If your wife doesn’t want to work, there can be two reasons behind it – she’s too busy taking care of the kids and house, or she is just used to having someone else support her. If you’re not okay with her being jobless, have an open conversation and explain the perks of all the benefits she and you can enjoy as a dual-income couple.
If you don’t have any kids or they’re old enough to take care of themselves, the reason for staying unemployed is often more profound than we think.
While stay-at-home moms save money by sparing daycare expenses, wives that rely on the husband for full financial support make managing money difficult. So the first step is to understand why your wife is sticking to that decision.
Marriage and partnership are about compromise. But is taking full financial responsibility for the family good bargaining in 2021?
Here’s how to approach this sensitive subject and keep a good relationship with your wife.
Is It The Patriarchy’s Fault
Like it or not, patriarchy is woven deeply into our upbringing. Some women, and maybe your partner too, were brought up in a family where the man was the only breadwinner. This type of childhood take sits toll on all future relationships for them.
I remember stories from my grandmother, now 80, who told me my grandfather didn’t let her get a job when they married, so people wouldn’t talk behind their back that he’s incapable of feeding a family.
Things could have gone two ways – she could’ve educated her daughters to rely on their husbands or strive to contribute equally.
Luckily, she was wise to pick the second path. But many parents didn’t educate girls in the same manner.
So they grow up to think a woman’s only job is to take care of the house and kids and don’t aspire for a career or a job that fulfills her.
While we can’t blame the woman for having this way of thinking, we can choose an intelligent approach to educate her about the importance of finance and equality.
Has It Always Been This Way?
As I mentioned, upbringing plays a significant role in your partner’s job avoidance.
For example, let’s say a woman spent the most critical, character-shaping years in a household where the dad was the breadwinner, and the mom has never worked or left her job once the kids came into the picture.
It sets up her expectations from all adult relationships in her future. She’s taught that households work this way, and there’s no need for two incomes to function correctly.
Fast forward to today’s economy, where living on a single income is almost impossible for the average couple. If a woman finds someone who supports the same idea and can execute it, great, but refusing to work is a severe problem in every other case.
The recent past is also essential. Maybe your partner’s previous relationships followed the same pattern; she didn’t have to work to enjoy her lifestyle, and prior partners supported her choice.
Ask yourself how your wife was supporting herself before marrying you? For example, did she live with her parents, or were they paying for her apartment, bills and gave her an allowance without asking for anything on her side?
If this was the case, the wife is used to someone taking the financial burden off her, and switching her mindset can be challenging.
Usually, these sensitive topics are discussed at the beginning of the relationship. But if your financial situation changes suddenly and you no longer support the idea of a single-income household where you’re the only contributor, a serious discussion is due.
What Causes ‘Refuse To Work’ Syndrome
Go back to the beginning of your marriage and the boundaries and goals you’ve set for yourself.
Was this your marriage agreement in the first place? If so, it’s time to sit and go over your finances together. Maybe you believed you could manage family life on a single income, but you are struggling.
If this was never your agreement and your wife is perfectly capable physically and mentally for work, this is called the refuse to work syndrome.
People with this syndrome find any possible excuse not to get a job – nothing pays well, it’s not challenging or fulfilling enough, it’s too far, etc. Then, when confronted, they’ll try to minimize the damage and promise to look for something.
Finally, they’ll go to the extent of getting a job and quitting or getting fired in a matter of days.
How To Motivate Your Wife
It’s essential to dive deeper into the reason why your wife refuses to work. Did she have a job, took a break from it while taking care of the kids, and then despises going back in the same field?
Taking a break from a job we hate often opens our eyes to how miserable it made us feel. So maybe changing careers can be an exciting new step for her and a step in the right direction for your family’s finances.
If she never worked, here are some things you can mention to motivate her to jump into the employed world.
A job can built her self-confidence
Nothing prepares you for the dive into the job market and your first job. But barely anyone can complain from their first grown-up job.
It’s essentially what sets your standards for the future; you learn what you want to do and how effective you are.
A strong, independent woman is built only through hard work. And next time you’re at a table discussing wages, benefits, and raisings, she won’t feel excluded.
