Home > divorce, Marriage, relationships, Social Commentary > Is Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom Fair to your Husband?

Is Being a Stay-at-Home-Mom Fair to your Husband?

sacred-cowFurthermore, is it fair to your children? The following is a comment from a former stay at home mom who disagrees with points I raise in Why your Wife’s Excuses for Not Working are Lame and The Real Reason your Wife Doesn’t Want to Work. Is being a mom “the toughest job there is?” Or, is it spin for women who could return to work, but have chosen not to do so?

Sacred cows make the best hamburger. – Mark Twain

Dr. T,

I’m a woman who enjoys reading your blogs, but have to disagree with you on this point. In my case, I was working when I became pregnant and fully intended on returning to work after the baby came. I couldn’t understand why some women gave up such high paying jobs to stay home. However, when my daughter was born I changed completely. I soon realized that my time with her was fleeting and wanted to relish every minute of it. . .

. . . I began to dread returning to work. Not because I didn’t like my job. I loved my job. I’m a teacher. I had good childcare planned for when I returned to work. My mother-in-law was going watch her. I was just consumed with guilt at the time. I couldn’t imagine someone else telling me about her first word, her first step. When she was upset, I wanted her to run to me for comfort. I wanted to be the main influence in her life.

We weren’t well off and I knew  quitting my job would put us in a bind financially, but at the time I felt that if I failed at being a mother I would’ve failed at everything. You can’t imagine how much I enjoyed each day with my daughter. When she was two I had another daughter. It was very stressful and my husband didn’t always understand that stress. He assumed I was playing all day. We did go to the park, the pool, have picnics, but when you have two toddlers every moment is filled with stress. I was exhausted when my husband would return home.

My daughters are now 15 and 13. I went back to teaching full time when my youngest started kindergarten. . . I’ve never regretted the decision to stay home when they were young, and am very thankful that I was able to do so. . . I understand the point you’re trying to get across in your blog, however there are many women who choose to stay home even after their children are in school and it’s not because they’re avoiding work or because they just want someone to take care of them.

My husband did not understand my desire to stay home with our daughter. He expressed his legitimate concern over finances and, although he didn’t verbalize it, I got the feeling he thought I was just “taking it easy.” I knew it would hurt us financially, but felt that we could cut back in many areas, and that the benefits of staying home with our daughter would be worth any sacrifices we made. . . He is no longer my husband. We divorced the year before my youngest was in kindergarten, so that was the main reason I went back to work. . .

. . . After I returned to work I tried to help out in their classrooms as much as possible and, fortunately, have many wonderful stay-at-home friends whom I relied heavily on to help take care of my daughters. It was very difficult for me as I have no family in town and, as a teacher, it’s not easy to take days off to drive children to dentists, dr. appointments, etc. . .

. . . I can’t imagine anyone enjoying their job as much as I enjoy mine.  However, if I hadn’t divorced I’m not sure if I’d have returned to work. I felt very needed at home. . . (Let me also express the gratitude that even though my ex-husband did not fully understand the desire I had to stay home, he supported my decision.)

I do understand the point you’re trying to make, Dr. T, but please be careful lumping all stay at home moms in the same category. It presents a stereotype that many women do not fit. And let me also state before I sign off that I find you insights and advice valuable! Thank you!


Hi Mary,

Thank you for the thoughtful comment. It appears that you’ve truly found your calling in teaching and caring for young children, which makes the vocation of kindergarten teacher a perfect fit for you.

I’m not lumping all stay-at-home-moms (SAHM) in the same category. As a mother, wanting to stay at home and bond with your kids is one of the most natural things in the world and an absolutely legitimate choice IF it was mutually agreed upon by a woman and her partner BEFORE having children. Many families can’t afford to have a child on just one income and only feel able to start a family because they’re a two-income household.

Furthermore, I don’t believe it’s fair to the husband to say after you’ve already given birth, “Oh, I changed my mind. I’m not going back to work now.” I’m sure there are many men who would love to stay at home with their kids and nurture their bond as fathers, too, but don’t because they’re honoring their responsibilities. In fact, I’m sure a lot of the men who find themselves in this situation feel duped, betrayed and excluded from the full parental bond.

I respectfully disagree with you about a woman’s “need” to stay home after the child/children are enrolled in school. Yes, kids need rides to appointments and emergencies come up, but it doesn’t require a 24-hour on-call mom taxi service. Non-emergency medical appointments can be scheduled for Saturdays. Some doctors have very early weekday or later evening hours. Or, you take an hour or two from work with advance notice for regular check-ups.

