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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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