My husband and I have been married for three years, but been together for five years.
Before we were dating I was a single mom of a two year old (the birth father died). I had my own place, car, and a job with great pay. My husband was living with his parents and working at a dead end job. After dating for a while we became an official couple. I wanted to take things slow because I had a child. And, I wanted to make sure he could handle my “baggage.” He said he could handle it.
He quit his dead end job and got a career as a truck driver making a lot of money because he wanted to be the man of the house. Two years into our relationship, after we moved in our first place, my husband’s sister got really sick and we had to take in her four kids so they wouldn’t go to foster care. Taking care of five kids under the age of seven and both of us working full-time was horrible on us mentally and physically. So, he came up with the idea for me to become a stay-at-home mom and he just works; which was a great idea because two of the kids had anxiety issues. We saved a lot of money because they weren’t going to daycare anymore.
Now, three years later my sister-in-law is now better and has her kids back. I’m ready to go back to work, but he wants me to stay home and take care of our son. I told him I could get a part-time job while he is at school, but he finds some way to make it into an argument.
Now, we fight about every little thing. He thinks I’m being selfish and I think it’s him being selfish. We agreed to do couples counseling, but then he backs out when it’s almost time to go. What should I do? – Want To Work
Dear Ms. Want To Work,
He finally got a job, the money, and his position in the household, and he wants to hold on to that. Plain and simple. He wants to be the breadwinner, the “man” of the house, and he wants to feel like he is taking care of you and his family. You even mentioned that in your letter when you stated that he quit his dead end job.
Think about it – If you went back to work then it would be a bruise to his ego. It would be a reminder of the time when you met him and you had your own house, car, and independence, and he was in a dead end job living at home. You were the bread winner. Though you asked him if he could handle your baggage, he probably felt like he was extra baggage.
So, he stepped up, as he should have, and now he doesn’t want to go back to the way things once were. I’m sure you could make more money than him, and then he would feel as if you don’t need him. He would feel insecure, emasculated, and that he would no longer be the man of the house.
I’m sure you two could compromise, and come to an agreement. Hell, you took in his sister’s children without question and quit your job to raise them. You did what you had to, and you did it because you wanted to. Therefore, he should understand that it was a temporary situation, and you weren’t planning on being a stay-at-home mom forever. You did your part to help out, and now you want to get back into the workforce. Even if it is part-time; you want some independence, and to earn your own money.
Therefore, communicate. Talk with your husband. Listen to one another. He says you’re being selfish by not staying at home. And, you say he’s being selfish by not allowing you to work. You both are pointing the finger and accusing the other, but you’re not listening to each other. Ask him why does he find it a problem with you going back to work? What issue does he have with you earning money? Why does he want you to stay at home? What’s wrong with earning more money, and building your home together? If he’s a truck driver, then I’m sure he is on the road a lot, and you and your son are home alone. Then, on top of it, your son is in school, so, you’re home during the day and feel you can be something with your time. Share that with your husband. Let him know how you feel, what you’re feeling, and that you enjoy working and being around people. You don’t want to be sitting in the house miserable, sad, and depressed. Working keeps your mind active, and it gives you joy.
And, yes, the couples counseling is a great idea, and it will help you resolve your issue, but it’s obvious he’s not interested in going. Why is he resisting therapy? Is he afraid it will reveal something he’s not really wanting to share?
Besides, when you met your husband you were working, so why does he have a problem with you going back to work? Did you two have a discussion about this before getting married? Did he tell you that he preferred if you stayed at home while he worked? If this wasn’t something discussed prior to marriage, then why does he have a change of heart now? I truly feel that his issues are his own issues, and he may feel a type of way about his wife earning and making more money than him, and he doesn’t want to be in that situation again. When you met him you were the one who was making the money, and he probably felt his manhood was in jeopardy. Who knows.
I say talk with your husband, and come to a compromise of you going back to work in a part-time capacity for at least six-months. If it becomes difficult, challenging, or creates a bigger issue, then you can readjust, or reconsider another option. But, don’t dismiss the idea without at least trying it to see how it works. And, doesn’t he know if you’re happy then the household will be a happy one?
Besides, I’m a huge advocate of folks earning and having their own money. You never know what may come up, and what may happen. Always be prepared because if some event occurs and you need that extra income, it will get you through a difficult or challenging time. Don’t become too dependent on one person, and one income. Always have a backup plan. – Terrance Dean
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