Family Role Swapping


Sarai

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The church recommends that one parent should stay home and raise the kids. Traditionally that is the woman's role, and men go out and work all day and come home to happier home because she's been there.

What do you do when it's the wife that desperately wants to work, and the husband hates the job she wishes she could have?

Is it okay for the wife to be the bread-winner while the husband stays home? Especially if she's really not a very nurturing person, doesn't understand children and is pretty depressed because she has nothing to do all day but clean? While the husband is the oldest of 11 kids, totally gets children, and comes home stressed out and angry because he hates his job?

We just got into a fight because we are disagreeing on this issue, but have no solutions.

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Did that for six years. Loved it! However, the one trap I got into was no outlet whatsoever. I was never able to get out of the house to relax a bit. I would watch my wife go out to work functions, after work stuff and not invite me to any of those. It got to be a bit much at times. So I went to night school. All that did was make sure I was exhausted the next day. So yes, it can be done, but be wise about it. Let him have a way to get out every so often.

In other words, the same rules apply as if the mom was at home.

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Completely ok if the other option is unworkable. There's a reason why women still need to be educated - preferably through college. She needs to be able to support the family if the husband is not able to.

This particular case lies in that area.

It would be different if either husband or wife do not want to switch. In this case, the husband or the wife needs to suck it up.

My friend is a stay at home dad for 10 years now simply because his wife makes twice as much as he did and his income was good before they had kids, but it isn't enough with kids. They decided to switch roles instead of postponing having children.

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What do you do when it's the wife that desperately wants to work, and the husband hates the job she wishes she could have?

Why does the husband hate the job the wife wants? Does she want to be a stripper or something? I would sure hate it if my wife wanted a job like that, or something that put her in harm's way or something.

As things are now, I'm supporting her going to school, and it's entirely possible that she'll be able to make more than me at some point in the future. We'll switch roles when that happens, and I'll walk around the house in my little french maid costume and homeschool the kids and whatnot. It's a field she's already a natural in, she'd be great at it, and probably can make more money than me at it.

LM

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Why does the husband hate the job the wife wants? Does she want to be a stripper or something? I would sure hate it if my wife wanted a job like that, or something that put her in harm's way or something.

That was a confusing statement when I read the OP as well. I think what it means is:

Man works to support family.

Woman wishes she could work to support family.

Man hates his job.

Woman wishes she had a career instead.

Man hates job woman wishes she had.

I think the job is meant to be ambiguous, not field-specific, though the OP can clarify and explain if necessary.

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My late husband stayed home at one point: I made more money, we were used to living cheaply, and it was nice to have dinner cooked and the house clean when I got home. : ) At another point, he worked at night and I went to school during the day, so one of us would be around with our son. I'm from the women's lib generation, I guess. We just didn't see anything special about our arrangement; we did what worked best for us. Since it turned out my husband died young, my son and I have always been grateful that they had a lot of time together instead of having a father who was working non-stop (as my step-father did).

One thing I'm curious about - I'm in a ward with a lot of grad students and medical residents. I'd say most of these people are in prime baby-making mode and they are all have multiple children (I guess the women's lib thing got to me; 1 was enough). They stay home, which makes sense with multiple, small children. The childcare expenses would be astronomical and out of range for most grad students. The older women also seem to be at home, partially, I suppose, because they still have kids at home (some have 6-9 kids!), though the kids are school-aged. I'm not sure I know any woman who works more than a little part time job (and not one that requires any brain power).

Do Mormon women typically stay at home their whole lives? Do they look down on women who work? I'm starting to feel a little out of place and have to constantly remind myself that it's the ward, not me, but now I'm not sure.

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My late husband stayed home at one point: I made more money, we were used to living cheaply, and it was nice to have dinner cooked and the house clean when I got home. : ) At another point, he worked at night and I went to school during the day, so one of us would be around with our son. I'm from the women's lib generation, I guess. We just didn't see anything special about our arrangement; we did what worked best for us. Since it turned out my husband died young, my son and I have always been grateful that they had a lot of time together instead of having a father who was working non-stop (as my step-father did).

One thing I'm curious about - I'm in a ward with a lot of grad students and medical residents. I'd say most of these people are in prime baby-making mode and they are all have multiple children (I guess the women's lib thing got to me; 1 was enough). They stay home, which makes sense with multiple, small children. The childcare expenses would be astronomical and out of range for most grad students. The older women also seem to be at home, partially, I suppose, because they still have kids at home (some have 6-9 kids!), though the kids are school-aged. I'm not sure I know any woman who works more than a little part time job (and not one that requires any brain power).

Do Mormon women typically stay at home their whole lives? Do they look down on women who work? I'm starting to feel a little out of place and have to constantly remind myself that it's the ward, not me, but now I'm not sure.

I worked at a University for 13 years. Most scoold have a day care that can be free or cheap depening on how much you make. Most students qualified, no problem. And I was a great place, my kids went there and were mor than prepared for kindergarten.

