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Being the breadwinner of the home..

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

 

This is pretty new to me, so I'm just looking to put it out there, hear some thoughts and experiences, etc.

So i'm in a new relationship with a lovely adoring man, and already we've built big and beautiful dreams about more children, living in the bush in a hand-built home, and all the little lovely things that fit into that picture (travelling with our brood, maybe homeschooling, a little permaculture garden, goats, a little community of like-minded folks nearby or even sharing on the property..)

The new thing here, is that there's every likelihood that I'll be the breadwinner of the family.
He has worked before and since he was 15, in a variety of jobs, but sketchy non-traditional jobs (activism, fruit picking, chef, musician, etc). What has kept him from working recently was major illness (over now), and depression (ongoing), and simply a loathing of having to crush your soul just for money.
He would work if he really had to, but unless it's a job that really suits his personality and strong values (he's a strong left-wing feral type), it would slowly crush him to do so.

He's good with money in that he spends very conservatively and would never get into irresponsible debt.
He's bad with money in that he hates working with it, having it. He would rather barter his substantial skill set for life essentials, live off the economic grid as such.

I on the other hand, have a stable job (in research/data management) that i quite like, and with easily reliable future career prospects. I might not ever earn that much, but comfortably around the $50-60k mark if full-time, potentially more if i got opportunities to develop it.
My field of work would centre in or around the city, so if we lived in the bush I'd probably have to commute; but because I like working, I could easily work in any office admin / customer service / retail / hospitality position in any town nearby.

Also, in regards to future children, while I loved being a SAHM, i also found it so damn hard (i'm a strong introvert, and find it draining), even with lots of help, and I can't decide for future children whether I'd want to do that for more than a year, IF they have a great homeschooling SAHD, and if i worked part-time and was home about half the time.
Plus, while i love having a beautiful tranquil home and productive garden, i suspect i might hate doing the work involved to maintain it. i'd much rather be working in an office than at home/garden.
(oof, i feel so obnoxious saying this. but i do think some people prefer one over the other, and that it's probably quite evenly divided).

In this scenario, the plan would be that - while i worked and commuted, he would be the homemaker and SAHparent, maybe homeschooling, cooking and keeping house, gardening, and (especially before the kids came along) building our dream home. He would supplement our income by bartering garden-grown produce, and bartering from his skill set (building, writing, drumming), maybe occasionally doing odd bits of income-producing work as they came up.

So, there it is. Sometimes i think it could work and be nice, other times i worry about whether i'd end up doing the income-producing work AND the cooking AND the parenting, especially if he was having bouts of depression (there have been frequent times like this already). Also i wonder whether i'd change my mind and resent the burden of being the income-earner.

I wonder too, if he and I were to each work just a little and scale back our income to say $20k a year, whether we could then get by just living simply in the bush, if our land and building materials were bought outright (possible), and we handbuilt our own home, and grew a lot of our food (he's vegan, i'm mixed). I'd like to have that flexibility in not having to work full time.. I would like among other things to be able to just potter around in peaceful quiet, sewing, thinking and reading..

All this is new to me, having lived a very middle class and gender-traditional life so far (yet always having feral dreams and values).
I'm sure everything depends on my particular situation and future unseens, but,
Thoughts welcome!

post #2 of 15

So here is my situation.

 

i am the "breadwinner", although DH does earn money working from home some as a writer, it is quite variable. (no income for 6 months, then for several months in a row can bring in probably 75% of what I do in a month).

 

He takes care of the general housekeeping (all the laundry, regular cleaning). I usually cook dinner because I am better at it, but I freely destroy the kitchen and he cleans it all up. he would make me food if I asked him too.

 

We have some land and we are very into producing our own food and heating fuel. He puts a great deal of time into prepping the land and gardening, as well as chopping wood and working on the house. One thing I had to learn to understand was that if he spends all day doing work outside, it is impossible to expect to come home to a squeaky clean house! I must admit at first I really expected that if I was at work all day, that the house would always be in perfect order when I came home, but there is so much work to be done, that there are many days that he can either say, get all the vacuuming in, or install that asparagus bed I have been wanting.

 

It is nice that I can ask him to do gardening projects for me and he will do them. I have always been a gardener, but working full time sometimes I just do not have the energy to take on a big project. He has put in garden beds and prepared them for me during the week and then I come out and just plant things when I feel like it!

 

We don't have kids, although I am 39 weeks pregnant. I know he feels bad that I am working out of the house all day and dealing with being pregnant so he tries to do things to make it easier for me (like driving me directly to work so I do not have to park at a remote lot). he will be the stay at home parent of course.