Staying at home after the children are enrolled in school, is a choice, not a necessity. Many women struggle with feelings of guilt at the thought of returning to work. That’s normal and shows what a loving mother you are. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings, discuss them with your partner, and remember that feelings aren’t facts. Mothers who struggle with feelings of guilt and the “need to be needed” need to work through these feelings—especially if it’s damaging their marriage.

I know many men, personally and professionally, who feel mighty resentful and angry about their partner’s refusal to return to work. These men don’t think their wives/partners are “staying at home and taking it easy.” However, they do feel, and rightly so, that they’re having to shoulder the entire financial burden and then have to hear complaints that they don’t do enough around the house or spend enough time with the children.

I wonder how most women would react if the roles were reversed and their husbands unilaterally decided that they were quitting their jobs to stay home with the kids because it’s the most fulfilling choice for them and told their wives that they expected them to carry the entire financial burden? It would be heaven on earth if we only had to the things we find most fulfilling in life. Unfortunately, most people don’t have that luxury. So you compromise and do what you need to do to survive and pay the bills for part of the time and do what’s most fulfilling to you the other part of the time. Being a mother doesn’t exempt you from this reality.

Being a mom is the toughest job there is” is a popular and sacred cow statement that’s almost reached dogmatic proportions. At the risk of unleashing the hounds of hell, I disagree. What about being a dad? You never hear anyone say, “being a dad the toughest job there is.” In some ways, I think it’s more difficult to be a father in our society.

Fathers don’t get to spend much time with their kids because they’re the ones who are often the main breadwinners while the wives get the glory for spending the money on the kids and physically buying them clothes, toys, etc. Moms get to be seen as the “givers” and “nurturers,” when it’s the dads who are providing them with the funds that enable them to do so.

When some marriages end in divorce, most dads don’t get full custody and get to spend even less time with their kids. And, in many situations, because their exes are angry with them about the demise of the relationship, moms trash the dads to their kids, which further strains the father-child relationship.

On talk shows and “news” programs, there’s a lot of focus on “the importance of being a father.” However, what society really means when they talk about “the importance of being a father” is paying child support on time and not being a deadbeat dad. Thanks for the sperm and the support checks. Now go away. It’s rare that media sources talk about the importance of a father in a child’s life. All in all, I think a lot of fathers get the short end of the stick.

Furthermore, being a parent isn’t a job; it’s a relationship. You put work and effort into relationships whether their platonic, familial, parental, romantic or collegial, but they’re not jobs. That’s spin for women who have made the choice not to return to work. You get to quit a job, change a job, get paid for a job, be promoted on a job and punch out at the end of a day.

I’ve always found women who view being a mother as a “job” to be defensive and over-identified with the role to the exclusion and detriment of everything else, including their grown-up relationships. Anyway, this is just my perspective. I don’t expect everyone to agree with it. In fact, I imagine some people will want to clobber me for it.

For the record, my mom worked part-time after I was born and returned to work full-time when I was in pre-school. I don’t remember feeling resentful or angry about this. Like you, we also didn’t have family locally to help. She relied on a network of friends, school programs, and neighbors for transportation, sitting, etc. Ideally, that’s how a community is supposed to work. It also teaches your children the importance of relationships and support networks instead of fostering the expectation that people should be at their beck and call and drop everything to cater to their needs.

I respect my mother and admire her for her choices. She was a great role model who has independently and successfully run her own business for the last 30 years. My point is, my mother behaved as if working was normal and nothing to be upset about and, as a child, I adopted her attitude. If kids sense that you feel bad or guilty about something, they’ll pick up on it and amplify those feelings back to you.

Thank you again for your comments, Mary. I enjoy the discourse, especially when it’s of differing viewpoints!

Kind Regards,

Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to shrink4men@gmail.com.

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  1. albertagreekgirl
    April 20, 2019 at 4:52 am

    Wow! I typed in my email address mistakenly into google, and it brought me to this post. I wrote a reply in this thread aprox 10 years ago. (8:38pm, June 2, 2009). I figured I’d write a quick update now that all my kids are grown and I am now almost 53. The 4 year old I mentioned in my previous comment, is now almost 20 and living with Dad in the original city (Dad moved back) and going to college. The kids ages are 20-30 and all on their own.

    I agree it’s something that needs to be discussed and agreed upon before marrying (or even living together). I have one son who is planning to get married and he is a well paid tradesperson, and GF is a waitress. Nothing against waitresses, but I can see this playing out where he will be working long hours, and she will become the SHAM.

    I still stand behind all of my comments from 10 years ago.

    It’s funny how things change though.

