My husband and I have been married for 12 years. He has always worked, and I’ve always been a dedicated homemaker. I consider this my “job.”
Recently my husband was laid off, and he accepted another position that pays significantly less. Now that my sons are in middle school, my husband wants me to consider working part time, because I “have so much free time during the day.”
I find this extremely disrespectful. I feel like he thinks I just lounge around all day.
How can we compromise on this issue, and how can I show him the importance of everything that I do? -- Already Employed Wife
DEAR WIFE: One way to compromise would be for you to get a part-time job to help support your family.
Excuse me. Exactly how much money do you think this woman is going to make at a part-time job? Nothing in her letter indicates they are not putting food on the table or a roof over their heads. What Amy should have recommended is that the husband and wife sit down and discuss the benefits and burdens of her taking on employment outside the home. How does the husband see this extra income being used?
Things to consider:
There are costs associated with working. The increased spending power of a second income is grossly overestimated. Families with two working parents eat out more. They buy more convenience foods which are more expensive. A woman's wardrobe for work is more expensive. If both parents are working you tend to pay for household services like housekeepers, dry cleaners, laundry, and yard work because you are both too tired to take care of them.
Will the wife's job compromise her job as a mother if she works outside the home? The prime time for teens and tweens to get into trouble is when they are unsupervised after school. They are too old for daycare and babysitters often don't exert much control over their behavior. The first hour after children get home from school is golden. That is when you can look at their faces and see how their day went. The look in their eyes tells you if there is something bothering them. Shuttling them around to after school activities is a window into their world that you lose if you are paying someone else to drive them.
With increased costs and possibly increased taxes, will the extra income be worth the burdens? The couple should discuss ways to cut expenses that might be equivalent to what the wife would make in a part-time job. Perhaps, the husband is just feeling envious that his wife gets to keep doing the job she loves--being a stay-at-home-mom --and he has to take a downgraded less satisfying position. This may be more about his professional unhappiness than about the family's need for more income.
Rather than belittling the work of being a wife and mother and telling this woman to go get a job, Amy should have recommended the couple sit down and find out what each thought the family would gain and what it would lose if the wife got a job.
It really makes one wonder what kind of family life these advice columnists have when they think staying at home with kids is insignificant and living with children is a good argument for abortion.