At the age of twenty-three, second-year doctoral student Joanne S. Frye married an emotionally difficult German professor who was a decade her senior. There were frustrations in their marriage early on, but it wasn’t until the arrival of their first child that their relationship was thrown into complete disarray. Since her husband was the one who worked outside of the home, she was expected to keep the house clean and do all of the child rearing and housekeeping.
In theory, she was fine with it at first. But the realities of this division of labor soon manifested themselves: she was expected to give up her office space for the nursery; he was not. She was expected to put domestic labor above her doctoral research; he became furious if anyone interrupted his research. She was expected to be selfless; he complained bitterly if he had to do anything domestic on “his time.”
By the time their second child arrived, the marriage was hanging on by a frayed thread, and it was becoming increasingly obvious to Frye that, for her own well-being and that of her daughters, she could no longer continue in this manner. Making a difficult decision, she left her husband with her two young daughters in tow, choosing to focus on her own needs for once and forge her life as a single mother.