Question: I’m really struggling right now. I’ve been back to work a year after my third child and I absolutely hate it. It’s not that I don’t like my job, it’s that I want to be a housewife.
It will definitely not be financially possible – part-time work is not an option for the same reason, so please do not suggest it. I’m so unhappy about this and it’s really affecting my relationship with my husband. He got it at first but now he gets angry when I bring it up because he says there’s no point in discussing it over and over again.
I miss my kids so much – I only see them for an hour in the evenings and in the mornings and weekends I try to prepare for the weeks to come. I can’t believe this is my life and I have no choices like this. Can you help me deal with this?
Allison replies: “I have so no choices” are such strong words and feelings. Being separated from children is a painful loss, and it is a pain that needs to be listened to and cared for. I’m definitely not the type of person to turn to for financial advice, but I would recommend sitting down with a financial professional and getting a financial assessment or overview. MABS (Money and Budgeting Service) offers free financial checks and also has budgeting tools.
During the recession, when financial pressures and insurmountable burdens put people in dire situations, I could see them feeling psychologically cornered. In these situations, it was impossible to see choices and/or options available.
A cornered brain can be a dark place to feel stuck inside. I remember there was an advert on TV at the time of a woman in her kitchen drowning in financial overwhelm. When it feels like there are no options or choices, it’s hard to see a way out, but opening yourself up to think about other viable options can provide answers.
The distress of knowing that you are going to be a homemaker and want to do something completely different will affect you, your husband and the children. This contradictory state of doing something because you feel like there are no options leads to feelings of self-betrayal — and resentment slowly sets in.
Do you know if there are hybrid job opportunities? Or could you work from home? I’m sure you’ve already thought through all of these options, but it can be good to sit down strategically with large A3 pages of all the financial facts and obstacles you face and then what you want to give space.
You can estimate what can be tolerated once you identify those gaps and know how big those gaps are. Hate is a strong word and my concern is that I cannot make you accept what is unacceptable to you – and neither should you.
There are situations in life when we face dilemmas like health that are beyond your control. I suggest that you strive with a flexible mindset when putting options on the table, on condition that they have the opportunity to be discussed.
At work you might have weekly meetings — I think couples need the same thing where they have what psychologist and marriage expert John Gottman calls a “state of the union” meeting. This needs to be set up while you collectively look for viable ways to navigate what isn’t working for you while being aware of the financial limitations.
That way, you can come to these meetings armed with the financial information while understanding that your emotional and spiritual health comes at a cost to you, your marriage, and your family.
Using Gottman’s exercise with the two ovals can be helpful when you need to find a workable compromise. To do this, you simply draw an oval inside another. The first oval or inner oval shows what you must have or need to be true to yourself. What’s in here are your non-negotiable items. The outer oval contains what you can be flexible about.
Psychological flexibility is a skill that individuals and couples can use to transform tense discussions into broader discussions about the implications of the life choices they are living with now and the consequences of them in the future. This flexibility can help them look for ways to find realistic solutions that can meet more needs than they currently meet. Imagine putting your partner’s happiness in the first oval and doing the same for them. Can you see the dynamic shifting from “my way” or “your way” thinking to approaching it as a team with a common problem that you want to solve together?
Simple but effective exercises like this can kick start and soften something that may be stuck, like you said your husband is not open to talking about it now. The change in dynamic is that you feel like you are working together even though you have different needs and feelings about the issue. If that doesn’t work, it might be a good idea to work through these issues with a couples counselor if the conversation gets blocked.
Self betrayal has consequences and in the most connected realm of motherhood is a thorny issue to work through as there are more than just financial ramifications at play.
Contact MABS on 0818 07 2000.
Allison regrets that she cannot correspond. If you have a question that you would like addressed in this column, email firstname.lastname@example.org
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/ask-allison-i-desperately-want-to-be-a-stay-at-home-mum-but-we-cant-afford-it-how-can-i-come-to-terms-with-this-41583460.html Ask Allison: I really want to be a housewife, but we can’t afford it. How can I deal with this?