I have never let anyone guest post anonymously on this blog before, but today is an exception, and you’ll see why if you keep reading.
Every time I write about stay-at-home dads, tons of them write to me. They always want me to tell their story. The only emails I get that say “contact me if you want to interview me about my life” are from stay-at-home dads.
Not much ever comes of this, but there’s one exception: a guy I’ve been corresponding with for the last year about what life’s like as a stay-at-home dad. Today’s guest post is actually a bunch of his emails that I’ve edited, with his permission. I like this guy because he is more honest with me about his life than any other stay-at-home dad I know.
When a person asks “What kind of marriage works today?” they learn that there are so many more options available than there were even 25 years ago. My mother and grandmother never would have been able to ask that question because there was only one type of marriage in the past. My wife and I have pretty much taken the old template and switched genders.
But it’s hard on me having a similar education and background to my wife and yet having her be the big success in her field while I’m not in it at all. There are many times when my wife accomplishes something and I say to myself that I never could have done that. And as my wife spends less time with our family and more time with work people, my focus and my social circle is different from hers.
So let me give you two of the positives about being in my position as a stay-at-home husband.
First, it is so great that my wife has a kick-ass job, makes good money, and provides so well for our family. She rocks. And it’s great for the kids.
Second, she’s really good at letting me do what I do. Not a lot of second guessing or interference. She’s never ever complained about anything I’ve spent or what I do. Not that I’m irresponsible or frivolous, but it’s just nice knowing that I can pretty much do what I want to do. I wouldn’t be staying home at all if not for her income.
Yes, there is a power imbalance, but I’ve gotten used to it. If I thought about it a lot, it would probably drive me crazy. But that imbalance comes with some of the perks that I embrace. Being able to commit and make this huge leap of faith is something that I’m very proud of myself for doing. And I know that my wife very much appreciates it. It’s certainly made me more vulnerable, but it’s added strength to our relationship.
But I’ve also been amazed as to how many propositions I’ve received since becoming a househusband. I have a pretty good sense of myself, so take my word that I’m not Brad Pitt but I’m not The Elephant Man either. But until I started staying home, I was never the object of this kind of attention.
Especially one winter, tagging along with her at a business conference.
On the first day I met a woman who really had her act together, single, about 50, and from Boston. A real flirt too. I flirted back. Same thing the next day. Each time we talked, she would talk about the seminars and other BS she’d attended (which my wife never does), and basically roll her eyes while giving the company-line on all the “interesting” things that she had learned. It was pretty funny.
On the second to last night, she said that, finally, tomorrow afternoon, she was actually looking forward to a meeting. I asked her what it was about. I’ll never forget what she said: “The two of us. I’m leaving the morning meeting early. Come to my room and we can have lunch and the afternoon together.”
The next morning, slinking around and probably acting like a burglar, I knocked, went in, and we spent three really great hours together. And that was it. At the last cocktail party, we bantered again.We’ve emailed a few times since them, but never gotten together.
At times I can’t believe the course my life has taken and I doubt that my wife has a huge amount of respect for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a chauvinist and always had a condescending view of women who stayed home, who live very pampered lives. Well, now I’m one of them. But I have to say that I’m really no different than a lot of women who are married to power husbands and play a supporting role. I just do what they do, with a masculine twist.
ADDENDUM: YIKES!!! The comments below (there are now about 40) ask the same question over and over again: What is the point of this post? So here are some questions that I think the post brings up:
Is being a stay-at-home dad any different than the life that Betty Friedan and Sylvia Plath worked so hard to get away from?
Is the world really ready for stay-at-home dads? Will the world ever be ready? We have done a more successful job, I think, integrating women into the work world than men into the domestic world. Are women crossing these boundaries more validated than the men who cross the boundaries?
Why is the world not talking about the downside of being a stay-at-home dad? Moms complain about this lifestyle all the time –when they are doing it — but men don’t.
Do women respect their stay-at-home husbands? I wonder if women might have to work very very hard to respect their husbands who stay at home. Perhaps gratitude comes easily, but respect takes a huge effort and a lot of mental tricks.
Why do women hit on stay-at-home dads?