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Switching Roles In Your Marriage

Updated on July 29, 2012

Stay-at-Home Husbands, Working Wives

I'm a career woman. I can never imagine living my life as a stay-at-home wife or mom. That said, I have a stay-at-home husband. It wasn’t intentional. He was actually thinking of working overseas when circumstances directed us to another option: that of him staying home and me working. And this has been our arrangement for the past two and a half years. I can't honestly say he is happy but then again, we are both contented with this kind of arrangement.

I have also a friend, the mother of twins and a girl. She is also the one working. Her husband is also staying at home and taking care of the kids. When I asked her about it, her reply was, “it was a conscious decision on both our parts, because I have a bigger earning capacity than him”. And so far, it seems to work for them.

Based on everything I’ve seen or heard or read in the Internet, stay-at-home husbands are not quite as common as stay-at-home wives. Despite the modern times, switching roles in marriage is still not a usual idea. But it is definitely catching on.

Reasons for Switching Roles

There are several reasons why couples decide to do things this way. Here are some of them:

Reason #1 The wife has better career options. Gone are the days when the men of the house are the only ones with bright career futures. Nowadays, more and more women are getting higher education, better-paying jobs and more career options. That’s why it is not surprising that (sometimes) men opt to stay at home (and take care of the house and the kids) and let their wives go up the corporate ladder.

Reason #2 Wives have bigger earnings than their husbands. This is the main reason why my friend and her husband talked it over and decided that my friend will be the one who will work while her husband will be the one to stay at home. My friend’s earnings were more than her husband even before they got married and her prospects of getting bigger earnings in the future is a lot better than her husband’s. Plus if her husband will work, they will have to hire a nanny (or two, these are three kids!) and a house help, the costs of which are higher than her husband’s prospective salary. Needless to say, these factors made their decision easier for them.

Reason #3 Dad was laid off work. The staying-at-home option for a just laid off husband may be unintentional but it paints quite a realistic picture. With the economy what it is today and with the changing business environment, husbands getting laid off from their jobs are becoming a worldwide occurrence. During this time, the husbands may decide to take a break, or study a new concept or skill or it might take longer for them to find new jobs. Thus, the stay-at-home option is present in this case.

Of course there are other reasons for the husband staying at home and the wife working. One is, maybe they just want to experiment how it is if their roles are reversed. Or the wife wants to take the opportunity to further her career while there are still no (or few) kids around and the husband (lovingly) decides to let her have her way and to stay at home, instead.

Drawbacks to the Arrangement

But, admittedly, this is not an easy situation to deal with. There are definitely several drawbacks to this type of arrangement.

One, it is not an ordinary occurrence yet. There are some cultures and countries (mine included) where the husband is the usual breadwinner and the wife is usually the one to stay at home. Having a reversed situation may be quite awkward for the husband, especially if the husband worked before and is still physically able to get a job again.

Second, it may open the husband to ridicule and teasing. My husband is very conscious about this. He feels that a lot of people are whispering behind our backs and that he is being condemned because he doesn’t have a job and “lives off” my earnings. In this, I would just reply that he is a very big help to me and being a stay-at-home husband doesn’t make him a useless person.

Third, two earnings are better than one. I must admit, the idea of “pushing” my husband to go back to work is a very attractive one. It will help ease the financial burden plus it will give both of us some breathing space (I work right in front of our home and we see each other 24/7!). But then again, I’ve gotten used to having him around the house all the time plus I’m more reassured if I know I can call him anytime I need help (selfish of me, I know).

Fourth, it may result to him resenting me or me resenting him (or even both). Okay, let’s face it. My going to work while my husband stays at home may not really bode well for his or my pride and may end up disrupting our good married life. Right now, I don’t see that happening, but who knows?


What does the above mean? Let’s admit it, a marriage where the husband stays at home is still a special occurrence requiring special care. The husband and the wife have to discuss this very thoroughly and commit to it. Both of them have to be convinced that this is the best way for them and for their family. Citing and knowing the specific advantages (just as my friend did) on this type of arrangement will also help the couple become comfortable with this idea. Constant affirmation and support will also go a long way towards easing the situation for the couple. And in the end, regardless of what other people say, it is still for the couple to decide if they want to go by this route or not. Because hey, this is their family’s future they’re talking about, nobody else’s.


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    • profile image

      msc 5 years ago

      I want to staying at home so much.

      I can do research and reading every books I want.

    • profile image

      tom 6 years ago

      I hope you're familiar with the divorce laws in your state.

