Wife wants to return to work

Long story short, we are a traditional Catholic family with four great kids ages 8-2. I make good money and we have a nice home, kids go to Catholic school, and while we aren’t rolling in money we have a nice lifestyle.

Before we married 10 years ago we agreed that my wife would be a stay home mom when we had kids. She has fulfilled the end of the bargain, as have I (to work and provide an income for the family.). When I am home I am helpful and play with the kids. I try to make sure she gets a break once a week going out with girlfriends, having a massage, book club, whatever.

Now she is telling me that she wants to go back to work 20 hours a week (she is a nurse.) she said being an at home mom isn’t doing it for her anymore, it’s unexciting and unfulfilling. She said she needs the outside feedback and stimulation. She says she is unhappy just being a mom and wife and needs “more than just that.” She said she will be a better and happier wife and mom if she has work outside the home.

I think the kids need a full time mom. Her going back to work would mean we had to hire a sitter or put the younger two in a daycare facility. That is not my vision of an acceptable family. I realize some people have no choice, but we do. We don’t need her to work and even she admits it’s not about the money. She said she doesn’t even care if the childcare fees break even with her income.

I don’t want my kids raised by outsiders. I want my wife to pull her end of the bargain by staying home and when our youngest is 18 she can work. As a man I take pride in providing and I don’t want to tell people my wife works or that the kids are in daycare. I want to come home to an intact family. Moms should stay home in my opinion and I don’t know what to say to a woman who finds raising kids and being a homemaker and wife boring and unfulfilling. My mom did it and seemed happy. Why would any woman want outside work?

Advice guys!

I think you just answered your own question a few sentences earlier: because some people do not feel fulfilled staying at home. Honestly, I think you will have a very unhappy spouse if you try to demand that your wife stay at home when she is clearly dissatisfied. Also, weigh the options: a “better and happier wife and mom” who works or an unhappy mom at home? Since your wife is a nurse, there are often odd hours and they are also quite long. You said that your wife wants to work about 20 hours a week, correct? This could either be interspersed throughout the week (4 hours a day, which might be able to be scheduled when you are able to be home with the kids) or perhaps two long days. This might be a feasible compromise or not, but I’d think it over.

Wait another 16 years?
I don’t think that’s a good idea, since she’s telling you how she feels right now.

It’s not about the money for her…she’s feeling she needs to be around grown-ups, have a different kind of interaction, feel her other talents used as well.

I assume she’s already been home for 8 years, yes?

As the poster above says…perhaps she can do some shifts at night, when you are home…or maybe even wait another two years until the youngest is in school and she can do some day shifts then.
Sounds to me like this is more important to her than “girl’s night out” or a massage appointment.
You wonder why staying at home for years is not enough stimulation for her? Welllll…if you tried it for even a few months, you might understand.
As wonderful and fulfilling as it is being a mom, many adults need to use their other abilities as well.

You would be embarrassed to tell people your wife was working part-time?
I would be very proud of her.


Proverbs 31:

**She picks out a field and acquires it;

from her earnings she plants a vineyard.**

17She girds herself with strength;

she exerts her arms with vigor.*

**18She enjoys the profit from her dealings;

her lamp is never extinguished at night.***

19She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her fingers ply the spindle.*

20She reaches out her hands to the poor,

and extends her arms to the needy.

24**She makes garments and sells them,

and stocks the merchants with belts.
25She is clothed with strength and dignity,

and laughs at the days to come.*

One can make the argument that planting a vineyard and selling grapes/wine is the equivalent of a modern day blue collar job outside the home. Ditto for making garments and selling them. It is clear that the family is already comfortable and that the vineyard and the extra sewing is not necessary for the family survival. There is nothing in the Catholic Church that says that children must have 24/7 access to their mother nor that it is wrong for a parent to get time off of constant supervising. Some women do really need to have more time with fellow adults and not simply their offspring.

Why would an woman want outside work? To keep sane! To use your education. To have contact with adults with whom you can communicate! When children are small and you are trying to bring them up to be civilized people your vocabulary can shrink to “No!” “Stop!” “Do not do that!” Even now, my head feels like it would explode if I had to return to that!!

I worked all my married life If I had not, I do not know how I would have survived! While there are women who can be happy and fulfilled staying home with the kids, most women today need the stimulus of being with adults for at least some of the day. Stay at home mothers can be isolated with only pre-school children with whom to communicate for up to 10 hours each day. Enough to cause depression, even insanity!