    I am now the breadwinner full time, in my 2nd marriage. He was a great step dad to my kids I might add. We have been together for 15 years now, and married for 11. We have 7 sons jointly – 5 from me, and 2 from him. Hubby is disabled with a serious intestinal disease so he can’t work anything like full time hours. I quit house painting after 10 years (was killing my asthma) and I got into office work. Technical Writing and Document Control. I have been doing that now for around 7 years and I don’t mind at all being the sole breadwinner, but I have to say that if someone else was pissing away my hard earned money on stupid crap, I would be LIVID. Ideally both parties should contribute to the household income. I really do enjoy making money and being able to support my household and my husband. He supports me in many other ways besides $$ all of which are highly appreciated by me.

    The most ideal situation is where both parents can be home with their kids when they’re younger, and a few smart people in the ‘FIRE’ (Financially Independence Retire Early) are doing just that and retiring from high paying jobs in their 30s and 40s. It’s a fascinating movement, and the best way to raise kids IMO. Kids really need both parents equally. I know this isn’t realistic for most people, but on the other hand people do waste a lot of money on stupid crap.

    We are empty nesters now and planning our working retirement in a few months on an olive farm in southern Europe. Kids are all grown up, 3/7 are in serious relationships, with one being married. No grandkids.

    Still love your writing Dr. Tara. Thanks for all you do.

  2. koda22
    April 13, 2016 at 7:02 am

    Here’s how I look at it. I don’t have kids yet, but I’ve been working with them for over 10 years. If one parent (either the mother or father) is making a killer salary on a 40 hour work week, enough to pay every single bill and buy enough food and other necessities, then there’s nothing wrong with the other parent being a stay-at-home. Me and my last girlfriend actually broke up in part because of different views on this. I made it clear to her that when our children were little (before entering kindergarten) my work week would be capped at 40 hours, no more, no less. What I bring home is what I bring home, the rest is up to her.
    Of course there were some, including her, who made that out to be a selfish mentality. I’m sorry, but selfishness, in my opinion, would be a guy refusing to work and insisting on staying home with the kids, and basically giving the mother no choice but to work crazy hours to make ends meet.
    Anyway, I think my time with kids is equally as valuable as their mother’s is, and if I’m working a full time job, and it’s not enough money, I think it’s perfectly in line for me to expect my partner to pick up the financial slack during the hours I’m with the kids. Now, if both of our hours reached 40 for the week, and it still wasn’t enough money, then I would consider working more hours; and once all the kids are in school and we need to save money to send them to college then things will change; but when my kids are toddlers, my work hours will not exceed 40 for the week, my kids need my interaction too.

    • TerryThePirate
      April 25, 2019 at 11:24 am

      This is an OUTSTANDING comment. You sound like a great dad. Please speak out on more platforms more often—especially on men’s blogs!

  3. TP
    December 2, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    This was very helpful information. I agreed to support my Wife in caring for her 5 children and grand-daughter (I am a step-parent). I have run the home on my income for many years now and it was agreed that my Wife would return to work once her eldest daughter had qualified and become independent. That moment has since long gone and I am left every month, almost penniless, and unable to even afford new clothing, let alone holidays. Meanwhile, I watch her and her children enjoy a comfortable life with all the things they want in a giant house that I have to pay a giant mortgage for. Everyone else gets what they want and I now feel very resentful that I am left juggling large bills and cutting back my own aspirations to the bone, whilst everyone else enjoys their lives. It is becoming too much for me now, as I cannot get my Wife to understand that she needs to share the financial burdens with me, in return for all of us sharing household chores. Instead, she makes me feel guilty all the time for not loving her enough to accept things the way they are. By far the worst moments for me are in the Summer, when she stays in bed and gets up later in the day to go off to the beach to enjoy the fine weather. I often return home to be nagged for not having done a chore, when I am exhausted from a long day a very complex work in a very challenging career. I feel that I am unseen, because I make life too comfortable for everyone and as each years passes, I get older and older, not able to enjoy myself on holidays, buying nice things etc. I feel caged, as if my only purpose is to pays bills and I don’t ever receive any compassion for my difficult moments, let alone much intimacy. I am also told that I am a typical man when I want some quiet time for myself. I can never fulfill their needs, they just keep increasing all the time. I am worn out and close to collapse. This is why many marriages fail … a partner does not appreciate the efforts and sacrifices being made for them.

    • shrink4men
      December 2, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      Hopefully you didn’t adopt any of her children. Where is/are their father(s) and the father of the grandchild and why are they not paying support?

      Talk to an attorney. Find out if you can either legally remove her and her children from your home, or how to sell the home and divorce without getting stuck with alimony. You owe this woman and her children nothing. They are using you and you are letting them. Why should she return to work? What are the consequences for not contributing financially? She has none. She’s still married and you’re still supporting her and her brood. She will not change. If you divorce her, unless she gets some kind of ridiculous settlement/alimony package, she will most likely be onto the next meal ticket or apply for state monies in short order.