Financial independence is everything, and we’ve talked about it a hand full of times.
Nothing comes close to the comfort of having enough money to support yourself till the end of time. But being able to pay for your own car, hobby, support your household and children is more than rewarding.
Earning her own income will help her make wiser financial decisions and help you save or invest more as a couple.
Better lifestyle for both of you
A higher-income allows you to adopt a more comfortable lifestyle.
It can be a lavish lifestyle and yacht parties for some, but it’s a month or backpack traveling through Europe for others.
You can finally switch to a bigger house, buy that lake house you always wanted to spend your weekends fishing, or send your kids to boarding school!
Lead by example: can teach the kids about hard work and independence
Where our parents failed, we strive. I, for example, was never taught about financial independence, credit score, taxes, homeownership, but somehow I managed to become a homeowner before 30 and build a good savings fund.
How? Well, my mother did all those things right in front of me while I was growing up.
She worked extra hours, bought a house, and had enough emergency savings, so we weren’t broke in the worst of times.
The wife having a job and contributing financially sets an excellent example for the kids.
Less burnouts, more quality family time
This is probably the most crucial point. Carrying for the financial well-being of the whole family puts an immense burden on the husband.
It often leads to getting a second job, extra hours, missing important family and kid’s events, and eventually burnout.
If both spouses work 40 hours a week, there’s plenty of time left for quality time, date nights, and checking between yourself on how you’re doing and if your relationship needs work.
The Perks Of A Dual-Income Couple
Dual-income families have been on the rise in the last two decades. Over 50% of the households in 2020 were dual-income, a significant rise compared to the early 2000s.
From those households, 39% of wives earn less than their husbands but still continue to work.
A relative of mine decided to stop working at 40, after over 15 years of work. She no longer felt happy going to work every day and decided to quit without discussing it with her husband.
Their mortgage, bills, and debt payoff were all on his shoulders now. She didn’t consider the burden on her partner; she craved freedom and went ahead.
Her inability to comprehend the immense importance of dual-income when building a home and raising children was astonishing to me.
Dual income means higher retirement savings, benefits for both of you, health care, and more perks depending on your workplace. With more companies going remote, she can still stay in the comfort of your home and still earn money.
But her getting a job is also a way of showing affection to you. It means someone cares about you, helps you carry the burden, and allows you more free time for your family and hobbies.
When All Else Fails
When no reasonable explanation or discussion works, maybe it’s time to take the matter into your own hands.
Put yours and the need of your kids first and consider that maybe you’re financially abused. You can’t go through life overworked with no savings, investments, and no safety net for retirement.
On the other hand, even on a single income, you can achieve more independently without supporting another adult who is perfectly capable of working.
Financial boundaries in relationships are essential, and when someone refuses to respect them even if you gave them several chances, there’s barely any prospect to your relationship.
My wife does not like to work or talk about money and future plans?
Find the reason why your wife doesn’t want to work and try to have an open conversation. For example, maybe she’s too tired from carrying for the house and kids if they’re too young. Perhaps she’s struggling with low self-confidence after not working for a while. If there’s no valid reason she can overcome with your help, she’s probably selfish and plans on you to satisfy her financial need. Money is a sensitive subject and should be approached calmly and reasonably.
Can you live on a single income?
You can live on a single income, but it will include some sacrifices depending on its size. For example, vacations, big purchases, retirement contributions, cars, more spacious home are probably going to be off the table. But you can cover basic needs like utilities, groceries, and gas.
What should I not tell my wife?
Don’t approach the subject aggressively. For example, don’t attack your wife before determining the reason why she’s not working. Even if you plan on separating because of your differences, don’t state that when discussing this situation. A civilized approach is crucial in the eventual solving of the problem.
The 1950s are behind us, but this era has left some marks in today’s society. We appreciate the fashion but not the struggle for women to become co-breadwinners.
After this extensive fight for equal pay and the right to work, some women still feel more comfortable with the idea of stay-at-home wives.
Today’s economy is rough, and a single average income is rarely enough for a young couple, not to mention a family.
Have an open conversation, even set an ultimatum. But, sadly, you can’t teach financial consciousness to some people, and you might want to go your own way when things don’t change.