“Behind every successful man is a woman with nothing to wear.” – Harold Coffin

The quote I chose is really sexist. Or at least, I find it sexist. It brings to mind a woman who is overly demanding, shallow, and hungry for money, but not willing to earn it for herself. I initially was looking for a quote like “behind every great man is a strong woman,” but then I saw the one from Harold Coffin, who was a humor writer, and so I’m hoping that the quote was a bit tongue-in-cheek because I just couldn’t resist using it.

It’s an old trope, that men need women, or women need men, or money, or both, but like many things, I think that at some point there was a kernel of truth: humans need each other. It’s a truth that’s been forgotten, or turned into needing money, sex, stuff, transactions, but it’s still a truth. Humans aren’t solitary creatures. We aren’t meant to go it alone, just me against the world. We’re meant to form bonds, relationships, communities, and support one another on our paths. Scientifically, we aren’t even really separate from the rest of the universe, so how could we be separate from one another?

Origin unknown.
Origin unknown.

When I think about the quotes, what I really think is that behind anyone doing good, there are people behind that person who support and love them and encourage them to succeed. Is that always 100% the case? Nope, but it’s nice to think about, and hope for that more people than not, it’s their truth.

This brings me to my original intention of this post. What do you do when you’re the “woman behind the man” (or person behind the person, but I’ll be referring to gender in this, since I’m using myself as an example) and you suddenly realize that you kind of want to get paid for all of the support you can give? Not like you want your partner to pay you to love them (that would be creepy), but that you have skills – real skills – that could not only help others, but help you create a career?

Well, I initially did totally the wrong thing. My boyfriend, (let’s call him Z), who is leadership at his agency often likes to come home and talk over challenges, issues, and tell me about his day. Pretty much like anyone else who is a person, has a job, and is in a relationship. He knows that my background is in education and development, so I can be a pretty good sounding board for human resources issues, professional development, interpersonal stuff, and so on. He’d come home and we’d talk, I’d provide different perspectives, thoughts, and then at the end I’d say “haha that will be $10,000!” It was maybe funny the first time.

It was definitely not funny the 500th time.

So, after a bunch of conversations going south quickly, Z let me know that he enjoyed and appreciated talking to me about work, but it made him feel really bad that I was talking about monetary transactions between us, even as a joke. What I realized was:

  1. I didn’t want Z to feel bad, or not want to talk to me about work, and
  2. Something was going on with me, and I needed to get honest with myself before I completely alienated my partner.

When I started getting honest, I realized that I DID want to get paid for these conversations, because this was what I really enjoyed. Helping, talking, problem solving, and encouraging others really gets my blood pumping. BUT, I also realized I didn’t want Z to pay me. I wanted strangers (clients) to pay me! I wanted to help others, and do it in a way that I could make my career. I had been feeling like: why does Z get to have a career he really loves and be great at it, and I don’t? Well… I can. I just have to take the leap.

So, moral of the story, don’t ask your partner for $10,000 after they finish telling you about their day. And also, if something keeps coming up, either as jealousy, or “joking” or whatever, take a moment to sit and think about what’s really happening. More often than not, your inner guide is trying to tell you something!

Peace and love, dear ones!

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