      Quit sacrificing for her and start taking care of yourself. You made a mistake in marrying this woman, so talk to an attorney and explore your options.

      • TP
        December 2, 2015 at 6:22 pm

        Thank you for the supportive advice, which incidentally matches advice given by other trusted family members and friends. You are right, I need to focus on my own needs before life passes me by. I have a great career, so independence would be incredibly liberating. I need to stop succumbing to my compassion for the children and allow logic to drive me out of this very destructive ditch in my life. It will be hard, but if I suffer another meltdown, I may cause even more damage to my own being, which surely isn’t a cross that I should bear for someone so selfish.

    • Willie
      June 20, 2016 at 10:14 pm

      Just wait until the divorce. It’ll all be your fault and you will still pay for everything. Women have it made bud!!!

  4. tim
    July 16, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Sometimes I find women’s complete lack of self awareness amazing. She made the decision to stay at home for 6 years to raise kids on her own. It was clear the husband had no say in it. She knew it would put them under financial pressure = translation it put him under financial pressure, she was under no pressure as she had decided to stay at home. And then after she gets the fulfillment she wanted in being a stay at home mom for 6 years they get divorced?

    He gives up precious time with his children, he probably had to work OT and takes on full financial burden so she can live the life she wants and then BAM! divorce.

    Is it any wonder men are avoiding marriage.

  5. Jeff
    July 25, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    The “mutually agreed upon ahead of time” point is so critical. When my wife and I met in college, she was studying to be a teacher, and never indicated in our courtship that she didn’t intend to go back to teaching when the kids were in school. I guess in hindsight I should’ve made sure we discussed and agreed upon what her timeline would likely be so I could’ve planned better and chosen a more lucrative line of work! We now have 10th and 6th graders and she’s still not even begun to seriously look at getting back to work, or has she even completed the steps to renew her teacher certification. It’s very frustrating and depressing. We have money for the basics, but not many extras including vacations, and certainly are underprepared for looming college expenses. I’m going to be sure to tell my children when they are preparing for marriage to be sure to fully talk out this subject with their fiancée so there’s an understanding ahead of time.

  6. blue heeler
    May 24, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Dr. T,

    You blog response to the email hits home. While we decided jointly my wife would stay home, my wife began to wear it as a badge authorizing herself to make me feel small. Comments like…this is the most important job in the world, a man could never do this job, my job is 24×7, yours isn’t. Meanwhile I worked hard to support the family and then came home and did all I could to spend time with the family (which was never enough). To be more available, I changed my work schedule to work from home 2 days a week. But was told that I’m in the way at home, sometimes couples can see to much of each other and..was told that our home was her office and I need to respect that. On top of that, if I had a bad day, her’s was always worse. If I was sick, she was always sicker. She seemed to resent my “easy” job as a father, but take all the accolades of praise she could get as a SAHM and tell her closest friends that she’ll never go to work again. I felt so small in our relationship, that I found it difficult to feed her ego with kind word such as “You are a great mom”, “I could never do what you do”, etc as I felt this would empower her to make me feel even smaller. She filed for divorce with the same attitude, accusing me of abuse and abandonment and was still telling others she’d never go to work again. Well reality caught up with her when I was awarded 50% custody when she was seeking 100%. She’s now claiming she needs 5 years of schooling before she can work again and requesting 50% of my income over those 5 years…this is just her next stall tactic at taking responsibility for herself….I sure hope the courts don’t agree with her.

  7. jham123
    April 27, 2010 at 5:43 am

    ^I’m taking this over to the forums

  8. jham123
    April 19, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Here we are, 8 months after our near break up…..and we are at that point yet again.

    She did get a job…and it pays well when there is work…but work is very sporadic. Despite knowing this fact, she still refuses to look for additional work.

    So now we are at the point of break-up again. She stating that I need to give her over 50% of my income so she can maintain a stable home for the kids. I’m to go find a place of my own while she stays in the home I’ve always paid for.

    The most sad thing happened. She started making money with her part time job. I though things would get easier as some of the burden was off of me. But in her mind, the extra income was hers to spend as she chose……She got really pissed when I told her that she should have to pay for all the Credit Card bills she racked up.

    She didn’t allow me any access to her account nor would she even tell me how much she made…I had to pry it out……One pay period was $1800!!! And she brings me a list of CCs that need $100-150 minimum payments made…..of course from my account.

    When She kicked me out in August, On Monday am I went to the bank and made sure that I was the only one that had access to my account as we were on our way to divorce. I never changed that status, and from that…she realized that if she wanted a Dime…she would have to ask me for it. There was the change in heart, she got her part time job. With that, she opened her own bank account.

