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October 26th, 2009 by Dr. Phil

Women: Does Equality Equal Happiness?

busWomanUsually, I offer opinions on the show or here on the blog, but today I am full of questions. I’m probably just chicken to weigh in to women about women! But either way, I have to say, I was so intrigued by a couple of reports that came out last week supposedly detailing the state of today’s American women at work and at home, so I wanted to blog with you about them.

Time magazine had a long cover story on women’s economic progress, which was based on its in-depth survey of women around the country. Coincidentally, NBC News had all of its news programs devote air time last week to the release of another study of American women called “A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” that had been put together by the Center for American Progress and A Woman’s Nation founder, Maria Shriver.

Some of it was pretty tedious, technical, (boring) reading, but embedded in the studies were some very interesting “conclusions.” I put that in quotes because there is always a degree of subjectivity when it comes to interpreting such information, so it is one step beyond just reporting the data. As near as I can tell, here is what the research concluded:

* It’s expected that by the end of the year, for the first time in history, the majority of workers in the U.S. will be women — an extraordinary change in a single generation.

* Mothers are now the major breadwinners in 40 percent of American families — perhaps an even more extraordinary statistic in such a short time span.

* In 1972, seven percent of students playing high school sports were girls. That number is now six times as high.

* College campuses used to be almost 60-40 male. Now, the ratio has reversed.

* Close to half of law and medical degrees now go to women, up from fewer than 10 percent in 1970.

* We have a female Speaker of the House and a female Secretary of State.

* A female Supreme Court judge was recently appointed, the third woman in history to sit on the high court.

* Thirty-two women have served as governors. Thirty-eight have served as senators.

* Four out of eight Ivy League presidents are women.

* And for the first time, five women have won Nobel Prizes in the same year (for Medicine, Chemistry, Economics and Literature).

scalesPersonally, I am thrilled that so many women are in the workforce these days because they constitute an incredible talent pool. I would be lost without the women of the Dr. Phil staff. Probably more than 90 percent of our 300-plus team at the Dr. Phil show is female, and that includes our top positions of executive producer, all of our supervising producers, the majority of our producers, our legal counsel, our head of public relations, our Web director, and I could go on and on. They are the engine that makes the Dr. Phil show run, they are my “feminine side,” but they are also so much more. Their instincts and skill sets are invaluable. Many are mothers, some married, some not. They are smart, dedicated and relentlessly committed to creating quality shows. They can be tough as well as compassionate, and they are supremely confident. I know it, because I live it. (By the way, we have great men on the team as well, but today, I’m talking about the ladies.)

Despite undeniable economic progress, there are still major areas where women are under-represented and underpaid. Corporate boardrooms and whole swaths of professions like, say, hedge-fund management, remain predominantly male. On top of that, in most job categories, women continue to earn only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. They are also charged higher premiums for health insurance, yet still have greater out-of-pocket expenses for things as basic as contraception and maternity care. And last year, during the economic downturn, women’s earnings fell two percent, twice as much as men’s.

I probably haven’t told you much you don’t already know, but here’s the something I found most interesting: Despite the advances of women in so many areas, according to several studies, including the General Social Survey, which has been tracking the moods and social attitudes of Americans since 1972, women reportedly have not gotten any happier over the last four decades — while men have. And factors such as marital status, income, ethnic background and whether children are involved don’t seem to matter. Women, in general, are reported to be no happier despite professional advances. Does that mean those economic achievements don’t define happiness for the group surveyed? I suppose there is no reason why we should equate better success in the workplace with happiness, but I do wonder why the results are what they are.

Most research is based on samples of a larger group of people, and then generalizations are made that sometimes can be just flat wrong. So, what do you think? Are you surprised by these results? Are they right, or do you think they are all wet?

How about your life? Are you no happier, or even becoming less happy? If so, what are the obstacles to becoming happier? Too many demands? Too much stress to actually feel happier? Too much juggling of everything you need to do between career and home, which zaps the energy and joy?

And what about you women who do not work outside the home? Are you becoming more or less happy as the years go by? Are the obstacles, if there are any, different than for women in the workplace? A colleague told me about a study that concluded that stay-at-home moms work the equivalent of two full-time jobs. So obviously, there’s no rest in or outside of the ol’ homestead!

Some social scientists (not me!) claim that women are just hormonally more complicated than men, and furthermore, are harder on themselves; hence, they experience less feelings of satisfaction. A few suggest that the reason men are getting happier might be because they now have the luxury of relying on more and more working spouses who help bring home the bacon.

That all seems over simplified to me, and I do NOT subscribe to the hormone theory. But what do you think? Today I’m asking not telling! And how do you define “happiness” anyway?

So let me hear from you. I’m thinking about doing a show to explore all of this.

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134 Responses to “Women: Does Equality Equal Happiness?”

  1. Carley says:

    For me… the only time in my life that I was close to being happy was when I was married. I had a great job, a circle of friends, and I was healthy. The only thing missing was that I was best friends with my husband, but we weren’t ‘connected’ as a married couple should be. I needed his love and my life would have been perfect! Now… I have nothing! Years later, I’ve lost my marriage, my home, my job, all my friends. I’m miserable, and all I can think about is ‘where is that man who’s gonna love me forever!”. Seems to me if women aren’t happy it’s because men are still not giving enough emotionally to their women!

  2. Jane says:

    Happiness is wanting what you have, not having what you want. It really is THAT simple. :)

  3. Linda Rose says:

    The older I get the happier I am! When I was young and right up until about three years ago there were so many stressers in my life it was hard to be happy with life. I felt overwhelmed.

    It took much of a life time to overcome problems I had within myself caused by circumstances I was born into and other circumstances brought on by my own wrong decisions. I had a lot to overcome.

    I always felt rejected, unworthy of love,suffered abuse both physical and emotional, felt inferior to everyone, felt ugly, felt like a failure at marriage and raising children, was a failure at earning a living and I had many regrets and wishing I could change things done in the past. I was unhappy dwelling in self-pity.

    Now I am content because I have learned how to make better choices and not be concerned what others think of me. The happiness I have now comes from inside not from another person because I realize God loves me just as I am. I have nothing to prove to anyone and accept others as they are. I have learned to be patient with others as I hope them to be patient me.

    I learned to accept the things I can’t change and change the things I can. Instead of dwelling in self pity I try to reach out to help others. I also had to learn to forgive not only others but myself.I also learned to accept the life that is mine and not wish I could live some one else’s life.

    Happiness also has nothing to do with how much money one has or how many things. It has nothing to do with what you gain or lose financially or materially .It also has nothing to do with what others think of you good or bad or whether you have friends or not. You can be a working out mother and wife, stay at home mother and wife or single parent at home or working away from home, married or divorced. I have been all. But it took years not being happy before I learned how to be happy in any circumstance.

    I had been a Christian for almost forty years but I didn’t know how to trust God and have a personal connection with Him.Then one day I had one of those moments when I really finally understood how real God is and how much He suffers when we suffer.I finally understood with my heart and not just my mind that God loved me!

    Stress and unhappiness left my life when I laid all my problems at Jesus feet and accepted He loved me as He loves all his children. None of us are worthy but God loves us anyway. The problems I can’t solve I give to God in prayer and leave them there. I never worry about anything anymore. For the first time in my life I can truly say; I am completely happy!

  4. With women not only do many still do most the household chores on top of that work. That’s not improvement to me so I’m not surprised at all not any happier. If single women do the chores and if married most do the chores. I think my mother thrived though and so savvy could have been President. Some people are just wired to “lead the way” like your staff whatever gender. Not to mention women dread their “Aunt Flo” visiting each month.

    I don’t get the hormonal factor as, to me, men act bossy 365 days a year and once a month women sound off or so “they” say whoever this they is. To me, good health equates with happiness so my guess is that KNOWING once a month “Aunt Flo” will visit is a bummer for years. Then, when Aunt Flo packs her bags for good you have physiological deficits unless do hormone replacement so maybe in that aspect it is hormones. When I had a hysterectomy at age 30 after a positive pap smear my doctor said he couldn’t understand why his wife didn’t get a hysterectomy instead of tubes tied as NO WAY he’d want to have periods each month. Although, some women consider monthly event a badge of honor. I don’t.

