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The Internet Backs Husband For “Ruining” Family Dinner Because He Is The Only One Not On Board With Wife’s Stay-At-Home Idea
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People, Relationships2 months ago

The Internet Backs Husband For “Ruining” Family Dinner Because He Is The Only One Not On Board With Wife’s Stay-At-Home Idea

Lots of parents dream of being a stay-at-home mom or dad. Getting to escape the rat race and focus all of your time and energy on taking care of your loving family and managing your household sounds like a pretty sweet deal to a lot of people. Of course, being a parent is always a full-time job, regardless of whether that mom or dad has another job they’re actually getting paid for. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having one parent stay at home, as long as both parties agree and they meet the most important prerequisite: that the whole family can survive on one income. One person usually can’t just decide they don’t want to work anymore, especially when they don’t even have kids to take care of yet…

Last week, one husband, Agile_Creme2395 on Reddit, shared a dilemma that he has found himself in with his family and reached out to others for some advice. Below, you will find his full story explaining what his wife is hoping for and what his concerns are, some of the replies readers have left on his post, and an interview with clinical psychologist and couples therapist Dr. Kathy McMahon.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this situation in the comments too, especially if you or your partner happen to be a stay-at-home spouse or parent. Then if you’re interested in reading another Bored Panda story featuring stay-at-home parent drama, check out this article next. 

This husband is wondering if he was wrong for blowing up at his family members after they supported his wife’s decision to stop working

Image credits: Heather Mount (not the actual photo)

Image credits: Jessica Da Rosa (not the actual photo)

The husband later clarified some details about the situation after reading comments

Image credits: Agile_Creme2395

To gain more insight on this topic, we reached out to clinical psychologist and couples therapist Dr. Kathy McMahon. First, we wanted to know how common it is for couples to disagree about whether one partner should be a stay-at-home spouse or parent. “It is very common when neither of them has sat down to talk about their overall goals and dreams,” Dr. McMahon told Bored Panda.

“In this situation, the couple’s conflict is what world-renowned couples expert Gottman calls a ‘perpetual problem’,” she explained. “It may never be ‘solved’. It can only be discussed and a better understanding of each person’s point of view clarified. She wants to focus her energies on parenting. He might think that is great but believes the couple simply can’t financially exist on one salary.”

“Who’s right? Maybe both of them,” Dr. McMahon continued. “But until they talk about what they are BOTH willing to sacrifice in order to focus one partner’s energies on parenting, they will get nowhere.”

We also asked Dr. McMahon what the best way is for couples to work through an issue like this. “This issue is a false dichotomy,” she says. “For most couples, there are a series of decisions that go into what they may describe as ‘a quality of life’. For one person, it’s a yearly vacation, cable TV, cellphones, living in an expensive city, or expensive neighborhood, owning vs renting, etc.”

“For others, quality of life means examining every expense to weigh the pleasure of using their ‘life resource’ time (see Your Money Or Your Life),” Dr. McMahon explained. “These are value conversations without ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers.”

She went on to note that the issue for the couple comes down to a few questions: “What do we get from our current standard of living? What do we expenses do we incur when we try to maintain that standard, which may or may not be incurred if we live on one paycheck? Do we value those things over the other option to have one stay-at-home parent?”

He also answered some questions to help readers better understand the situation

“We know from such research that many women seem to be the happiest when they balance raising children with a part-time job. What does each of them gain by having both work full-time versus 1.5 FTE? This requires repeated discussions with your past year’s worth of expenses available. Perhaps the couple might try living on one paycheck for several months (while putting the other paycheck in savings…) to see what is possible,” Dr. McMahon suggests.

We also wanted to know Dr. McMahon’s thoughts on whether family members should be inserting their opinions on topics such as this. “I do believe that the expense of childcare can be often supplemented when family members offer their services at no cost,” she told Bored Panda.

“When these ‘opinions’ become offers to tangibly help (financially or physically), that’s when all should welcome the input, and the couple should discuss the pros and cons of accepting such help. Otherwise, everyone has an opinion, but only the two of you get to decide how you choose to live your life,” Dr. McMahon added.

When it comes to how common stay-at-home parents are, in the United States, about one in every 5 parents is a stay-at-home mom or dad. But how high the one working parent’s income is is certainly a factor in whether or not a parent gets to stay at home. In one study, nearly half of the mothers who had a partner who made over $250,000 a year were stay at home moms. If they are in a comfortable place financially, they don’t necessarily need to worry about having two income streams and can opt to stay at home with their children. After all, daycare and nannies are expensive and they aren’t always worth the hassle. Why not have one parent with the kids or managing the home during the days? 