 

Anyway, this arrangement works for us because it uses out strengths. DH is not really cut out for full time, salary work, personality wise. He is never happy doing that and I really seem to have a skill for securing a good paying job and advancing quickly to very nice pay. He does have skills at finances though, and agrees that we should be as frugal as possible, and he is attempting to have our mortgage paid off as soon as possible, so one day I can go part time or perhaps we can go to relying more on his income than mine. Even though I excell at what I do and make good money, I do not "enjoy" working and would love to scale back.

post #3 of 15

DH and I met at work (a software company) and when we married, we decided it was important to have someone home with our child. I like working and am very extroverted – I was scared to be a SAHM. I figured I’d get depressed and miserable.

 

DH stepped up as very interested in being our SAHP. He is very creative so we knew he could make some money on side. So after my maternity leave I went back to work and DH quit his job.

 

Unfortunately, things have not gone as hoped. I don’t want to get into all our issues, because each couple has their own. The main problems are that he lost a lot of motivation not working. He also has health issues (neck pain, sleeps poorly) and instead of helping these issues he uses them as an excuse to not do housework or look for a job. Our child is now in school all day and DH still has no job. We need more income desperately because the economy has been bad, prices have gone up and I have not received a raise in several years. I was almost laid off 2 years ago too, so the fear of me losing my job is very real.

 

The other issue is that I also love the homesteady life: gardening, preserving food, crafts, sewing, etc…. but I don’t have the time or energy to participate in these hobbies. I am just too dang tired. I still make most of our meals from scratch when I get home at 5:30 each evening. I do the dishes and give DS a bath, then homework…. And then I am just a zombie.

 

This has left me jealous of DH. Thinking how he has so much time for his hobbies, friends or just sleeping. And if I had chosen to stay home I would be running the house a bit better. Or not LOL It’s hard to say because the grass always appears greener on the other side.

 

It’s important to realize that circumstances can reveal different aspects of people. Life can change and mix things up. Your needs might change. His needs might change. It’s best to make sure everyone in the relationship can be adjustable and step up as needed. You should also be very exact about expectations for money use and income needs. You may have different ideas of what is acceptable.

 

Rhianna

post #4 of 15

I would never again commit to being a full-time breadwinner.  I've been in the role for my son's entire life (8 years), and have missed out on so much.  It has caused an insane amount of fighting and resentment in my marriage, and almost caused it's dissolution (thank G-d for marriage counseling).  We are reversing roles this summer after he graduates college thankfully! 

 

Don't set yourself up for this!

post #5 of 15
Our situation here is much like the dream that you outlined. Most of the bits are still dreams for us, but we are a little way down the same road you're considering. We live in the country with a large garden, into which we would like to incorporate permaculture principles, we have goats, we're planning to build a house for the MIL here in the next year or two (and possibly a better-insulated one for ourselves) using minimal money and building it ourselves, by hand. We would like to build up our sense of community with the neighbors, since we couldn't get any of our like-minded friends to move here with us. We plan to homeschool and travel with our children, when we have them. Which will hopefully be soon whistling.gif My husband is the "breadwinner" but sounds like he has a lot in common with your husband. He works as a treeplanter, which is a great job for a feral type (I've never heard it called that before, but it's a perfect fit). I'm the one who stays at home and looks after the place, and I also work against depression. So that's where I'm coming from. The circumstances are fairly similar, one person being in charge of the homestead and battling depression, the other person bringing in all the money. There is a major difference, in that my husband is gone for four months straight while he's working. I'm not entirely sure how that affects the situation, but I know it makes my battle with depression much more difficult while he's gone.

I don't understand why you would feel obnoxious about disliking the work required to maintain the house and garden. It sounds like you wouldn't dislike the work required to make money, which is also extremely useful when you're building a homestead.

I would like to point out that at least at first, the work that you outlined for the SAHP is an unreasonable amount. I have a hard enough time in the summers (again, while battling depression) just keeping up with the gardening and keeping the house from being a disaster. The first summer I only managed to just barely keep up with the garden . . . and I'm not sure where the cause and effect cycle started but I was very depressed that summer. The second summer (last summer) was not quite as hard. I kept up with the garden better, got chickens and goats and started learning about them, kept up with the house better (although I didn't make headway, I didn't let it slide either), and made preliminary plans for our first building project (a straw bale chicken coop). I also was less depressed, until my 18-year-old dog died, and then I was a wreck until I went to visit my husband and he helped me out of it. I'm hoping this summer will be even better. I know it seems like, given 8 hours a day (or however long you're working), it's reasonable to expect that the SAHpartner can get a lot done. I think that once you've got the lifestyle all figured out, that's probably true. But at the start, you both need to have REALLY low expectations. Or, possibly, I'm extremely inefficient. I'm not sure which. But I know that for me, having all responsibility for the homestead was overwhelming, which made me feel inadequate, which made me feel depressed, which made me do less, and on it went. I think adding in all responsibility for homeschooling, parenting, and building a home would be extremely daunting. And I know it's not just me - another woman I know in town also was the one staying at home while her husband left for work. She said it took her 5 years to really get it all worked out and for things to start running smoothly. I think that's about normal. And she wasn't homeschooling . . . and I think her kids were already school-age when they moved there . . . and they weren't building a house.