    My paternal grandparents were teachers (grandfather principal) in Okemah then moved to Tulsa, OK to become lawyers. My grandfather an Oil & Gas lawyer for Bill Skelly, J. Paul Getty and did work for John Mabee of J.E. and L. E. Mabee Philanthropic Foundation (buried in same cemetery in Tulsa, OK). Grandmother took over some of his legal work when he died. Grandfather President of Oklahoma Bar 1939, and nominated for Vice President of American Bar, and Grandmother first woman in Oklahoma to be appointed to have cases heard before the U. S. Supreme Court in 1923, I think. I’m named after both my grandmothers with a spare name mother gave me (3 names). My paternal grandmother was in two books: “And Justice For All” and “Leading the Way” buried in OBA time capsule.


    My maternal grandparents had three businesses: a tin shop he ran and a bakery and cleaners my grandmother ran until WWII rationing put them out of business. Grandmother later worked for brother of Neiman, Peyton Marcus, and sewed quilts for orphanages at church in spare time.

    My father was a disabled WWII veteran and mother worked 33 years, from TG&Y to insurance industry in Accounting & Commercial Lines. I don’t see how she did it. I don’t see how women do it today, work too, yet I was always proud of my mother’s ability to juggle it all somehow. That said, due to her working I had a target on my head by predators that look for children of working parents. To me, as per economics supply & demand, more employees drove wages down to where for many it is a necessity for both persons to work.

    Myself, I was quite often the person always there to do things everyone working didn’t have time to do. Helped my disabled dad from the time I was 18 until 38 and would do again in a heartbeat. Happiest time 5-8 & 15-16, working for O.U. late 20’s, & coaching softball & owning own house, late 30’s. Lost house during multiple family illness. Best time with dad here when dad and I went to lunch once a week and my parents looked the best they ever had. Oh, working in skyscraper next door to my mom’s in Downtown Dallas was fun and doing lunch at Plaza of the Americas and working for Mobil Oil Corp. Feeling Independent.

    Most of any of my unhappiness now health related since never get chosen for a head to toe/inside & out “Ultimate Makeover”. I think I’d have a new lease on life if medical & visual & dental issues attended to. So the hormonal aspect in, like my doctor, not only did I dread my monthly periods I would get in trouble at work. Then, when menopause arrives the physiological changes with that are no picnic. I guess no picnic on men in association.

    However, since you said we can ask you questions… Robin said you had a vasectomy in her book “Inside My Heart”. I think more men should do that and commend you for doing that and undoing and I guess redoing. To me, that takes a real man. On The Doctors some young men were interested in a vasectomy and I think that’s something that needs to be explored.

    Yes, after much consideration I agree with hormonal monkey wrench in women’s lives due to monthly period hassles then menopausal hassles (both byproducts of hormones) I agree hormonal supposition or theory or postulation culprit in unhappiness in women. Online I often hear women talk about little time for self with kids and expected to do most the chores and drudgery of Aunt Flo dropping in each month. There’s no blanket answer as most things are contingent on many variables… Or maybe there is as for me yes hormone monthly gift basket of accessories and menopause side effects a major downer… Losing health… Losing Independence… financial or otherwise. Yet biggest bummer is Aunt Flo’s visits then final good-bye. Bingo for “they say” HORMONES wins the prize.

  5. Kelly says:

    Right now I would have to say that all it would take to make me happy is to not let the past dictate how I live (or don’t live) my future, a safe house to live in and a feeling of security. I let past traumas hold me back from what I am able to become and I hate that. One thing I am extremely happy with is that I am spiritually great. I am where I believe I should be there. Though I don’t have nearly what most people do, I am insanely grateful for every little thing that I DO have and I verbally thank God for it all and I think that my being so grateful for everything makes me feel I require less…so in a way I’m a lot better off than many people. I guess there are two different ways of being happy. Spiritually I’m good. The other way I’m not.

  6. Amanda says:

    To me, happiness is some type of equality and being part of the team. I am married with a daughter. I work part-time (12 hrs a week) and my husband works part-time. We take turns taking care of our daughter while the other works. I have things I do and he has things he does to contribute to the family. My husband and I have the same opinion on just about everything, which is a wonderful thing.

    I think when it comes to women being breadwinners in the household, I have only one small problem with it. I think moms need to be full-time moms until the children are in school, and then pursue a career. And I think men are hard wired to take care of their family and have jobs. There is a statistic out there somewhere that says that men die at a younger age than women. I firmly believe that the reason is that men are built to do hard work and tend to stress out over whether their family is taken care of, and as a result of doing so all of their life, they die at a younger age than women. So in a way it could be good that women are breadwinners now, men may start living longer!

    On happiness, I think that women have found out about that stress and worry that contributes to shortening mens lives. It seems that a lot of working women are on anti-depressants which could be an association with the “misery” of working. And the stress of “getting that raise” is something I think women shouldn’t have to deal with. I think some jobs are made for women, and some aren,t. Personally I am happy with my job (I work retail). I’m not swamped with work and I never have anything I have to do that’s associated with work after I’m out of the workplace. There is no “on the go”. Of course, I also live in a rural area where there is a lot of nature and traffic and crime is low. I think that peoples surroundings are a key factor in happiness. More people live in the city now. It’s more stressful to live in a crouded city than the countryside. Yes I understand that not all people like to live in the country, but studies have shown that people surrounded by nature are happier.

    On equality, I think that women think it is important to be equal with men and get to do everything they do. Personally I don’t feel the same. I enjoy not having to try to be better than the guy next to me. I enjoy being taking care of my family like a traditional housewife would. If I were able, I would be a full-time housewife.
    I don’t see competition as an enjoyable thing. To me its completely unnecessary. And I see that some of the women who want to be equal with men can be down right ugly at times. The uglier a person is inside, the more miserable they are.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Happiness to me was when I was younger right after I got married & had my kids. Happiness to me was when I was physically able to do the things I liked to do & needed to do. Now I’m unable to physically do the things I once liked, loved & needed to do. I just wish I had that back. It’s not about money or anything like that. I just loved being w/ my family when I could really move around.


  8. singleand loving it says:

    I can only speak for myself, but I am happier now at 44 then any other time in my life. A big reason for that is I love being single. I would not choose to be single, but after being married three times in abusive relationships, I definitely have found peace, love, and joy as a single woman and mom. Another reason for my happiness is living a simplier life. I have downsized and organized and this has been key to my being able to focus more on the things that matter most to me. I think my children are much happier when I am happy and at peace. And I must not forget the biggest reason for my happiness is my faith in God and in my lord and saviour Jesus Christ.

  9. Melissa says:

    Happiness is what you make of it in life.
    I agree 100% that happiness is, in part, equality and being a part of a team, as Amanda says.

  10. Sarah says:

    It saddens me to read the statistics and see from those around me how true they are. I personally am a very happy woman. The older I get, the happier I get…and I’m only 33. I don’t really know what makes people unhappy, except not experiencing the complete peace and joy and security available through an intimate relationship with God through Jesus. I’ve had that for most of my life, it grows continuously as I learn more and more. Some could easily say I have it “all” so why shouldn’t I be happy? I’ve got a good husband (FAR from perfect, but a good guy) great kids, a huge house in a perfect neighborhood and TWO successful careers, one as an environmental engineer and one as a photographer. Part of it is my personality or disposition, which has always been pretty easy-going, laid-back. I don’t worry much, I deal with stress and stressful situations well. I don’t see myself as a Polyanna, or naive at all…just a glass-is-half-full kinda person. But all around me I see women who should be really happy but deep down they aren’t. If we all look not very hard, we can ALL find things that bother us about our lives, things to complain or stress out about. I do think hormones play a big role in women’s lives, not men’s. They do in mine, for sure. But I try to ignore or deal with the problems rapidly and emphasize the blessings, the gratitude, the opportunities. That keeps me happy.

