Stand by your man: Quit working

Posted by James, 16 Sep 08

People have different opinions about stay-home moms. I remember a couple of years ago; there was an essay in the New York Times by Terry Martin Hekker, a self-appointed spokesperson for stay-at-home moms. “I spoke to rapt audiences about the importance of being there for your children as they grew up, of the satisfactions of ‘making a home,’ preparing family meals and supporting your hard-working husband. So I was predictably stunned and devastated when, on our 40th wedding anniversary, my husband presented me with a divorce,” she recalled.

Hekker does not regret ever marrying her husband and bearing five children. What she regrets is giving her economic independence by staying home and sacrificing her ability to support herself adequately.

Some women on the other hand see their decision to give up paid work to support their husbands and take care of their families as a positive choice that reflects their values and should therefore be respected. Author of “Beside Every Successful Man” Megan Basham, argues that women who quit their jobs are in a better position of supporting their husbands’ careers, hence increasing their family income.

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The idea of a woman taking time off work to learn how to help her husband achieve his best in his career is somehow controversial. In the 21st century, choosing economic dependency as a lifestyle is seen as the age old feminine mistake of the century. And No matter the reasons, it’s quite risky to count on a man to take care of you over the long haul.

Most working women wish that they could cut back on working hours so they can spend more time with their families but then again in order to sustain their lifestyles, their families usually require two full-time incomes. They hate that they have to work, envying their stay-at-home counterparts.

Much as they really want to take a time-out from their careers, most women are not able to. Some like Hekker above, are scared of the risks of being economically dependent on their husbands. They are worried of what will happen when the husband isn’t there (death or divorce).

I prefer being in a relationship where a husband and wife share responsibilities, both domestic and economic. I don't think I would want my wife home so she can support my career. What if I get fired? I really don't get Basham's argument. I guess I will have to get me the book. I am not criticizing stay-at-home moms for placing the needs of their children ahead of other considerations, or Basham for encouraging women to stay home and support their husband’s careers. It’s just that it has cost women far too much over the last century.

Even with this, The Bureau of Labor Statistics have found that 1.2 million more mothers are staying home now than did ten years ago, and that millions more have downshifted to part-time work. To add to the stats most of them are affluent, well-educated women in their thirties.

Is staying at home an ideal way to help husbands’ careers or are stay-home moms risking everything?

12 responses to "Stand by your man: Quit working"

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  1.   fkoi says:
    Posted: 30 Jul 10

    The stay at home mom (or dad) is a hard reality to make happen. I feel for those kicked to the curb after long marriages without job skills or work history that translate to real jobs in the marketplace

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  2.   midnite says:
    Posted: 26 Jul 10

    I think this depends on the generation. I had a boss who's wife stayed home and raised the children when he married her. She, was a flight attendant. It was their choice. The younger generation of men might not go for it, but the older folks, expected the man to work and wife stay home and raiise the chilren.

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  3.   bigeyes31 says:
    Posted: 23 Feb 10

    I personally think it's okay to take a break from working only after much planning and discussion with your spouse. It's not a good idea to not gain some sort of skill, trade or degree in favor of stories of a fairytale lifestyle that's been fed to little girls from birth though. It's never smart to put all of your eggs in one basket. Preparing for the what if's in life are just as important, if not more important that picking out the wedding cake and dress....(sarcasm),those are apart of the "fantasy". The realities are divorce, separation,death and financial ruin,etc. I don't think men really like that suzy home-maker idea anymore. I think that most men would appreciate a woman contributing so he doesn't have to work so hard. Seeing you sitting on the couch everyday when he arrives from home will get very old, very quickly. I think a man will become resentlful of you. I personally, don't mind a man taking a break from work if he's going back to school, venturing out to start his own business or even if he is completely stressed out and needs a break, but it has to be well planned. Things like having saved money, a time-table,etc., are some of the plans that need to be discussed and thought out if it were my spouse.

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  4.   Smile4242 says:
    Posted: 31 Mar 09

    I know women who want to work, but their husbands "force" them to stay home by keeping them uneducated and pregnant and demoralized, and I have seen women who do not want to work, but have to because of economic reasons. Neither are happy. I do agree that many people have very stereotypical and narrow minded ideas about how relationships should be. On one side you have people who think that all women who stay home are either lazy or forced to do so by their husbands by abuse or pressure. It is true that some are, but not all. Some women actually want to be housewives, much to the surprise to some. And on the other side, you have people blasting the feminists for being selfish and neglecting their family and kids by being away from home all the time. The reality is that you can work and take good care of your kids. It is about quality time not quantity. There are also many benefits for a woman staying home, including the fact that men who have a housewife tend to make more money, and the children get more attention and are less likely to get into trouble... assuming the mother actually uses her time at home mothering (not all do). I say create the relationship that you want. There is someone out there for you.

