Wife Smarter Than Husband?
Is it safe for a wife to be smarter than her husband?
Of course! Men who cannot afford social ornaments sometimes want inferior wives. Why? Often because they harbor a great sense of inferiority.
Therefore at all economic levels there are some men who want apparently weak and docile women whom they can dominate completely, who will not put up any arguments, and who will do as they are told without any “ifs,” “ands,” or “buts.”
Likewise there are women who either want to be dominated, or who are so eager to marry that they will do so under such circumstances.
What about the “ordinary man” who has no serious feelings of inadequacy, and who cannot afford, and does not desire a social ornament? Does he demand that his wife not have too many brains?
Certainly he wants her to be intelligent enough to do her job well. He does not want to feel ashamed of her because of her stupidity. Actually, too, the marriage will turn out more successfully if the wife is smart enough to be interesting, and to help develop satisfying personal relationships.
Still, the man usually does not want to feel inferior to his wife. But feeling inferior is not the same as being inferior. Some men have a quiet pride in a wife who is smarter, provided that she is smart enough not to make him appear and feel inferior, especially in front of his friends.
Some men, like some women, want others to run things for them. This desire may result from an unwillingness to assume responsibilities. It may come from a deep-seated desire to be dominated. Whatever its basis, there are men who want to be dominated by their wives. In such cases, both of them should know it in advance.
The problem is not limited to what men in general, or this man in particular, may want. There is also social demand. The boy and the girl who plan marriage should have a clear understanding of what the entire situation actually is, including its contradictions which they must somehow resolve.
Our culture expects the husband to be intellectually superior to his wife. Yet actually, he is not and in many cases cannot be. By the law of chances, there will be almost as many wives who are superior to their husbands, as husbands who are superior to their wives. So what to do?
In real life the situation does not work out too badly. Vocationally, the wife usually becomes side-tracked while she is bearing and rearing the children. With a twenty-year advantage, even a relatively inferior husband can usually manage to keep ahead. And as a result of the differences in what society expects, the wife usually runs with the throttle only partly open.
While the husband is advancing himself vocationally, or rising in his company, the wife busies herself getting up church suppers and organizing flower shows which consume her time and energy, but do not show up in either the pay check or her vocational standing.
Yet such advantages are not always enough to keep the husband ahead. If the difference in ability is marked, it speedily becomes known.
Such a situation may be concealed by a polite little conspiracy to maintain the fiction of male superiority, but everyone knows to whom to go, to get things done. In our day this fiction is becoming more difficult to maintain.
More and more wives are going back to work as soon as their children are old enough to be left by themselves, and are getting real money and recognition.
In some instances, the wife will outstrip her husband. The problem often becomes a real issue at the time when her income exceeds his.
My feeling is that the soundest marriages are those in which husband and wife are on about the same level of intelligence. We may think that the problem will be serious, only if the girl is markedly superior, but this is by no means necessarily true. The girl who marries a man who is intellectually far superior may face problems quite as serious. She will be safer if she chooses a man more nearly on her own level, so that through the years the relationship can most easily be maintained.
There is just as much chance that the wife will be superior to the husband, as the other way around. All who marry should face this fact. Actually there is no more justification for a man feeling embarrassed because his wife is superior, than there is for a wife to feel embarrassed because her husband excels her.
In any case, character and personality are far more important, provided each of the couple is intelligent enough to do a good job.