  11. Heidi says:

    First id like to say ” I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR” lol……..but really woman and happiness hmmmm…thats a toughy……lots of things make woman happy but i think its more of the little things that make woman happy, then the big things like success at a job or recognition….i think because woman have the mindset of well im not surprised i conqured that job or became head of the football team….we woman are more nuturers and we let the men win MOSTof the time and we sit back and watch until we say alrighty time to shine….but we woman love the little things like hugs and kisses from our children or cooking a great dinner that the family loves…or just sitting back with our loved ones watching a movie..i think things like that truly make us happy..but we dont go around yelling it to the world…..so when they say woman are still not as happy even with the success…im just saying that to woman..its just somthin we gotta do and we excel at it….but really its like ok let me go home and hug on my kids or my mom or my husband…and they think to themelves…now im happy ;)

  12. Sandra says:

    I wouldn’t completely rule out the hormone theory lol.

  13. Terry Acs says:

    I was happiest when I was doing it all. I worked full time, took care of my 3 girls and my husband, I managed our home and the bills. Money had nothing to do with happiness and I don’t think it was a sense of equality that made me happy. It was the fact that I was busy, doing what I loved and as long as everyone in my home was happy, so was I.
    Not any more, I was injured at work over 4 years ago and have suffered many problems since then. Now I measure my happiness by my family, if they are happy then all is good in our world. The struggles I have with this injury are beyond my control but I am not about to let these struggles define my children and my husband. I will continue to look to be a happy person on the outside for their sake, this is what I must do to show my girls that despite adversities in life, you can still be strong and continue to do your life’s work.
    My life’s work right now is making sure that my children are happy, healthy and educated and well on their way to having a great life of their own. It’s not easy but it works, I don’t want to feel sorry for myself and I don’t want to be pitied so showing a strong, happy side of me is the way I choose.
    For me personally, true happiness is in my past.

  14. Roland says:

    Here’s the algorithm that maps the two:

    while equality not equals happiness
    redefine equality and/or happiness & re-evaluate above condition

    In the modern day:
    while equality not equals happiness
    make money, become equal, be happy, be sad, waste money, and start over.

  15. Angela says:

    I was raised to be a hard worker and can do so when needed yet I was never one who wanted to climb the corporate ladder. I’m a libra and an artistic type who loves creativity that blossoms with freedom in the workforce and life. Obviously freedom to allow creativity to grow in the workforce, for the most part, is few and far between. Therefore, corporate America smothers me. I still work so that I can help with them family income but it is very seldom that I am happy in my work place.

    That is only one aspect of me though. I see myself as a somewhat happy person. I am much much happier than I was in college when I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and the stress of being thrown into the real world to make a measly living on my own loomed over my head.

    The caveat of the workforce is that I worked as an administrative assistant for 10+ yrs, with 5 of those years at one firm, but with in that 5 years my pay/raises equaled $1.20. I spoke to several people around me working in the same type of position, women as well, getting paid twice my salary. So the workforce is very discouraging to women.

    When I started getting happier or enjoying life was when I stopped worry about what others thought, wanted, or demanded of me. I started looking at myself and doing for myself. I didn’t lose my compassion or love for people though. It actually helped make me treat those I love much better and be a better giver in everything. I began to go through life without as many expectations and to let the small stuff go. Happiness is all in each individual person’s outlook on life. If someone expects the worst and always has a bad attitude to anything and everything then they will always be miserable. I have been there and done that. I still have times of doubt, fear, depression, but for the most part I try to take things as they come and envelope them for what they are. Embracing it all to teach me and mold me to who I am and who I will become.

  16. Blgspc says:

    While my comment comes from a combination of personal perspective, life experience and anecdotal information, it has just never been my experience that women seek the same things men do to define ‘happiness’. (I don’t go along with the hormone thing, either.)
    However, it has been my experience that women are VERY complex creatures and in most cases very passionate people! We are definitely NOT a one-size-fits all kind of group. Yet, we definitely share many core commonalities.
    It doesn’t surprise me that women are exceeding the number of men in traditionally male dominated positions, either. (As any girl raised in the south will tell you, it was ALWAYS VERY IMPORTANT NOT to appear more intelligent than your male peers!) AND, when I was growing up- during the 50’s through the mid 70’s- males dominated ‘Power’ positions, especially in the south. I don’t want to sound sexist however, I believe that women expect to make many more PERSONAL sacrifices, in ANY position, than males do. (That Is Why When God Was Handing Out Gender Specific assignments, he left carrying a child and childbirth to women….otherwise the human race would have long been extinct!!!) I believe that women have their heart and souls wrapped up in a lot of what they do. A good example: Watch America’s Funniest Home Videos sometime when they have well-intended men trying to change a soiled infant, sometime. The men have masks and gloves and still can’t stop gagging! Hand that same task to a woman and she sees a BEAUTIFUL, helpless little creature who needs her assistance AND she has that baby changed up, cleaned up and smelling like a sweet little baby, again- no mask, no gloves and no gagging- No Kidding!
    Though women are more cautious about displaying it, it has been my experience that women take that passion and compassion with them into the corporate level and other ‘Power’ positions. ‘Power’ for many women means different things than it does for a man. With women, I believe EGO is less important than creating a stable and balanced workplace. However, when passions collide at the upper levels, I believe that you see things between women you DO NOT see with men. There are some compromises women WON’T make, nor will they back down! That’s when these women have to go to separate corners to address what they ARE willing to compromise on and that could take some time!

    This REALLY is a very complex issue and I’m recognizing as I’m writing that I’m NOT helping explain how women AREN’T happier SIMPLY because they have greater status, recognition or more ‘Power’.

    It’s Involved Dr. Phil. Personally, for me having more ‘Power’ wasn’t all that GREAT if I couldn’t use it to make life a little better for all of those others around me, like clients, co-workers and the over-all system of care.

    My two cents,


  17. Sandy says:

    I am a subscriber to the belief that happiness is not external, it has to come from within. Money, power, fame, relationships, children, jobs can be a source of happiness, but cannot sustain it without being happy with who you are and what you have to offer.

    It seems to me that women aren’t any happier with their lives, even though we are catching up with the guys in many areas. The problem is that most/many women are still responsible for all the things they were doing when they were SAHM. This can be a real situation or a perceived situation on the part of the woman. At that point, a women’s perception becomes her reality.

    Life has become so much more fast paced with our “we want it now” society. Instant messaging, emails, other social media, along with on the spot reporting and broadcasts… it’s almost just too much to absorb.

    How to get that happiness? Stop worrying about the dust on the mantle, make yourself a priority. Make your own destiny and don’t sweat the small stuff! Do things for others, even if they are just small things.

    We are each responsible for our own level of happiness.

  18. Kammy says:

    Well, Dr. Phil, I think it’s a culmination of a whole lot of things that hinder the sense of well being and happiness for a lot of women. I think as a 30 year old woman, that most of us are just trying to find balance in our lives…most of us as early as possible. We want happy, well behaved children. We want success in our careers, the perfect marriage, a balance of friendships, and a beautiful home to surround us when we’re with the people that we love. Not only that but we want play time….and we want all of this while we still look good enough to thoroughly enjoy it. For most women in any point in history, this unattainable dream that we expect our hard work will bring, usually takes half a lifetime at least to achieve. But with the added pressures that we’re bombarded with today, as women, we’re let to believe that if finally surrounded by the fruits of our labors, our Utopia, we must look fresh, young…like we didn’t lose a minute’s sleep to attain it. So even in the midst of the perfect life you’ve worked so hard to have everything you want, if you’re beauty had faded, then you’ve somehow failed. This is why women never fully feel satisfied. We want what our mothers spent 45 + years working to achieve, but we want it now, before the roadmap of life is etched into our faces. We live in a youth obsessed world. It’s a sad reality but it is reality.

