WE all know that behind every great man there is a great woman, but who is behind all the great women?
In today’s society, it has become acceptable to mock, bemoan and even insult the men in our lives. Perhaps it’s time to get things on an even keel and acknowledge the men who stand behind their partners.
Indeed, while 60% of Irish women are employed, there are lots of supportive men out there, doing their fair share to ensure her partners can have a successful career and a happy home life.
We spoke to three women who believe their ‘Mr Right’ has made it possible for them to achieve the perfect work/life balance.
Edwina Hayes is 31-years-old. She and her husband Brian have three children (Molly, four, Danny, two, and Shay, one). She used to be a teacher but decided to throw caution to the wind and retrained as a hairdresser and, thanks to the support of her husband, is now running her own salon.
“After graduating from the National College of Art and Design in 2003, I taught in Loreto College on the Crumlin Road,” she says. “I loved working there but didn’t like the fact I could be switching schools for years before I found a permanent job.
“I had always dreamt of being a hairdresser, so after I graduated and started working, I did a few evening classes, studying make-up, nails and hair extensions.
“Then Brian and I moved to Kilkenny and I couldn’t get a job, so I started doing hair extensions for friends from home.”
Once Edwina got the taste for hairdressing, she knew this is where she wanted her career to go and after a few hard years, opened Salon 87 in 2011. She has been able to realise her dream because her husband became unemployed and they decided it would make more sense financially for her to go ahead with the salon and for him to look after the children.
“Brian was a crane driver in the years leading up to the recession but you don’t see many of those on the skyline anymore,” says Edwina. “So he has been unemployed on and off over the past two years and while this has been extremely hard, it has had its benefits because I was able to work while he took care of the kids.
“He has gone back to college recently studying community healthcare and social studies, but the hours are good for helping with the kids because the college is close to home. The fact that he is studying also makes financial sense for us because he wasn’t entitled to any benefits when he was just unemployed as I was self-employed and now he gets an allowance.
“It has been very hard for him but by this time next year, he should hopefully be qualified and able to work as a carer. Although things have been difficult, we have made things work for us and Brian has made it possible for me to fulfill my career goal.”
Anna Louise Young runs a late night café in Dublin based on the continental model of a place to socialise without alcohol. She puts her success down to hard work, focus and a huge amount of support from her fiancé Eoin Kierans. Both are aged 32.
“I began my research and business plan for Accents Lounge in September 2009 and finally opened in April 2011,” recalls Anna.
“As the sole owner of the business, it’s been so important to me to have such a supportive partner in Eoin. I think your personal life can have a huge impact on your professional life anyway, and especially with the pressure and stress that goes with owning a company.
While Eoin is not involved in the business itself, we had to make the decision together whether I was going to start Accents Lounge, as I was very realistic of the impact it would have on our very comfortable lifestyle and strong relationship.”
So realising that this venture would be very time-consuming, her partner volunteered to take on all the duties at home.
“Eoin became a house-husband — he did everything at home, I didn’t even have to wash a cup,” says Anna. “I am absolutely aware that I couldn’t have done this without him and his support really has made a difference. He allowed me to put all my energy into the business, by keeping home and giving me encouragement when I needed it most.
“He also put his own feelings aside and rolled with the punches over the past year and a half.
“But now I am putting the emphasis back on my personal life and looking to devote more time to him and our relationship.
“I would now like to master the balance of owning a business and being a mother — so we have plenty of challenges left.”
Beatriz Creo is 36-years-old. She lives with her partner David, 32, and their four-year-old son, Joel in Bray, Co Wicklow. She is the founder of Meetmums.ie and works as an office administrator, while he is a painter and decorator. He has always been very supportive and encourages Beatriz to pursue her business ideas.
“Meetmums.ie is a website dedicated to pre and postnatal classes, parent and toddler groups and kids’ activities in Ireland,” explains the mother-of-one. “I also work in an office and have recently been made part-time, which worries me a bit, but it will give me the chance to put a lot more work and time into Meetmums.
“David is a painter and decorator but has also studied TV and film and is a very artistic and creative person who also is trying to pursue a job that will make him happy — not just a job to make some money to pay mortgage and bills.”
And being aware of her desire to set up a company, David supported his partner from the beginning.
“We both have similar views about life and about how important it is to try to find a job that makes you happy and realised as a person,” says Beatriz. “He comes from a family of musicians and, as he says, no one within his family has the usual nine-to-five job, so the fact that I wanted to start a business of my own has never being a problem for him.
In fact, he has always being very supportive of my ideas and my small business. He is the optimistic one, and always encourages me to keep at it and don’t throw the in towel when things are difficult.”
Beatriz says that while she looks after most of the housework, David takes care of Joel and looks after of the shopping and cooking, which makes life easier for her.
“David has been the main carer for our son as I was working full-time,” she says. “He does the shopping and makes dinner a lot of the time, but the cleaning, laundry and ironing usually falls on me.
“On the weekend, we take turns looking after Joel so we can give each other time to dedicate to our own projects.
“I don’’t think there is a secret for an equal partnership but is important to have similar views about life and the future. And I believe communication is the key.
“You have to be able to trust your partner and feel comfortable expressing your feelings and knowing that both are going to make the effort to sort things out in order that both are happy.”
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