Brian Page discusses the pivotal changes within his family and the critical roles that husbands serve in supporting their wives’ professional goals
By Brian Page
I was a public school teacher for 15 years where I was a recipient of the Milken National Educator Award, CNN Money Hero, and served on the Working Group for President Obama’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability. To afford to teach, I always needed to hold down a second full time job. I consulted for VISA, George Washington University (GLFEC), Penn’s Wharton School, Next Gen Personal Finance, and various departments of education. My wife, Hope, works in the finance and payment industry.
This situation prompted me to recall a time when I was listening to an NPR podcast. The podcast discussed why females were not being promoted at the same rate as their male counterparts. The conclusions were that managers, male and female alike, would look at a man with a family and think, “Wow, I would be helping him and the family because he would be getting more money.” When they looked at a woman, they’d think, “Oh, I’m going to be prying her away from the family.” Although well-intentioned, that subconscious choice hindered many from moving up the ladder.
Hope and I discussed this opportunity and concluded, “Look, just tell your boss I’m a teacher. I’m going to take a step back. I got it. I’ll do everything at home. Whatever’s needed.”
Two weeks later, she got a global role. It was amazing, and it struck me that this was just a glimpse into one of many gender inequities that exist in the professional world.
Within a couple of years, Hope was again offered a promotion. This time it required us to move to Atlanta. I needed to support her, and as a teacher, what that means is you’re done teaching. This was a difficult decision because I love to teach.
As a part of the move I took a position in government relations and financial education with an incredible nonprofit organization. However, with three children, it was too much to bear with family challenges at home. My job evolved into something that was high stress and long hours.
We decided I would take a step back and intentionally take the lead role at home.
I started reading a lot and I stumbled across more research, like inequities at home, the division of labor, and how men, unfortunately, get depressed quickly because of societal norms that equate money to masculinity. However, I decided it’s 2022, and I want to dive in and understand all the research behind this, particularly money management (my background) and figure out ways to help couples become happier.
Most households are dual-income. If a woman is aspiring for career greatness, we must develop a different perspective on the man’s role. If a couple decides it’s her turn, it’s not always that simple because of societal norms.
This is why I founded Modern Husbands. I’m so blessed to have so many national leaders on my advisory board to hear their wisdom, and to figure out how we can help married couples or partners live happier, healthier lives through their marriages. This led us to where we are today.
My wife leads the Women’s Network; it was for Worldpay. I saw what they did. They had a lean-in group, events, and opportunities to have companies come in and help women update their LinkedIn profiles. This was extremely helpful, but none of that addressed the marriage support needed at home. I just felt like there was a significant gap that is far greater than having a LinkedIn brush-up.
Over the last six months, I began a search to identify and find ways to work with women’s networks like 100 Women in Finance to figure out how to build further support and understanding so women can continue to be ambitious in their careers. In turn, men can become even happier in their marriages because, if you look at the statistics, men are becoming increasingly depressed. A lot of that is because of how societal norms work.
Men should recognize that their marriage is a true partnership, and that sometimes the breadwinner is a woman and sometimes a man. Sometimes it’s back and forth like it has been in our marriage, and that’s okay. So many years, decades even, where I went through this myself, of being taught, “Your job is to look after your family.” Meaning financially that is a man’s responsibility.
Today, most jobs post-COVID are hybrid. For example, here in Atlanta, the traffic is terrible and a lot of people bemoan coming into the office. It has been a struggle for Hope to come into a mostly vacant office, resulting in loneliness for both men and women.
My commitment to the Modern Husband community is to learn and share how we can be the best versions of ourselves for our partners. We offer courses, articles, and lifestyle information. We’re mostly information collectors, gaining insights from couples’ experiences, both good and bad. Continuing this dialogue to help couples not only get by but thrive in this new and ever-changing environment is what the Modern Husband community is all about!