June 20, 2012

Please Tell Me The Mister is NOT Right!

Can you guys help settle a "we agree to disagree" thing at our house?

I am currently reading Goodbye to All That by Judith Arnold (I got it for free, on NetGalley). It is a novel about Ruth and Richard Bendel, a couple in their 60s. After 42 years of marriage, Ruth wants a separation from her successful cardiologist husband. She's tired of taking care of everyone else, and not being appreciated or listened to. She wants a new life.

She wants to live alone, for the first time. She finds a cheap apartment and a minimum wage job at a discount chain store, and flies the coop.

Her three adult children are rocked to their cores since they felt that their parents were steady and stable and seemed to have a happy marriage.

I told The Mister that I understood how Ruth felt. That after years of taking care of children full-time, it's easy to feel invisible, unheard. That you can clean whiskers out of the bathroom sink for just so long before you want to shout "NO MORE!"

The Mister said that she was a bitch; I said she was selfish. Richard Bendel, the husband in the story did not come out blame-free, either. He was dismissive and prideful. The Mister said he was an asshole (we agreed on that, but I didn't use the a-word).

Then the volume of our voices got louder...

I said that Ruth had made a sacrifice to stay home with children and to care for her family. The Mister said it was NOT a sacrifice - it was a choice (and the best choice for the family).

I then explained how my eleven years as a SAHM represented a time when I sacrificed work experience in exchange for my decision to stay at home with my children. When my ex husband left our family, I was at a distinct disadvantage. I had never had a full-time job. My daughters and I lived on child support of $575/month (which was insufficient to allow us to stay in our house), and the rent in our apartment was $310. We were well below the poverty level. It took me years to play paycheck catch up with co-workers (one big reason I moved so often was so I could gain work experience and find jobs where the pay was higher).

The Mister was insistent that I made no sacrifice at all - that I had traded work experience for motherhood. 

I ended the discussion by saying that we'd agree to disagree - but I'd love to find out YOUR opinion (and hope that you agree with me so I can dazzle The Mister with statistics).

What say you? Is the job of SAHM a fair trade or a major sacrifice?


  1. When you choose to stay at home initially I think it is a fair trade, FINANCIALLY if you can do it. So many women choose to stay at home because the cost of child care would obliterate their entire paycheck anyway. However, it is a sacrifice for the woman. She is now doing at least 4 full time jobs without the pay and not one of those jobs will carry weight on any resume. Which they should. In the end it is a sacrifice period.

  2. This is a good one, Kim! I can relate to the story in a couple of different ways. First, I totally "get" how Ruth felt. She must've gotten married young, and maybe never lived out on her own before. If a person goes from their own home, to marriage, they lose a lot of LIFE. That's what I did in my first marriage and I was thrilled when I got my cheapie, first apartment, my first low-paying job, my very own credit card! Etc. And I can see a woman feeling that way again, much later in life....Now, as far as being a SAHM or working outside the home....I think BOTH are hard choices AND hard sacrifices. It depends on what the mom really wants to do with her life. There's so many factors. I'll end with that....don't want to monopolize the comment section! :)

  3. Hands down you win!!! It is not even a close call!!! The sacrifice is financial (big time) your personal time, your social life plus being on 24/7 which your hubs with a normal 40-50 hr week does not have to endure. Sometimes the financial never ever catches up as the prime ladder climbing years are also prime child bearing years. You can't go back and ask for "retro" raises or "lost" promotions either. It sucks to be 35-45 and starting out at what a 18-19 year old makes, but I have seen it happen time and time again. Divorce never equalizes the SAHM years. He keeps more and you can't even keep the lifestyle. This does not factor in the loss of 401K contributions and loss of compound interest for retirement. In case the hubs thinks I sound bitter-I have no children and have never been divorced but I have witnessed it many times with co-workers and close friends. It is always sad. I would advise any woman before having children to insist on a pre or post nuptial agreement spelling our what the wife/mom is due to compensate strictly for these SAHM years. After that if the couple wants to split the rest 50/50 fine.
    Just my .02. :-)

  4. I think being a SAHM is the most important job there is. Your children need a mother, or a father for that matter, watching them. Daycare never was part of our agenda. One of us stayed home.

    Now, The Mister is wrong. it is not a fair trade. Because unfortunately, when a man or woman needs to go back into the workforce, employers could give a rats ass that your children were more important.

  5. In agreement with what LH says and will add: While the sacrifice is indeed financial and most women do not recover after separation or divorce, the "gains" are ten-fold with regard to the children as NO ONE can provide them the kind of time, attention, or advocacy like a parent. The same goes when caring for an aging parent. These are the ultimate sacrifices women make. Unfortunately, the emotional support from most spouses does not come EVEN close to our energy output (mental, physical, and emotional).
    I also agree with Dazee that the workplace remains gender biased to this day, despite women gaining some ground in regards to hiring, pay, etc.

  6. circumstances and personality, i think, play a big part. "The Boss" wanted to stay home. She also, when the kids got older, took a professional job...but she would have liked to stay home but it provided extras for the kids, (college etc.)Now she has retired and is glad of it...didnt answer your question, i know, but however you can juggle the options is the answer to me...glenn

  7. Tough one.
    Yes it's mostly a choice, or an option. That does not mean it is not also a significant sacrifice. Then again, trudging into work five days a week, fifty+ weeks per year for forty-odd years or more to a not-quite-perfect job involves a great deal of sacrifice as well. Most careers involve a daily, or at least weekly dose of working with/for jerks, idiots, liars and reprobates, etc. Without exception it requires adhering to the often unreasonable schedules, demands and needs of someone other than yourself. In that way the actual work environment/sacrifice is not so different.
    You make choices, you deal with, adjust to, or just live with those choices. There's little objectively right/wrong, better/worse about it.
    'Sacrifice' is completely subjective, based entirely upon your own, personally biased value system. I 'sacrifice' an enormous hunk of free-time for a good paycheck. To me though, it's not really a sacrifice, it's my responsibility. I'd certainly like more free time, but not at all at the cost of losing that paycheck. So is it actually a sacrifice? No, it's more of a tradeoff, a barter, that's all.
    The trick to life, the genius of humanity, isn't cursing the fates, moping about the cards you were dealt or the mistakes you made, or the woe heaped onto you by others, it's to take those things, (everybody's got 'em), and carve yourself out a good, fulfilling life in spite of them all.
    Life ain't fair sweetie, for anyone. It really isn't, but I'll be damned if I'm going to spend my only shot at this oft-wretched game wallowing in misery, howling about the unfairness of it all. Sure some days are tough, really tough, but that's just life. Gird up the rapidly aging loins and march on...
    BTW IMHO You guys seem to argue about the silliest things.... ;-)

  8. It is a major sacrifice. I struggle daily with my being financially dependent on my husband … and how easily he could throw us away and we'd struggle for ages and it would be awful. Until someone lives it, they have no idea. You are right. The Mister is dead wrong.

  9. A little late, but still outraged at the suggestion.

    When my children were small I worked part time only, as part of a reasoned joint decision between myself and my husband. He worked full time and it was understood that I would do the lion's share of domestic chores and child tending on top of my outside paid employment. It made sense financially as he earned more than I did.

    Years later, when we divorced, he claimed that he was entitled to a more than fifty percent share of our joint assets because I only worked part time and contributed so much less to our household in terms of actual cash coming in. I am not going to enter into the degree of outrage I felt when my contribution (as both a mother and a salaried earner) was belittled so.

    Yeah, your Mister is so very wrong and I don't just want to tell him so: I want to punch him very hard as well.


Thanks for stopping by. I love your comments...I get all warm inside just reading them!