Stay-at-home mom versus working mom is frequently a testy topic of debate everywhere you look. What about their husbands? Lately I’ve noticed a clear discrimination against men who are working class and have stay-at-home wives versus men who are executives living in that same arrangement. I’ve seen this distinction made mostly by women, so I don’t know what a man’s take on it would be.
Here’s what I mean. When Joe Executive’s wife stays at home with her three kids, no one seems surprised. In fact, it’s almost like it’s expected that this wife be available to plan her family’s social life. She’s expected to be a lady of leisure — arm candy — for him simply because he can easily afford it.
On the other hand, when Joe Worker Bee’s wife stays at home with their three kids, he’s called a caveman who’s out of touch with the times. I’ve even heard women paint this man as a potential abuser determined to keep his honey on lockdown. Because he may struggle financially in order for his wife to not have to work, he is viewed negatively.
Have any of you noticed this, too?
2 thoughts on “Husbands of stay-at-home wives”
As a stay at home dad, I’ve become much more aware of these issues. I think quite a few of these feelings come from a mixed set of emotions from both the at home and working parents. I think both of these groups at times are envious of what the others are able to do. As a stay at home parent, your identity, purpose, and function becomes completely tied to your child. As a working parent you have part of your identity tied to your child, but you also have an identity that expands outside of home. And at times these people would naturally envy what the other gets to do.
As far as the executive and a stay at home spouse, I think part of it may be a certain expectation that they should be making enough income to support their entire family. I’d also think that at a certain point the exec and his/her spouse came to a decision on what type of setting they wanted to provide.
I think the non-exec component comes from one family struggling to pay their bills on two incomes and then seeing a set of their income peers being able to shift to living on one income.
As far as expectations, we have double standard to so many things. Think gun rights and same-sex marriage. I think there is a significant percentage of gun supporters that oppose same sex marriage, and don’t have a problem with applying a limit to somebody’s right to marry somebody else, but become outraged when somebody wants to limit certain types of guns, place ammunition limits, or require additional background checks.
Chris, I wholeheartedly agree with so much of what you laid out here. The underlying element of envy is probably a strong force.
As for stay-at-home dads, oh my goodness, dads in popular culture are still portrayed as inept babysitters or not necessary. So we still have to get past that too. Great observations.