Gwyneth Paltrow, “The Good Wife,” or a Good Partner?


Gwyneth Paltrow revealed in her latest interview with Harper’s Bazaar, that she advised a girlfriend that she needs “to compromise…to be a wife.” She also talks about “being home” when her husband Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay, returns from work as a way to maintain her marriage and family.

She is certainly hitting a nerve.  Given her A-list lifestyle that can afford a staff at her beck and call, a number of moms feel that she is being self-righteous and a tad out of touch.

But let’s take a closer look at her comments:

“I said this may not be feminist, but you have to compromise. It’s been all about you and you’re a big deal. And if you want what you’re saying you want — a family — you have to be a wife, and that is part of the equation,” the actress said.
 “I have little kids in school. I want to maintain my marriage and my family, so I have to be here when (Martin) comes home,” she said.  She also added that she’s the one usually cooking her family’s dinner and giving her kids a bath.
 Paltrow obviously knew that her comments could come off as controversial.

“Gloria Steinem may string me up by my toes, but all I can do is my best, and I can do only what works for me and my family,” she said.

Hmmm.  Is she being “the good wife,” or a “good partner?”

The words that are hitting the nerve are: “may not be feminist, but you have to compromise,” and “have to be a wife,” and, “I have to be here when Martin comes home.”  If I didn’t know any better, it sounds like Gwyneth is wearing a house dress and a strand of pearls as she takes that nice hot meal out of the oven just in time for her man.  It sounds like she is “the good wife.”  Seriously?  Last I checked, Paltrow has a lot more going on than that.  She has a nanny, runs her lifestyle website Goop, writes cookbooks, somehow finds the time to play Holly Holliday on Glee – “Hola clase!”  - and may have a movie project in the works.

C’mon Gwyneth.  Did you have to use those exact words that make us feel like we just hopped on a time machine headed back to the Beaver Cleaver days ?  If I squint a little harder and read in between the lines, I hear a very different message.  It sounds like you are trying to be a good hands-on mom.  It sounds like you are trying to make your marriage a priority by spending time with your husband.  And given your busy lifestyle, it sounds like you are trying to find that delicate balance between marriage, work and parenthood.  All very worthwhile pursuits.

And for the record, what is Chris doing while you are off doing a number on the Glee set?  Is he picking up some slack?  Is he cooking the family dinner and giving the kids a bath?  Even if he has an entire staff chopping the vegetables and bathing the kids, on some level, doesn’t he “have to compromise” as well?  Where was that piece of information in the article?

In this dual-income family, maybe Gwyneth and Chris work well together because they both compromise and pick up some slack?  Maybe they both value spending quality time with the family and putting their marriage first?

So Gloria Steinem may have good reason to put that string back into the junk drawer.  Maybe Chris is doing more than walking through the door to a hot meal.  And maybe, just maybe, Gwyneth is not only trying  to be a “good wife and mother,” she’s also trying to be a “good partner.” In her mind, a happy marriage equals happy kids.

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