It is recommended, in the church, that mother stay at home with children if possible. Women are natually more nurturing. However this is not possible in many situations. It never was for me.

I am bothered, when so many activites for women are planned during the day. I never get to participate, so I never get to know people in the ward. It really bothers me.

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Do Mormon women typically stay at home their whole lives?

No. In my ward, there are more working women (includes part-time or seasonal) than there are stay-at-home women.

Do they look down on women who work?

Of course not. Okay... I have to qualify that answer... each person have their own personal prejudice, of course, but to say that the CHURCH... or even the church members (in a general sense) looks down on women who work is not correct.

I'm starting to feel a little out of place and have to constantly remind myself that it's the ward, not me, but now I'm not sure.

You need to go check out mormon.org. Lots of different people comprise the LDS church... you'll find a lot of people are just like you there.

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Is it okay for the wife to be the bread-winner while the husband stays home?

To be very straight forward, Yes. If the woman is the better bread winner and the man is the better nurturer, than that's the role you've been given. And depending what life situations come up, those roles are always evolving.

M.

Edited by Maureen
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To be very straight forward, Yes. If the woman is the better bread winner and the man is the better nurturer, than that's the way it should be.

M.

You will be very surprised to know that I don't completely agree with this... :(

There shouldn't be a thing such as a "better nurturer" that qualifies you to be better suited to stay home with the kids. Just like there isn't such a thing as a "better priesthood holder" that makes the woman a better priest than her husband. Nurture is a calling. You get kids, you accepted the calling.

Also, "better bread winner" is not a good enough reason to swap roles. The financial health of a family is the difference between income and expenses. Therefore, you can make a lot out of a small income by incurring smaller expenses. More money doesn't mean you're going to be a happier family.

Edited by anatess
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You will be very surprised to know that I don't completely agree with this... :(

There shouldn't be a thing such as a "better nurturer" that qualifies you to be better suited to stay home with the kids. Just like there isn't such a thing as a "better priesthood holder" that makes the woman a better priest than her husband. Nurture is a calling. You get kids, you accepted the calling.

Also, "better bread winner" is not a good enough reason to swap roles. The financial health of a family is the difference between income and expenses. Therefore, you can make a lot out of a small income by incurring smaller expenses. More money doesn't mean you're going to be a happier family.

I look at it as people have talents. If my talent to earn a living is better than my spouse's then I should practice my talent, if my spouse's talent is being an excellent stay-at-home parent, then he should practice his talent. That's not to say that at some point, a person will not have to gain new talents, but if a couple needs to choose was jobs each will do then do the jobs you're good at.

M.

Edited by Maureen
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I look at as people have talents. If my talent to earn a living is better than my spouse's that I should practice my talent, if my spouse's talent is being an excellent stay-at-home parent, then he should practice his talent. That's not to say that at some point, a person will not have to gain new talents, but if a couple needs to choose was jobs each will do then do the jobs you're good at.

M.

I completely understand this Maureen... and to a certain degree you are correct.

I make more than my husband (when I work) due to my qualifications. In a way, I have a better talent at making a living than my spouse. But, we stuck with the traditional roles. But... I do not like to cook. I suck at it. I do not like to clean. I suck at it too. Same with laundry. Just not one of my talents. So, I work so I can hire a cleaning lady and I buy pre-packaged meals and take clothes to the cleaners. So, to a point, I practice the talent that I'm good at (programming) and decline the talent that I'm not good at (laundry, cleaning, cooking). But, my primary responsibility is still the same - nurture and care of the children and the household.

I just had to point out that there's a certain danger to this perspective though.

A couple may feel that because a wife can make more money that she should work while the husband stays home. And either the husband and the wife could feel pressured to do so because it is their "talent". Not necessarily a good idea. There are qualities that are inherent to gender which is geared ideally to the specific roles God established in the Proclamation of the Family. And this ties into why gay marriage is not acceptable.

A mother's place is with her children. A father's place is to preside over the spiritual needs of his children through his priesthood authority. And this is really tied into their genders than it is their abilities. You really can't switch those. No, it doesn't mean that the mother doesn't do any spiritual stuff, and it doesn't mean that a father doesn't do any of the nurturing stuff. They are help-meet to each other. But, their primary responsibilities are set - just like that.

Therefore, just because a mother has a better talent at making money doesn't qualify her to be the bread winner. Rather, a family must learn to live within their means - however much the father takes home.

Of course there are exceptions - and that's when I said in my earlier post - it is completely fine for a woman to work while the husband stays home... if - and only if - the traditional roles are not workable.

Make sense?

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...There are qualities that are inherent to gender which is geared ideally to the specific roles God established in the Proclamation of the Family. And this ties into why gay marriage is not acceptable....

This part I don't think I can agree with personally. I think personality, culture and society might be more of an attributing factor when it comes to roles. I know that LDS believe that God created gender with specific roles but I personally don't follow that line of thinking. Gender roles can provide a sense of organization, but mankind's ability to adapt to changing circumstances is what helps us survive. If a family can agree to work at what they do best without worrying about disrupting the status quo than they have a better chance of thriving and being happy.