      For you who are against alimony read :

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks Rob :). Yup, I can't believe the number of responses I received on this one. :) Seems this is a tricky issue for some people. Glad you liked the hub :).

    • Pearldiver profile image

      Rob Welsh 7 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

      Hi Em, A contentious issue it seems? We adapt (or should) in a partnership don't we? Good Hub my friend; I don't know how you have managed your workload and writing; other than rolling up the sleeves and doing the hard yards. I know what that is like (both ways)... Good on you. Take care.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks C. J.

    • profile image

      C.J. Wright 7 years ago

      Great hub. I believe that when children or special needs family members are involved a stay at home parent/family member is the best idea. Who stays should be made based on logic vice taditional gender roles. Unfortunately too many families have based their lifestyle on two incomes.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Rider_tiger, sorry forgot to leave a response to your comment. Don't know about the profile picture being attractive but thanks =).

      ahumanishere, wow, I'll take those as advices on how we will handle our marrige life. Thanks.

    • profile image

      ahumanishere 7 years ago from MA

      I think some women who are in a marriage where the husband is the 'stay at home spouse' tend to overthink how this might adversely affect his ego. I think this is a mistake. She has to realize that she is the 'head of the house' and as such she needs to protect her husband in his role as househusband. By protect I mean she has to understand that given the fact that this is a fairly new concept in our society he is going to need her full support. If she feels there is something wrong with a man in this role then the marriage is doomed. But if she truely believes this is right for them then she she needs to take in consideration that he has not had a role-model or an upbringing that prepared him for this role. She should also take into consideration basic male weaknesses that if not addressed can really hurt him in being a good househusband. And the wife needs to understand her new role as head of the house. She needs to learn to be strong, supportive, and caring in a completely different sort of way. She needs to learn to be a 'the leader' and provide the type of environment that will provide her husband the structure he needs to be successful and avoid the temptations that spring out of the male ego.

    • rider_tiger profile image

      rider_tiger 7 years ago

      I came to this hub through my hub on what makes a man attractive. My previous visit was to another hub of yours and it was because your profile picture was interesting and attractive. This one is fine as well but the previous one was attractive enough to be clicked on :)

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the comment reeltaulk.

    • profile image

      reeltaulk 7 years ago

      I dont believe there should be roles...once married to people should be able to come together communicate and raise a family without putting responsibility on a specific person or gender. Did I hear team work. Now as for role playing, I believe that should come into play when concerning an arranged marriage. A man plays his position for he is the one that is quite financially stable and the woman plays her position because she is down with what is involved!

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      LOL, yup, I think my topic is kinda controversial for some, hence the long comments.

      ehehe, hubpages is not his thing. He's more an action man and he likes visuals more than writing. I think he'll do well with Auto Cad. I'm (gently) pushing him to that area. Hope he agrees.

      Thanks for the link, will go check it out. And thanks for the comment =).

    • profile image

      R.G. San Ramon 7 years ago

      @.@ So much for the loooooooong comments here. I actually read this hub the first time it was published here in hubpages, and I have a nagging thought in my head. Good thing I found the best opportunity to write it here.

      Why not let your hubby have some fun in the net? I mean, you can intriduce him to hubpages or other means he could earn online. Just a suggestion though. Or, maybe he's just not interested? >.>

      A friend of mine don't like the idea of working online. He wants fresh air. :P

      P.S. I found a good hub about making your own website. Here's the link:

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Hi Level H. I appreciate you sharing your views in my hub. You make quite interesting points. I'm not apologizing for the comments here on my hub and my agreeing on them (and neither do I think you would want me to apologize). But, at the same time, I still feel that you are commenting on something that is not really there. The comment (and my comment) was about men who are okay with staying at home (and are accepting of their lot) when they see it is more practical to do so. In the process, they have to swallow their macho egos because such things are still not acceptable these days. And believe me, I've seen men who do not want to stay at home because they feel it lessens their "macho-ness" (their words, not mine). And I did not say "all" are "suffering from macho ego and machismo". And let's face it, you don't really need to emphasize the non-discrimination of men who are working instead of staying home because this is what is accepted by the society right now (ego or no ego).

      May I ask something (I hope you can read this)? Are you a guy? If yes, why are you so conscious about discrimination for those men who are working and are called on because of their macho egos? If not (you're a woman), did something happen in the past to make you think that the "macho ego / machismo" - type of discrimination exist? Just curious. You reacted so strongly that I feel there's a personal experience behind your reactions.

    • profile image

      Level 7 years ago

      Thank you emievil for your courteous reply.

