You have the talk with your partner, and the two of you decide it's in the best interest for you to stay home and raise the kids, whether it's for a few months, a few years, or life. Everything seems settled and agreed upon . . . until it's not. Little comments and questions pop up out of nowhere from your partner regarding your "at-home" status, and so you start to feel defensive. Isn't being a mother valuable, and furthermore, isn't this what you two decided upon? Here are a few signs that your partner isn't too happy about your stay-at home position and how to handle it.
I Pay the Bills
Does your partner like to remind you how he pays the bills . . . and you don't? When it comes to discussions regarding money, do your opinions go unheard, invalidated, or ignored? If any of these things are happening, it may be that your partner resents being the sole provider. Even if you all agreed to this, it's quite possible that this situation is not working out for him either because the money is too tight or he feels too much stress being the only income for the home.
The Great Competition
If you say you're tired, does your partner respond with "Why?" or "Imagine how I feel"? Do you frequently feel as if it's a battle of "who has it the hardest" — the working partner or at-home partner? Are you trying to defend yourself by sharing the things you do day in and day out that qualify as "work" in order to converse with your spouse, who feels his daily agenda is harder than yours? Your partner may be trying to send you a message: my life is harder because you don't work.
What Do You Do Again?
Do your complaints or concerns about your daily life get shrugged off because, well, you're at home with the kids? No big deal? I mean, "What do you do again?" Your partner may not say this outright, but you have the sneaking suspicion that his comments are suggesting that life at home is the good life.
Never Off the Clock
It's the weekend, so you're hoping your partner might take over for a bit so you could rest or do something like urinate by yourself, but your partner is resistant to giving you some R&R, even for an hour or two. Or maybe on his days off or before he leaves for work, you would like to go to the gym or do something that doesn't involve your offspring, but your main squeeze doesn't seem too peachy over you getting in "me time"? That's a surefire sign that your guy is a bit angry about you not working.
OK, so we've dished about the signs, but what do you do if you think your partner's not too keen about the current dynamic in your household? You can:
- Calculate the Cost of Your Services
Make a list of everything you "do" as a mom, from child care to laundry. Then, price out all those services based on local rates of care. For example, how much would it cost for someone to clean your home or care for your children? Price this in an Excel spreadsheet and then present to your partner your "worth." If you want to be even savvier, put the cost of all your services next to the salary you would command if you were to go back to work, minus the cost of day care. For some people, a job will barely cover a nanny!
- Hear Him Out
Ask him directly if he is financially stressed and if this current arrangement works for him or not. If he says it doesn't, pull out the finances and go over numbers together painstakingly. This is when you two will be able to see if it's worth it or not for you to go back to work, and while that may stink, sometimes it has to happen. It's possible you two could simply cut corners in order to keep you at home if you both value your stay-at-home-mom role, but before you assume anything, ask him his honest feelings about the matter.
- He Doesn't Respect Stay-at-Home Moms, Period
It's possible that your partner may be financially comfortable enough to provide for your family but perhaps he doesn't value your daily role as a SAHM. If you enjoy staying home and the two of you are getting by fine, this is a matter of disrespect, which is not good for the two of you. First, if he only respects mothers who work but you prefer to be home, there's a conflict. And second, if he's just dismissive of mothers or women in general, you have a major problem. My suggestion? Get to marriage counseling — stat!
- Role Reversal (Somewhat)
If your man really thinks that being a stay-at-home mom is such a breeze, offer him a challenge. Go away for the weekend or even for a day, and let him handle all home and child matters. If he shrugs off your offer, make a bet. Men rarely balk at dares. See what he thinks after he's in charge for a while.
- Part-Time Solution
It's possible that your partner is fine with covering the major expenses but maybe he would love for you to all go on a family vacation, add on to your home, or perhaps just help with some of the bills. Maybe you can consider part-time work so you don't have to adjust your at-home role for the most part.
- Maybe You're Not Happy?
Your husband might be making little digs about you being home perhaps because you complain about it or take for granted all of his hard work to keep the house afloat. If this is the case, ask yourself what it is that's making you unhappy or losing sight of all that he does. Are you truly happy at home? Would you prefer to work? If that's the case, start planning to go back. There's nothing wrong with being happier working than being at home. Everyone is different, and the grass is always greener on the other side. Do what is best for you. Or if you're happy at home, why is it that you're overlooking all that he does? Sometimes people grow obsessed with keeping up with the Joneses and never seem to appreciate what they have. Your house may not be as big as your neighbor's and your wedding ring as big as your friend's, but hey, lady, you've got a lot to be thankful for. Count your blessings and show him appreciation for what he does. Chances are, he will show it right back at you for all you do as a mom and wife!
- Cut It Back
Your husband might be fine month to month but it's tight and so he's letting the stress out on you. Take a look at the budget and see where you two can peel back expenses. It might mean cutting out certain brand-name groceries or coffees out. Whatever it is, if staying home is that important to you and your partner, it's crucial for you to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
- Your Values
Have a discussion with your partner about your values and how you both see motherhood evolving for you and whether or not you two are on the same page in terms of whether a mom should work, be home, what type of responsibilities she should have, etc. Ask your partner how he feels a home's duties should be split up — how his family's dynamics worked in terms of child care and domestic chores. It may be that you discussed this ahead of time, but things change. Perhaps your husband was OK with you being home in theory before having kids, but now that the kid or kids are here, one partner's view can change. Perhaps your husband's mother did every single thing in the house and didn't squeak a negative word while her husband didn't help at all. It may be his upbringing affects how he views a mother's place in the marriage and home. No matter what, speak honestly. Killing resentment early on is key to having a happy marriage!
At the end of the day, maybe your man is just having a period of depression or stress and things could settle back again smoothly, but talking frankly about this will help both of you later on down the line. No matter what you both choose to do, be sure to be aware of the family finances, even if your partner manages them. Never, ever be blind to money matters!