M.

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There's a difference between asking "Who makes more?" and "Who makes enough?" It's not always so simple as, "You have ovaries. You stay home." If I made enough for my husband to stay home, we'd have him home. If my husband made enough for me to stay home, we'd do that (alas, he's a student right now!).

Sarai, I'd rather see a happy couple, fufilled in non-traditional roles, than people unhappily (and poorly) fulfilling roles that are orthodox but don't suit them.

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This part I don't think I can agree with personally. I think personality, culture and society might be more of an attributing factor when it comes to roles. I know that LDS believe that God created gender with specific roles but I personally don't follow that line of thinking. Gender roles can provide a sense of organization, but mankind's ability to adapt to changing circumstances is what helps us survive. If a family can agree to work at what they do best without worrying about disrupting the status quo than they have a better chance of thriving and being happy.

M.

Okay. We can agree to disagree. My viewpoint is derived from the paternal order of the Priesthood. I look at what's best in both temporal and spiritual - one being inseparable from the other. If I only look at the temporal perspective, then I agree with you completely. It is when the spiritual perspective comes into play that I have to disagree as a general rule.

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Especially if she's really not a very nurturing person, doesn't understand children.......

Im worried about the children..... Learn motherhood, that doesnt mean you cant work either. Dont miss out on being mom if you do work. Dont get stuck in the house either...... can be a prison sometimes. Im sure theres a way to balance here.

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To clarify, (I wanted honest opinions before I gave more details) I, the wife, joined the Army out of high school, where I met my husband, a Marine. When I found out I was pregnant, I decided to leave, at the behest of my command, who begged me to stay.

I've been a stay at home mom for two years now, and my husband really hates being a Marine. His contract is coming up and I offered to switch roles with him because what he wants to do is go to school and start a different career. He can do that with his GI Bill while I make money in the Military, which is what I've always known I wanted to do, and loved doing it.

But we got in a fight over it because I'm a woman and he said that the church states that I belong at home with the kids. But it doesn't as far as I can tell. It recommends that one parent stay home to build the family while the other works. The woman usually is the more nurturing so it's usually the woman.

That is not the case here. I have pretty much zero maternal instincts and have zero experience with children outside my own daughter, while he is the oldest of 11 kids and is totally at ease with her. I love my daughter but in more of a protective way. I don't want to cuddle and feed her, I want to be a role model and provide for her.

I've been feeling like women in the relief society are generally more at ease with stay at home mothers than they are with women like me, who just don't understand what to do with themselves all day and would rather go paintballing.

So from what I gather, from what you all have said and what I've looked up, it has more to do with the family unit sticking together and less to do with women and their "place" in the family.

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Okay. We can agree to disagree. My viewpoint is derived from the paternal order of the Priesthood. I look at what's best in both temporal and spiritual - one being inseparable from the other. If I only look at the temporal perspective, then I agree with you completely. It is when the spiritual perspective comes into play that I have to disagree as a general rule.

Anatess, you are starting to get patronizing, here. Please don't swing the priesthood-bat at other people's opinions. I understand what you are saying and have taken into account your opinion on the matter, but this is how internet-fights begin.

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Im worried about the children..... Learn motherhood, that doesnt mean you cant work either. Dont miss out on being mom if you do work. Dont get stuck in the house either...... can be a prison sometimes. Im sure theres a way to balance here.

I can understand your worries, but I assure you I've been taking good care of my daughter. Really. But staying home and watching Netflix and playing with a one-year-old is some people's dream job, while I'd much rather be doing something much more difficult.

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The woman can definitely be the bread winner.

Personally, the concept that some women have that they EXPECT their husband to be the bread winner while they get to have the more enjoyable job with the kids kind of bothers me. I don't have a problem being the bread winner, but I don't want it to feel like an obligation based on some universal rule, but a choice that we made together as being best for the family.

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But we got in a fight over it because I'm a woman and he said that the church states that I belong at home with the kids. But it doesn't as far as I can tell. It recommends that one parent stay home to build the family while the other works. The woman usually is the more nurturing so it's usually the woman....

I'm sure the LDS church would prefer if the woman stay home but I don't think they want you to be a robot for "The Proclamation of the Family" sake. You are also asked to pray and seek guidance for your own family. I am absolutely positive there are other LDS families who function quite well with reverse roles. It's not like you can lose your salvation because of it. Maybe your husband needs a 2nd opinion; get advice from your bishop concerning your particular family dynamic.

M.

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I'm sure the LDS church would prefer if the woman stay home but I don't think they want you to be a robot for "The Proclamation of the Family" sake. You are also asked to pray and seek guidance for your own family. I am absolutely positive there are other LDS families who function quite well with reverse roles. It's not like you can lose your salvation because of it. Maybe your husband needs a 2nd opinion; get advice from your bishop concerning your particular family dynamic.

M.

Thanks, Maureen. This is a very helpful post.

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