On the other hand, when we did build our straw bale chicken coop, it was surprisingly easy. We had it all planned out, we started working on it, we kept at it, and it went up. We didn't manage to plaster it before it got too cold, but we still got a lot done on it. We surprised ourselves. So I'm not trying to say that the life you're planning is so hard, don't do it, or whatever. I guess I'm just trying to warn you that it's easy to exacerbate depression with overwhelming work loads, especially if they're so open-ended. At least for me.

I think it's worth considering that there will be a few years where, even if your partner IS working as hard as he's able, and dealing with his depression optimally, you're STILL going to feel like you're doing more than your fair share. I swear, half the work here seems to be figuring out how to do things efficiently, which primarily means staring at the garden, or sketching possible drip-hose layouts on paper, or doing it wrong (and getting nothing done) 18 different ways until it gets dark and I have to go to bed. It's frustrating. He'll have to be persistent and not get discouraged. You'll have to be supportive, as long as he's trying. I think both of these are very hard things to do, at least if our experience is any indication. In some ways it might be easier if you'll be home every night, because neither of you will have time to build up expectations of how the homestead "should" look when the WOHpartner gets home. In some ways it might be harder, because SAHpartner will feel more pressure to get something visible done EVERY day, and WOHpartner will have expectations that they will come home from a hard day of work to see that something got done. It's a really hard adjustment to make from a job, where progress is usually visible, to a homestead, where much of the progress takes place in understanding, and in refinement/adjustment, and in learning from mistakes.

I'm really not sure if I'm being clear or helpful, so I'm going to stop now. If you think I might have some insight, or want to pick my brain, or have specific questions, or even want to hear from my husband, PM me. Or post here again, I'll probably eventually see it. I kind of hope you will, I think it's helpful for ME to figure out ways to put these things into words - it helps me organize my thoughts on the matter.

Lastly, I just want to say, if this is your dream (in the honest, objective light of your thoughts when you're alone, or whenever you do your most clear thinking), and it seems like this person you're beginning to love has the same dream, you should probably go for it. If it turns out later that things didn't go like you wanted, or you don't like the things that you thought you would, you can always go from there - it's not like you'll be trapped for all eternity by the decisions you make now. They will influence the future, but not determine it completely.

 

post #6 of 15

Whether it would work or not really depends on your situation and personalities. We've been in a lot of different work/AHP situations in our relationship some have worked and some haven't. For us he's happier when he's working and I am happiest at home or being home and only working pt. We tend to have what I guess are more traditional views on family though. He isn't happy unless he's being the 'man' and taking care of his family. I can work too and even make more money but he has to be contributing or he's depressed and loses his pride. I don't mind working and even enjoy it to an extent but I want to be able to be at home with kids and would resent having to be the breadwinner and not be the 'housewife/sahm'. That's us though. I think if you would both be happy with it there's no reason not to do it. Just remember that no matter what you plan to do it can always be changed/adjusted later if needed. Nothing is set in stone. I've been the sahp, I've been the sahp working pt, I've worked ft and I've even worked 2 & 3 jobs. DH has been the sahp, worked pt, worked ft, worked away from home. It's changed depending on what was possible or needed at the time and we've changed it if it didn't work out. Flexibility is key in relationships and life, especially with kids!

post #7 of 15

Umm, your partner objects to orgainzed employment because it is soul crushing, but it's OK by him if you do it on behalf of you both?  I'm struggling to determine what he brings to the table and I can see in technicolor how your situation could go terribly wrong for you, especially once children are in the picture.

 

You say this relationship is new - please take it slow and make sure you've accurately sussed this guy's true intentions.

 

Jane

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by janey99 View Post

Umm, your partner objects to orgainzed employment because it is soul crushing, but it's OK by him if you do it on behalf of you both?


This jumped out at me too.