      You say that your hub is not about "macho egos." But when such comments and characterizations are made you don't object and even concur with them, hence my questions about whether you agree and whether similar negative gender stereotypes of women are equally acceptable? My point is quite simple: if women should be allowed to have a career and not be condemned, shouldn't men be also allowed? I think women should be able to work outside the home and not be subject to negative gender stereotypes as a result. I feel the same about men. I was struck by the fact that you feel that men who stay at home should not be condemned, but you made no objection to the condemnation directed at men who work outside the home ("macho egos"). When asked to explain your acceptance of that remark, you said it was a reference to "those men who..." So you seemed to be saying that there was a certain category of men that should be condemned for working outside the home. I then asked if there was a similar category of women who should be similarly condemned?

      Now it happens again. SweetiePie wrote "...yes there is some machismo with the whole stay at home dad issue.'' And again you make no objection to someone criticizing men who work outside the home, and you make no objection to negative gender stereotypes of men. Yet you insist that men who stay at home should not be condemned, but it's fine to condemn men who work outside the home. But not women of course.

      " other party should really get involved." But then why is it acceptable for an "other party" to get involved when men don't want to stay at home but want to be free to have a career just like you without being condemned for "machismo" and "macho ego"? I appreciation your recommendation for the hubmob about appreciation for stay at home moms. Is there also one where men who work outside the home are also appreciated? Or is this site predominantly of the opinion that such men are mostly suffering from macho ego and machismo?

      Thank you again. It sounds as though you and your husband are well matched. Hopefully in the future men who stay at home will be accepted. Perhaps in the even more distant future it will be accepted that men who work outside the home are not all suffering from macho ego and machismo. What do you think?

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Lostgirlscat, take it easy. Breath deeply. I've heard the same thing from my friends who are stay-at-home moms, and from older moms, too. Thing is, you'll have to talk to your husband for that. It's the only way to unload your concerns (and housework, too).

      There's another hub in this hubmob on stay-at-home moms (upper right hand corner of this hub). It's a great hub and may give you some inspiration as it really shows appreciation for stay-at-home moms. Good luck and take care.

    • lostgirlscat profile image

      lostgirlscat 7 years ago

      I'm a stay at home mom who also works out of the home. Shoot me NOW! I think every father should be REQUIRED to spend an as yet undetermined amount of time,[with NO end in sight] at home trying to earn a living while taking care of the children,house and spouse. Sorry, I'm just a little tired and stressed right now. [And tomorrow, and the next day.....................................................,,,,,,]

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks SweetiePie.

      Rochelle, unfortunately here in my country, it is not yet that acceptable (but in the future who knows). I agree that at least one parent should be in charge of the kids whenever possible and this is true whether both parents are working or one is a stay-at-home parent.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

      Interesting article/ I'm glad it is now becoming acceptable for the woman to be the "breadwinner" when circumstances make it easier or possible.

      I think the most important thing for a family with children is to have a parent in charge of the kids most of the time whenever possible.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

      You have a very good relationship with your husband. Being on the same page is key, and it is refreshing to hear about couples that can do this. Keep up the good work with the interesting hub topics.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Thanks SweetiePie. Wish I can show your comment to my husband. I tell him the same thing (about how great it is he is a stay-at-home husband) but he is still conscious of what other people say about him. I, on the other hand, have no such qualms. When we were newly-married, he was the one who did all the housework (he's a much better cleaner and cook than I'll ever be LOL). Now that we have house-help, he's more on seeing to our car and the dogs and the other things that cannot be covered by the house-help. He leaves the finances to me because, well, I'm an accountant and he trusts my judgment better than his own. What I like about having him around is that I get to ask him for advice whenever an issue in the office or in general crops up. He has a different perspective than me so he kind of balances my thoughts out. I guess this is what a marriage where one stays at home is all about. It's a give-and-take relationship between the husband and a wife and no other party should really get involved. Thanks again for your comment.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Level H should write his own hub on this issue if he does not agree with your view point. Personally I think being a stay at home dad can be a great thing. The reason why people are focusing on this issue is because traditionally moms have been the stay out home parents, and yes there is some machismo with the whole stay at home dad issue.

      My dad was not exactly a stay at home dad, but there were time periods when he would only work a couple of days a week and my mom was working more than him. What I thought was kind of weird about this is he would act kind of silly about her deciding how to spend money and declare he wore the pants in the family. He grew up in a household where his dad had taught him that men are always the bosses, so he still sort of fell for this mindset.

