Let's Talk About the Lunch-Break Writer

On Tuesday, Slate had a question from a man whose wife agreed to give up writing when their child was born only to write a book on her lunch breaks at work and sell it for $100,000. He asks: "How do I trust her to keep to her word? How should I feel right now?"  I have many questions about this man and his wife (provided it's a real couple and not a fake scenario).

Did she readily agree to give up writing, or was it something he posited as the only thing that could be put on hold in their lives? 

There is a huge difference between coming to an agreement with your partner and your partner positioning writing as a hindrance to your family or child. A lot of people make their spouses feel guilty for pursuing art or undermine their talent so they quit. Did they think of and reject other things before writing got to the table?

Did he give up anything significant the way she was supposed to?

I'm not talking what you normally give up when your baby arrives in the world. Did he give up a true passion he frequently indulged in cold turkey? If she gave up something so important to her, and he wasn't expected to make the same level of sacrifice...

Is he the primary caregiver to their child when she isn't home?

He said she could leave an hour early from work without taking her lunch break; which I'm not even certain is a thing at most jobs. But, if it is true, his reaction to her not being home earlier might be explained if he's an at-home parent. Though, she can eat and write at the same time. 

Were there any conditions to the agreement?

I don't understand asking her to put off writing indefinitely. Is she not allowed to pen a poem when the baby naps or squeeze out an hour of her novel when the kid is at the grandparents' house? If they agreed she wouldn't spend all weekend writing at a cafe, it might be different. Would she be able to write when their son started school? Graduated? 

Why blame her tiredness or crankiness on her book?

He skims over his own admission that her exhaustion might be due to caring for a newborn. If he were splitting the care of their son evenly, wouldn't he also be tired or occasionally frustrated? Is he carefully admitting she does the majority of parenting while holding down a full-time job and writing a secret book?

Has she lied to him before about important things?

His reaction might seem excessive to an outsider, but it would make sense if she betrayed him in a significant way before. Trust issues can permeate a relationship for years after infidelity, hidden debt, or secret drug use.

Is she more successful than him and/or is he a writer, too?

He might be insecure or jealous (as commenters said). It's hard for some people to make less money or have less recognition than their spouse. Male partners are more likely to display envy over a successful spouse, though it isn't only them.


What do you think about all of this... if you care?

1 comment:

  1. Wasn't this the strangest story? Myself, I suspect that it's just plain made up. But if this marriage exists, I hope she uses her book money to leave. She can do better, even if she just sticks to fictional partners.