OP, it sounds like it could work. However, I'd be very concerned about the issue of depression. My sister suffers from depression and, ironically, one of the things that is best for her is that she *needs* to go to work daily (her income is very important to their family). Of course, that's her particular situation. My main point, though, is that I've very sympathetic to people suffering from depression and I know first-hand that it is a very real and very unstable element you'd be throwing into this whole equation.

If your new man is doing fine, then I could see it could be a fantastic life. But, as you say, if he gets depressed, I think you'd be doing it all, but probably making much less money than you are now because you would have walked away from your lucrative career to do less financially beneficial work in the countryside. I'd let the dreams be dreams for now and get to know Feral Man better. See how often his depression comes through. Don't make any decisions quickly.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by DariusMom View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by janey99 View Post

Umm, your partner objects to orgainzed employment because it is soul crushing, but it's OK by him if you do it on behalf of you both?


This jumped out at me too.

OP, it sounds like it could work. However, I'd be very concerned about the issue of depression. My sister suffers from depression and, ironically, one of the things that is best for her is that she *needs* to go to work daily (her income is very important to their family). Of course, that's her particular situation. My main point, though, is that I've very sympathetic to people suffering from depression and I know first-hand that it is a very real and very unstable element you'd be throwing into this whole equation.

If your new man is doing fine, then I could see it could be a fantastic life. But, as you say, if he gets depressed, I think you'd be doing it all, but probably making much less money than you are now because you would have walked away from your lucrative career to do less financially beneficial work in the countryside. I'd let the dreams be dreams for now and get to know Feral Man better. See how often his depression comes through. Don't make any decisions quickly.

I can see your point about his not wanting to work outside the home but being fine with her doing it. It does seem a little odd to be unable to countenance something for yourself but happy to let someone you care about do it for you, but it also makes good sense as long as they don't mind doing it. If someone thinks doing dishes is the most horrible task they could be asked to do, but their spouse doesn't mind and is happy to do all the dishes in exchange for, say, all the cooking, then would you feel the same way about it? The OP seems to think that she might prefer working outside the home, Feral Man definitely prefers working at the homestead . . . I don't see this as a problem. If she agreed that work was soul-crushing, then that would sound like a problem to me.

On the other hand, I agree with not making a decision too quickly. I have to admit, the possibility occurred to me that this guy might be a deadbeat who is trying to find a sugar-mama and using depression as an excuse. I would assume not, because I'm pretty much doing what they are considering (even though my husband doesn't like working outside the home) because that's what made sense for us. This brings up the very good point that you shouldn't start on a life path like this with someone you don't trust. I have my good days and my bad days, but I want what's best for us as a family. If you aren't sure yet that this is the case for Feral Man, then take your time to be sure you trust him, to be sure he is trying to put the family's needs first (even if he doesn't always succeed, just like I sometimes don't). I'm trying, and I'm getting better all the time. Is he willing to try methods that might improve his depression (reading self-help mental health books, seeing a counselor, brainstorming strategies on his own or with you)? This would be good for you and good for him.
post #10 of 15


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janey99 View Post

Umm, your partner objects to orgainzed employment because it is soul crushing, but it's OK by him if you do it on behalf of you both?  I'm struggling to determine what he brings to the table and I can see in technicolor how your situation could go terribly wrong for you, especially once children are in the picture.

 

You say this relationship is new - please take it slow and make sure you've accurately sussed this guy's true intentions.

 

Jane


Yes yes yes, this this this!

 

I'm sad to say, I cannot think of one single friend who thought she had this agreement with her boyfriend/husband (she works full time, he does full time childcare/schooling and helps around the house) and then had it work out.  Every single situation ended up in slightly different versions of the same outcome: guy lost his motivation (like a PP said) or never had the motivation to start with to *really* take care of the kids and home.  He just wanted to do his own thing and not have responsibility while the wife/GF not only earned the income but also ended up with a significant amount of childcare responsibility and house-maintenance responsibility.

 

OP does your guy already have any kids?  Is he the full time custodial parent?  If so, stay with him for awhile and see how good a job he's doing at it.  If not, I'd warn you strongly against it because he sounds like someone who has a lot of excuses for not being responsible.


I'm a big old left wing person, have only done social justice work my whole career when my credentials could have given me the chance to earn oodles of money.  The truth is, even if you're dedicated to justice there is honest hard work you can do.  The list of stuff you said he does, how has he supported himself through doing those?  Has there always been a woman or parents paying his way or bailing him out when things got bad?  If so, run away now from that idea you have - it ain't gonna work!  But if he's already shown he can stay true to his morals and work hard and earn enough to support himself, maybe there's a chance this will work because he's shown he has the motivation/commitment to taking care of the basics.

