Painting by Roy Lichtenstein.

You cannot pick a husband to have kids with until you know if you want to work full-time while you are raising them. Some women will say they know for sure that they do want to work full-time. Most women will say that they don’t know for sure. But there are actually only two choices: be a breadwinner or marry a breadwinner. Then, within those two choices, there are a few strategies you could use.

Scenario 1: Be a Breadwinner

If you want to work full-time when you have kids then you had better plan on having a huge job that you love. Because nothing else will seem worth it to put yourself and your family through what they will have to go through.

If you are on the fence about this, here’s a good way to get off the fence: if you’re not anINTJ or an ENTJ you probably won’t be able to compartmentalize enough at work to choose this scenario. You will feel bad about not being with your kids. You cannot control this. It’s how women are wired. I’m sorry. INTJ is the most uncommon score for a woman. ENTJ is the second most uncommon. You can look around at all the big job, high-powered women and see that almost all of them have one of these scores. Sometimes an ENFJ slips in, but they are tortured and don’t last. The F kills them. They feel bad that they are not fulfilling their duty as parents. It’s not peer pressure, it’s internal pressure. It’s how an ENFJ is wired.

Breadwinner option 1: Marry a stay-at-home dad. Let’s say you’re sure you want a big job while you have kids. The first thing is that you will need a stay-at-home husband. The reason for this is if you leave your kids every day for a full-time job, it’s because you love work. And if you love work, you will want to keep advancing. High-powered jobs leave little time for kids. And people who advance past the age of 35 have a stay-at-home spouse supporting them. If you have kids, the top-tier jobs in the business world are two-people jobs. People who have kids and a stay-at-home spouse advance at a much, much higher rate than people who don’t.

Breadwinner option 2: Nannies. If you don’t have a stay-at-home spouse and you want to advance past age 35, you will need round-the-clock nannies. Women who have kids and a big job and no stay-at-home husband have two nannies, and a household staff, because you need to be covered every second of every day because you don’t know what work will need. (Remember: this is from day one of having kids.) And if you don’t have a spouse who is tied to home then you can’t risk having to leave when your spouse isn’t there.

Okay. So would you rather work and have two nannies or work and have a husband home? There is no right answer, but you need to decide that when you are picking a husband.

How to pick a husband who will co-exist with a breadwinner and nannies. If you are picking the two-nanny route, you will need to find a husband who earns more than you. Statistically your marriage is high risk if you and your husband are both in the workforce and you earn more than him because surveys show that you will resent him. This is not logical, or social, it is primal. Statistically, you will marry a guy who does not make as much as you and then you will have kids and get a divorce. Because women hate the feeling of out-earning their husbands.

To be clear: there is no scenario where you have a big job but do not work long hours. That does not happen. There are not those jobs in this world. And that is fair: why should you get a big important job and be home all evening for your kids when everyone else has to work twelve hour days to have big important jobs? You give something up to get something. Always.

How to pick a stay-at-home dad. If you want a stay-at-home dad type to complement your big job, pick a guy who has an F in his Myers Briggs score which makes him most likely to be fulfilled taking care of kids.(But stay away from ENFPs — they’re too flighty.) And, bonus: these guys probably weren’t going to make a lot of money anyway, so you it’s good for them to be with a breadwinner.

Scenario 2: Be Home with Your Kids

If you want to be home with your kids, you’re going to need a solid plan to make that happen. Pew Research finds that about 60% of all working women with kids want to work part-time and be home with their kids part-time. (Note that Macleans magazine reports that women with kids who work part-time are the happiest in the world.) Gallup reports that about 40% of women don’t want to work at all. (Note that this leaves a statistically irrelevant number of women who have kids and want to work full-time.)

Home with Kids Option 1: Work part-time. Let’s assume you want to work part-time, since this is the more complicated of the two scenarios. The problem with this scenario is that part-time jobs don’t offer advancement or a lot of money, so you need to be with a guy who will work full-time.

Don’t tell me that you want your husband to work part-time, because aiming for the impossible 50/50 split leads to divorce. First, because it’s the road to eternal poverty; part-time jobs are low pay, without advancement, and they are the first to go when it’s time to cut jobs. So you create massive financial instability by having two people work part-time. Also, parents who do this say it’s total chaos, and in a 50/50 split the women always end up doing way more.