  19. jessica says:


  20. Michelle says:

    I think life, and happiness is what you make of everything. I think there are a LOT of STRESSORS out there today for everyone. Five years ago, I was in the corporate world , and moved up the ladder to supervisor. I also had gotten married four years ago, and had our first son. My husband had returned from Iraq, we dealt with some serious PTSD, and he got out of active duty army in 2006. He stayed home with our first son, because he kept going through job after job after job! For the first year he stayed home, and I brought home the bacon. A year later, we had our second son, and he wanted to bring home the bacon, said he didnt feel like a MAN, he should be the one who made more. I stayed home with both babies, and have been home ever since. Our two boys are now THREE AND TWO, and since my husband is in the reserves next year they will be getting called up to Afghanistan. I will then for the first time be a married single mom if that makes any sense. Honestly , I am happy with where we are at, we dont havea whole lot of money, but the time I spending with our sons is the BEST,and I have my best friend along side me, my husband , the whole time. Even working fulltime years ago, I was happy and content then, too. Where do they get these people that they are supposedly ’studying’ anyway? I dont know maybe it has to do with the time of year, when they did the study, was the economy just heading south? WHO KNOWS!! All I can say is that I have a husband leaving next year, and I am going to cherish every minute we have together, and pray to GOD that he comes home to us.
    Dr. Phil, I personally want to say thank you. You always say if you dont like something change it. I did that. We have recently started an FRG (Family Readiness Group), so if anyone needs help with families we will at least have a starting place for people because there was nothing set up here.
    AND on a lighter note, my three year old, saw you on Jay Leno show tonight, and says WHAT? DR PHIL,, Tell him to get back to HIS SHOW!!… lol…. too funny, Obviously I watch you every day, and he is sometimes up, lol…..
    Thanks for everything you do!

  21. Momtothree says:

    I find it funny that today many women equate success in the business place to happiness. But once the success is achieved they are still not happy. Perhaps it is because somewhere along the way women forgot the basic saying “love what you do” and instead went on a sort of competition crusade against men (The Feminist Movement). Today women are having children later in life, if at all, and are putting careers ahead of family life. To me this says volumes! It also speaks volumes when a country such as the USA puts such little value on family with such things as pathetically short maternity leave benefits, high child care expenses etc… If the women were encouraged to have a family not only socially but also by the government I feel it would greatly improve women’s happiness and willingness to have children earlier in life and to be able to enjoy all the wonders that having children brings to their lives. It truly is an enriching and priceless experience that brings value to your life in more ways than a career outside the home ever could. I think the USA needs to look closer at Canada’s example of putting children and families first! Especially Quebec, where there is HUGE emphasis and support for these 2 issues. I truly think women have lost sight of what happiness means. It does not mean material possessions or working over-time to get a thumbs-up from the boss. It is family, love, warmth and friends that stoke the flame of ultimate happiness in life. Even if I were in a cardboard box, as long as I have my loving family I will always be happy! And every day I have with my kids and other family members is so very precious to me. I wish everyone could feel that good!

  22. Penny Serrato says:

    Boy this hit a nerve with me. I spent 7 years making a good salary but I had to give up time with my family in order to maintain the lifestyle. the sad part is that I was killing myself for it and in one swoop they took it all away. Now almost 24 months later I am struggling to keep my home and car but the time I have with my kids is great. If I don’t find a job soon we will have to give up the house but at least we’ll have each other. The bottom line is I have learned an important thing. I DON”T NEED THE STUFF I NEED MY FAMILY AND THEY NEED ME…….

  23. JL says:

    Whoa. What a great topic/debate. I am 26. I have a 5 year old son; went to college when he was 1, work full time in a law firm and own my own home with my fiance. Most days I am incredibly happy with all that I have achieved and am blessed with. But many days I find myself feeling ‘deprived’ of living a full time life of a mother and house-wife. Somedays I want nothing more than to be stumbling through my house with several children playing around and a laundry basket on my hip; to have dinner ready on the table @ 5:00pm and just to have the energy and patience to enjoy an evening @ home with my family. The ‘need’ to feel equal doesn’t seem to run through my veins. I know I am equal and do not have to prove anything. I work full time and take care of my family so that we can have a comfortable life; so we don’t need to worry about the downfall financial woes create. I think the push for equality is what has made/makes women unhappy. Not only are we ‘equal’ now, but we are doing EVERYTHING because we are ’suppose’ to and at times ‘expected’ to. In my opinion the whole movement has backfired on women. Our lives are not easier. Not only are we full-time workers but mothers and sisters and daughters and friends. There are so many different strings being pulled that there are just not enough hours in the day. We are running ourselves ragged. How could that mean happiness? And in my opinion the people that are suffering the most is our children. Full-time working mothers do not get to see their children for more then a couple of hours a day….if that. And by the time I do get home, get dinner made, throw on a load of laundry, it’s homework and bathtime, then bed. Life seems to be sooo pushed and hectic. Once the weekends roll around your spent and still have to push yourself to do housework and find great family activities to make up for the time you missed during the week. It’s exhausting. And still I always feel the pressure to be doing more. I feel like my generation is ‘caught in the middle’. We want/need to be the successful working woman, but also want/need to be the doting wife and nurturing mother. It’s almost like there is no winning. I grew up with my mother at home and in my opinion am proud to be the person I am today because she was there for us.
    Happiness for me is absolutely defined by family.

  24. Candyce says:

    Nope, I have a beautiful son and husband to come home too. I am as happy as can be. :)

  25. Susan Voth says:

    A good brandishing of respect, a hefty ounce of independence, a smattering of equality and a splash of old world gentleman is the recipe to a happy woman (imo)

  26. I am a stay at home mom and I am happy. I am doing my part to raise my children and support my family. I am also a Registered Dental Assistant. Having the status of bread-winner would not make me happy at all. I think that women in general (if they are mothers) want to be home with their children. They have a natural nurturing instinct and being away from the growing stages of their children day in and day out just doesn’t work. That being said I think that do to the Womans Movement society has placed a much larger demand on women in general. Stay at Home, homeschooling, baby-wearing, mothers are generally not considered successful by our community standards. If we aren’t out making 100,000 a year we just aren’t strong enough. If we aren’t driving a 2009 Mercedes we just don’t make enough. and lastly if we aren’t wearing Prada, MAC makeupe and toting COACH bags we are just not fashionable or pretty enough. Mainstream advertising has made us feel like we have to be thin, tall, and blonde. How many women really fit into all three of those categories? And they ask why women aren’t happy! Bah, I say women aren’t happy because society has made it impossible for them to feel empowered by anything more than materialism and fashion. Just one humble SAHM’s opinion, take my word for it, the moment you step out of the workplace and into your home to raise your kids, you will feel much better!

  27. This is very interesting information to read as well as the replies.

    I am with you on saying I do NOT believe about a “hormonal” issue when it comes to “happiness” in women. (Although I DO believe that a woman’s hormones get all screwed up after giving birth to a male child… perhaps a show on that??)… Moving on….

    I personally do not have a definition for “Happiness”. I can write you a story about the things that make me happy, but not one single definition comes to mind. My children make me happy. When in doubt they always seem to put a smile on my face. And for that exact moment I forget that I was either upset or stressed. Innocence perhaps?

    A mental issue? Trick psychology? I feel as if a wide range of people can and is capable of controlling their own moods/emoitions. When you walk in a room and people are crying… first reaction is to cry. When you walk in to a birthday party and people are laughing and talking your first reaction is to smile, laugh and join the conversation. But you can change these emotions by blocking them out and/or thinking of something else. Maybe in some way the eyes trigger the brain to react in certain ways? Not by sight, maybe by nerve?

    To answer your question:
    Does Equality Equal Happiness? A: Only if one believes it does.

  28. Shellie says:

    WOW!!! Happiness, I used to think I knew what would make me happy. I actually haven’t been happy for a long time. When I was eighteen years old, I thought to be happy I should find a husband and have kids; so by the age of twenty I was married, and by the time I was twenty-one I had my first child. Now I am 34 years old and am still married with three kids, but I am not happy. My husband and I have lost touch with each other, but we hang on for the kids, or I should say I hang on for the kids. I am going to college to gain knowledge and a new skill, in hopes that maybe having more of a life outside the home will make me happy.

    I will say I was happy the first few years of being a mother and a wife, but that was the way I thought you had to do things. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out that I was allowed to be an individual. I am on a road to self discovery. I don’t want to change being a mother, but maybe change whether or not I want to be a wife to this man.

    So I guess I haven’t actually answered your question, and maybe one day I will be able to say that I am truly happy.

  29. Lise Anderson says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,

    I think woman are not happy is because of the choices they make in life. First if you are not to yourself at the start and you think well maybe this guy will do or the job sucks and you refuse to do anything about it. I”ve had a few friends say your so lucky you have a great marriage I always said it’s not luck it’s choices that I’ve made. My husband is the best ever married 23 yrs. we have 2 kids. We’ve had alot of money problems because his work was on strike. One time for 10 months & i went to work But we worked as a team.
    Women do make mistakes but we take it as if our whole life will end up that way. Buts lets learn from our mistakes and move on because when you know better we do better. Everyday I learn so much.

