Spin off Bread Winner Question

Updated on July 15, 2014
J.G. asks from Chicago, IL
33 answers

Someone made a comment that I find interesting: women should never depend on men to "provide" for them.

I'm puzzled by this. Yes, my hubby earns the money, But I provide for him too. I clean his clothes, hang them up, buy them, cook food, clean the house, do the yard and lawn, etc. I do all of our financial planning, manage almost everything related to our children.We have many needs that don't require money to be met. In short, we PROVIDE for each other. We are a team. We divide and conquer, as a team.

I also don't understand why I need a separate account. half of OUR MONEY is mine, so why do i need a separate fund?

In any case, what does provide for mean to you?

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

I like the idea of a "f" you fund, but there is a part of me that thinks that breeds distrust. And while I cannot walk back into my past profession, I trust I could figure something out quickly, and I trust hubby wont screw me. I make sure on a regular basis that he doesn't start to dislike me. :-) I do have an IRA that we contribute to every year, and we both have life insurance-he has enough that if he died, I could easily live off it for the rest of my life,while paying off debt, paying for college, etc.

I am a lucky one. In fact, our chance of divorce is very, very low. If you marry after 25, your chance gets cut in half -we were almost 30. If you are educated and middle income, your chance goes down again.

Hubby's father had an affair at one point and his mom kicked him out of the house. His father eventually got himself back home, but I know that if things get off track with us, we will get back on track. This is what marriage means to both of us. I married a great guy, I will never doubt that.

And while I don't work, I did start an educational co-op, étc. So it's not like I wouldn't have something to put in my resume. And I am pondering what I will be doing next. I need projects, and when there are no LOs ruining my sleep, I will begin to recreate myself so I am making money when they are older. But I do plan on homeschooling all the way to college, so i do need to be around. But I've always volunteered, and I know I will keep my hands in something outside the house with volunteer work. It's part of who I am.

I never thought I'd be a SAHM. In my 20s, I would have laughed and said that's nuts! But now that I am doing it, I see how it works. Hubby does better at work because he has me supporting him at home. We really are dividing and conquering, and it make sense for some people. I use to think women who gave up their careers were insane. Why spend all that time on education, etc. to just walk away? But I get it now. I walked away. I fully understand the risks, but this doesn't mean we don't both provide for each other.

I swear I replied to the other post but I don't think it posted. In any case, my response to that woman was that many times men say things like that because they aren't feeling appreciated. I suggested she fully show him how much she values his hard work. To me, he was acting funny because she was pestering him about how he was spending money. Who wouldn't be annoyed? I suggested they discuss their financial goals and agree on them, and I suggested she spend some time showing him she values what he does. Men aren't always bad here folks. Sometimes they just don't feel valued.

More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

As much as I have (mostly) enjoyed being a SAHM I won't encourage my daughters to do the same, at least for not as many years as I did. I have been VERY fortunate that my husband has been able to provide for us financially over the years but there is a big risk built into this lifestyle. Women who depend on men this way have so many fewer options if they ever find they need to take care of themselves and their kids. Even with a perfect man and a perfect marriage everyone is susceptible to job loss, illness/disabilities, natural catastrophies, you name it. I thought it would be fairly easy to return to the workforce once my kids were older (I am college educated with solid skills/professional experience) but that has NOT been the case. I am literally a 46 year old "displaced homemaker" and it is depressing!!! I am going back to school to train in a new field this fall, which is exciting, but it sure would have been smarter for me to have gone back to work much earlier. Not to mention I would have liked my kids to see that I'm just as capable in the working world as my husband is. Sure they appreciate what I do (well, they do more so now that they're older) but really, I just want my girls to have a more choices and options than this lifestyle provides.
It's funny though, I could have written exactly what you wrote twenty years ago. It will be interesting to see where you stand twenty years from now and if your attitude has changed. I bet it does, big time!

18 moms found this helpful


answers from Richland on

I don't understand, not two weeks ago you posted about how your husband paid 'your' student loans off with his money. You wanted to know how to reward his generosity. You seemed to believe, to the point of defending, that it was his money. So which is it?

Perhaps if you had separated the household income into two accounts you would have realized you were wrong to think he paid off your loans.

16 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

ETA: I know a fair few divorced women and NONE of them "saw it coming."
Everyone was either blindsided or initiated it herself. (There have been posts about this, even on this board. Of you ( not "you") found evidence of an affair today, you wouldn't believe it because that's not where YOUR head is. Gotta believe most wives feel like that: he'd never cheat, he'd never screw men over, etc. reality is (50%) that it HAPPENS!
We'd ALL be wise to loosely "plan" for that.
I knw couples I'd never thought were Rocky and BOOM! Over!
You'd not be the first wan caught off guard by a philandering husband. The worl is full of those women!

