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 can 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 an INTJ 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.
OK. So your choices are would you rather work and have two nannies or work and have a husband at 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 coexist 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 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 Maclean’s 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.
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.