Home with Kids Option 2: Don’t bother with earning money. If the guy is working full-time, then he is not going to do all the parenting stuff. You are. So you are working part-time and you are a full-time parent. You will have to work hard to not get resentful about this. And really, who could blame you? The best antidote for this resentment is money. If the guy makes a lot of money you can hire people to help you and then you don’t have to be upset that the guy is not helping you.

Or not. Or you can just let the guy go to his job, which, you will certainly know, is way easier than taking care of kids, because every job in the whole world is easier than taking care of kids, and you will be home doing everything else. Maybe you will have a part-time job, but that will not be the focus of your energy because the stuff at home is way harder than your part-time job. Your part-time job will be a break from the hard stuff. So pick a guy who will earn enough to ensure that you are not pissed.

Also, pick a guy who will earn enough so that you don’t have to work. Because statistically speaking, you will not want a full-time job, and you definitely won’t want a job where you have to earn six figures, because that’s way more than full-time.

How to find a husband who is a breadwinner. The first thing to be aware of is that everyone looks like a breadwinner in their twenties. Because most salaries are going up up up because there is nowhere to go but up when you start at entry level. And most people can get jobs pretty easily when their salary is not very high. But at some point, the salary gets high enough that you have to actually be good at what you do to continue getting jobs at that salary. Then some people start getting stuck and they have to rethink what they thought they could accomplish.

Other people simply cannot move up. They are as far up as they will go. This happens to most people around age 30. Definitely by 35. So the best thing to do is to assume anyone over 30 is making as much as they will make in their life. This is playing it safe, but better safe than sorry, right? (By age 40 almost no one’s salary increases.)

A capable breadwinner—someone who does not require a second earner to support a household—usually does not have an F in their Myers Briggs score. I’m sorry to burst a lot of bubbles here. Not that there aren’t exceptions, but marriage is a big deal, so statistics matter. If you are marrying an F and you want to stay home with kids, make sure the F is earning enough to support a family when you marry him. Otherwise it’s not likely he will earn that much.

If you are marrying young, which I recommend, then you’re playing the odds. And here are the types that are the most likely to be high earning: ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, ESTP, ENFJ, ESTJ, ISTJ, ISTP.

Scenario 3: Denial. Don’t do this.

There will be people who say you can’t choose who you fall in love with. This is a lie, of course. There are a million people you could fall in love with. If one is impractical, just go find another.

There will be people who say they don’t know what they want until they see who they marry. This means you are not an ENTJ or an INTJ so the odds are you do not want a huge job and you are in scenario two.

Most people just will not like these choices. Nothing here is good. It’s reality, and of course it’s not as good as fantasy. The only good, real thing is that you have choices, and you can figure out who you are and what you need and you can get what you need.

The only thing worse than the choices I’ve just laid out is not making a choice. You are pretending that you do not control your life by choosing who you marry, and you will end up marrying someone without having a plan for what to do with that person. If that’s your choice, then you’re leaving your life up to chance. And every life has too much potential for that.


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  1. mamdam Tina
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  2. Michaella
    Michaella says:

    Very helpful Penelope and really accurate but smth important is missing.
    I am a clear ENTJ and even know exactly what I want since I was 16: two breadwinners and several nunnies. Affording them is not the issue. Finding a man ready for this means searching during 3 lifetimes.
    Now what is missing in your article is just this.
    How an ENTJ woman who rises to 1/5 million dollar a year income can find a guy who makes more and wants such a powerful woman that is his equal. Many of them (I just watch friends and colleagues) go for the bimbow type that manipulates them and extracts their money by pretending to admire them even in their total foolishness.Top male doctors and lawyers seem to choose manicurists and cleaning ladies that adore the ground they walk on and keep their mouths shut.
    I am extremely attractive which scares the hell out of them on top of my education and career. The more powerful they are, the more fragile their male egos. It’s mission impossible…

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  4. Kate
    Kate says:

    So an ENTJ + cardiac surgeon should probably pass on the kids… reassuring to find out my ambivalence about them might not be a bad thing!

  5. clyde
    clyde says:

    lol i guess im not one to make much money being an INFP. but, like a typical INFP, money can’t buy happiness. although i’m very ambitious and want to earn a lot – i still realize that an unhealthy obsession about material things won’t really make someone happy.

    besides, in chosing MY partner, i wouldn’t choose a gold digger. :)

  6. Sapphyreopal5
    Sapphyreopal5 says:

    I can understand where you are coming from and can agree with trying to be more practical about who you marry. It is however true at the same time we cannot choose who we ultimately fall in love (or don’t fall in love) with unfortunately. We can usually choose who we marry but not who we fall in love with. Marriage =/= love.