You just NEVER know. That's for sure.
I get a great sense of peace knowing that (should I have to) I can fully support myself because I got an education and established a career BEFORE I got married.
Right now, since I work PT, my husband mightily out earns me. But when we first married, it was about 50/50. (Income wise)
He provides for me/us in many other ways that just making money. So do I.
Too many women are stuck in bad situations because they HAVE to stay.
I've never wanted to feel that way.
And I never want my husband to feel like he has parasites for a family.
I hope it never happens, but if my husband or I ever decide to call it quits? I think I'd be ok.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My husband is a good provider. We worked as a team. We made the mutual decision that I would give up my career to support his career and stay home and raise the kids. But guess what? After 10 years of marriage and three kids, we are divorcing. Guess who's getting screwed in all of this? Yep. It's me.

While I regret ever marrying my husband, I do not regret my decision to leave my promising career to raise a family. I think I have been a great mom, and my kids are better off because I've been home with them.

Divorce can be especially scary for a SAHM. The financial impact on the mom (and thus on the kids) can sometimes be worse than staying in the abusive marriage. This is why people advise women not to become totally dependent on men.

J., I hope you have a back-up plan in the event that you find yourself divorced. Every woman should. It gives you peace of mind while you are married so that you know that you are staying married because you want to - not because you have to.

That's great that you know how to run a household and raise your children. It truly is hard work. But the only person who is willing to pay you to do that is your husband. If he ever finds a reason to leave you, you will have to find a way to pay the bills. If you have that figured out, that is great. And you can stop worrying about other people's opinions of non-working spouses.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

The harsh reality is that your husband could replace those things that you do for him that make his life doable and easy with hired help. You could not replace his income without going to work, and because you have been home for a while, it would probably take you several years to get up to his current level of income.

It sounds like in your marriage, your husband is fine with having you manage the finances and can stick to an agreed-upon budget and you don't have money issues, which is great. However for many couples where money is a bit tighter and there need to be decisions made on a daily basis about where it goes because there is not enough, that doesn't work, so it makes sense to have one account where the bill pay and household expense money goes, then have each adult have their own spending money (either cash or a separate account) so that they don't have to check in with the each other about basic things like going out to lunch or getting a haircut or buying a pair of shoes.

I would never be comfortable in a relationship where I didn't have the means to support myself and kids if necessary. Now the reality is that with 4 kids and living in a high cost of living area, surviving on just one income is really hard and mine isn't quite at that level so I do need my husband's income to make ends meet and meet our financial goals. But if push came to shove and I absolutely needed to survive with the kids on my own, I could absolutely do that. I'd have to sell my house and cut out some activities for the kids, so it wouldn't be painless, but I wouldn't ever have to worry about not having a car and food and a health insurance and a roof over our heads.

I suppose that if my husband made enough for me to stay home I would have considered it, but I would have kept one foot in the working world as a "just in case" precaution and I would have planned on returning to the workforce eventually and have planned for that.

I just think that with 50% of marriages ending in divorce, it's a pretty risky gamble to stake your financial security on a one in two chance that it's going to work out long-term.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Sometimes I think we gravitate towards supporting what we know. We rationalize how we raise our kids is best for them. In reality nothing is perfect, none of us can predict the future. I did always plan on staying home like my mother did. But then I was talking marriage with a boyfriend who didn't make much money so I figured I was going to have to work to have the lifestyle I expected - middle class-so I'd better focus on a career I would like better than the one I had at that point. It was a very good career but I knew I didn't want to do it for 30 years. So I went to grad school and we broke up and I didn't get married until I was established in my current career. It happens to be very well paying and flexible enough so I've been home early, at school a lot etc. Now I am so glad I worked bc it's made us super financially flexible and I feel like I show my daughters what a woman can do. It's nice knowing I don't have to worry if my husband leaves. I like having equal or more equal say in how we spend money as I make more. That does lead to ego problems on his side I'll admit. But end of day, I now can't imagine being so dependent and have heard and read too many stories about women being screwed. Same time, I get where you're coming from and obviously sometimes it does work out. So every one needs to keep their eyes and minds open and not be smug either way. You could be smug staying home and then your husband does leave. It has happened! I could be smug I'm so self reliant and my husband leaves bc I don't need him enough! But I will say "provide for" means financially. "Care for" I think fits what you do more. Just different focuses. Both are impt.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Actually I would simply state that all adults should provide for themselves and their children. What JB stated is 100% accurate, although as she stated, a bit harsh. However divorce is a HUGE reason that women (and sadly their children as well) end up in poverty. Men rarely end up poor as a result of divorce. Half of all marriages end in divorce. And yet apparently nobody sees it coming. I am fairly certain that way fewer than 1/2 the currently married women on this site see divorce in their futures.