If your wife works outside the home it is not a bad reflection on you. So, just don’t tell people your wife works outside the home. What business is it of theirs? But your wife had better not know that you are ashamed of her working! You need to harness your pride. It’s not all about you. You are at work at least 5 days per week. Coming home is a break for you. It is all your wife’s existence right now and it is confining and you need to understand that. Remember, we have a lot of work saving appliances now, so that there can be many hours in the day when a stay at home mother may just be waiting for a small child to wake up from a nap. Like watching grass grow!

Just another point of view.

Just pick up a club, hit her over the head and drag her back to the kitchen. Then lock the door. From the outside. That will teach her!

Sorry, just being sarcastic there. But seriously, I just don’t think that there is anything you can do in this situation. Maybe she’s not happy in the marriage and she needs a diversion. Maybe there is something more you could be doing for her. Maybe marriage counseling would help.

There is certainly nothing immoral about working outside the home. Maybe she will enjoy it and stick with it, maybe after a few months she’ll be happy to give it up.

Certainly though, telling her no or comparing her to your mother…are just bad ideas. Are you seriously comparing her to your mother? Don’t do that. Please.

There are worse things she could do you know. Working as a nurse for 20 hours a week is not exactly the same as joining a troupe of circus performers. If you are uncomfortable telling people that your wife works outside the home, just count your blessings she is going to be working as a nurse. And not something more embarrassing…like … insert embarrassing occupation. :smiley:

Exactly. A woman is a person with psychological needs. Many do need adult interaction that is not confined to childish prattle.

This. Currently I’m staying at home, but I can tell you that I am planning for the day when our circumstances will permit me to return to work. Some people just don’t feel fulfilled staying at home. It seems like from your post that your wife has already stayed at home for 8 years – and is telling you that she is no longer fulfilled doing that. Working 20 hours a week does not sound unreasonable, and it might be possible to schedule those work hours while you’re at home with the children, either on evenings or weekends. (I have a friend who’s a nurse who works two 12-hour shifts each weekend at the local hospital, which allows them to avoid daycare altogether. It’s a stressful work schedule, but I know that she seems much happier now that she’s back at work just for those two shifts each week…)

You stressed in your post that you and your wife had agreed before marriage that she ought to be a stay-at-home mom. But that doesn’t mean that things can’t change, particularly if she’s been staying at home for 8 years and is struggling with it.

Another thing. If - and I’m not saying this is the case - this is merely a matter of pride that you are providing for the family, and you don’t want people to know that she is working, you could always ask if she’d be open to doing volunteer work. If this is merely a status thing for which you need to keep up appearances, nurses are in high demand for charity clinics and other places for the indigent.

In all seriousness though, as a woman who has stayed home for much longer than 8 years, I can tell you that it’s really important for your wife to have endeavours that she can immerse herself in other than the children. I’m not saying that one needs to leave the home to do this. If you want to drive her right out the door though, just keep strenuously objecting to her doing so.
Play it cool. Relax. Support her. She may find, in time, that the idea of going back to work was great for a while, but not good enough to put into practice. Sometimes, just toying around with an idea can be refreshing, and will lead her to find a renewed interest in things at home.

But really, man. Don’t compare her to your mother. :eek: lol.

The main problem I see here is not that you want your wife to stay home with the kids but rather your attitude about it. Marriage is not a “bargain” that is set in stone, regardless of each person’s wants and feelings which are subject to change over time. Putting children in daycare is in no way “unacceptable.” Telling people your wife works outside the home is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not terrible that your wife would like to have a place to go outside the home to interact with others and make a contribution to the community. With all due respect, you seem to have an ideal in your head that is very black and white. What you need to realize is that life also involves gray areas.

Your wife got an education and most likely enjoys what she does. It’s not about money or whether or not you as a husband can provide. It is about her using her God-given talents and education to help others, and she is not doing anything wrong by wanting such things. She needs you to understand that and support her. She may come to resent you later down the road if you put your foot down and do not allow her to pursue this. Do you want her to be happy?

Well imagine… We marry based partly on a shared vision of “family” and traditional values.

We decide, together, that I will be the breadwinner and she will raise the family as a stay home mom.

I work hard to make these shared dreams a possibility.

Then she says she’s not having as much fun as I have because I “get to have both” work and family, and reneges on the deal.

I want her to be happy, but most women would love to stay home and never have to work. At the very least, they sacrifice wanting to work for the good of the kids. People are always telling my wife how lucky she is that she gets to stay home.

