Olwethu Leshabane’s online platform, The Art of Superwoman, explores the ‘Superwoman syndrome’ that many women feel come over them when they become mothers – the need to not only balance but to excel in the professional and personal spheres. This includes pressure not to be vulnerable or ask for help. Olwethu challenges this idea – while showing women how they can have it all! What’s the secret for working wives and mothers? A spousal relationship that’s supportive and open about everything from what you wear to how you manage your finances.
In our episode, ‘Olwethu Leshabane: How To Grow an Online Media Empire‘, Olwethu and I discussed the importance of having an open conversation with your spouse about your careers, your ambitions and… about money.
As women, we’re often socialised to see ourselves as support structures for our husbands and families, rather than entertaining our own ambitions. So how do you talk to your spouse about your career?
What I learned with my conversation with Olwethu is that honest conversations about money relieves pressure on both men and women: men face a lot of pressure to be breadwinners, and women feel pressure to support someone else’s career while trying to grow their own.
Here are 3 tips from Olwethu to help you talk to your spouse about your career aspirations and the financial realities that will affect your family – and how to manage it as a team.
1. Approach The Conversation As A Team
What stands out about my conversation with Olwethu is that she and her husband were forced to approach their finances as a team – because she worked full time while he started his business, she was their reliable source of income. Olwethu also mentions that in African culture, there is an idea that even when a wife is earning more than her husband, he is still seen as the primary breadwinner, and it is her responsibility to support him until that becomes the reality.
2. Relieve Pressure
Olwethu mentioned that she thinks that men have been socialised to see their value only as providers – and their self esteem plummets when they can’t do that. Relieve the pressure from yourself and your husband by talking honestly to each other about your expectations in your relationship and affirming their value as your spouse, not as your provider.
3. Don’t Ask For Permission, But It’s Wonderful To Receive Support
While Olwethu encourages a vulnerable and ongoing conversation about your career and finances with your spouse, she’s not advising women to ask their husbands for permission to follow their dreams. Rather, she’s challenging couples to come together as a team. But our real relationships are more complicated than that. Olwethu says that when she started her business, although she had dreams and aspirations, she also didn’t want her husband to think she’d changed or that she didn’t value her family. And that’s what that conversation is about.
Hypewomen The Podcast loved chatting to Olwethu about having those challenging conversations with our spouses about our careers. Women can be Superwomen, while asking for support too!