Also - feminism is/was not about giving women the choice to work or not. According to Webster's Dictionary it is 'the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities'. It is a common and more recent perversion that seems to believe that feminism means women get the choice to self support or not but men are OBLIGATED to support whichever decision said woman makes for herself as well as to fully support the offspring. So men have to either support themselves and provide 1/2 of what the children need or they have to support two adults and completely provide for the needs of the children. AND they don't get a say. NOT FEMINISM.

ETA - absolutely stand by the 50% divorce rate.

In 2002 (latest survey data as of 2012),[13] 29% of first marriages among women aged 15–44 were disrupted (ended in separation, divorce or annulment) within 10 years.[14] Beyond the 10-year window, population survey data is lacking, but forecasts and estimates provide some understanding. It is commonly claimed that half of all marriages in the United States eventually end in divorce, an estimate possibly based on the fact that in any given year, the number of marriages is about twice the number of divorces.[15] Using 1995 data, National Survey of Family Growth forecast in 2002 a 43% chance that first marriages among women aged 15–44 would be disrupted within 15 years.[13] More recently, having spoken with academics and National Survey of Family Growth representatives, PolitiFact.com estimated in 2012 that the lifelong probability of a marriage ending in divorce is 40%–50%.[16]

See the original Wikipedia article for the references

ETA2: I also don't see why people think that having one's own income breeds distrust. I would say that being self supporting means that one stays in a marriage because on CHOOSES to do so, not because one HAS to do so.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I understand what you're saying, but "provide" generally means financially support. Many suggest SAHMs have a separate account and put money in it so if, God forbid, their husband leaves them and cleans out the bank account, they have a bit of money to survive on. In a 2 income household, if one partner leaves, it sucks, but the other partner has an income coming in and can at least buy food, probably pay utilities, etc. In a single income family, the income producing spouse can literally leave the non-income producing spouse high and dry, unable to even buy their next meal. It sucks, it's not something you want to think about, but it could happen to ANYONE, so its best to be prepared.

ADDED: For those that say they can go out and get a job, they have their degree and even though they've been out of the job market for years they know they can get a job quickly, etc.... have you seen the job market? People with new degrees, tons of experience, those who are actively in the job market have trouble getting a job! It's tough out there!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

We have the same mentality in our family and it works for us. I think a lot of it has to do with the messages you get along the way in life. I remember saying I'd never stay home with kids (to my dad) like my mom did. She's smart and had a career as an RN until we came along. He told me she had a very important job, that he couldn't do his job without her doing her job, and while his job provided the money, it was equally hers. They've been married 55 years. My husband and I have that same mentality - we've been married 15 and together 27. He always consults me before big purchases and donations and I do the same, and we always thank each other for doing so and remind each other it wasn't necessary to do so. But we do it anyway. My sister and her husband never blended their funds. She paid certain bills, he paid others. She got mad at his financial irresponsibility. Toward the end of their marriage, she paid almost all the bills while he just kept buying CDs and DVDs and toys. They divorced, the house that she always paid for had to have his name taken off of (which, thankfully, went relatively smoothly). Somewhere along the way, she got a very different message about what marriage and partnership is - maybe in how her husband was raised, maybe because of her birth order (she's oldest, I'm youngest), maybe some other factor. But whatever it was, they had a very different life than my husband and I do.

The bottom line is it is up to each couple to decide how to provide for one another - if he had to do his job and mine, he would fail at both, and same here. It's also important never to criticize others for their choices - you might not understand it, but if it works for them, great. I don't feel the need to have a separate account because we are best friends and we work together but in different capacities for what we have. If it wasn't that stable or if my experiences had been different, I might feel differently.

ETA: I will say, however, J. S. makes an excellent point! It escaped my swiss cheese memory, but yes, you did portray your financial relationship recently as a very paternalistic one, which I thought was really odd to say "he" paid off "your loans." When we first got married, we paid off our outstanding debt - that is to say, his debt (I had a full scholarship for grad school). I never once looked at it as his debt. Never. Even though the money I was earning in my job helped pay for it.

And yes, I have all my own retirement plans from my jobs.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Retta, are you sure we are not the same???