    But all the money in her account was for her to spend on whatever…..I was to still pay all the bills no matter how much she had stashed away. Amazing when you think about it. She feels that it is justified for her to “Stash” money away and that she has a right to do. I had to ask her for Gas money one day to go see clients……She said only if you pay me back……She claims she never said it but I heard her say it and I went to the bank after I got my expense check….withdrew $40 in cash and paid her back. She took the money…and only denied saying I had to pay her back when I told a marriage counselor what had occurred. Once I said it…She cried foul and denied every saying it.

    Just two weeks ago I had to go to Vegas for business and stay for 3 days. Before I left, she asked me for “grocery money” when I knew that she had $$$$ in her account. I didn’t give it to her stating that I was going on a road trip and needed what little I had.

    When I returned, she stated that she had to spend $75 in groceries and that I was to pay her back for it or pay her CC bill instead.

    We were paying things together for a while with her new money….but once I saw her starting to Sandbag and not pay anything….including Groceries, I started playing the same game as well. She brings me a list of CC bills for a grand total of $1000 and since she wasn’t even buying groceries, I told her I refused to pay them…..I’d pay the other $5000 in expenses for the house but those personal CC bills and the loan for her new Boobs had to be paid from her bank account.

    She told me Yesterday that because I refused to pay her bills that “I” was an un-loving husband. The fact that I paid for everything else and have been for 18 years seemed to not enter her mind for that moment. I had to laugh and remind her that the only reason she has a “stash” of money is because I pay for everything else from the ground up.

    I think it is amazing that she has the audacity to claim that it is one pool when it comes to my income and me paying everything is what is “expected” and at the same time thinking that it is fair that she gets to hoard her income for whatever she wants.

    She claims that “if” she starts working…..She can’t be expected to do all the housework. I’ve got news, when she does get work (lay-out and design) it takes 50-60 hours of work all crammed into 3-4 days…….She is not there at all for those periods and I am doing everything….cooking, cleaning, picking up kids….bathing said kids……coaching kids at soccer….

    So……She works part time…then she volunteers for a film festival (takes a lot of time during the evenings) Joins film crews for movie shorts etc (Indy film type things) and those can take all weekend….and I mean all weekend…where they leave in the morning and come back after 11:00pm

    She was gone for two weeks straight for nights and all weekend……..I took care of everything during those weeks for her.

    She has the audacity to claim that she can’t do all the laundry if she starts work…….well guess what?? She ain’t doing all the laundry now!!! Our house is a pit!!!

    So yeah, I’m about to head out of the door, damn the kids and all the “stuff” anymore.

    Oh wait…..off the subject here but here is her list of things she would change about me…..
    1) Freedom to pursue her film making career. (I can’t ask or be told where she is)
    2) Freedom to have her own opinion without being questioned all the time
    3) She needs to feel “taken care of” without strings attached……An Agape Love from me.
    4) I need to take a backseat to her, let her Fly for once
    5) No manipulative talking or using guilt to make her feel things…..

    Lovely….Lovely woman

  9. jham123
    October 12, 2009 at 4:38 am

    So, my youngest started 1st grade last Sept. Last Monday she finally got a job. She has not had a full time job since I’ve known her (1991).

    But let me clarify, after our near break-up in July, She realized that even though I would give her a big chunk of change each month, She still would not be able to make ends meet.

    So, She realized who had power in this situation and that one thing scared the hell out of her…she had to eat crow to get me to not leave for good and that is un-acceptable in her mind. That fact gave me too much power.

    And yes, after we agreed to have only two…she kept getting pregnant. We have a nice spread of child birth from ’92 through 2002……a nice 15-16 years where we had “little ones” to look after.

    But wait, when they were ~3, they would go to Pre-School almost full time. Why couldn’t she work then??? Answer?? She just couldn’t and stop questioning her about OK?

    As Always Tara, Thank you for answering “Why”. My mind is at peace since finding this blog.

  10. Michael Jones
    June 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Good point JP. I’ll keep that in mind :-)

  11. Michael Jones
    June 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    This may not be the right place to put this comment but I’ve had a hard time locating one so I’ll just get on with it :-)

    I suspect that my partner of 12 years has BPD (I only recently came to this conclusion / suspicion after long believing she had NPD – until I followed that Wikipedia link at the bottom of the page.

