My wife of 12 years is outgoing with people, creative with crafts, and adept at technology.
She’s always involved in a project, many of them helpful to our kids or our community.
But never one that brings income into our household.
I respect her skills and her outreach to pitch in where there are needs.
She was one of the first in our community early in the pandemic to organize a circle of mask-making volunteers. They gave them away to people who’d lost their jobs.
She formerly made costumes for our daughters’ school plays (they’re ages 10 and 11).
She’s been teaching the girls from earliest age, how to use devices for researching answers to simple questions, while still restricting their time on devices for just chatting.
She also regularly drops groceries off to a neighbour who’s restricted in mobility. Many people admire her.
I’m one of them of course, and I also love her, trust her, and respect her.
But I’m a salaried guy in an accounting position, with an income that just covers our modest living costs.
Fortunately, I’ve been able to work at home during Covid, and am still employed. If not, we’d be in big financial trouble.
Given my wife’s creative talent, many practical skills, and her positive energy, I’ve always believed she could find a good job if she tried.
Also, given our daughters’ approach to teenage years and future goals, which I’m sure will bring extra expenses, becoming a two-income family would be extremely helpful!
I sometimes wonder if, despite receiving constant kudos, she’s terrified of failure at something new and different.
How can I get her to recognize that she, too, should be contributing to our finances and helping increase them for our children’s future and the costs of their higher education?
Frustrated Father/Loving Husband
Your wife’s fine qualities of caring for others, and of her talent/skills in doing so, is a significant element of your relationship.
You’re married to a woman worthy of praise, for which you love and respect her. Your daughters benefit not only from their mother’s example, but also from living in a family that models this positive relationship.
But more income for family needs would certainly be very welcome, too!
Unfortunately, almost any approach to her on this subject is problematic: Example: “I need you to get a real job” ... “I can’t keep carrying the financial load by myself, it’s unfair” ...
Your feelings about this need for a second earner are perfectly understandable and reasonable but I believe it’s a subject you need to approach very thoughtfully.
If you haven’t previously shared with her your financial picture of total income minus the total regular monthly and annual charges, plus additional “extras” for varied reasons, it’s time you made her a partner in this area of your marriage.
Handle it with your usual respect for her intelligence, not as a lecture, even if the need for extra funds becomes imminent. She’ll see what the realities are as she absorbs the information.
Make this monthly review a regular pattern and show where the stress points occur - e.g. raised fees for utilities, the breakdown of an essential item such as a fridge, etc.
She’s bound to start making suggestions of some sort... and that’s when you can ask her if she sees any ways to contribute.
Hopefully, as with all her other projects, she’ll get the message of need and find a way.
FEEDBACK Regarding the wife’s two-week-long monthly “wave cycle” resulting in bursts of anger (September 30):
Reader #1 – “This could be hormonal. I experienced mood swings relating to my menstrual cycle. When premenopausal, it became severe. My gynecologist suggested a low dose of antidepressant.
“I’ve found it helpful and have been aware the few times I’ve weaned off it, that I become very short-tempered.
“I believe it was a combination of general anxiety, which I’ve always had, exacerbated by menopause. I’m now 71 and remain on the same low dose, which helps me to be my better self.”
Reader #2 – “A clear indicator of menstrual cycle involvement was that it happened every two weeks.
“My daughter suffered with this for years and found antidepressants made her worse.
“She’s now discovered allergies to a few foods, uses really good vitamins and tinctures, does exercises with meditation. She’s much happier now.”
Tip of the day:
Changing one partner’s role in a household arrangement that’s been accepted for years, takes tact, sensitivity, relevant information, and time (barring an emergency).