 

And one more thing, about "living off the grid"... living off the grid is hard hard work.  It is fulfilling and worthwhile work for some, but it's hard and it can be really hard on kids.  I would NEVER ever get into that kind of situation or agreement with someone who hadn't already proven that not only did he have the *commitment* and proven track record of being able to take care of all basic needs while living that life; I'd also want to know by experience that he had the knowledge and skills to do that.  Does he know construction, farming, a lot of car maintenance, etc?  How much experience does he already have with "living off the grid"?  That sounds like the romantic (but totally unrealistic) ramblings of a dreamer musician, but it's not something to commit to or try unless he's someone who has SHOWN he's got the skills and discipline and will to hang in and take care of kids and home and do a lot of hard work... not just sit around or go out with friends and be a "social justice musician dreamer" all day while you have to work and make sure your kids are ok.  Words don't mean much here.  You've got to see it to know he's capable.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hykue View Post


I can see your point about his not wanting to work outside the home but being fine with her doing it. It does seem a little odd to be unable to countenance something for yourself but happy to let someone you care about do it for you, but it also makes good sense as long as they don't mind doing it. If someone thinks doing dishes is the most horrible task they could be asked to do, but their spouse doesn't mind and is happy to do all the dishes in exchange for, say, all the cooking, then would you feel the same way about it? The OP seems to think that she might prefer working outside the home, Feral Man definitely prefers working at the homestead . . . I don't see this as a problem. If she agreed that work was soul-crushing, then that would sound like a problem to me.
 
I was thinking the same thing. I do find it funny that you mentioned this particular agreement, though. My ex and I had that exact agreement - I didn't like cooking or dishes, and he professed to like cooking. So, I figured he could cook, and I'd do the dishes, so at least one of us was doing something they didn't hate, yk? Well...he almost never cooked, and this deal was only for when/if we were both working. The whole time he was unemployed (pre-ds1), he refused to do any dishes, saying that we'd agreed they were my job. He couldn't even understand why I thought his employment status had anything to do with it!
 
I don't think the "he finds work soul crushing, but is okay with you doing it" thing is necessarily an issue, as it doesn't sound like the OP finds her work soul crushing at all! But, I'd go into this very slowly. Something about this guy sounds off to me, and I can't quite put my finger on it.
 

On the other hand, I agree with not making a decision too quickly. I have to admit, the possibility occurred to me that this guy might be a deadbeat who is trying to find a sugar-mama and using depression as an excuse. I would assume not, because I'm pretty much doing what they are considering (even though my husband doesn't like working outside the home) because that's what made sense for us. This brings up the very good point that you shouldn't start on a life path like this with someone you don't trust. I have my good days and my bad days, but I want what's best for us as a family. If you aren't sure yet that this is the case for Feral Man, then take your time to be sure you trust him, to be sure he is trying to put the family's needs first (even if he doesn't always succeed, just like I sometimes don't). I'm trying, and I'm getting better all the time. Is he willing to try methods that might improve his depression (reading self-help mental health books, seeing a counselor, brainstorming strategies on his own or with you)? This would be good for you and good for him.


All this. Definitely.

post #12 of 15

 

post #13 of 15
I think he sounds like a very low energy person, he's prone to illness and depression. Your dream would require tremendous work and energy, and it's possible that it's not just the money you'll provide, but the energy.

There's nothing wrong with the man being focused on home and the woman earning money, but ya gotta pick the right guy.

Frankly, a lot of house work is dull and repetitive and soul destroying. I think he sounds whiny and may be a little immature. What has he done that shows he has the character to stick with something when it's hard?
post #14 of 15

Just wanted to chime in with what others mentioned... Being a stay at home parent only works if the parent is really into the responsibiliies and takes it seriously. I have seen men be really great SAHP because they honestly love cooking, cleaning, running errands, playing with their kids and keep things organized. Sure 2 these guys turned out to be gay and had to the leave the marriages LOL

 

In my case my DH was mainly motivated to be a SAHP so he didn't have to work, I now realize. Although the idea of raising our child appealed to him and prospects of lots of hobby time and a very open schedule appealed too. The one way to know a person is into being Domestic Manager is to see that they are already living that way now. Does he like to clean, organize his home, cook, garden and multi task well? Is he already passionate about homesteading doing what it takes to manage a tight budget? Is he interested in doing this for a family as opposed for just himself?

 

Just because he mostly likes these things *and* hates to work doesn't mean he will love to be a SAHP and run the household full time.

 

Rhianna

post #15 of 15

Haha I like that....great sense of humor.  I see why your situation is sorta of working.  Because you laugh about it.  ROTFLMAO.gif

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