    Anyway… for me it was a whole different story when she decided to “stay at home”. I still had 45 hour weeks to do but would then return home to some drama or another, a screaming baby or two (we have two boys under 2) and then do the night feeds. All of them. That’s not a typo! ;-) She would basically just lie there and refuse to get up or pretend she was sleeping etc. At a generous estimate (in her favour) I’d say she has done a total of 15 night feeds between both the boys in the last two years. On top of that, I would say she’s probably done the ‘night check’ on the kids when one or the other was crying from sickness or whatever about ten times. Maybe ten. On top of this I was then subjected to constant barrages of abuse both at work (usually via phone and email) – sometimes she’d even wake me up from a much needed nap (she’d be kind enough to let me sleep for about five minutes – just enough to get comfortable) by literally throwing a pillow at me or just launching into a rant and I’d wake up mid way through it.

    I thought once the kids were old enough things would get better but they haven’t. She’s more than happy to call me a f*cking loser in front of the boys (my eldest can say it quite clearly, along with other verbal delights picked up from their mother). I’ve also noticed a very defiant attitude developing in my son and think it might be to do with what he witnesses between his mother and I.

    What’s really sad is that I can watch news reports now of guy’s who have killed their wives and dumped them in rubbish tips without immediately thinking “what a monster”. Now I’m more likely to think “I wonder if she had it coming?” I don’t condone it. But I understand them, and I hate her for it.

    //and that’s the end of my little rambling post, thanks ;-)

    • jp
      June 10, 2009 at 7:18 pm


      My two kids are 17 months apart and were light-sleeping babies. NOBODY who hasn’t been there can understand what it’s like to go a couple years unable to sleep more than a couple hours at a stretch. If a woman has wingnut tendancies there’s nothing like that strain to put her over the edge. My heart goes out to you.

      I won’t advise on the larger issue, but man, don’t put observations like your last paragraph into print. Despite your qualifier (“I don’t condone it”), her divorce lawyer could have a field day with that comment in a custody battle. Save it for your best friend–assuming he’s someone who’d lie for you under oath should he be subpeoned–or a therapist (with whom communication is legally privileged) and NEVER in writing.


    • shrink4men
      June 12, 2009 at 4:34 am

      Hi Michael,

      How awful for you. She sounds like a nightmare. Calling you a f*cking loser is abusive in and of itself; doing it in front of your children is inexcusable.

      Unfortunately, most women like your wife don’t get better, they get worse over time. And when your children become teenagers and do what comes naturally—challenge parental authority—she won’t spare them her bilious attacks. What are you going to do? Are you making plans to get yourself and your children out of this situation that won’t land you on the local news report?

      Also, good point JP. Although, I can understand your reaction, Michael.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  12. Mary
    June 3, 2009 at 3:49 am

    I really do love reading your blog. I hope you understand that I was kidding when I posted the last comment. I respect your views totally!


    • shrink4men
      June 3, 2009 at 4:22 pm

      No worries, Mary. Thanks for continuing to read and post.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  13. Mary
    June 3, 2009 at 3:42 am

    Hey Dr. T,

    I hope you are not insinuating that because I don’t fully agree with this topic that I am not responding with an open mind. I think each family needs to evaluate their own resources in order to decide what decision they need to make. Again, I think there are some things in life that you can not make a valid decision about until you are faced with it, and although I thought I would go back to work, after my daughter was born I changed my mind. I had no idea before she was born how difficult it would be to leave her each day. It was necessary for us to make some pretty severe sacrifices in order for us to afford this, although at the time they did not seem like severe sacrifices. I was more than happy to give up several comforts for this opportunity. I know that not every parent can make this decision, and if the parent resents staying at home, then he/she has made the wrong decision. I read the above post and agree that she make some good points. I fully agree that both partners should share the load of parenting. And it may surprise you to know that if I had been the bread winner at that time of my life, I would not at all have minded going to work myself. Being a parent is something that has been very rewarding to me, and being a professional woman has been very rewarding also. I just feel that staying at home, or returning to work should be a personal decision. Believe me, I received a lot of flack from both my family and my co-workers when I decided to stay at home. And again, I had many co-workers who fully supported me. Several came to me and told me that they had also stayed home until their children were older. For example, when I taught before my first daughter was born I had a mother approach me offering to volunteer in my classroom with whatever needs I had. Her youngest son was in 7th grade and in my gifted class. This woman told me that she had a degree both in Special Education and Elementary Education. She became a valuable resource to me at that time in my classroom, and later as a mentor when my own daughters were born. She is still a dear friend, and I am not exaggerating when I say that she is still one of the busiest women I know. (Her three children are all grown now with kids of their own.)

    I do understand that some women just don’t want to work, and use children as an excuse. But please understand that there are also women who work as a way as staying away from the responsibilities of home. (I always felt my mother was one of these women. She had three children, but did not seem interested in being around much when we were growing up.) Many men do this also.

