Married Life

I am now the stay-at-home dad and my wife the breadwinner; and we are making it work

He lost his job and she got a great offer. He became a stay at home father but how did they adjust in their relationship
kareena and Arjun in ki and ka

(As told to Riti Kaunteya)

Yes, my wife is the breadwinner in our marriage

Sometimes I feel judged, sometimes resentful, but most times, I am contented. I do think my wife has a bit more power in our marriage because she is the breadwinner in our household, but what the hell, I do not care.

It all began when the company where I worked went through a hostile takeover. Within a few months, I was declared redundant and had to leave. Coincidentally, my wife got an offer from her company to head a division abroad with a pay packet that would boost our household income and give her a chance to fly in her career.

She, who was in half a mind to retire at 40, all of a sudden found herself at the brink of a big change in her career. If she accepted this, it would change her work life for the long haul. She would no longer be able to think of retiring early, taking a break from her career or living off my income because she no longer wanted to work. It was a big step. Had I kept my job, she would have perhaps thought about the offer in detail from my perspective. A change of country where I would not be qualified to work would effectively put a stop or pause to my career.

Related reading: I left my job to follow my wife in her transfer

She took up an exciting new position at work

We argued. We debated. She cried, I steamed. She showed resentment. And she complained – just when I thought I could quit and focus on the children, you put us in this situation. I knew when to shut up so I listened, just as a friend will listen to a friend venting.

couple fighting
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It didn’t take long for us to reconcile to our situation. She had put her career on the backseat for years and I must admit, she is smarter in her work than I am in mine. She is a natural when it comes to business instinct, whereas I have to work my ass off to achieve results. After several days of debate, she began to see sense in taking the offer. She began to dream of success and power, something she always took to with aplomb but couldn’t because so far mine was the main breadwinning job.

Moreover, I often fantasised about a gap year during college and a career break to do a PhD, perhaps launch my own start-up, or perhaps take up corporate training. I was not clear at that point of time, but I was certain I didn’t want to retire in this job. This was perhaps the universe conspiring to help me achieve my dreams.

I took it as an opportunity to explore other things

“How about losing your identity as the breadwinner?” my wife quipped. I pooh poohed her concern. “Promise me you will never bring money up during our arguments and we will be fine.” My wife had stretched herself at both work and home, given priority to the home when I could not take time off, yet she never gave me grief for not being there when the family needed.

I saw this as an opportunity to be with my children. When they were young, I had often fantasised about the possibility of being a stay at home dad just to be with the children, watch them grow, cuddle them all day and train them in football or badminton whichever they preferred. I felt the guilt every time I came home to sleeping children and I wondered if this was a blessing in disguise; a chance to make up for the lost time. A chance to take time off from backbreaking corporate life.

That is how I ended up being the househusband and my wife the breadwinner.

At first, it was somewhat strange to be ‘living off’ her earnings, to be asking her for money for household expenses and to justify the money spent. It was good we didn’t have to compare her homemaking skills and mine, because we were in different countries and had no basis for comparison, else I am sure I would have failed.

Related reading: I became a stay-at-home father to be with our daughter

Our relationship has changed for the better

With career taking a backseat, I felt less stressed and could do what I never could so far. I lavished attention on her and romanced her when she came back from work. We connected more than ever, because for her, balancing home and work came naturally and therefore as a couple we had more time for each other. We took weekend holidays, and it was as if we were getting to know each other all over again.

For the first time in my life, I indulged myself in following a hobby. I dusted off my DSLR camera and started to seriously pursue a photography course. I even managed to land some wedding and party shoots and earned pocket money. Then I started to give lectures in MBA colleges as well. Yes, it was not something that landed me with huge money but it was good and we really didn’t have to worry about insufficient income. My wife got a generous pay packet, so we did not go through the stress of losing my job. Hence adjusting to the new life was much easier than we imagined.

In a true sense, my wife and I are partners. We don’t feel the need to compete.

In a true sense, my wife and I are partners. We don’t feel the need to compete.

We’d been classmates and we knew each other’s weaknesses and more importantly, the strengths. We had been close friends, then partners and now we were refreshing our relationship. Hence, ego never came in between us.

married life

She appreciates what I do

We agreed that we had different approaches to childcare and she would not interfere in the way I would raise the children as the primary caregiver. For the first time, I realised a change in the way my wife interacted with me. She took time to thank me, praise me for a job well done and allowed me to take charge of decisions on home aspects. We had always been a good team and this attitude helped us in adjusting to each other’s roles without stress. This shift happened organically and in a manner that I did not feel patronised but appreciated for the slack I picked up in the household.

I sensed a greater confidence in her approach to intimacy and I must say, I am not complaining with the new tricks she has up her sleeve in the bedroom.

Today, I have started a corporate training outfit. It is just the beginning and I am not sure where I will land with this venture. For the moment, I am content with my role as homemaker and happy to raise my children as well.

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1 Comment

  1. Love is the strongest force present on this earth.
    And, this is just one more story proving the fact further.
    If you love each other, no change is big enough. Love.

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