I agree that every situation is different. I would hope SAHM's would have a retirement plan and investments set up both separately and jointly. I feel it is important for a SAHM to have some sort of accounts set up in her name in case the worst happened. She would need to have a good credit score, hopefully be set up properly for social security and be mindful enough on how to manage the household both emotionally and financially.

Like Retta, hubby and I are a team. He is CEO, I am CFO of our company. We work together as a team, make big decisions together and we have investments and retirement accounts set up both jointly and separately.

I do believe women should be capable of being self sufficient. In my case, I know our business well... if my hubby dropped dead tomorrow, I can take over and run this company... I would have to hire help for administration purposes because I spend the major part of my time on QuickBooks, all the bookkeeping, AP/AR, payroll, payroll taxes and manage travel as well. My role would change to being in sales and negotiating.

It would be a huge change but certainly doable and I could manage it.

ETA: J. made a good point...

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Actually, I strongly believe that a woman should never depend on a man to provide for them. I get the whole "we are a team mentality". However, you just never know what could happen...death, divorce, layoff. I do think that a woman (even if she is a SAHM) should have the ability to go out and provide for the family even if she and her husband make a joint decision for her to stay home. I think it is really hard to leave the workforce and go back later when you have not maintained your former skillset.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My mom taught all of us never to depend on a guy 100%, in her eyes and exoerience it is too easy for a husband to get up and leave and where would thatnleave you?

I do work full time and have a lot of male friends who have wives that do not have a paying job and 9 out of 10 have told me they are unhappy and plan on leaving after their kids are in high school. I don't get why they want to wait so long, but they say it would be easier on their kids. I asked if they think their relationship would be different if the wife worked outside the house and most said yes because all the burden wouldn't be on them to bring home the bacon but they liked having her stay home because they know where she is at.

I even have a group of guy friends on the train and most of thrm have SAHWs and speaking to them has given me alot of insite. They all seem to feel like they rule the house and a couple have even said she has no idea how many friends I have tthat are female. One even admitted to cheating on his wife because henknows she will never be able to afford to leave him if he ever got caught.

That when I knew my mom was right all along.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I think every situation is different.

My husband and I are a team...he loves to tell me that he makes the money and I manage it. He is CEO and I am CFO. I handle all the money matters, everyday spending, savings, investments, large purchases, etc.

I also handle all the kid stuff from feeding and clothing to school issues, doctor's appointments, etc etc etc.

I do work part-time as time allows and bring it a bit "extra", but don't bring in the income we live on.

If my DH were to be hit by a bus tomorrow, we have life insurance to cover the gap until I found a job. I have a Master's Degree in a field that does not require constant employment to stay current, and I could probably find a job within six months that we could live comfortably on and provide health insurance. In fact it is something we hold dear that I could be employed pretty quickly if he lost his job.

Not every situation is like ours...

He and I went through college all the way to our Master's degrees together. So we both could "provide" the money if need be. Some women work to put their husband's through school and into a career but have no back up if their husband dies or leaves them. My mother told me to never stop my own education for a man...

We do have separate retirement accounts and one joint retirement account...but everything else is in both our names.

I think women need to be able to be self-sufficient, so if you do decide to be a homemaker you still have options.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I am a SAHM and a glass artist that makes no where near enough to support myself. My goal however is to make enough money to support my very serious glass addiction:).

I have an MBA however and am chairperson of 2 different committees. I like to think I could get a real job if I had to.

I am lucky that financially I really do not need to work. My husband is a very successful entrepreneur but I believe part of his success is because I am at home and deal with home and kid stuff while he works his crazy hours. I also believe we have such a great marriage because I am not stressed, overworked or resentful because of all I do.

We have been married for over 18 years and I admit when I made the decision to stay at home 11 years ago when my youngest was born I had a lot of hang ups about not having "my own" money, having to check the "home maker" box etc. At the time, I was also glad I had a decent amount of money saved in my 401K from when I did work (for about 10 years I had saved the maximum allowed by law combined with the company contribution and plain luck that my company stock did extremely well over the years). Now however looking back, I believe I was just insecure and immature. I trust my husband completely and really do not feel I need a plan "B".

Having said that, I want my girls to have a great education and to be able to support themselves financially just in case.

EDIT - FYI... 50% of marriages do not end in divorce. Do some research...

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I agree with that statement. As much as I love my husband and we are on solid footing, I could never depend on him financially. My mother was a single mom and we really struggled, so a lot of my mindset is geared towards those life experiences. I was brought up with the motto "Never depend on anyone but yourself."
I want to provide financially for my family, and am in a good place if anything bad were to happen to my husband. Maybe it's a part of my very upbringing, but I would probably feel extreme anxiety at the thought of not bringing in a paycheck. So I bring in the bacon and do all the other household stuff, too, with help from my husband. That's what provide means to me.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

A very good, very blunt friend of mine once told me that every woman needs to have "F*** You" money. Every woman has to have the ability at any time to pull out of the driveway with her kids, wave out the window and say with a smile, "F*** you!!"

