Modern society is far more egalitarian than it’s ever been. Women can attend college, work, own property, and make their own living, an idea unheard of in our grandparent’s generations.
However, cultural norms sometimes drag behind reality. Although women can work and often earn more than men, the idea of a man as a “provider” prevails.
One woman who scored a massive raise at work came to Reddit to find out if she was unreasonable in expecting her husband to keep working, even though she could technically afford their lifestyle on her own.
The Original 50/50 Struggle
The Original Poster (OP) started with some background information on the relationship. The couple has been together for about ten years, and both have always worked. Neither loved their jobs, and both were low paying.
They “always agreed it would be 50/50 struggling together,” said the OP.
Wife’s Rising Paycheck Has Husband Eyeing the Easy Life
“Well, as of the last few years, particular this last year, my career took off, and my pay skyrocketed, and this will be my first year making six figures,” said the OP.
She’s happy to bring home more money to improve their lifestyle, but the larger paycheck made the husband question his own job.
“It’s really cool, and I’ve offered to take on a lot more finances, like more of the bills and paying for trips and fun things, but recently my husband made a comment about how soon he won’t have to work at his job.”
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OP Shuts Him Down
The husband’s admission shocked OP.
“Our kids are school age, so there is no need for a full-time parent, and I NEVER agreed to that,” she stated. “So I very firmly said, “Um, I never dreamt of financially providing for a grown man… if you stop working, I will lose respect for you.”
The husband got quiet but ultimately said he understood.
Should OP Allow Husband to Follow His Dreams?
OP came to Reddit to find out if she was too harsh.
Her husband loves art and dreams of focusing on it one day. Quitting his job would allow him to pursue his dream, and although OP wants to be supportive, she also says, “letting him quit working while I pay for everything feels like leeching.”
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OP Had Every Right to Shut Him Down
Most users agreed that OP was in the right. At the very least, a massive decision like this should be discussed, not unilaterally decided upon by one party.
“These are things that need to be discussed and agreed on. And you are well within your rights to say you don’t want to be the sole breadwinner, even if you make enough to do so. That would be a deal breaker for a lot of folks,” replied one user.
“His approach definitely set a negative tone to this entire interaction. We are now getting her thoughts after she had time to think,” started another.
They added some vital nuance to how they say the situation. “He didn’t approach her about being a full-time artist… That’s the spin she’s putting on it after the fact. If he’d done that, she’d have probably at least paused to consider things differently as she’s doing in the post.
“He just flat up announced he’d be able to quit working soon. Which hit her wrong (understandably), and she set a boundary around not being able to respect him if he tried to live off of her instead of being a partner to her. A partner discusses things instead of announcing them,” they finished.
OP Was Too Harsh
Although most users agreed that OP had every right to say no, some pointed out that her words were harsh.
“This is a cruel thing to say to your husband, no matter the circumstances,” said one. “You could have said any number of things that weren’t this hurtful. It’s also suspect to me that you left his passion for art and desire to do it full-time below your calling him out for wanting to quit his “crappy” job.
“Telling him you’re not comfortable with the idea of being the sole breadwinner is fine. Telling him you’d lose respect for him not wanting to work isn’t,” replied another.
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Gender Bias May Be At Play
Others said that the response might be different if the genders were reversed.
Men are expected to work and be providers. Society still pushes men towards that and scoffs at those who try to follow their own hearts and passion.
“ I 100% know that if the genders were reversed, we would have heard a different response,” said one user.
“This sounds like a sexist point of view. Is it because he’s a man? I’m the breadwinner in my marriage, and I have never once thought less of my husband,” commented another.
“Do you have any idea the dirty looks I would get if I said something even half as audacious as that about my wife?” exclaimed another.
Communication is Key
Ultimately, the best response is that the couple needs to communicate better. Many Redditor users pointed out that this doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.
The husband could switch to part time work while pursuing art or pick up more chores at home to balance the load.
He shouldn’t assume that he can stay home and do nothing, but OP shouldn’t assume he’s staying home to “be a leech.”
A conversation about goals, expectations, and boundaries would go much further in resolving the problem and achieving a compromise both parties are happy with than a one-off assumption, a snarky response, and a Reddit post.
Should Husband Quit?
Reddit was split. Many said the husband was wrong and shouldn’t think of quitting, while others said there’s nothing wrong with having a discussion about the future based on new financial circumstance.
What do you think? Was OP too harsh, or was she justified in setting a boundary that she expects her partner to work?
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.