So today's concept of a wife "having it all", simply put, means never doing anything personally if she can pay someone else to do it for her. And if she can't find someone else, her husband must do it.
"To be frank," said another unfortunate husband, "I was conned. And I'm by no means the only one. There's a pattern of behaviour that these wives all adopt."
There are five tell-tale signs, apparently. First, she gives up work, ostensibly to care for the brood, only to have the children packed off to either boarding school or intensive (ie, lots of extra-curricular activities) private day schools.
Secondly, she suddenly wants to move somewhere more rural/suburban that suits her idea of family life, yet location-wise is horrendous for her exhausted, ever-commuting husband.
Thirdly, she demands wall-to-wall help, which nearly always includes an abused Filipina who works 12-14 hours a day, six days a week.
Fourthly, she refuses to fulfil in any way the traditional contract of the non-working spouse in terms of doing anything for her husband (such as cooking), while, fifthly, she expects her husband to fulfil the traditional but anachronistic male role in the household (such as paying all the bills).
Here is a typical day outlined by one husband of a toxic wife.
5.30am: Husband leaves for London. 7.45am: Filipina brings wife tea in bed. 8am: Nanny takes children to school. 8.30am: Breakfast, suduko and the papers. 9.30am-4pm: God knows; possibly gym, spa, shopping, boozy lunch with friends, nap or massage. 4pm: Nanny collects children from school. 5.30pm: Nanny gives children tea and goes home. 7pm: Filipina gives children bath. 7.30pm: Wife disappears off to book group. 9pm: Husband returns and roots around for an M&S ready-meal. 10.30pm: Wife returns. Bed. 10.35pm: Sex? In your dreams.
If the above timetable seems hideously parasitic, it is, and so is the woman behind it. The other day I nervously accepted an invitation for lunch with an old school friend. I felt daunted because, several years ago, she married a rich banker and I'd been dumped from her circle.
"Sorry I'm late," I said on arriving at her mansion. "Got stuck in traffic so bad it gave me road rage."
"Road rage?" replied Olivia, her eyes swivelling down to my shoes and up to my hair in a split, judgmental second. "Well, I'm suffering from maid rage. I mean, come and look "
She led me into her kitchen, three times the size of my flat, and slid open a drawer. "How shoddy is that?" She was holding up a fork.
"What's wrong with it?" I asked, peering at it politely.
"Just look! It has a disgusting piece of encrusted mashed potato on it. I mean, it's so shoddy! She can't even unload a dishwasher. I'm really going to have to sack her. And guess what else I discovered this morning? When I opened the towel cupboard after my bath, I noticed that she'd stacked the pink towels amongst the white ones. Can you believe it?"
What made this conversation so scary was the fact that the terrified Filipina was in the room with us, hunched over a table slicing up bits of duck and foie gras for our lunch. "Juanita!" snapped Olivia. "This is your last chance. Do you understand me? You'll be back in Manila within the week I couldn't possibly recommend you to anyone. Understand?"
"Yes Madam," she sniffed with a tremulous sob.
"And stop dripping your revolting bodily fluids over our lunch. Throw that away and start again. "
Horrified by her manner and the distressing scene, I asked her for a tour of her home. She had just moved into one of those massive houses in Chelsea Square. Rich folk tolerate people like me (ie, broke ones) only because we make them feel better about themselves.
"Would love to, darling," she drawled, "but first how about a drinkie-poo? Juanita! Open the champagne chilling in the wine fridge and bring it upstairs to the south drawing-room."
"Yes Madam," replied the poor slave.
"I won't have any, thanks," I said. "I'm driving and have to pick my children up from school."
"You mean you don't have a nanny to do it?" Olivia's eyes glared with horror. "I have the most delightful Norland one. Although the uniform is brown and ghastly, they are so well trained. She's downstairs in the basement doing my ironing at the moment "
This was now utterly surreal. I had no idea that real people lived like this. Yet, minute by agonising minute, it got worse. I tried a bit of light humour.
"Well, let's hope she's not weeping tears on to your party dresses, eh?"
"What?" snapped Olivia.