Now, this was partly said in jest, but I think the sentiment behind it is true. I have always felt it important to know that I COULD walk away from my significant other at any time. I never want to stay in a relationship because I have to. Personally, my F*** You money is not just actual cash in the bank (or the mattress), it is knowing that I have a stable profession and the ability to find a job if I have to relocate, it is knowing who I could turn to immediately for help, it is knowing how to find a place to live and set up my utilities and get my own credit card and everything else I would need to set up a new life for myself and my children.

My husband and I are a team, and we both contribute to all aspects of our family life. If one of us died or got terminally stupid, the other would survive. I have heard stories of women who lost their husbands and could not even figure out how to write a check to the funeral home, didn't know which bank held the family's accounts, and did not even hold a driver's license. Of course, that is the far extreme. I think that is a situation that is very uncommon in "mainstream" America these days, but it does pop up in certain immigrant communities in the US. That is a kind of dependence that I personally find terrifying. It is also the type of dependence that abusive spouses can intentionally create.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Women shouldn't depend on men to "provide" for them.
Here's why.....anything can change. One day down the road, things can
And then where is the woman? She's stayed at home to take care of the
kids, her skills need to be updated, she doesn't have a job outside the
home, no money or access to it?
A lot of women have found themselves destitute when their husbands
want a divorce.
It's so sad & unfortunate. Let's hope you never find yourself in this
situation because if you do....you will most likely never find yourself in
the same position you are in right now financially.
Women when divorced suffer a financial/social setback when they are
divorced. Even though this isn't the 1950's.
Women should never tear each other down.
They should support each other. Men do that. Why don't women?
It's always good for women to have their own acct, some money of their
own, savings, money for the future etc.
Nobody has a crystal ball or can forsee what the future will really hold.
Always be prepared. Not one foot out the door. Just common sense

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

The reason why some people say this is because they have seen the bad side of life happen to people (or maybe to themselves). My aunt married my uncle when they were both 22. They had 3 kids together and a lovely comfortable and happy home. They always were the best parents and really into their kids. They always seemed like the happiest family. She stayed home and took care of the 3 kids. My uncle worked and supported them. His job required frequent travel and so it really made sense for my aunt to stay home. When the youngest kids started college my uncle suddenly became a total health nut, lost a ton of weight and met a younger woman and fell in love. He very suddenly left and moved to another country leaving my aunt in a bind. She had no idea he was so unhappy. He refused to talk to her about it. He refused to do counseling. His mind was just 100% made up. My aunt is one of the sweetest people I have ever met....everyone thinks so. She was totally blindsided by this. She has 3 kids in college and is still supporting them as much as she can. She never worked and now thankfully has a part time job at a library...but she really needs full time. The library had to let go of most of their employees bc of loss of funding but they did end up keeping her. Then she came down with cancer and has been battling that. She has NO financial support from my uncle AND he has stopped speaking to her and his three children. This, seriously, was the happiest family....if this can happen to them it can happen to anyone. You just never know. That said, I only work part time and stay at home with the kids the rest of the time. I do not have my own separate account. My other aunt thinks I am totally nuts and that a woman should never ever depend on a man and should never stop working and advancing her career. (This is my other aunt who is a university professor) She may have a point. AND, my uncle put all his money into starting a brewery in New Zealand and it failed. He borrowed money from his dad, who is ailing...and he now is completely broke. Talk about an awful mid life crisis.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I absolutely agree with the statement and believe it works the opposite way as well: Men shouldn't depend on women to provide for them, either. Provide means financial responsibility; being able to support yourself. It's important to keep yourself marketable at all times so you're prepared for any worst case scenario. Life is unpredictable. I've seen friends unexpectedly deal with situations that put them back in the job market after years of being out of it and it's rough. Even my own grandma faced this in her 40s when my grandpa unexpectedly died and she had four kids to support.

Don't let job skills go stale when you're a SAHM. Find some way to make sure your professional skills are current (volunteer using your professional skills, do temp work, attend association meetings, etc.) so that when you need to enter the job market, you're able to support your family and not struggle on minimum wage.

My husband and I are a team. For a long time, I was the primary breadwinner and that has since flipped and I earn less. When he lost his job, I was able to support us and when I lost much of my work last year, the situation reversed. We provide for each other and maintain joint accounts (I don't really get maintaining separate ones, other than for things where you need to, like IRAs. I have a separate one for my freelancing business, but otherwise we're joint.).

