DH doesn't feel like enough of a provider


:frowning: I have a professional degree that, were I working, would allow me to easily earn a salary in the low- to mid-six figures. DH has a job that provides an adequate, but far less lucrative, five-figure salary.

Once we had children, we jointly made the decision for me to stay home and we are now homeschooling our four (soon to be five) kids. We both love this situation for its emotional and spiritual benefits and I am very happy at home (I do work occasionally, about once per week).

However… DH often has “bouts” (for lack of a better word) where he feels inadequate as a provider: we make enough to have a decent house and functioning autos and to put food on the table, but not much for extras. We don’t go out to eat much, our vacations are camping trips, and I can’t begin to think of how we’ll pay for college. Knowing I could be earning a far higher salary makes him feel more unworthy, in a way, especially when we get together with my former colleagues and classmates, many of whom have fancy cars/executive homes and the like.

How can I help him with these feelings of inadequacy? I build him up in every way I can think of and I never make money, or lack thereof, an issue.


do you two pray together? you can have your children get scholarships and grants for college and help them out as much as you can financially. i suggest praying together as a family #1 on the list of all this doubt the devils is filling your husbands head with. best of luck & God be with your family.


I should clarify: this is not primarily about material envy. DH is not very into “things” or toys or any of that. It’s more about providing for things like college, retirement savings, and piano lessons, summer pool passes, etc. for the kids.


“Junior”(s) should get their own scholarship money or work through college. After that, what do most of those things matter? As one large Catholic family patriarch jokes “I plan on taxing all 8+ of them at a rate of 8% when they start working so mum & I can retire.”

I used to have a lot of junk. Less for me has been MORE.


Have you ever thought about reversing roles? For some families, it works for dad to be a SAHD.


Personally, I don’t think you can do anything about his inadequacy issues. That comes from inside him, only he can change it.


“Junior”(s) should get their own scholarship money or work through college

I wish I could count on that. In fact, DH and I were both able to pay for much of our own education… however… tuition at the **state **school near us is around $11K for residents, and tuition is rising faster than inflation for sure. Maybe it’s perspective, but it seems to be proportionally a lot more expensive than it used to be to attend a top- or middle-tier school.

I know there are cheaper schools out there, and maybe I need to get over the idea that they should be able to attend whatever good school they are accepted to. I would love for them to be able to attend a good Catholic college (nearly all private) and not worry about accumulating tens of thousands of dollars of debt before they even enter the workforce!


Have you ever thought about reversing roles? For some families, it works for dad to be a SAHD.

We actually did that for a few years and while it was OK, I was never completely happy with it. I felt constantly stressed: never doing as much as others at work (because I wanted to get home as soon as possible to be with my babies) and not feeling like I did enough at home either (because I was always at work). Now that I’m home, my stress level has dropped immeasurably and I am far more content. DH prefers to be the one working FT, too. Not that he doesn’t love spending time with the kids-- he does-- but it’s somehow much harder for him to be the one dealing with all of the bruised knees and sibling crises on a daily basis.

I don’t mean to imply that there’s anything at all wrong with a SAHD situation-- we know two couples for whom it is currently working brilliantly-- but unfortunately we are not one of them, and we know from experience.


I know you feel. For the last ten years or so, I have earned far more than my husband. Thank goodness our children are now 18 and older. However, I was also a SAHM until our youngest was in second grade. My DH had issues with the fact that I could out-earn him (in other words, he did very often feel inadequate although he could provide for our basic needs).
It takes a lot of reassurance, and not always with words, to show your DH that he is indeed doing his job. Try to show appreciation at all times for the sacrifice he is making for his family in many different ways. I know you probably already do this, though.
I’ll offer my prayers for your husband that he feels adequate in his role of breadwinner while you stay at home with your children.


Can he go to school and get an equal degree? Perhaps he is voicing a desire to continue his education or to feel equal to you.


The best thing you can do is treat him as your knight in shining armour…I could also earn more than my husband, but we would not be able to cope with the role reversal as you described as well.

Lets pray for each other to be able to treat our men like our knights!!!


smallcat - I agree with you. I earn more than my dh (I’m a lawyer, he was an engineer - soon to be lawyer too). He stayed home for about one year, doing law school at night. I never felt good about this situation. I was never quite 100% at work and never quite 100% at home, inadequate at both. He could never handle the house and kids (and multitasking) as well as I could, and I have always been very nervous as “the breadwinner”.

SAHD is certainly better than some other options, but it was stressful for me. It was always chaotic in the house when I got home in the evenings too.

To others - although I would love to be a sahm and we could probably scrape by on one salary, we’d never be able to save for college, or retirement, and we certainly wouldn’t be able to send the kids to Catholic schools. I need to use my good earning potential to ensure that my children get a good education and that they don’t come out of college 100K in debt, like so many do! I was saddled with only about 50K in student loans, and it’s really affected my ability to save and to do as an adult.

To the OP - I agree that it’s hard for men to be a “lesser” wage earner. My dh sometimes says he feels “useless”. I just keep reminding him how important his role is as a father, not just in providing money, but it really being there with the kids, in doing with them (rather than for them), and in providing them guidance that only a dad can provide.




I think it is just a matter of traditional male role attitudes that have been programmed into us for the longest of times.

This topic was touched upon in another recent thread:



A husband should provide more than merely money to his family. Perhaps you can help him see how much you and the family depend on HIM, and not just his paycheck. Whether making 6 figures or $6/hr, men need constant re-assurance that they are needed, loved, and appreciated.

I may be reading too much into your situation, but it could be he can express his feelings of inadequacy about money. But he may not know how to express that he doesn’t feel like he’s really needed. Speaking for myself, I am confident in myself as a financial provider, yet not confident as an emotional provider, because we’re too busy re-inforcing the kids’ self worth instead of ourselves…


With the number of children you have, and particularly if two or more of them would be in college at the same time, you may well discover that it is not out of the realm of possibility for your children to receive outright grants from top tier private schools. There is a trend at some Ivy League schools now to make it considerably easier for middle-class families to send their children, requiring only a small percentage of income from families in the $60,000-$120,000 range. Many of the Catholic schools I am familiar with also have good grant programs for families with need - and the number of children in college at one time impacts this. Of course, there are also government grant-in-aid programs, as well - not just loans!

Don’t give up hope - you may be pleasantly surprised. If your children are excellent students, the chances are even better.


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