      What I found funny was he was the one wanting to stay at home, and then he got mad when my mom was making more money and more of the financial decisions. In my viewpoint whoever is working the most is usually going to have a bit of a more say of how money is spent, and if men are going to be stay at home dads, or work less than their wives they need to come to this realization.

      Many women who are stay at home moms do not always get much of a say about money as the working fathers, so men should understand this will be the case in their role too. My mom was a stay at home mom until I was a eleven, and I did not see anywhere in your hub that you were critiquing being a stay at home mom. Some of the commentators have implied this, but you never said this. It is their own insecurities and fears about this issue, but at the end of the day no one is telling them to be stay at home dads.

      What my mom did not like about being a stay at home parents was my dad was a bit selfish with his paychecks, so by working she had more control. In the ideal marriage both parties would come to a consensus on how to spend money, but this is easier said than done. This area seems to take a lot of work because people can get weird about money.

      Another thing I would like to advise stay at home fathers on is they do need to do a larger share the the house work if they are going to assume this role. When my dad was home more often would do the yard work, and that was about it. If fell on me to do most of the chores, and sometimes I felt like I was babysitting him and my sisters.

      I really enjoyed your hub and I do not know why people feel very threatened by it. There is this trend though with some ultra conservatives who think it is reprehensible to have any role reversals, but they fail to realize that not everyone lives according to their definitions. I think every family should do what is best for them, and do not judge your neighbors because they want to be stay at home dads.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 7 years ago from Philippines

      Level H, I appreciate your comments on my hub and those who posted here but I think you're taking everything out of context. My hub is not about "macho egos" and husbands who do not want to stay at home. My hub is about husbands who stay at home, their reasons and the advantages, period. I'm not saying that husbands who do not want to stay at home because of their egos should be condemned. Rather, what I am saying is that husbands who decide to stay at home should also be praised, as much as their female counterparts who also stay at home are praised, which was also Flightkeeper's point. My mother and grandmother are all stay-at-home moms and I don't see anything wrong in what they did, although that is not the kind of life for me. And I think from reading my hub, you know that my husband is a stay-at-home husband, so I guess you'll know that this is not only a matter of choice but a necessity for us. But if my husband goes out and work, then I will support his decision.

      There's no condemnation here for men who chose to work and for women who chose to do the same thing. Just as there shouldn't be any condemnation for men who chose to stay at home. But there's much condemnation for men who stay at home while their wives are working, and I know that is so because I've seen the postings here in the Internet to that effect. Plus I get to experience it in real life in both my and my friend's case. Hence, I made this hub. And yes, I will allow both my sons and daughters (if I ever have any of these) to make their choices and will not condemn them either way. You asked about daughters in your other post so I answered on this basis. If you have asked about sons also, then I would have answered the same thing.

    • profile image

      Level H 7 years ago


      You are wrong...I disagree with your ideas. It is wrong to say that it is okay to condemn "those men" who suffer from "machismo" and don't want to stay at home "even though it is the most feasible/practical course of action." Is there a similar category of women who we are equally allowed to condemn for not wanting to stay at home? Or is it only men who don't get the free pass? Are you saying that your gender determines whether or not you have a valid reason for not wanting to stay at home? Who is it that determines whether or not a man is working outside the home for "macho ego" reasons rather than valid reasons? What penalties would you impose on men who are found guilty of having "macho egos"?

      Do you similarly think that there is also a test that should be equally applied to women such as yourself to determine whether or not your reasons for not wanting to stay at home are valid? For example if it was determined that it is "the most feasible/practical course of action" for a woman to stay at home but she continues to work because she thinks staying at home will reduce her feminist standing, will you condemn them the way you condemn men? Or is it only men who should have to prove the validity of their motives?

      Do you think it is valid or fair to reduce men to such gender stereotypes as "macho egos" or "machismo" to condemn their decision to have a career rather than stay at home? Is it similarly acceptable to refer to women in comparable derogatory gender stereotypes to condemn them when they choose to have a career? What negative stereotype should we use to condemn women who choose not to stay home "even though it is already the most feasible/practical course of action."?

      You are condemning men for "macho ego" if they want to have a career and be independent and self sufficient and not be financially dependent on their wives. What gender stereotype do you use to condemn women who want to have a career and be independent and self sufficient and not be financially dependent on their husbands?

      You feel your daughters should be allowed to make the decision to stay at home or not. Perhaps you might allow men the same right?

    • Jen4Weddings profile image

      Jen4Weddings 8 years ago from Canada


      You are right...I am agree with your ideas.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Level H, the macho egos refer to those men who do not want to stay at home simply because they think staying at home will reduce their masculinity / machismo, even though it is already the most feasible / practical course of action.