Provide can mean a lot of things, but in this context, it's purely about financial responsibility.

ETA: I hate the Mommy Wars, too. I work part-time, so I fit between full-time working moms and the stay-at-home moms, since I'm in both worlds. I just think no matter what, it's important to be marketable.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

What's to be puzzled about. This particular situation is not a one size fits all. If your husband gets it that the relationship is team work, you have it made. That is not the case with the last poster.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I read some of the other post. Only some. Those were a LOT of comments!

If you and your husband work as a team and manage your finances as a team, more power to you! You don't HAVE to do things someone else's way. You don't HAVE to have separate accounts.

Some couples keep separate bank accounts for the money they have sole decision-making power over. Some would rather have a little separate cash they don't have to be accountable to anyone else about - even if they use it for perfectly innocuous purposes, like that cute pair of shoes on the Zappos web site.

I'm with you on working together and providing for each other. Providing means, in part, making sure your spouse will be all right when you're not there. That applies to both husbands and wives. If my husband weren't here, I would need financial supplies to keep going, and the ability to manage, or to know whom to ask for assistance in managing, all the responsibilities that he now has. To many women that means being able to get in the job market, but the *general* principle is provision of many kinds. My husband will need the same for my part of the responsibilities if I weren't here (that's why I have life insurance, for one thing - some folks believe full-time homemakers don't need this).

The reason for the original post, as far as I can tell, was something that happens when a spouse yields to the temptation to use finances as leverage to have his/her own way, instead of being a player on the team. There are many better, fairer, more honorable ways to settle disputes.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I provide an income, food, clothing, education, entertainment, holidays, and stability for my family. I am the breadwinner. From my breadwinner's point of view I hate that my husband is not keeping a foot in the door for employment. There are no guarantees that my work will last forever, and I live in a high unemployment area. It could be very difficult finding another position for me. I would rather that we spread the burden over both of us, so that it does not fall to just one person trying to bring in an income. Even a part-time job, or retraining in an industry where there are opportunities would be a step in the right direction. But to leave it all up to one person can be very stressful for them.

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answers from Houston on

My dad left my mother after 14 years of marriage. She had spent all of those years as a SAHM. She had zero marketable job skills and wound up working at the local grocery store in desperation. She didn't make enough to pay all of our bills and put groceries on the table. She made too much to qualify for food stamps and other assistance. The child support was a joke. My dad played financial games with my mother and half of her money became all of his. As a child I got sick of being hungry, eating rancid cheap food and living in roach infested rat traps. My children will never be in that position if my husband or I pull the plug on our marriage. Divorce brings out the nastiness in people.

My husband's friend was killed in an automobile accident last year. His wife and two teenagers are devastated obviously but the punches keep on coming. They have had to sell their home, sell their cars and basically upend their lives even beyond the obvious. The issue is they didn't expect the husband/father to suddenly die. Who plans for that kind of thing, right? But the aftermath was the wife's job wasn't enough to sustain them and I don't even mean in the lifestyle his income could provide. She couldn't readily go get a better paying job even in Houston's hot market. Her credit has been insufficient to get them a new home and and and. Not a position I ever want to my family to be in.

My husband was a SAHD for one year and it hurt him professional in spite of more than a decade's worth of solid work experience. Companies take a very dim view of stay at home parents. I wish that wasn’t the case but it was the experience we had.

Providing for me means equal financial contribution and professional growth. I don't want my husband and our kids screwed if I die or go crazy. Likewise I don't want us to be screwed if he dies or goes crazy. We plan for the worst but it is no reflection of our commitment. We have talked openly about these situations and feel confident in each other and our commitment. We are fully united in protecting and providing for the welfare of our family because you just never know what life might have in store for you.

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answers from Seattle on

If I HAD to go out and make a living I am sure I could. But, I am with you. My husband financially supports our family. I do not have a seperate account. It's OUR money.
I understand that my husband could die....I could too. That doesn't mean that I have my husband find a girlfriend on the "side" (or in "savings) so that just in CASE I die he has someone else to love him!
I am going to live in the now. We love each other, we love our family, we are a team. That means that for NOW, I take care of the home and the kids, and my husband takes care of paying the bills.
I AM going back to school in the fall (which, I am TERRIFIED about!). But I am not doing it so that I can start making "mine" and "his" money. I am doing it so that I can make money to put into OUR pot. My kids will all be in school and I can study to do what I have wanted to do for a while.
Then my family will be stronger financially because we BOTH are putting our money together!