"Well, then you'd ask her to redo the whole lot again, wouldn't you?"
"Possibly," she replied. "But a little moisture is no bad thing when ironing out the creases "
Was she exhibiting a dry wit? I didn't know. In her pre-toxic wife days, she was amusing and droll. Now we were different beings living in parallel universes. She showed me lavish room after lavish room, and at one point I heard some strange shuffling coming from one of her closets. Maybe her life is not so perfect after all, I thought; maybe she has rats.
As we sat down to lunch in the "informal" dining-room adjacent to the kitchen in an open-plan L-shape, I noticed that Juanita was eating a rather more humble repast slightly around the corner; although I couldn't see all of her, I could detect an elbow jutting out from time to time.
"She won't be joining us then?"
"Are you mad?" cried Olivia. "Why would I want to even see my servants?"
As if on cue, a wizened little Filipino man appeared, bowing and scraping. "Madam, I have finished all the shoes. I will go now, thank you madam." He hurried out.
"See you on Thursday as normal, Pedro," she replied, barely glancing at him.
"Where did he spring from?" I asked. After all, I'd just endured an exhaustive survey of her house, and there had been no sign of Pedro.
"Oh, he's our shoe polisher. He comes twice a week. He works in a cupboard probably why you didn't notice him." No rats after all.
Here was an educated woman who spent her days rotting her brain with alcohol, and bossing an army of staff.
"Olivia," I said, "don't you miss your old job, your financial independence? Isn't all this a bit decadent?"
"Forget the work ethic," she laughed. "Why on earth would I want to struggle, feel tired and look old before my time?"
I left, more agitated than when I arrived. Forget road rage; I was suffering from toxic-wife rage. Driving to collect my children, the outside world felt like a haven of normality and peace. How I pitied these rich and successful men who had naively hoped for a domestic goddess, only to end up with a diva.
Wake up, toxic wives, the game is over. Your milch cows have seen the light of day. You are toxic, you are trouble and you are about to become extinct.
I have news for you, honey. Trophy wives do NOT camp and fish. They wouldn't do anything that might mess up their manicures. (seriously...)
This story is about the British culture where kids are expected to be packed off to boarding school at the proper age.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." - Manuel II Palelologus
Thanks for a such a positive post.
I'm sorry but I just gets shades of Jayson Blair when I read this.
"says one husband"
"many men of my age and acquaintance"
"whispered an exhausted husband to me recently"
"said another angry husband"
"added a sympathetic onlooker"
"said irate husband number one"
"adds yet another voice to the growing army of fed-up husbands"
"chipped in husband number two"
"said another unfortunate husband"
"typical day outlined by one husband of a toxic wife"
I cannot prove that this writer didn't talk to these "husbands" but the sheer number of the equally inflicted just smacks of the new "anonymous sources journalism" where even first names aren't listed.
Except for "friend" Olivia. Somehow the writer has known said Olivia for a while and yet seems to have known nothing about her. The writers sharpest commentary is applied to the one source actually named - well first name at least.
There are no doubt women that do fit the profile highlighted here but it just comes across as a writer taking random thoughts, maybe some true tidbits here and there, and creating a composite reality via invented sources.
Same here. I got divorced in '91 . . . still got cold feet. It is gonna take an exceptional woman for me to do that again.
I used to listen to her and I did learn some good things from her. She said some things IMO that were way out of line. I have not listened to her for a long time and I think our local station dropped her.
I like that quote....
LOL, good for you!
Our local talk radio show dropped her a few years back & picked un Glenn Beck. He then too was dropped . (this is NE Ohio). They are both available on other stations but I don't get the signals that well
My wife is a stay-at-home mom. She works much, MUCH harder than I do... Only she doesn't get a paycheck for her efforts.
Perhaps if these high-flying ultra-successful men married for love and dedication, rather than looks, they'd have found their "match", instead of just a "catch".
Were they really any different before they were married, or did the shiny packaging make the toy more appealing?
unless you marry an equal who's going to pay her own way, you will end up with a lazy, indulgent, over-pampered slug
Not if you keep her barefoot and pregnant.