When a Mother Leaves Work
By Melissa Hill
When a mother gives up work to stay at home, most couples have evaluated the decision on the basis of what might be best for the children. What isnít realised is that this dramatic change in lifestyle can also introduce new, unexpected strains on a marriage. Give-and-take becomes a more important element in a marriage when one partner, usually the woman, is at home full-time.
The first most troublesome change that many women today find when they leave work is that they are completely financially dependent upon their husbands. We live in a culture where women are celebrated for being certainly financially, if not emotionally, independent of men. This can make sudden financial dependence quite uncomfortable for modern women.
"I hate having to ask for money from my husband. I used to be able to go out and buy anything I wanted without asking because it was my money," one at-home mother confides. "Not any more."
If partners donít discuss this change in the relationship, women may start to harbour resentment against their husbands. They may start to wish they were working again, which in turn breeds discontentment with being at home. The best way to face up to this problem is for the couple to talk openly about how money will be handled. Dividing up financial management tasks can help, so that both partners are involved in budgeting decisions. There a number of good books on financial management which can help couples work through their needs and come up with a system that fits their unique personalities. One I particularly like is Suze Ormanís book, 9 Steps to Financial Freedom.
Wives need to understand that husbands can find being the sole earner in the family stressful. When I left work, my husband admitted that he had to take his position at work much more seriously. He felt he could no longer refuse demands to work late or on weekends as he found he now needed to feel that his job was secure now that the whole family was dependent upon his wage. For this reason, the mother at home may need to be patient when a husband starts to work late more often. It isnít that he doesnít want to see his family. He just may be driven by a very new fear of losing his job.