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answers from Grand Forks on

When our kids were born we made the decision that I would stay at home with the kids and that my husband would go out and earn the money. I provide everything else. All of our money is ours, regardless of who "earned" it. I decide how it is all spent because that is my job. I have never, ever depended on a man to provide for me. I have always been perfectly capable of earning a living should I need to. I have retirement savings and life insurance. We waited until we were financially stable to have kids.

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answers from Amarillo on

To J. G and all the other women out there that feel that the comment I made about being completely dependent upon a man to provide for them is this.

I grew up in a time in this country when women did not have much say or power about what they did. The man had all the say in the world and the woman had very little. What he said usually went from office to home. I also witnessed older women who were recently widowed not know anything about their finances (worked in the insurance world) and vowed never to have that happen. Also schooling was not available for all as economics were another factor in who or who did not climb up the social and economic ladder. Women's Lib helped in many ways in the 70s and 80s to level the playing field.

I also lost both of my parents at a young age at different times and had to rely on myself and what was "planted" in me by my mother who told me at a young age that she would never see me grow up (lost her at 9).

Through all the working years I observed many women who "thought" they were in loving marriages get dumped (blindsided). They wound up destitute and many homeless and sometimes lost custody of their children to the state.

I know that I am not painting a rosy picture but it was the way it was. Many women spoke and mentioned that it was best to "have an ace in the hole" so that if something did not work you could get out. No one wants to think that it will happen to them but it does sometimes. Living with a boyfriend prior to marriage even though you know something about him does not equate to living with them daily day in and day out with all the warts. You might wake up and wonder who the XXX is this person next to me or in my bed?

I have enjoyed the rebuttal and keep it coming.

the other S.

PS No one has the perfect marriage all the time. Education is great for helping you stay away from the minimum wage jobs but educated people are fighting along side the newly graduated to get a job in this employment market. I had a cousin whose daughter has a masters take five years to get another job in her field after the company restructured and that was after dumbing down her resume. Volunteering helps but that is not the only thing a future employer is looking at it also includes age and how and what you look like at the time of the interview. So if you have any gray in your hair it is time to hide it don't shoot yourself in the foot the competition is too keen.

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answers from Washington DC on

Providing does mean a partnership. Sometimes one partner does more to earn money while the other does more to keep the home running. Both are bringing value to the partnership.

The advice about having a separate account may not apply to you since your husband sees you as a team, but I hope you can see how it applies to the woman who wrote the post to which you're referring.

In many posts on MP where a woman is posting about a husband with controlling ways, the advice from members often includes the idea of the wife getting her own funds that can't be touched by the husband. In the specific posting from the other day, the husband was tossing up the "I'm the breadwinner, it's my money" stuff to the wife. That's a red flag to a lot of folks on here that the husband is not seeing the marriage as a team effort. When a woman's in a marriage that isn't a partnership and the husband uses money as a weapon -- the woman needs to have money that her husband can't take away or control. At a minimum it allows her to have something to spend on herself, if the husband is obsessive about never allowing her to have any discretionary spending. At most, it is her escape fund if things get to the point she can't live with him. It's hard for those of us in real partnerships to see that, sometimes, but it's true: Many women need to have their own separate funds, either to make their lives easier or, if things really tank, to have the ability to leave. While it's sad to have to think that way, some women must.

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answers from Chattanooga on

It happens all the time- something happens (divorce, accident, death...) and the woman (or man-whoever hasn't been working) isn't able to financially support herself and is left floundering.

My husband and I are a team... Right now, he works while I attend school, take care of our DD and keep house. He insisted that I go return to school before him (we both have educational goals, but can only afford for one of us to go at a time.) BECAUSE it is so hard for single parents to support themselves. He wanted to make sure that if anything happens to him, I will at least have a degree to fall back on.

When we are able to, we plan to switch places, with me being the main breadwinner while he attends school. After that, our long-term goal is that he will be able to work into a career that will allow me to be a SAHM again.

It's not so much about doubting the value of your teamwork as a couple, but planning for the unknown future.

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answers from Chicago on

Like many of the other responses - I have two cautionary tales that happened to friends. One husband spent all of their money (including 401K) day trading (3 kids) and the other spent their emergency fund (around 50K) because he got demoted and didn't want to tell his wife (1 child). They both did not have separate accounts and now feel like idiots for not having a separate accounts. After all, half of nothing is nothing.

You said in your reply "I trust hubby wont screw me". I just texted my friends and asked them - before everything that happened - would you have said the same thing?? And both of them replied "100% yes". They never would have thought that someone they loved and trusted would have done this too their families.

