So you’ve recently been reading about all the benefits that can come to your home, your kids, and your marriage when you become a stay-at-home mom and you’ve decided you’re ready to go for it. You’re ready to leave your 40+ hour a week job and come home to try your hand at being Suzy Homemaker. Your excited to announce your findings to your husband. Surely he will agree? Finally you get up the nerve. You do it; you tell him, and BAM! He shoots you down. What happened? Why doesn’t he see what you see? Read on, dear homemaker hopeful. Let’s talk about why he doesn’t want you to be a stay-at-home mom, and some ideas on how you can begin to work together to realize your dream.
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume that you’ve found yourself in a similar position to what I just described. You’re disappointed. You’re probably a little bit angry. To say that your thinking is a bit clouded with dismay would be an understatement. So I’m going to ask you to open your mind for a few minutes and do something that is the direct opposite of what I normally suggest that my lady readers do. Today I want you to put on your manly hat. Put the apron down. Pull on some big boy shoes and try to imagine all I’m about to say from a man’s perspective. It’s the only way you are going to figure out how to work with the guy you’ve got. You ready?
Unless your guy is over the age of 65, there’s a very good chance he was raised in an era of growing freedoms for women. He’s been influenced by literally thousands (tens of thousands?) of women pounding the message into his head that women are equal to men. Women can hold their own without men. Women can work and earn as much as, or more than men. There’s nothing a man can do that a woman can’t do better.
He’s heard it in a million different ways. He’s seen it happen in real life. He knows no other truth.
Oh, he may laugh at some attempts made by certain women to do as men do. He may jump on the manly-man bandwagon of poking fun at women and repeating dumb blonde jokes, but there’s no way on earth he would ever, never ever ever be caught suggesting that his wife is lesser than he. If he is being honest, he’ll admit he’s a bit afraid of you. And why shouldn’t he be? The deck is stacked against him. Any attempt to guide you is met with descriptions of control and abuse. Claims of sexism. Berating from every direction. Even the laws are now set against him to the point that the very act of holding your arms in place to defend against your physical attack upon him could result in HIS arrest. Yes. He has every reason to fear you.
It’s important to first understand that core truth. What we believe in the center of our bones to be true is going to influence every other thought we have on a particular subject. And for most modern day men, women’s equality is at the root of their beliefs. Somewhat.
They have been beaten down with the message, but from what I’ve personally seen, they’ve not yet been completely brainwashed. They’ve not abandoned their primal urges and instincts just yet. What they say on the outside is typically to appease the masses. They don’t necessarily buy into the equality message completely. So what else is going on? Why the resistance to honoring the traditional gender roles that his inner fibers know to be truth? For this answer, you really have to think like a man.
In one of my earliest posts I talked about the daily life of men. I was shocked to learn about what it was like to be a man today.
I had to look into his world where i was shocked to discover that he walked into a literal battle ground every day. In his world there is a constant battle of one man over the other to try to stay on top or risk their jobs and everything else in their lives. He had to fight at work just to maintain his position so that he could care for us–so that he could keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. That was also incredibly admirable (and humbling.) My husband was not careless or inept. He was a warrior. And I’d failed to see it.
After that revelation I began really watching our male population. How they look at each other. How they compare themselves to each other. All. The. Time. Every day each man holds up a virtual yard stick and compares his life to all other men around him and asks himself how he’s doing. And like it or not, your income has become part of his identity. And he does not, under any circumstance, want to part with your income.
That, my dear, is his biggest worry. Money. And keeping up with Mr. Jones.
It’s the biggest and baddest of his worries and the one that strikes terror in his heart the second you suggest leaving your job or dropping your hours to part time. But it’s not his only worry. Once he’s had time to think about the idea of you becoming a full time housewife, there are many other concerns that rush in to cloud his brain.
- If you leave your job, he is solely responsible for providing for how many people? Is he up to that task? Is he ready for that much personal responsibility? What if he gets sick? Or injured?
- How would he even manage it all? Did he ever see any other guy pull it off? (Does he have a role model?)
- What will happen to his beautiful wife? Will she let herself go? Will she put on sweat pants or pajamas and never brush her hair again? He’s seen that happen. Oh god. Not the money and his beautiful bride too!
- What if he doesn’t want to be married to a mom? What if he wants to be married to his sassy and smart wife? What will happen to his sex life? Will that be gone too? No money, no beautiful wife, AND no sex?