    Again, I enjoy reading everything you write. It makes me think. I may not always agree with everything you say, but you seem like a intelligent, witty, caring person. The world needs more of you. Even when you are wrong!


  14. albertagreekgirl
    June 2, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Wow, what a great topic! I am 42 yr old mother of 5 sons ranging in age from 10 to 20. Before I became engaged to the father of my children, it was agreed upon by both that he would be the ‘head’ (full time breadwinner) and I would be the SAHM. I married at age 21 (wayyy too young) and had 4 kids under the age of 4 by age 26. (yes, twins). At the same time there was a severe recession in my area, and economic conditions were very depressed. I learned very quickly to make everything from scratch, sew clothes for the boys, and how to be extremely frugal. After a few years like this it became well known that in a city 15 hours drive away from us, there was much better opportunities to find work (house framing) but hubby refused to move. That’s when I became resentful. We couldn’t afford daycare for 4 kids, so one of us had to stay home. The only work I was qualified to do was restaurant work, which was very hard to find at that time, and very low paying. We stayed in this condition for 9 years, and living like this in poverty definitely contributed to the breakdown of our relationship. Hubby finally agreed to move to that city, and made more money in a month than we had in the previous year.

    We moved to that new city and 4 months after we moved there, while he was on the wait list for a vasectomy, and we were using 3 simultaneous methods of BC, I became preg again. I wanted to give it up to a good home, as I was DONE having kids. Mentally, emotionally and financially we couldn’t afford another. Hubby wouldn’t agree, so we kept him. Of course I adore him now and he’s the apple of everyone’s eye.

    The marriage ended a few years after he was born, so 16 years total. Not because of the new addition, but the long years of living in poverty had eroded my respect for this man who promised to support us. (his reasons for not moving to that other city were that he didn’t want to leave his friends and family behind. I said ‘friends and family don’t pay the bills’)

    When my youngest was 4 I went back to work part time, painting houses. Working full time made me realize what I had been missing by staying home and living in the grinding numbness of poverty for all those years. I suppose I just wasn’t willing to stay with someone who promised one thing but when the going got tough, just gave up. And wasn’t willing to move out of his comfort zone to support his family. He wasn’t the man I thought I married.

    I’ve been divorced from him for 6 years now and can reflect.

    I DEEPLY REGRET AGREEING TO BE THE SHAM AND NOT GETTING A COLLEGE EDUCATION. Of all the things I’ve done in my life that is the biggest regret. Every woman should aspire to educate herself and be able to find employment in order to be able to support the family in hard times. Unless you are a farm wife (which I would have loved) Now I’m almost 43 and with no post secondary education, it’s challenging to find a well paying job to support the 2 kids still under my care. ex hubby pays $700 in child support monthly, but I need to work to make up the balance. I am all for working, but it sure is hard with out proper education. I have my own housepainting business, and it makes decent money without me having to work 40 hours a week, but as I get older I don’t want to keep doing this kind of dirty hard work.

    My 20 year old son lives with me (pays room and board) and we have some great convos about what kind of woman he should look for when he’s ready to settle down (hopefully at least 10 years away) He’s an adventurer and taking his plumbing apprenticeship at the moment. I hope all of my sons find women who have some post secondary, and can find and keep a decent job. Parenting is a job for 2 parents, and should be shared equally. Both parents should be helping out with driving kids to lessons etc.

    I wouldn’t have been able to put my babies in daycare (I’m not sentimental) …I’ve seen too much of what happens in daycares, but once they’re in grade one, MOST women should be heading back to work, even 3 or 4 days a week. WORKING FULL TIME IS 10x EASIER THAN STAYING HOME WITH LITTLE KIDS. I’ve done both and I speak from experience. Staying home full time was mind numbing…and I was a big supporter of SAHM’s. I would have loved to have been the sole breadwinner in the family if my education had afforded me that opportunity.

    That being said, if both parents are working full time, then BOTH parents should be shouldering the household chores, and we all know this doesn’t happen in reality. At least not very often.

    Women, grow up, get educated, learn to be independent and be able to support yourself, you never know when you might need to support yourself financially. It’s part of healthy self esteem to find gainful employment. Men, if your wife refuses to go back to work, realize you will have a millstone around your neck for many years to come…better to divorce sooner, when the kids are younger, and you can still be there to influence their lives. Get divorced before you have amassed a huge asset that you will have to give her half of.. Make her sign a prenup where she agrees to go back to work at a specific time.

    There are lazy narcissistic people of both genders.

    • shrink4men
      June 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm

      What an amazing story. I think it’s inspiring that you went to work as a house painter when you were able.

