London - Ever heard of a chief executive who makes tea for senior staff, washes up the mugs afterwards and then stays late to drive the juniors home from the pub? Who never has a day off, always comforts you when you’re ill and won’t resign if the pressure gets too much?
No, thought not.
So my advice to any wife thinking of embracing the new trend of calling themselves “domestic CEOs” is that they should be very wary indeed.
According to new research, a staggering 93 percent of women aged between 40 and 60 are domestic CEOs. That is to say, they take all or most of their family’s financial decisions, from buying a new TV to booking a holiday or choosing a car.
Gone are the days when the little wife was forced to depend on a weekly allowance from her all-powerful husband: in 2012, she usually has access to all his money as well as hers. So far, so admirable. Nevertheless, there are many reasons for women to resist the idea that running a home in any way resembles life at the top of the corporate tree.
The first is that appending the letters CEO to “domestic” merely glamorises a job for which the reward has never been glory or status (and certainly not a huge pay package with perks), but the simple and satisfying knowledge that you’re helping to make everyone else’s life better.
Another is that for much of the time, you’re not so much a CEO as unpaid intern.Chief duties include delivering a succession of hot drinks and snacks to order, developing a working knowledge of television programmes you loathe (The X Factor, Sweet Sixteen, Hollyoaks), and being able to answer any question that’s thrown at you, from “where’s my sports kit” to “how does Pythagoras’ theorem work”?
Then there’s the washing - oh, the endless washing - and the constant ferrying by car, not to mention the late-night conversations about the meaning of life (or at least, what their life means - no one cares about yours).
A third reason to be wary is that women who apply pretentious corporate titles to their domestic life are almost certainly frustrated alpha-types who’ve given up their top jobs. All their energies are subsequently poured into raising their children and running the home - and anything less than perfection is deemed unacceptable.
The pressure this puts both on them and their children is frankly terrifying. They expect their offspring to be not only slim, beautiful and sporty but also to be a winner - academically, musically, and socially. As one such driven mother confided to me recently: ‘I’ve told my son he must never get less than an A - let’s face it, a B is a fail.’
Of course, a small minority of such women are actually married to a real CEO or similarly well-paid businessman. They may have several homes in different countries to oversee, with all the concomitant staff and travel arrangements, and they’re expected not only to throw elegant dinner parties but also to adorn their husband’s arm at high-powered social events.
For them, there’s also the constant fear of being fired - though if they’re cast aside for a younger, prettier domestic CEO, they can at least expect to be recompensed with a pay-off and a pension. Not so the rest of us, who’d get little in the way of redundancy if our marriages went off the rails.
But perhaps the most worrying aspect of the survey is that so many women claim to be in sole charge of how family money is spent. If 93 percent of wives really are making most or all of the financial decisions, then it follows that 93 percent of husbands are at risk of being domestically disenfranchised. And that can’t be a recipe for a happy marriage.
Personally, I wouldn’t dream of making a major purchase without consulting my husband (I’m excluding shoes here, obviously) - and nor would he. As it happens, I couldn’t care less what TV or computer we have - but he still asks me what I think before he buys a new one. Apart from anything else, it’s basic good manners.
Marriage is a precarious business, exposed to countless hidden dangers from bankruptcy to a hostile takeover (divorce).
But its great joy is that it’s also a genuine partnership.
So if you must call yourself something fancy, make it “Joint Domestic CEO”. Just remember: in the corporate world, the more elaborate the title, the less it actually means.
For myself, I think I’ll just stick to “wife”.- Daily Mail