What do women want? I’m asking as a husband, as a father, as a professional who works closely with women. I ask it in the context of all that we are learning about the changing role of women in America. I ask because I still don’t think I have the answer.
I’m blessed to be married to a wonderful woman who is successfully negotiating a path as mother, prominent trial lawyer and former business executive. Our life reflects many of the struggles of modern couples: We both have careers, requiring a great deal of negotiation about who does what, set against the backdrop of shared, 50-50 parenting.
And yet, our life is more marriage than merger. It needs to be if we are going to stay connected to each other as a couple. That gets to the point of asking my question. As the role of women changes, some of their basic desires do not. Yet, I think many men are having a hard time keeping up. We get that the days of “Mad Men” are over (my wife reminds me of this when we are watching the show), but we sometimes lose the complete picture of what the women in our lives need.
In my experience, women expect flexibility from their partners as they negotiate their lives. They expect an openness to reexamine traditional roles. But women, and particularly working mothers, also are seeking reassurance about their path. Many professional women want to know that they are striking a good balance between work and home.
The other crucial factor to a good relationship is staying connected. In the Bible, God asks of Adam, “Where are you?” So, too, as men we need to pause to ask where our wives are: How are they, what do they need and want? Are we making the space for each other as a couple – time spent separate from the business of our busy lives?
The key is making the time to ask. I don’t think I have all the answers, but if I’m trying to be the best husband, or colleague or boss I can be, I’m asking, “What do women want?”
Good shoes. Right, that part I get.
David Gregory is the moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” He is also a regular contributor for “Today” and serves as a back-up anchor for the broadcast. He is a regular contributor and analyst on MSNBC, and lends his voice and reporting to all NBC News broadcasts including coverage of special events.
David Gregory will be speaking at The Women’s Conference 2009.