    Also women are catty & mean to each other. So lets support one another on the decision we make in life either bad or good.


  30. Linnet says:

    I think of happiness as being more externally dependant, and joy being something that is deep within you no matter the outward circumstances.

    happiness is taking the back road on a beautiful fall day…listening to my daughter sing a song I’ve sang to her since she was conceived…teaching her to read…enjoying tea and apple muffins by candlelight…watching the sun set…kayaking on the lake…finding a pair of jeans that fit…hearing/singing a song that expresses your heart…talking with a good friend who knows you well and loves you anyway…campfires and fireflies…finding a deal…discovering something you can do well…sleeping in on a cold morning…or any morning as far as that goes.

  31. Christina says:

    I didn’t find relationship happiness until I was 40 and that was because when I was 36 I vowed my life would be better (2nd marriage was very very abusive) by the time I hit 40. I made it happen! Work has never been a good thing for me, many pages on my resume and a wide variety of jobs. I was never the ‘career’ type, I was always bent on self employment, which I achieved after meeting the love of my life at 40. Funny, how things work like that.

    I am now 47 and happy as can be in my relationship. My self employment is going well and growing, I just wish it was a bit faster LOL I have one sadness that lurks over me every single day of my life. My daughters were taken from me 7 years ago in an ugly court battle and handed to the mother of my ex (who has pages of criminal record of domestic violence and drugs). They are now 9 and 16 and there isn’t a day or moment that goes by that I didn’t wish they were in their rightful home. I am now worried sick about my oldest daughter doing drugs ( I have proof of this possibility) and the bad influences they have had during key years of their childhood. This is a very long outrageous story, we can thank our systems (courts/Human Services, etc).

    I need a few health and dental things done and I can’t get insurance because my boyfriend and I are not married, in great part because I do not want to incur him with my enormous child support debt. a Catch-22.

    I remain optimistic through all of this. If I had a choice between rich and unhappy or poor and happy, I would still take poor and happy, which I am (mostly).

    Times are different then they used to be and life is at a much faster pace now. I as well do not subscribe to the hormone theory for women. If I could fix my 1 obstacle (get my daughters back), I would be the happiest woman in the world! I would have my wonderful man, self employment and happy kids! Who could ask for more?!

  32. Sharon says:

    I can agree with Carley & Jennifer. Here I am in my late 30’s (on the edge of 40’s) & I couldn’t be any sadder. I’ve had so much torn away from me in such a short period of time, where there was once such joy, peace, love and enjoyment. To have the love of your life walk away with “it’s not you, it’s me”, dealing with the post violence issues, having him take from me our only son, because Australian laws allow violent men to have their children, as long as they were never violent to them.
    When I finally fall asleep, I then discover it is time to wake up again, and I find myself wondering what is the point. The only reason I do get up, and move is that there is a hope, a faith in me that maybe, just maybe, this is the day that God can change something and a miracle will happen and my son is safe in my arms again, and the love of my life is better and he returns again.
    But the tears that flow, the pain that ebbs in the process is hard. I can’t fix it by myself, as there are other people involved, but happiness escapes me in so many ways.
    Without peace, without love, there can be limited happiness. Money does nothing to achieve happiness without the peace and love of others first.

  33. Tami says:

    A very complex issue with multiple factors to consider. One of my favorite songs by Kenny Chesney says “happiness is a destination that’s hard to find” and that is true on many levels. But with that said, first and foremost happiness comes from within and if you are not secure with yourself, then it may be impossible to feel happiness. Having a personal relationship with a higher power gives one an anchor or stability point. Having a good childhood with a loving family and a good grounding gives one a good beginning towards a happy life. Being fulfilled with your adult role whether that be with a career, as a mother, as a wife or a combination of all is essential. Having a stable loving relationship as an adult to offer support and nurturing can be very satisfying in life, but a huge source of misery if you want a relationship but don’t have one or are in a lousy one. Maintaining a level of physical and emotional health is critical. I am in health care and a large number of my patients (seemingly more females than males) are taking anti-depressants and I think this speaks volumes on the level of happiness in our current population. Many people are unrealistic in setting goals for their lives and then when they are unable to attain them, the feeling of failure becomes overwhelming.

    There is not one particular thing that will make someone happy, male or female, rather it is a combination of things. Giving of yourself to others who may be less fortunate than you can give one a huge sense of happiness and too many of us these days do not participate in this activity enough. I am concerned however with this changing of the work force and the comment that women are no happier today than they were 40 years ago. More work tends to mean “more work” and the increased stress may be taking it’s toll – not only on the women involved but the entire family. I really wonder what the next generation has in store for them….

    Go Dr. Phil on this subject! And good luck – you’re gonna need it!

  34. AM says:

    Here’s my two cents. I (quickly) read through The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness, (which was lovely because the last thing I read was Curious George Makes Pancakes) and resonated with many pieces of it. I’m a 32-year old woman with three kids 8, 6 and 2. I’ve been married 11 years and would say my marriage is very good, (way less than 237 reasons I have sex!). I have a bachelors and masters degree, which I completed while pregnant, (I’ll tie this in later). I have worked full-time, I have worked part-time and I have stayed home full-time. During the times I worked full-time or part-time my husband picked up the extra necessary child-care for our kids –which is the best case scenario. If I had to choose which job was harder –working full time or staying home full time it wouldn’t be a contest. Staying home full time is like working the same job and being on call 24 hours/day 7 days a week. –It just is. Even though I love my kids and I’m still the primary care giver when I’m home, (I’ll tie this in later, too) somehow the break of working full-time and basically working another full-time job at home is easier than doing the full-double-triple-quadruple overtime you do when you are a stay-at-home mom. Even your sleep isn’t sacred. Of all of our personal work scenarios, I’d say the years we both shared part-time work were the most fulfilling for both of us. Somebody told us a long time ago to learn to live on one income and that advice is what enabled us to do that. We’re so grateful for that advice.

    In any regard, due to economy-related layoffs I have been home full-time for three years. It has been a great challenge to me at times, (on top of the family economic challenges of dealing with the recession). I tend to analyze everything and I’ve thought about this a lot. Why does it feel so hard to be a woman who is a mother sometimes? Why can’t I just be content at home like people were generations before? Why, even when I’m working, do I feel so torn? So, with 5 points from the PDFH study here’s what I think:

    Women still carry the emotional responsibility of the family: This really hits home with me. I have the best husband in the world as far as taking responsibility willingly of our kids. He was willing to stay home full-time with our kids. He was willing to work part-time while I did so we could split the working/child care duties evenly. However, I still feel the weight of the emotional responsibility of our family and our kids. Why? I don’t know. I’m guessing it has something to do with all of that time my kids spent literally attached to me as infants. But, like the study said, even helpful men are just “helping” with the kids. I guess the underlying statement is that women are still primary. Maybe even the fact that I felt the need to say how willing my husband is to “watch” the kids attests to this cultural norm. Maybe even my husband –as willing as he is- feels that I am still primarily carrying the emotional responsibility of our family, (perhaps that’s why when one of our kids wakes up at night he’s in a coma and can’t respond?)

    Women actually have an increased workload by working: This would be the natural overflow into the practical reality of women feeling they have the continued emotional responsibility of the family. Let’s say both partners are working full-time. Again, who is more likely to hear a child in the night and respond? I’m guessing the mother in most cases. This is a broad generalization but it might hold somewhat true over a large segment of the population. Home is another model of a workplace and somebody has to be CEO. That has been the woman in recent, (and maybe not so recent) history and I think perhaps in many cases, just because a woman works outside of the home doesn’t mean she feels she no longer has that title. Even if both partners split the workload at home it often seems as if it’s the woman, still acting as CEO, is just delegating responsibilities.) That’s probably best-case scenario. Worst-case scenario would be a situation where the woman works outside the home and takes care of all of the household work as well. I’ve seen that happen, too.

