I have been thinking about Rupert Sanders’ wife of 10 years, Liberty Ross, which is weird because before the “scandalous” make-out session between Kristen Stewart and Sanders, I’d never heard of Sanders or Ross and (as the mom of boys, not girls) barely knew of Stewart and her — now-former — “Twilight” boyfriend, Robert Pattison.
Since she was the alleged cuckolded wife, I thought I’d look into her background. She’d be a successful enough model (Vogue, i-D, and Elle; ad campaigns for Burberry, Chanel and Dior; and walked the runway at fashion weeks in New York, Milan and Paris) and even acted a little.
She dated Rupert as a teenager, and married him at age 24. Now the mom of their two kids, 5 and 7, she became pretty much a full-time stay-at-home mom when the couple moved to Los Angeles from England for Sanders’ career. That has, evidently, taken a toll on her and, no doubt, their marriage:
“I think that having been a model and so self-sufficient for those years, I was very ready to get married and have babies,I romanticized domesticity for a while, and loved having a shopping list of groceries stuck to the fridge for the first time. But moving here and starting a life all over again was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I just didn’t think it would be as isolating and daunting as it turned out to be … I went from the glamour of working with Karl Lagerfeld and John Galliano to living on an isolated hilltop, with my husband gone most of the time … I would never say out loud that I am raising my children alone, but a lot of the time it has felt like that.”
And that is the dilemma many women face, especially women who move with their husband to a place that betters his career but not necessarily hers. A recent study indicates a man’s education has a larger impact on whether a couple moves or not than a woman’s. (I can’t find any info on whether Sanders or Ross have college degrees, but since she started her modeling career early, I’d guess she didn’t go to — or at least finish — college).
Not to mention the imbalance between her career, now basically in the past tense, and his, which skyrocketed with his recent debut feature film, Snow White & the Huntsman, which she is clearly supportive of:
“At the world premiere in London, I had tears in my eyes, because we got out of our fancy car and all of his fans started screaming his name. The tables had really turned!”
Ross, 33, certainly isn’t the first wife who gave up her career and followed her husband, willingly. But it does make you wonder if that’s always the smartest choice. No one would fault her or any woman for putting her marriage and family first, but when things go awry — case in point, the Stewart scandal — the person who inevitably suffers is the one who gave up so much, albeit now enjoying the successes, financial and otherwise, of her husband.
Women have been debating the having-it-all issue for decades. Perhaps we can’t have it all, argues Ann-Marie Slaughter in the much talked-about Atlantic article this summer. Something or someone has to give, and many times it’s the woman, willingly, like Ross.
In Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman’s Guide To Having It All, conservative commentator Megan Basham advises women to opt out of the 9-to-5 grind and put their energy into making their husbands be more successful in their careers. Not only will they make more money as a couple — “Men whose wives aren’t employed earn on average 31% more than single men, but for men whose wives have full-time jobs, that number drops to 3.4%” — but they’ll be happier and more unlikely to divorce, she says.
But, what about the guys? Maybe more men would be happy and willing to switch roles, but we know from research that many men are not, although some 45 percent of them say they’d stay at home if their wife made more money than they do, according to a recent survey by Men’s Health and Spike TV. Sure, but studies show men who are economically dependent on their wives are five times more likely to cheat than guys whose wives make about the same — not very reassuring.
Let’s face it — we still tend to expect men to be the primary breadwinners, even while demanding they do more around the house and with the kids.
Evidently, Ross has given her estranged husband a “five-point plan” to salvage their marriage, including is a reworked prenup that will give her more cash in case they end up divorcing.
There’s a message in her story somewhere.
Every choice we make has consequences not only for ourselves, but also for our families and society. There are no guarantees, and no one can predict which marriage will be strengthened by doing what Ross did and which one will implode regardless. Ultimately, we need to ask ourselves, “What is a good life?” and then feel good about our decisions.
Have you given up a lot for a relationship?