- For crying out loud. He wants a partner. Not a dependent. This really makes him angry. He didn’t marry you to become your father figure.
- Oh God. If divorce happens, he won’t stand a chance at getting custody . . .not with the kids being so attached to her after she’s been home with them full time. Will he be cast out? Would she turn them against him?
- Why on earth does she want this anyway? What good could come out of it? Where is the value in her staying home? Sure, the house is messy and they eat a ton of take out. Granted the kids are overweight and unruly and could stand for more home cooked meals and supervision, but is the trade off worth it? Does she really think she can make that big of a difference? Why can’t we just hire a housekeeper instead? Has she lost her mind?
- Is she just being lazy? Why should I have to take on all the responsibility and she gets to stay home and watch t.v.?
Those are just some of the thoughts that might jump into his head. Starting to see where he’s coming from now? He isn’t seeing pictures of domestic bliss. He sees images of disaster. He sees his whole life crumbling to pieces. Look at his face. Is it white?
Real, genuine fear.
Your husband thinks you’ve lost your mind and you’re about to drag him down with you.
OK. So now you get it. You know what you are working with. Now you are equipped to prepare and present your case, but I must forewarn you. Don’t do it yet. If you want to stand a chance of ever achieving your dream because you know in your heart that things will not only be okay, they will be better than ever, hold off. Allow him time to recover from the initial shock and take these steps instead.
- Explain to him that you understand his fears. You can even reiterate the list I just presented to you. Tell him that you are just thinking about it and that of course you’d never jump and do it without his full agreement. (Let him breathe and relax.)
- Then take a giant step backwards and realize that you’ve got to undo years of your own brainwashing of him. Up until now you’ve been a completely different woman than you are now suggesting you’d like to be. You want to pull the carpet out from beneath him, and that’s not fair. You’ve got to first undo some damage. You’ve got to first begin to treat him like the man you are suggesting he be–even while you are still working outside the home. You’ve got to show him that you see him as a leader and trust him to lead. You’ve got to show him that he can lead. He is capable. You’ve got to admit that you have been doing it wrong. I suggest you start by reading this post, and see if you can commit to that one small change. That is the basis of your new life. If you can’t do this one small thing suggested in that post, the rest is futile. Start there. Then come back here.
- Once you’ve done that, it will take some time but not as long as you might think to begin to see changes in him thereafter. At first he will not trust you. He will fear he is being set up. He might even come out and question you directly about your motivation. His entire life of training from the equality movement will leave him questioning your current motives. But give it time. When he sees that you aren’t backing away, he will slowly begin to test your resolve. And when he sees that you will honor what you’ve now said, he’ll start to feel like a real man again (or for the first time.) Only then can you truly begin to transition to the life you desire.
- Next step. Read this post about transitioning to a one-paycheck home. And then the following 2 posts that go with it. I guarantee you will not agree with it at first, but there is a logic behind it. He has to see, feel, and believe that it’s possible to live on one income or on one full time and one part time income, and taking these simple steps will be the only way he can do that. You can’t tell him. He has to see it to really truly believe it. You have to make him feel a level of comfort that he will be able to keep up with Mr. Jones.
- Then, start sharing your ideas about ways you could be frugal without him feeling deprived. During the next few weeks, trickle in ideas about how your home and family life can improve and not be injured (don’t inundate him with big serious talks as soon as he walks through the door from work). Talk about how you can improve your own health, have time to take better care of yourself (and commit to doing so for real!) and slowly address each of his other concerns.
- Lastly, you will need to explain to him how your vision is not one of a father/daughter type of relationship. Paint a picture that he can see in his mind’s eye of a relationship of husband and wife who are bonded for life. He as leader. Her as helper. Her as equal contributor but on a new level. Show him how you want to use your brain and your skills to create a beautiful life that is a bit slower so that you can both enjoy more. If you have a grandmother that you adore, or he does, explain that you want to be regarded like that by your grandchildren some day–as a matriarch. Not as a distant memory of a woman they barely knew. Tell him how important that is to you–to be a great mother to his children and matriarch to your family.Plan to spend a year or so transitioning. The important thing is to get on the same page, create a plan that you can both agree on, and design a life that you can both feel good about.
Most importantly don’t lose faith. In fact, as you complete each step in the transition, remind yourself how you are building a solid foundation for the rest of your life. Good construction takes time and planning. It can’t be rushed. You have a blue print, now all you need to do is follow it. Good luck.
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