    There is still not a pay equity: What’s the deal with the .77/$1 thing? This is really just insulting. My friend and I have a basic theory on this. It might be just plain male dominance issues but we think it’s perhaps due child-bearing. My friend and I had to step out of careers to give birth to and nurture infants. We both chose to take at least the 12 weeks allowed to us by FMLA. For me, with that alone it equates to almost a year out of the workforce. Now add the time I had to be on bed-rest with one of the pregnancies, the summer I finished my masters degree while in the 3rd trimester and the several years I worked part-time so I could have more time with my children. Add to that all of the days I spent home with sick children when I did happen to be working. The bottom line? If I wanted to keep up with men in my profession I would either 1. Have to forgo having children or 2. Have to be ready to deliver the baby at the daycare and get right back to work. No thank you. So, I guess I can say it’s my choice to be behind. But, it’s a choice with consequences. Is it fair? Not sure.

    Women now aggregate satisfaction over a larger domain: Again, this really resonates. When you’re talking about “satisfaction” and you feel you have this huge domain, (work and home) to gauge that on it can be muddled. Or maybe it’s just that the huge spread makes you feel so…spread. Instead of one domain to worry about, you now have two. This said, I would say that my highest level of satisfaction was when I worked part time and stayed home part time and my husband’s schedule mirrored mine. You might think I would feel the most spread in that situation but I had the exact opposite effect. I was fresh at work and fresh at home. I was doing two things I loved equally utilizing many facets of my personality and strengths. For those particular years I worked Wednesday, Thursday and ½ of Friday. I had Friday afternoon-Tuesday home with the kids. It was easier to compartmentalize, (AH! I think I’m on to something!) I essentially had two workweeks in every calendar week. I loved it and my husband loved it as well. It was the best of both worlds for us.

    The changes due to the women’s movement may have decreased women’s happiness: Ok, so nobody start flaming me for this one. I’m all about bra-burning –believe me! I’m a super-independent woman who only marginally likes bras. But…sometimes I think parts of the feminist movement have hurt women. I feel like somewhere along the way the idea of feminism became “we’re equal when we’re just like men”. Well, there are numerous problems with that, (for one, men only have 1 reason they have sex). The biggest reason, and the reason I think is the #1 contributing factor to the continual earning discrepancy is child bearing. I know that when I said, “I can’t do this. I can’t work full time when I have a baby at home. It’s tearing me apart.” –I got crap for it. Not because I wanted to stay home but because I wanted to work a little AND stay home. God help me I was presumptuous enough to claim that I wanted both! Obviously I was expected in my situation to make a choice. Either/or –both was an unheard of option in my workplace at the time. They questioned my ability to have the stamina for both, (even though I knew if I didn’t get more time with my kids it was actually going to affect me enough that I would probably be less productive at work). They asked me if I wanted to work part-time then why did I go into my profession? It was quite apparent that being a mother (by staying home part-time) was in direct opposition to being a productive member of the workforce in their perspective. I feel like it’s this “either/or” perspective that came from the women’s movement. If you wanted to be equal to the men then you had to work like the men and that might mean no time for kids. I think this attitude does a disservice to women and families because women are often naturally fantastic multi-taskers and, as I found, can be quite happy and productive in a both/and situation.

    Anyway, that’s my perspective and the points from the study that seem most relevant to me. There isn’t a blanket answer to happiness or families or women in the workforce. Obviously. More women in the workforce hasn’t contributed to more happiness for women for a variety of reasons. I think the main reason is that “women in the workforce” has been treated as a blanket fix and there have been so many variables that have been overlooked in the process of making that (needed) societal change. We just have to be willing to say as individuals, “This isn’t working for me, let’s try something else”. In the same light, employers need to be open to some alternative arrangements. I think a great balance can be found in most situations but we have to be willing to look at things very closely and perhaps even shake up convention a bit.

  35. Christine says:

    I’m a 25 year old stay at home mom, but I attend school for Business. I have had some pretty incredible jobs, before I had my baby.

    But, I get picked on all the time by older working women. They call me lazy, or say that I’m using my husband. Even my friends who dont have children yet make comments about me living off my husband, and not contributing financially. They tell me I failed my career as a Kitchen & Bath designer, that I am stunting my career, or that I will never go back to work.

    I want to have my children early, and then work on my career when my children are in school when they are older. I’m lucky that my husband and I have enough finances that I personally do not have to worry about going back to work anytime soon…

    I’m not happy because It’s not fair that people can make assumptions. I barely have time to myself, and I personally would like to raise my kids. that’s great I have the opportunity to go and work, thanks to great american women that are forever inbeded in history. But I also want to be a mom, and being a mom comes first to me. I dont know any married mom’s who are staying at home in my neighbor hood, they all work and all put pressure on me to do the same.

    I feel that I’m not hurting my children’s future, and I dont need to explain to everyone our financial arrangements in order not to be persecuted.

    please bring to light that women who choose to stay home with their small children aren’t unintellegent undereducated house wives who only know how to cook and clean!

  36. Anita says:

    I am a housewife and I am for the most part, happy.I have my days and my moods. I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything by staying at home. Lately I feel like I may get into some kind of volunteer work. Just to give to the community. Just to help someone. I do help my elderly relatives, by occasionally taking them to the grocery store or to the dr. I have found that while I can be affected by what goes on around me to a great extent, and my particular happiness on a particular day can be diminished by outside forces, for the most part, if I am happy with myself, if I am happy with what I see in the mirror and what is in my heart and soul, then I am HAPPY. I would venture to say, and I mean this seriously, that the main reason that men are happier, is because it doesn’t take much to make men happy. And I think when they look in the mirror they may possibly tend to like what they see inside and out , a little more than we females like what we see.

  37. Rosey says:

    I must be an anomaly. I grew up a happy child. My parents encouraged independence and self confidence. I had a loving environment, and thrived. As an adult, I long ago figured out that I liked myself, and if I met me on the street, I’d want to be my friend.
    I believe too many people depend on someone else as a source of happiness.
    Happiness should come from within an individual, that way, it can’t be taken away by another person.
    I admit I have some periods of unhappiness, but they are fleeting, and I know I will be happy again soon.
    I guess I should say that I love my life. It’s not spectacular, but I’m comfortable in it. I thank God often for leading to where I am today.

  38. Amanda says:

    I don’t think equality equals happiness for women. Or rather, equality is not the major factor that contributes to our happiness. As a businesswoman, I feel that we have come far in removing gender biases in the workplace. However, reading the results that you posted about how we are not any happier, I can tell you that I am not at all surprised. I think as women, our satisfaction comes more from success in our interpersonal relationships, in fulfilling our roles to our personal ideals, and in how close we come to the people we envision. This can be a major cause of dissatisfaction for some of us as well, because, as you put it, we tend to be “harder on [our]selves”, or rather, critical of our shortcomings anad our successes.

    For me, happiness is not measured by how much I achieve in my career. Yes, it does give me a great sense of personal satisfaction, but my greatest satisfaction is in knowing I fulfill my roles in such a way that my family, colleagues, friends, and the people who look up to me, have better life experiences because I’ve “got it together.” When I am scattered, I feel like I am not doing a good job in my roles, and therefore I am dissatisfied and unhappy in my life.

    Perhaps the “happiness” issue can be traced back to the supposition that men derive happiness and personal satisfaction in achieving and shining in their personal arenas, which were for a long time, exclusive to your gender; and that women find happiness in the hearth and home, and that the other achievements are just superfluous, and can only add to our happiness, if it already exists.

  39. Jen says:

    Does Equality equal happiness?

    not for me, Happy people make me happy! But i’m learning that I need to do the same for other people.. Happiness is contagious & a choice

  40. I actually think it is the hormones, as weird as that is going to sound. I had a few problems at one stage in my relationship with my now fiance, and also a few deaths in my family, leaving my job, moving interstate, etc etc. I was under a lot of stress, emotionally. I gained a lot of weight and just felt like I really wasn’t myself. I had a hard time dealing with it all, cause it came on all at the same time. Since then I’ve worked through it all slowly and still to this day I feel like it’s not enough. Like my input toward all aspects of my life isn’t 100%. Even though everyone else tells me I’m doing fabulously, I still can’t help but feel like I’m failing somewhere. And I know it’s in my own head.

