Question: “My husband is basically asking me to sit on my butt all day while he’s working his off.
We’re both 25 years old and I currently have an income coming in (along with benefits through my company) but my husband has some very strong views on marriage roles and has told me his goal in life is to provide a stable home for me and for our future children so we can have anything and everything we need. He says that besides the house just being “tidy” and the care I put into his meals, all he wants is for me to spend the day practicing self care and “cocooning.” All while he is juggling working, completing his next step in his degree and also balancing our relationship.
We’ve never even had a fight, but I am struggling with my mental health. I feel guilty thinking that he’s putting in 80 hours a week while I am cleaning our apartment for 40 minutes a day. He has also said when I am pregnant he wants a very active role in our child’s life on top of all he’s taking on. For whatever reason, spending his money and sitting at home while he works isn’t sitting right with me – even if one day I’ll also be the mother to his children. He said I need to chill out and accept life is finally giving me a break because I deserve it.
Is it normal to feel so uncomfortable about something that seems to come from a place of love?”
Answer: “There’s a lot to unpack here, but I think the main question is, What do you really want? Are you OK being a stay-at-home wife, or would you prefer to have your own job even if it is part time? I know if someone told me they have ‘strong views on marriage roles’ I would think I was teleported back to 1950. And that’s not to say being a stay-at-home mom or home-maker isn’t challenging or rewarding because it is a full time job and then some. We all have our own preferences but yours are important to remember here. That being said, you don’t have kids quite yet and he’s already telling you to “cocoon,” so I do wonder if there’s some deeper issues here.
Our pasts really shape us, and I wonder if your partner went through something as a child or adolescent that made him want to have this breadwinner role. It sounds like he’s putting a lot of pressure on himself, and my fear is that he’s going to burn himself out. Working 80 hours a week while juggling school and everything else sounds a little unhealthy and unrealistic. My other concern here is ensuring you’re not being secluded from family, friends and the outside world. I know you mention your relationship is great and you don’t fight, but sometimes seclusion or restriction like this can be a tactic of control. I know you mention you’re receiving benefits from your current company, but if you were to go back to work after having kids, for example, would that upset him? This is definitely something that requires further conversation between you two.
My partner is getting very close with his flirty coworker. Can I demand he quit his job?
It sounds like you are uncomfortable with the current arrangement, and that’s a valid feeling. I know I would feel vulnerable not having my own source of income, and it can be risky to depend solely on someone else. I would sit down and have a heart-to-heart with him about his views, where they could be coming from and what you want for yourself.
At the end of the day, you have the right to do what you want with your life, regardless of his views on marriage roles. There’s two people in this relationship, and both should be able to choose jobs, volunteer work or hobbies as they see fit. This conversation may also lead to a solution where he ends up balancing his own needs and self-care better, which may be good because things sound a little unsustainable, especially when kids come into the picture. This could be the perfect time to establish boundaries and expectations for what you want now and going forward. I’d imagine all the what-ifs: What does life look like if I work part-time? What does life look like when kids go to school full-time? Really try to talk through these scenarios together. You may not align or see eye-to-eye on everything, but marriage is about compromise and ensuring both partners are happy and fulfilled.
Hope this helps and wishing you the best,
Morgan Absher is an occupational therapist in Los Angeles who hosts the podcast, “Two Hot Takes” where she and her co-hosts dish out advice. She writes a weekly column, sharing her advice with USA TODAY’s readers. Find her on TikTok @twohottakes and YouTube here. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or you can click here to share your story with her.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Stay at home mom? My husband wants me to cocoon at home. I don’t agree