Not to be a downer - but my point is - no one ever expects the worst but it does happen. Chances are it won't but just in case it does - you should be prepared. Not only for you but for your children.

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answers from Boston on

There's an old "I Love Lucy" episode in which the women and men each think the other's job is so easy. So, after a lot of dismissive talk and put-downs, they switch roles. And everything is an abject failure.

I think we use a lot of misleading and perhaps antiquated terms like "bread winner" and "provider" for (usually) men and "home maker" for women - when in a true team, both parties provide and both people make a home. And single parents certainly have to do both. It's all about what you value. So you're right, the term "provider" has a much broader meaning, and it should. If we truly value our families and each other, then we think that meeting all their needs and our own is important.

Any well-functioning machine is based on each part being just as valuable s the next, and we know they are all interconnected. From medical care to car maintenance to a good restaurant meal, it's only successful if each person does their job well. Families are the same.

There have been studies over the past decades (usually every time this whole argument pops up) about what the value is (or cost is) of services provided by the stay-at-home parent - we've all seen the analyses of what it costs for a cook, personal shopper, child care provider, health care manager, bookkeeper, chauffeur, travel agent, etc. The tragic way to work it out is when a SAHM dies and the single father has to pay for those services. The short-term way that a lot of people see it in action is when the SAH parent goes away for a weekend (without pre-cooking meals or doing all the laundry or leaving a list of where stuff is and who has to be at a team practice when). In fact, whenever a woman feels undervalued, I always suggest a weekend away without telling anyone how to do her job - when a paid person takes a day off from work, they usually have someone cross-trained already, right? So the same should apply in the home. (If the spouses work well together, then of course sharing info is sensible - I just mean when one person degrades the other one and doesn't value her role. Then stick it to him!)

Ideally, partners work this out before they have kids and re-negotiate along the way as things changes or as problems present themselves. I think the money can be discussed and worked out too. I think the money belongs to both partners equally (same as if one has a full-time employment and one has part-time). If people want individual bank accounts so they don't have to explain every purchase, or just so they don't inadvertently overdraw with simultaneous purchases, I think that's fine. My husband and I have separate accounts to manage, but we just move the money back and forth as needed depending on who had a bigger month financially or which one is elected to cover a big expense like putting on a new roof. A friend of mine has a child with her first husband, so she and her second husband have 3 accounts - the household account for all the big stuff (mortgage, utilities, etc.), his account (for his personal expenses and activities like game tickets and golf) and her personal account for personal stuff as well as the child's stuff (child support goes in, child's dental bills and activity fees go out without there being any question that any of it goes to the second husband's expenses).

My husband and I started out with separate accounts when we got married, and he had children from a prior marriage, so it made sense to keep things separate in the beginning. We just kept it going because it continued to work for other reasons. For example, if I order something for his birthday, I don't want him to see the charge for it on a credit card statement or in the checkbook register. He likes the same freedom. It's not about insisting on anything - it just works.

My husband and I don't divide along "traditional" roles so maybe that makes it easier. Maybe we just communicate better. I don't know. But it works for us. We don't assume that our division works for other people. So you should do what you want and what works for you. But you are clearly in a marriage based on respect - and as we see on this site, not everyone is in that place. Moreover, not every woman was raised to value what she does in the home, and not every woman has your strong sense of herself. So if she needs a separate account, or wants one, to help her on her journey, I see no problem with it.

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm assuming it's more about 'don't allow yourself to be put in a situation where you CAN'T provide for yourself'. i'm currently dependent on my husband, as he's working and i'm not. but if i needed to work, i could and would. my earning potential is a fraction of his, but i took care of myself before he came along and could do so again. one just needs to adjust one's living circumstances to be in line, right?
like you, we're a team, and don't have separate accounts. but each circumstance is unique. some couples have good reasons for keeping separate monies and dividing their responsibilities more stringently.

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answers from Kansas City on

J., I'm with you! Financially, my husband provides everything. However, we are complete equals in our home. My 'priceless' contributions are just as important. I trust him completely...and he trusts me.

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answers from Boca Raton on

i don't like being a stay at home mom but one of us had to do it unless we wanted our kids to be raised by others. we didn't. i had a very good job, but didn't pay as much as my husband's job. my field of expertise is very narrow so i would have to live in DC area for me to continue working. we moved a lot. my husband provides for us financially but i am the boss. we also own paid off properties, so in case he thinks he can do better than me, half is mine. selling those would give me a few years until i got back on my feet.
i don't dwell on what could happen. i dwell on what's the best situation for us currently.

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