However, being a stay-at-home parent is no walk in the park. Despite the misconception that they don’t do much during the day, the average stay at home parent actually works the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs and could charge about $115,000 per year for their work, if they were doing it for someone else. Heading into an office every day can be exhausting, but at least, in theory, there are set working hours. We all know plenty of people end up working more than 40 hours a week, but they don’t usually intend to. A stay-at-home parent, on the other hand, typically works about 14-hour long days, when their children are at home, and those days usually include a mere 1.7 hours of free time built-in. 

Despite what the wife in this story imagines about being a stay-at-home partner, it’s not always a dream, especially if your spouse is barely making enough to make ends meet. Besides, many people find having a career fulfilling and motivating, while staying at home can be lonely and isolating. It can be difficult to decide what the best course of action is for your family, but one thing that’s important is that both parties are on the same page and happy with the decisions made. Let us know how you feel about this situation down below, and if you have ever been a stay-at-home parent or spouse, feel free to share about your experience as well.  

Many of the commenters reassured the husband that he did nothing wrong, while some even warned him that his wife’s behavior may be a red flag

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Tams21
Community Member
2 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Being a SAHW or SAHM isn't common anymore not because of a fashion trend but often because people can't afford it. I assume everyone in the story knows his situation at work - for them to still tell him to "make it happen" anyway is incredibly arrogant. I'd be setting very clear boundaries and be reconsidering my relationship to all of them. Totally nta.

Dre Mosley
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

She just doesn't want to work. How is staying home and not working and having no child to care for preparing her to be a SAHM? In this day and age, you really want to get by on one salary when you don't have to?

Boerenhond
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When I tried dating as a single mom with 3 small kids, the only guys who were interested were the ones who wanted to become a househusband. I work part time and when I work, the kids are with my ex. Those guys really wanted to clean the house, cook and not work, but live on my income and I was a bit desperate, so I almost did it, but luckily my brain returned from a holiday in time and I went to the pet store and bought a rabbit instead for company.

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pebs
Community Member
2 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

His wife deceived him, his sister and mother are hypocrites. I would advise him to change wife as long as they don't have children yet, it will be easier and less traumatic. However, in general, I find that older people living on generous pensions have no idea how the financial situation of the younger generations has changed.

Pizzagirl 91
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I also feel like there could be underlying guilt on OP's mother's part: If she'd acknowledge that he would suffer if he had to do all it took to let his wife be a SAHW, she'd have to face the fact that her husband might have been unhappy with that, too, and she might see herself in OP's wife and fear the rejection as a "leech", even though the circumstances have changed. I know my mother went into depression after my youngest brother left home, and it was partly for feeling like she was "useless" when there were no children to take care of. We were 5 children, she had my sister in college, youngest brother is about 10 years younger, so it wasn't feasible for her to just "get back out there" after he was in school. She's better now, through therapy and meaningful volunteer work. But anyway, I feel there's more to OP's mother's reaction than is said out loud.

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Tams21
Community Member
2 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Being a SAHW or SAHM isn't common anymore not because of a fashion trend but often because people can't afford it. I assume everyone in the story knows his situation at work - for them to still tell him to "make it happen" anyway is incredibly arrogant. I'd be setting very clear boundaries and be reconsidering my relationship to all of them. Totally nta.

Dre Mosley
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

She just doesn't want to work. How is staying home and not working and having no child to care for preparing her to be a SAHM? In this day and age, you really want to get by on one salary when you don't have to?

Boerenhond
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When I tried dating as a single mom with 3 small kids, the only guys who were interested were the ones who wanted to become a househusband. I work part time and when I work, the kids are with my ex. Those guys really wanted to clean the house, cook and not work, but live on my income and I was a bit desperate, so I almost did it, but luckily my brain returned from a holiday in time and I went to the pet store and bought a rabbit instead for company.

Load More Replies...
pebs
Community Member
2 months ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

His wife deceived him, his sister and mother are hypocrites. I would advise him to change wife as long as they don't have children yet, it will be easier and less traumatic. However, in general, I find that older people living on generous pensions have no idea how the financial situation of the younger generations has changed.

Pizzagirl 91
Community Member
2 months ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I also feel like there could be underlying guilt on OP's mother's part: If she'd acknowledge that he would suffer if he had to do all it took to let his wife be a SAHW, she'd have to face the fact that her husband might have been unhappy with that, too, and she might see herself in OP's wife and fear the rejection as a "leech", even though the circumstances have changed. I know my mother went into depression after my youngest brother left home, and it was partly for feeling like she was "useless" when there were no children to take care of. We were 5 children, she had my sister in college, youngest brother is about 10 years younger, so it wasn't feasible for her to just "get back out there" after he was in school. She's better now, through therapy and meaningful volunteer work. But anyway, I feel there's more to OP's mother's reaction than is said out loud.

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