      You make some very good points and we have similar opinions re: division of labor and responsibility. You’re especially right about ending the marriage sooner than later if you’re a man in this situation for exactly the reasons you mention. It’s refreshing to see women respond to this topic with an open mind, objectivity, honesty and a sense of fairness.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  15. June 2, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    I believe Dr. T has really hit upon some interesting points: 1. Can the family afford one partner to stay home and 2. Was it agreed upon before the marriage or before the children to stay at home.

    My viewpoint may be a bit different, but I am what you call an old-fashioned person. I believe whole-heartedly that if the man wants to be the head of the household, then he needs to bring in the money and keep the job. If the woman wants to have children and be the stay at home mother, then she must work all day on this (with no bon-bons and no television).

    I believe society has pitted man and woman against one another. It is okay to stay at home, as Dr T mentions here, as long as this is the agreement ahead of time. It is okay to work and have the children under care, as long as this is the agreement ahead of time. The biggest issue here is communication with your boyfriend / fiance – before the marriage is persued.

    At times I believe women get confused as to what is expected of them, whereas men have expectations laid out for them in society. The man must work. There is no question of this, and his peers will let him know this just as much as his parents and his future wife. There is no doubt this is where our society is. If a man is born a nurturing person and wants to stay at home to raise his children, many times he will be chastised for his decision. Although unfair, this is how society believes it should be.

    On the other hand, a woman gets mixed signals from everywhere. She wants to be the awesome mother, she wants to be the awesome executive. She is cheered on for making money, but receives snears for not raising her children (and vice versa). A woman can’t have both worlds most of the time (on rare occassion you can, but it takes 100% effort, sweat and tears). So a woman must choose her path. If she chooses to stay at home, people will note that she isn’t making money and if she chooses to work outside the home, people will note that she isn’t raising her own children full time.

    The point I am making here is: choose your path before marriage and make your path known with your words (not your actions and emotions – men don’t want to have to “read” this kind of thing). Outline it plain and simple and in a nice way, this is what you want, whether it is work outside the home or work in the home, make sure your future husband knows exactly which path you will be choosing in your life.

    As for your decision, make it on your own (without outside influence), make it before marriage, communicate it, be happy with it and don’t let anyone tell you that either direction is incorrect, because it isn’t anyone’s business but your children and husband.

    • shrink4men
      June 2, 2009 at 7:52 pm

      Well said.

  16. Laura
    June 2, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Hi Dr T,

    So, essentially those with Boarderline or Narcissistic would “call the shots” as to whether or not they stay home or work and for how long and short of a time period?

    I’m guessing they would also change their minds and the rules to things at less than a moments notice, dependent upon their current mood and state of mind?

    I’m also wondering how happy the children would appear to others if the B or N mother was staying at home with them? I wonder how the male child and female child copes, reacts, and learns from their mother’s behavior?

    The father would likely be overworked from the financial strain and then raked over the coals about whatever drama is unfolding at home while and after work. Then he likely tries to have some sort of hobby to vent his frustrations…Operative word: tries.

    It just doesn’t sound good at all.

    I’ve read that in time, those with Borderline can actually even out a bit and become more reasonable. Is this true and for approximately what percentage is that likely?

  17. maureensk
    June 2, 2009 at 6:24 am

    In my marriage, and that of many other couples I know, it was agreed upon beforehand that one parent would stay home full-time with the children. Then the couple evaluated everything to decide which parent should stay home. When I first became a stay-at-home mom, it was all moms, but these days, more and more men are becoming stay-at-home dads. Other couples juggle part time work so that each partner stays home some and works some. We actually homeschool, so I have been a SAHM for 17 years now. As I had just graduated from college when my son was born, I did not have a career to leave and thereby did not suddenly become boring. Also, stay-at-home moms can still be interesting pursuing passions of their own, some which end up becoming money-making ventures. I personally run a blog, which I started as a hobby, but is beginning to make money. Ironically, my blog is for and about SAHM’s.

    • shrink4men
      June 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm

      Hi Maureen,

      If you and your husband and the other couples you mention agreed beforehand that the wife or husband would stay at home with the child(ren), then this blog doesn’t apply to you or them. It’s interesting how even women who don’t fit the profiles of what I’m describing in this blog about specific kinds of SAHMs all react a little (or a lot) defensively to what I’ve written.

      I’m a psychologist and I don’t become defensive when I read about another psychologist being sued for malpractice for sleeping with a patient. That’s something I’ve never done, so I don’t take it as a personal affront to all psychologists everywhere when articles/blogs point out the problems with that particular psychologist’s behavior. Nor would I feel the need to defend the other psychologist on behalf of all psychologists everywhere. Something to think about.

      Thanks for reading and posting.

      Dr T

  1. November 17, 2010 at 2:51 pm

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