      As to encouraging my daughters to be stay at home moms? No, I won't encourage them BUT I won't discourage them either. It is up to them to choose which course they will take. My mission is just to guide them and show them the advantages and disadvantages on both sides. They, themselves, will be the ones who make the decision.

    • profile image

      Level H 8 years ago

      Thankyou, emievil. "(i don't think the other posters said)". But another poster did say that men who don't want to stay home have macho egos. It was "Flightkeeper" who said, re stay at home dads:"they're not caught up in macho egos..." And your response was "Flightkeeper, you're right." So that caused me to ask whether you were saying Flightkeeper was "right" about egos, and whether you thought working women should be similarly condemned.

      I again ask also, that if you think that staying at home rather than having a career outside the home is "noble," then would you and the other posters recommend bringing up your daughters to be stay at home moms? If not, why not? Thank you for your response.

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      Level H, I don't think the meaning of this hub and those who posted is that men / women who do not want to stay at home have macho egos. This hub is for those men who are staying at home and are comfortable with that idea (despite the fact that a lot of people are not). Staying at home, for both dads and moms, is a noble idea and here in my country, stay-at-home moms are still the norm and our society recognizes that they make a significant (and noble) contribution to their family and the society. That said, I never said (and I don't think the other posters said) that men and women who do not want to stay at home but chose to have career lives have macho egos. The two are not exactly similar.

      There's another hub in this hubmob about stay-at-home moms. I encourage you to read that.

    • profile image

      Level H 8 years ago

      "...not caught up in macho egos..."

      Do you agree that men who don't want to stay at home have "macho egos"? If so, do you then also think that women who do not want to stay at home also have macho egos? Could you explain why it wouldn't be equally acceptable to make similar criticisms of women who work outside the home? If it is acceptable for you to say that you could not even imagine yourself as a stay at home mom, and not be criticized for that attitude, shouldn't a man be able to make the exact same statement and not be criticized as having a "macho ego."? Hopefully you and all the other posters who think it's so wonderful to be a stay at home dad feel exactly the same way about stay at home moms and praise them equally and encourage all women especially your daughters that they should want to be stay at home moms, because if it's wonderful for men it must be equally wonderful for women. And also I hope you are telling women who don't want to stay at home (though it's hard to see why any women wouldn't since apparently it's so wonderful) that they are suffering from "macho ego."

    • emievil profile image

      emievil 8 years ago from Philippines

      dohn, it's not quite a usual thing here yet for dads to stay at home but I think it is fast catching up. If you do decide to stay at home, let me know. I'll interview you and add the results of the interview to this hub. =)

      PhilD41, how did it go? Did he like it?

      Thanks UH.

      General Howitzer, you're trying to flatter me again! Thanks for dropping by.

      Flightkeeper, you're right. Being stay-at-home husbands do not make them a useless, good-for-nothing guy who cannot earn their living for their family. Their job is as much as important as their working wives' jobs and may be more difficult (which is how stay-at-home wives also sometimes say about what they are doing at home for their husbands and kids). The only difference is that most cultures are not yet ready to accept this type of arrangement. Thanks for your comment!

    • Flightkeeper profile image

      Flightkeeper 8 years ago from The East Coast

      I have a lot of respect for the stay at home dads. To me it seems as if they're not caught up in macho egos and they're very secure. It looks like a strong marriage when it works.

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 8 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      Wow emievil you just pulled an excellent trick in your hat... I have a cousin who is married to a head nurse and he has similar situation with you... You are one of a kind emievil... you have a genuine love for your husband... oh how I wish I could have a wife like you... tc my friend... and wish you all the best.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 8 years ago

      A very interesting hub and on a nice topic too. This does make some sense to me especially after the example of your friend who earned more than her husband but at the same time sounds a bit unnatural. Nice hub in the end!

    • PhilD41 profile image

      PhilD41 8 years ago from Iowa

      My Brother was a stay-at-home father for a while. His wife is still the primary breadwinner, but as a youth leader and highschool teacher at a small private school, he isn't home much now.

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      I always find your topics fascinating emievil. I like hearing your opinion on some racy issues prevalent in today's society.

      I could see myself as a stay-at-home-dad were it the case that I was a novelist earning some guac for the household. I wouldn't mind it one bit, as I'm naturally a homebody and enjoy the amenities that staying at home brings. Thanks for the hub! Congrats on fan #100!!!

      Thank you again for your support:) It means a lot!