  41. Shelly says:

    I am a stay at home mom to 4 children, ages 8,6,3, and 4 months.

    Would I say I was happy? Yes, I think so, but only because I believe in cherishing every single day and that I am lucky to spend so much time with my children. I actually am afraid that I wasn’t focused on that and I didn’t realize how lucky I was, that it could all be snatched away from me.

    My husband is a traveling sales rep, so we have had our share of problems with a travel schedule and me home full time. I do not have family anywhere nearby, so I am on my own. I have often spend days and days with no one else to talk to other than on the phone. No matter if I am sick, if they are sick, if I wake up and just don’t feel like moving, I still have to do it. I can’t quit. At 3 am when I lie awake, my brain is full of panic because I can never say NO. It’s just not an option.

    I do everything around the house, although my husband has become more helpful in the recent past. Still, it’s all up to me and I after 6 years as a full time stay at home parent, it is starting to wear on me. I worry that I’m here, but I am not really ‘present’ for anything. Parts of life seem to just rush on by and I don’t feel as though I have the proper time or sanity to really notice.

    So what is happiness anyway? I’d say it was being present and accountable for life’s daily miracles. If you can get your mind to the place where it really notices what is going on, then you can be happy.

    I want to look back on my life when my kid’s were small and say “Hey, I was there. I remember that.”

    If you ever do a show on husbands who travel, have I got some stories for you! :)

  42. Tracie Thompson says:

    Wow, so many comments that I actually had to question whether or not I was actually happy after reading them! I think for me, my life was going smoothly down the path and then a fork appeared. Decision time….. marriage? kids? part-time mom or stay at home mom? OR the other way which was single, career, no kids? Either way, the decision was mine to make and I would have been happy with which ever direction I chose because it was mine to make. I chose marriage and kids, I worked full-time for a little while, went to part-time for a while and now am on maternity leave (not really sure if I am going to go back to work) and I couldn’t be happier but I firmly believe that had I of chosen the other direction with a single life style and career, I would have been just as happy. Different choices all have pros and cons and you should make the best of what each situation has to offer. Sorry if I made no sense! LOL

  43. Jessica says:

    I would be interested to see how these statistics would look if you overlapped with with women who are Christian/religious. Basically, those women whose faiths are a large part of their lives.

    I also wonder about the idea of Choice- Malcolm Gladwell wrote a whole section in one of his books about how more choices=more stress. Humans thrive on limited selection because we have less remorse- it is less complex to see that what we have chosen is bad or good. His example was things like the grocery store shelves, but I think it could be an interesting concept to think about in this debate as well.

  44. Patty says:

    Women: Does equality equal happiness? I think it’s easy to answer. Yes. But being equal doesn’t mean that a woman, or man for that matter, is happy with his or her life. From one culture to another culture, or from one woman to another woman, feelings of happiness are as unique as the individual influenced by different events, situations, beliefs, and personal actions.

    Reading the following statement raised a red flag with me:

    “Time magazine had a long cover story on women’s economic progress, which was based on its in-depth survey of women around the country. Coincidentally, NBC News had all of its news programs devote air time last week to the release of another study of American women called “A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” that had been put together by the Center for American Progress and A Woman’s Nation founder, Maria Shriver.”

    As soon as I see that Time magazine and NBC News did a study, survey, or article, I immediately wonder how influenced the survey results and its viewers/readers were by advertisements and commercials. I’m sure that many of the advertisements associated with the article or tv show were targeting depression or PMS or a host of other woman products. What’s wrong with that? Well to me, the advertisement drives a person’s feelings. (Gee, that advertisement describes all the symptoms I think I have, I felt sad once so I must be depressed, I better get to the doctor and get that pill.) We are constantly bombarded with ridiculous surveys and articles telling us what makes us happy and unhappy. I would love to see an unbiased survey of women all over the world from various cultures, social-economic backgrounds, and education levels take such a survey. I would imagine the questions that are asked here in the US, wouldn’t even make sense to someone outside our culture.

    Believe me, I’m not putting down the women in the US (I was born, raised, and currently live in the US), but I just think we’re so overloaded with outside factors that we are in a way being brainwashed to “conform” to the marketing and advertising ploys telling us what “should” make us happy or what new level of attainment should make us happy.

    The questions is easy. What makes YOU happy? But the answer is not so easy because the answer is unique to you.

    If you are not happy with your life, start making a list of the things that would make you happy. Then get to work to make it happen. It’s not going to happen overnight. If there are people in your life putting you down stand up for yourself. If you’re in a dangerous situation – get out – get help. Don’t accept a name tag someone else has placed on you. Crumple that name tag up and write your own. YOU are in control of who YOU – remember that.

    Look at achievements like a recipe. If you want to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, musician, own a home, cook like a pro, make a home repair, ride a motorcycle, fly a plane, scuba dive, etc? Think through a list of “ingredients” under each achievement you want to attain and work out a plan to achieve these goals. Soon you’ll be on your way to achieving all kinds of happiness in your life.

    Listen, I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on in my own life. I had a lousy childhood, I’m still working on college, I’m out of work, my husband is out of work too, and my mom is in stage 4 cancer. These situations suck. Some day’s I’m happy, some days I’m not. But I know my happiness is up to me. My achievements are up to me, too. My parents were responsible for me up until the day I turned 18 years old. From that day forward we are all responsible for our own happiness. Life may throw us curve balls, but that’s not the end of the game. Remember, YOU get to throw the ball back, so make your actions count!

    Folks, life is too short sit around waiting for happiness to just happen. Get up and work honestly for whatever it is you want in life and stop comparing your life to those who seem to have everything fall into their laps because even they are unhappy about something.

    There is a key to achieving your dreams. Want to know what it is? Stop saying “I can’t” and replace it with “I can.” Yes, it’s that simple.

    Want to know what to do if you fail? Either try it again or get up and move on to the next thing. Stop worrying what other’s think about you if you “fail.” All it means is you tried something and it didn’t work out. So what? Didn’t you learn anything about your skinned knees, elbows, and chins when you were a kid? Imagine if you fell when you were a kid and you just stayed there. You’d be there right now, 44 years old, on the sidewalk with a healed knee and a bruised and seriously depressed ego. Ridiculous, you say right? EXACTLY!!!! Welcome failures, now you know what not to do!

    You’ve got a countdown clock running down the days of your life and it’s running down fast. Be who you are. Choose your happiness. Release your failures. Experience your emotions.

    Live, love, laugh, cry, think, plan, learn, dwell, eat, drink, pray, dream, and rest. Repeat as necessary.

  45. Julie Moore says:

    I am well-educated (M.A.) and have a professional full-time job. I am now a 49 year old single parent with a 7 year old son …. who is the light of my life. The happiest time in my life was when I had it all … I had a great job, a loving husband, a new baby, and we were spiritually in tune, and we lived in the most beautiful state in the US (Alaska). God, spouse, family, religious family, home, work, friends, play … it was all in perfect balance. But that was but a fleeting moment. I am grateful that I was able to experience that happiness even for just a little while … but I have no idea how to sustain it. I also have lost hope that I will ever experience that happiness again.

  46. K says:

    I think that the scientists hit the nail on the head. I would have to agree that we are more hormonally complex. At least that is how I feel now a days. I feel like I am on a constant emotional roller coaster in my life. I lost my job, I have gained weight through my 11 year marriage so I am faced with tons of insecurities and I realize that there are a lot of issues from my past that I never dealt with. So, at this season of my life, I am not happy. I am a Christian women who has strong faith in God, however, I found myself on my knees crying out to God everyday for the past month or so, asking him to let me know what it is like to feel joy again. I feel emotionally and mentally bankrupt.

    I grew up in a single parent home without my father there. At 18, I was able to articulate to my father the amount of hurt that I felt from his absence in my life. I thought, I was over that because I was honest with him in that moment. Now, here I am 16 years later, and I am experiencing tremendous anxiety in my life because I have a fear of my husband leaving me. For the longest time I thought I was crazy and would never allow myself time to get to the root of that issue. Until recently, I was praying and crying and I realized that because my father abandoned me as a child, that I feel like my husband will leave me just as my dad did.