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  5.   sassykae says:
    Posted: 25 Dec 08

    Decisions for a family unit have to be made by two people and all (including children) have to live with them. The right answer is whatever best suits the family unit. This is were communication comes into play and working together to attain the best choice should rein supreme. The question is can one person provide comfortably for the family? They all have to make adjustments were they need to be made so that they can live comfortably. In partnership that is the only way to survive happily.

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  6.   Enoch says:
    Posted: 05 Oct 08

    I have to say that a child with a full-time Mother or Father at home is more secure in most situations. However, In today's hustle and bustle world known as the Rat Race where it takes two working adults to pay the rent, lease, electric, water, phone, cable and other bills that might not be possible. Married couples in today's world must make hard choices regarding what is best for the children. The children must be the top priority in both of the parents lives period. So, if one parent has to quit work to care for the children, than so be it. However, the other spouse must acknowledge this fact and accept the role of the caregiver as important as the one working. A great piece of advice given by my Rabbi was to live under your means and buy only your needs to make life affordable. Enoch

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  7.   _dream_ says:
    Posted: 28 Sep 08

    i agree to a certain extent, it does have to be fair- but if one partner is happy to stay at home, and the other is happy to be the sole breadwinner, then where is the injustice? it's just a personal choice, that two people have to be compatible with each other and the situation in order to make. this is a debate that has gone on for decades, and will continue to go on, just because there is no one-size-fits-all answer. like every other factor of a relationship, the fit depends on the people involved. working in the school system you see both types- i see stay at home dads, career parents, single working parents, stay at home moms. i see kids who are all but raised by nannies, kids who have a parent available to volunteer at every function, and children whose parents work and are involved whenever they can be. no one form of parenting, in my opinion, gives those kids any advantage over the other- what it comes down to is the devotion each type of parent has to their child's education and upbringing. it is, again, about the individuals involved. for me, personally, my choice is total involvement until my children have achieved a level of independence where i am less needed. for another, it is different. there is no wrong, there is no right- there is just opinion, choice, and what all parents do at some point- crossing your fingers and praying you did your best.

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  8.   Flirty1 says:
    Posted: 25 Sep 08

    I'm not against being a stay at home parent. I just want things to be practical and fair to both sides. I know many men and women who are the sole bread winners in their family. From what many of them tell me (and what I can see), it's nice to have someone stay at home with the kids on one hand, on the other, they really could use the extra income. Personally, I don't think it is fair that one parent gets to work outside the home and not help out with the house duties or care of the children while the other parent stays at home with the kids, takes care of the house, cooks dinner every night, and then when everyone goes to bed, starts working on their part time job on the side. It doesn't make sense.

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  9.   serenity798 says:
    Posted: 25 Sep 08

    Two ways I look at this. If it's just my husband and I, I would rather work than stay at home. If we came came to the decision work is optional, I would still want to volunteer and spread out a little. Each resource touched can be shared. When children are added to this mix, I still would want to work but not live at my job to the point I rarely see my family. Both my parents worked but they came home after 5 and spent time with us. I didn't understand it then but it's made me a better person now with my ethics and attention I give towards others. Either case works, stay at home mom/dad can be successful. Working mom/dad can be even more successful.

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  10.   Trejalace says:
    Posted: 22 Sep 08

    I agree with _dream_on. The decision is based on what is best for the family. I tend to think from a more biblical base - where the wife stayed at home and the husband was the provider for the family. That is how it was intended. Situations are a little different nowadays - however I still believe in that setup. When I have my family - it is my goal to be able to stay at home with my kids, school them and teach them. I am very creative and I will make sure that my husband and I get our time as well as my kids. Having that structure is important for the whole family not just the kids. I also plan on having a at home job - income is income and the more of it - the more things that can be done without stress.

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  11.   _dream_ says:
    Posted: 22 Sep 08

    so, i'm a little june cleaver, but given a choice between working or being in the kitchen, i prefer b eing in the kitchen. i was raised by a working mother who was so stressed out she couldn't tell if she was coming or going. we had zero relationship- i wouldn't do that to my child. and working or not, any divorce has financial implications- going from two incomes to one is a huge adjustment. besides, being a stay at home mom doesn't mean you have to become financially dependent- plenty of stay at home moms get stay at home jobs. one of my girlfriends is married with three kids- she got certified and now runs a daycare in her home. i am getting my phd, and should i have a family, i intend to run my practice from a home office. in the end, you have to do what is best for you and your family, not what is popular opinion based on someone elses life. and financial independence is a choice, not a given, no matter which choice you make. but i'm still a housewife at heart. :)

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  12.   Flirty1 says:
    Posted: 20 Sep 08

    Being a stay at home mom/dad is great if the family can actually support it (emotionally, financially, etc.) but I think that both parents should work outside the home (or at least have careers/businesses that are separate from parenting). Parents need adult time. Kids need kid time. They all need to be around others that are not family members too. ;-)

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