I think it’s unreasonable for you to expect her to follow through. If someone gave you a job, and 8 years later you decided you needed a change, how happy would you be if the person said you were free to do that. Sixteen years from now?

OH-oh. Most women would want to stay at home and not work? Almost sounds like you’re saying SAHMs aren’t working. :slight_smile:

I understand this would be a huge upheaval in your life, and I don’t expect you’ll change your mind based on anything people type here. But I also think you’re doing your family a disservice by not at least giving it a try.

Your wife has spent many, many years doing exactly what you talked about. While it is important to discuss things before marriage, once you’re in it circumstances change sometimes. Marriage isn’t a “deal”. It’s two people working together to get each other to heaven and keep their family happy and healthy. If your wife is unhappy, she deserves to be taken seriously by her husband.

Your kids deserve a mom who is happy. If she isn’t happy staying at home full-time, they will feel the effects of that. As a nurse, who is looking to work part time, she has many options that will keep your children’s time spent in daycare either minimal or none of the time. Please understand that you have asked her to put her desires on hold for a long time. And she’s done it, for your and for your children. She may have agreed to it before you married, but not known that she would feel like she does. How could she have?

Do you really want to continue forcing your wife into a life she’s unhappy with? Or do you want to work with her, and come up with a solution that will make the whole family happy? Don’t put your misplaced pride before your family’s happiness.

But what if I suddenly said, “you know honey, this whole full time job thing is not as fun as I originally thought. I’m not that happy and I would like to work only part time from now on. I know we depend on my fulfilling the role of breadwinner, but let’s change our whole life so I can only do my job part time.” People would say I was a bad husband and a poor provider. People would say I was a loser for not wanting to work full time. Yet I am supposed to be supportive when my wife says she only wants to mother my kids part time?

I agree with the majority opinion. Your wife deserves to be heard and her feelings respected. What about proposing to her that she wait until the youngest is able to start pre-school at 3? Find a nice Catholic preschool or Montessori school - Montessori was wonderful for my kids! (They went even though I was stay-at-home.)

Well stated. She will be ministering to others as well as using her education. I think that’s a fine example for her children. It’s not about your small family unit. We are called to use our gifts. You statement about a “bargain” was really off-putting and rather telling.
She’s not YOUR employee. She’s your beloved. Respect her wishes. All moms know the needs of her children and the limitations involved in working outside the home. Presumably you married her because she was intelligent and wise. Trust her. Sometimes husbands have to bend too. :wink:

Wow! If I were your wife and I saw that you wrote this, I would be furious. Mothers are mothers ALL THE TIME - there is no such thing as a part-time mother. I am just agape and aghast. Don’t know what to say.

It doesn’t sound like she’s complaining about not having “fun”.
No one would categorize the hard, non-stop, dirty-work a nurse does as “fun”.
In a marriage you have to be flexible and go with the flow and readjust the “deals” and decisions along the way if someone is having a difficulty.
There was no way she could have known how it would feel to stay at home for 8 years with three kids. She’s telling you something very important and if I were you, I’d listen intently and hear her.
She’s given birth to three children and been home for 8 years, that isn’t exactly reneging.
You two can find a compromise.
You will still be the “breadwinner” if she works only 20 hours a week.
It’s not about going back on a deal…it’s about listening to each others needs.


The thing is that it was one thing to stay home back in the day and another to stay home now.

In the past, there were other moms around to chit-chat with while the kids played. You didn’t have to make a huge effort to find adult friendships because they were right next door or in the neighborhood, not in another area of town or the metro area.

Being a SAHM these days is very isolating, even if you do make an effort to make new friends and get out into the community and make playdates.

Have you considered that it just might be her vocation to do both, be a mom and a nurse? As others have mentioned, she could just work a couple shifts a week or just volunteer somewhere for a few hours a week.

I know one couple where one parent worked the day shift and the other worked the night shift, so someone was always home with the kids.

It really isn’t weird for a 3 year old to be in preschool these days. A lot of programs will allow you to sign the kid up for 2 or 3 half or full days a week. It’s really not as bad as you are making it sound. Mom still stays home part time and works here and there. Maybe you could bring a nanny into the house a couple of days a week, so the kids wouldn’t have to be “institutionalized” in a daycare setting.

There really are a lot of options out there.

Also, as others have pointed out, “deals” in marriage are always up for renegotiation if someone isn’t happy with the current “deal”. Nothing is ever set in stone, except for the vows you take on the day you marry.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.