    So, I have discovered that I am exhausted from paranoia about my husband’s whereabouts. And I must say for the record, my husband is an AWESOME man, he has NEVER done anything in our relationship to indicate that he plans to divorce this marriage. However, because of my past and my current insecurities about my weight. I am experiencing a war within and just praying that God give me just enough light for the step I’m on because sometimes I make my myself sick.

    One thing that has come out of all of this chaos I am experiencing in my life is that I am forced to deal with my deep rooted issues. I am the type person that enjoys being on the go and I ALWAYS have something going on, however, now I have to face myself in the silence. That is a painful and dreadful experience.

    I get angry, upset and frustrated at God because I am like dude, seriously, this is not what I signed up for? I thought joy was supposed to come in the morning? My phase of life has caused me to cling to God because he is literally all I have and the only one that I think can understand my psychotic emotions at times. LOL! Seriously.

    I am a firm believer in God and prayer. However, I need some practical ways to get out of this state. I feel like I am at the darkest place ever in my life. I strive everyday to stay sane. It seems like everything that was familiar in my life, God, took it from me and he is breaking up my foundation and starting over.

    There are times when I see light at the end of the tunnel and others where the light is dim or burns out. I know that a lot of what I am dealing with is situational depression, but my hormonal complexities are so real to me. LOL!

    So, Dr. Phil, any advice you could give me would be great. Because I know that my emotional imbalance at the moment is draining my husband.

    Great dialogue and a good opportunity for me to event.


  47. Christina D says:

    I am 28 year old woman fixing to graduate collage with my Bachelors in English with a minor in Anthropology. I do not have any kids due to health issues and some precautions on my own part. I am now engaged to my best friend since high school who is in the Army. Honestly, I have never been happier in my entire life. I think my darkest days were my wild and crazy early twenties. However, those days were overshadowed by the murder of my fiancée in 2000. When I finally went back to college with the encouragement of my best friend (now fiancée) and another close friend of mine, the joy in my life started to return. I had a purpose, a goal.

    As I head off to married life, my fiancée has pointed out numerous times that I do not have to rush off to rejoin the workforce when we are married and I am able to move to be with him on post. As of right now, I’m set on going back to work and having what I’ve termed my entire working life (the last 12 years) as a purpose. I only know happiness when I am actively doing something outside the home. However, if I find that I enjoy staying at home, making sure that my husband has his dinner hot and ready when he gets home, I’m not going to question it. (And I know there is more to being a homemaker than just dinner.)

    I do not define my happiness by monetary means, or I would be depressed right now. I only work 25 hours a week making almost minimum wage. I’m happy because I am doing what I love. I love school. And the wonderful thing is that my future husband has insisted that I not let my dreams of becoming a professor die! He has insisted, and I know he will continue to insist because he’s just as bull headed as me, that I go to grad school and get my doctorate. By the time that I have my doctorates and am able to find a university to work at, any children we have will be in school themselves and I would teach while they are in school.

    I am disappointed by some of the responses that I have read however. I find it appalling that some think that women are unhappy because they are not stay at home moms. (And to the woman complaining about women having children later in life or not at all, I am so glad that I did not have children earlier in my life! My life and, most importantly, my children’s lives would have been worse off for it.) I find it sad some of the experiences that women have had to go through. But I find the simplest joy in the fact that many of the women who have replied to your blog post are happy no matter what they are or have gone through! Women are complicated creatures and to pigeon hole us is doing the entire gender a major disservice. In addition, I do not follow the “hormone” theory either. I have taken many anthropology classes and will be getting my masters, and later my doctorates, in anthropology. I find the “hormone” theory leaves out the largest contributing factor in what shapes women’s lives, culture. It is our culture, and, therefore in the US, the media, that shape how we view ourselves and our roles as women. Within this construct, we see ourselves as either “good” or “bad” women and thus feel “happy” or “sad” based where we fit on this spectrum. I find the shift to acceptance of women working and caring for a family simultaneously comforting because even though I have no idea what decision I will make in the end in that regard, I know that it will be accepted by the majority of society. No matter what decision I make, to stay home or to work, there will be those who think I should do the other. However, it is not up to them what I do, I do what makes my family and myself happiest.

  48. Jennifer says:

    While it is essential that women have equality with men, I am not surprised that women are not happier as a result. Women have too much social pressure to be everything: an awesome mother, a fabulous homemaker, a sexual goddess, and a typical-American workaholic. This is too much work, and most of it is expected. Men get more appreciation for doing the same things. If a woman is a good mother, she is simply a “mom”. If a man is a good father, he is “a great dad”. If a woman does chores, she’s doing her job. If a man does chores, he’s a good husband. If a working mother is good at her job, she’s often looked down on by women who can afford to (or choose to) stay home with their kids. If a man is good at his job, he is a “provider”. Women would be happier if they got the praise men get for doing the same things. Our society expects less out of men because women have lost their bargaining chip: sex. With the advent of birth control, men have less reason to stay in (and work on) marriages. I personally expect much less from my husband than I do for myself. I know if I’m too picky in what I expect from him, he can leave me. Simply put: I have more to lose in a divorce than he would. I think many mothers are in this position.

  49. Kristin Abbott says:

    I don’t think work or equality have anything to do with why women are less happy.
    I think we are a product of our own raising. Girls grow up dreaming of princesses, prince charming and happily ever after. We dream of the perfect life we are going to have with our perfect husbands and perfect children. It’s no wonder that we are shocked at the reality of real life. We feel unhappy because we set unrealistic expectations. Lord knows my life is nothing like the movies unless you’re watching a sad lifetime flick. That’s another thing..look at the crap we feed our brains. Movies about pain, heartache, suffering, death.. it’s depressing. Men don’t watch that stuff (heck my man calls it “the depressed women’s network”). Let’s compare: a movie about a dying child VS a good action movie – which one do you think is better for your mood?

    I’m not an expert, but I have battled depression. I found that once I dealt with my unrealistic expectations about life and turned off some of the sadness on TV, my outlook was a lot brighter. Didn’t have a thing to do with my job, the chores, or my husband. It was all within me – good news, so was the power to change it.

  50. Vicki says:

    I think the feminists who pushed so hard for equality were the driven women who wanted careers and nothing else. They spoke for all of us but didn’t have nor voice the opinions of the rest of us. They raised their voices for “women” to be heard but they sold only their own personal agendas. They didn’t speak for the women who were happy with traditional roles.

    It was only women who spoke up for equality. Men did not. They did not say, “I want to be able to work my full time job and I want to be able to take on more duties at home.” Yes, many men have begun “helping” more around the house than their fathers did but I don’t believe they’re enthusiastic about it.

    It has come to the point for family women where we have so many duties. We are forced to be jacks of all trades, masters of none. Women are spread so thin these days between both career and home that it’s difficult to feel satisfied with everything. When we have both we wish we could devote more to each.

    I agree women should have the OPTION to have careers as well as families. Our society has come to EXPECT it. Women are living under so much expectation these days. Men, I think are okay with women bringing home some extra income which relieves some stress from them. And I think they like to feel they are treating their wives “equally”. For the most part, I think men prefer to be the main income earners. I think it hurts their pride to earn less. There are, of course, exceptions to everything.

    Household roles have gone from the man being the income earner and the woman being the nurturer and the care-giver and the home-maker to men still being the main income earner with women being expected to care for the home and the family while also putting in the same hours at a much lesser paying job. I think it’s few women who have careers as doctors, lawyers, real estate tycoons while raising their children themselves without outside help.

    Firstly, if women want to raise their own children, they simply can’t put in the kind of hours required to earn the status in the workplace that men can who don’t have to run home to make sure the children are fed and get them off to their soccer games. Secondly, women of 20 to 45 years of age are second-choice employees because they will/have children who limit their commitment to the workplace of necessity.

    My last point is that this “equality” has led to men “letting” women take on even more household responsibility because they are more than capable. Some of these responsibilities are mowing the lawn, taking the car in and taking care of automotive issues, taking on a lot more of the home repair, etc.

    We haven’t only added the expectation of careers to women’s traditional roles, we’ve also added many of the men’s household roles as well.

    How in the world can women be expected to be happier now? Certainly many are more fulfilled in their jobs but many are now working jobs they hate because of societal expectation and some are about to break from the strain of added “she’s capable” men’s traditional household duties.

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