    I love how you say “A capable breadwinner—someone who does not require a second earner to support a household—usually does not have an F in their Myers Briggs score”, yet you list ENFJ as one of the types who are likely to be making the most money ha ha.

    My mom is ESFJ married to an ENTJ (who doesn’t fit the whole ENTJ stereotype honestly but is an ENTJ). My dad makes a pretty good living, yet my ESFJ mother wants him to go up the corporate ladder yet again (JUST got a promotion a couple years ago) because she wants more money, although he is content with where he is right now. I think the issue there is that my dad is a more practical kind of person and doesn’t need a lot of luxuries whereas my mom enjoys the “finer things in life”. For some people, you could make a very good living and it still is not enough for whoever you’re with as is the case with my mother.

    I say marry someone who’s personality, interests, etc. match your own, not at how much they make NOW and whatnot because quite frankly, those things change or the real them comes out once babies come into the picture (or even before). I believe that should conflict pop up somewhere along the way, you and your SO will be able to figure it out when you’re there if you can work well together as a team.

    I haven’t gotten married (and am about to be 23), although I do know enough to know what I want in life (also in that, a SO). I know that I cannot fall in love with someone who is shallow, uncreative, overly neurotic, is illogical, too conventional, short-sighted (lives too much for today and not for the future), and someone who is downright rigid amongst other things I am forgetting at this moment as I type this ha ha. In that sense, sure you could say I am “choosing” who I fall in love with; however, those are preferences of mine I didn’t choose.

    I am ENTP by the way if you are curious :)

  7. Julianne Horn
    Julianne Horn says:

    Great article. I am an ENFJ married to an INTJ – a wonderful man who is also a workaholic surgeon. I am a lawyer with a post- graduate degree and a CPA as well. Everyone throughout my life including my highly intelligent angry feminist mother, an ENTJ, has told me that I need to work to feel fulfilled. However, when I would leave my kids in the hands of another for parenting to enter the workforce, my heart would feel like it was breaking. Finally, I felt God directing me to truly know myself and quit living my life based on the expectations of others. It was at this time that I really started to study Meyers Briggs and everything started to make sense. I agree with everything that you have written in your article. I am now 49 and starting to look at reentering the legal profession because all three of our children, now older, are ready for me to take this personal leap. I hope that more young women read your article and let go of the “guilt” that our society has placed on them about desiring to just be a Mom and love our kids through the precious growing up years. It is how God made us, and it does not mean that we are weak or life failures as the feminist movement so clearly conveyed to me as a young adult woman.

  8. Coach Oz
    Coach Oz says:

    Wow!!! What a great informative article. I’d love to hear a male version. How to pick a wife if you want to have kids. I guess perhaps its a bit easier for guys than girls but still can be complex.


  9. Gus
    Gus says:

    I see some nice and logical advice in this post, but while reading this, sometimes i felt like reading a post about how to choose your bike or something like this. We gossip about a husband here.. He should be treated as a human being and the post should take under consideration some subjective factors such as feelings or the will of changing some parts of your daily routine in order to make your marriage work if you really love your family. However, it’s a post with some useful information and statistics

  10. OutThink
    OutThink says:

    Your use of MBTI is horrible and goes against what MBTI practitioners are taught is ethical use. Statistics are great but I fear you don’t even have a basic understanding of typology if everything you claim is based off of MBTI without an understanding of Jungian typology. Why don’t you ever talk about function use? I feel sorry for the people who take your word and do not do their own investigation of typology out side of what you think and outside of the flawed MBTI indicator.

  11. Rose
    Rose says:

    Dear Penelope,

    Where were you 8 years ago? :)
    I enjoy the your writing. It is crystal clear, and your logic is linear and good. You are life-smart and have a refreshing amount of common sense that is lacking in many. I cannot put my finger on it, but I really really like your thinking style.

  12. Natasha
    Natasha says:

    I am an ENTJ female married to an ENFP. The blog is absolutely relevant to me.

    I am rapidly moving up the success ladder. My husband is a stay at home father who takes care of our child and the nannies work under his supervision.

    He earns from work at home assignments.

    Our relationship is average. Probably less interactive.

    I cannot imagine being at home. I wouldn’t survive.

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