An Open Letter To Men Who Expect Their Wives To Be Stay-At-Home Moms
I was having drinks with friends recently when the topic of parenting and having babies came up. None of us are parents or pregnant yet. But my friend’s boyfriend joked that he won’t have to learn to change a diaper because he “Won’t be the one staying home.” Everyone stopped laughing when we saw the look on his girlfriend’s face: this was clearly news to her, and not happy news. The guy insisted he was just joking, but we all know there is a grain of truth in every joke, so I’m sure that couple had a lot to talk about on the drive home. Or maybe it was one of those angry silent drives. A lot of people do not, unfortunately, discuss who will go back to work and who will stay home with the kids before they bring a newborn home from the hospital. More unfortunate is how many men still just expect their partners to leave their careers to be mothers. When was that agreed upon? Here is an open letter to men who expect their wives to be stay-at-home moms.
You’ll become distant
If you expect your partner to not work, at all, and that you will continue to work full-time, just know that the two of you will become distant. She won’t understand anything about your world and you won’t understand anything about hers. You’ll vent about your day at work, and she’ll think you’re being a big baby about it because it was nothing compared to what she went through. You’ll feel the exact same way about her day. You should try to strike some balance where you can both work and take care of the kids so you understand one another’s worlds.
Your kids will love her more
If you are sure you want your wife to stay at home and for you to leave the house for work every day, just know that your kids will love her more. They’ll always ask for mommy when they’ve had a bad dream. They’ll throw tantrums on the rare occasion mommy leaves you in charge. They may not even run to hug you every time you walk in the door. If your kids are going to feel bonded to you, you just need to be around.
She may resent you later
One day, your children will grow up and nobody will need to stay at home. If your wife finds that, when that day comes, she doesn’t really have anything else to live for (you know because you made her quit her job 18 years ago) she may seriously resent you. She’ll feel that you set her up to feel empty nest syndrome the worst out of the two of you.
For your own financial stability, she should still work
What makes you so certain that your job is here to stay? Things change all the time. Even seemingly stable jobs go away. You should encourage your partner to at least stay partially active in her career, just so she can remain relevant in the industry should you lose your job, and she needs to work.
Did you mention this before?
You can’t just spring that on somebody. If it’s really important to you that you’re not the one who stays home from work, you owe it to your partner to tell her that before you have kids. Like, before she stops taking her birth control pill or you stop using condoms. If you bring it up after she is pregnant, she’ll feel that you tricked her.
Why is your job more important?
Why is your job more important? Why is your passion for your career more important? Why are you more valuable to your profession than your wife is to hers? If you can’t come up with some convincing reasons, then you shouldn’t expect her to be the one who stays at home.
Women fall in love with mannies all the time
Hey, I’m just saying: women feel attracted to the man who takes care of and loves her children. If it’s not you, it could be somebody else. It could be a friend she makes in jamboree class or the manny or the dog walker who sticks around to play with the kids, just because he likes them.
You better appreciate it
If your partner does stay home, you’d better appreciate what she does all day. You should be conscious, every day, of the fact that while the home may be messy, it would be so much messier if your partner hadn’t tidied up all day. That is the mess that came after the cleanup. You get to experience the most important thing in life—a family, a loving home, and a partner—because of her. Sure, you make money. But moneymakers are replaceable. Loving partners are not.
Didn’t you realize she had a career?
Did you somehow miss the tiny detail that your partner had a booming career before she became pregnant? Did you really expect her to just put that aside? If you do, she’ll feel like you really weren’t paying attention to what was going on in her life before she got pregnant.
Fine, but you’re the on-call babysitter
If your partner does agree to be the stay-at-home parent during the week, just know that you’ll have to be the on-call babysitter during the weekends. If your partner wants to go out with friends at night or go to lunch with friends during the day, you need to miss out on what you wanted to do and stay home. Hey: she misses out on what she wants to do all week so it’s the least you can do.
You won’t know how to do anything
If you can, find a way to work partially from home or bring your children to work. Otherwise, you’ll be totally clueless as to how to take care of your children. And there will be a time when you need to take care of them alone. Do you really want to find yourself unaware as to what snacks each one isn’t allergic to and how to change a diaper?
Say goodbye to your sex life
Your partner needs to see herself as more than a mom covered in sticky kids’ toys and diapers all day in order to feel sexy. But she won’t see herself as that if you insist she be the stay-at-home parent. That means she won’t want to have sex.
Fine, but she’ll have no energy for you
Just know that your partner will have no energy for you when you get home. She’s spent all day tending to the moods, needs, and tantrums of your kids. She won’t have a drop of energy left for your moods, needs or tantrums. Of course, if you share the child-rearing, you can save some energy for each other.
In which century do you live, by the way?
Get with the program. It’s not okay to just assume the woman will stay home. If you believe the woman’s place is at home, I’d warn you against boasting about it in public. You’ll get some dirty looks and lose some friends.
You should at least alternate
If you plan on having several children, you should alternate who stays at home each time. This will help you both understand one another’s struggles, and maintain a sense of personal identity for the next 18 to 30 years you plan on raising kids. (Keep in mind, if they’re several years apart, you could have some child under your care for 30 years).