Let’s add one more topic to the list of highly controversial issues in America today: stay at home moms. I’ve seen people get as reactive to this as abortion, religion, or racism. And like these other topics, any argument surrounding it is fueled by emotion and rarely ends in resolution, only anger.
Well, today the comment I read was not directly insulting stay at home moms, but on dating men who have been previously married to stay at home moms. Since dating after divorce is of particular interest to me, I honed in.
The commenter wouldn’t date a man who had previously been married to a stay at home mom. I read her short complaint and then read all of the responses, trying to keep an open mind. This particular group of responders is primarily single mothers who have a particular interest in financial advancement, so not an unbiased sample. Now, as a stay at home mom myself, my first reaction was defensive, and I tried to be aware of that as I continued.
Though the original poster stated that her complaint wasn’t against stay at home moms themselves, her problem with the divorced men of stay at home moms is that they have been spoiled and expect everything outside of work to be done for them. Basically they are helpless at anything outside of providing the income. I imagine that this can be frustrating for a working mother who is trying to date and doesn’t want yet another responsibility. Finding the time to parent, work, run a household, and incorporate some all-important self care, dating the (non-existent) perfect man can be hard enough. If it’s additional work, not many quality women will put up with that. I empathize and completely understand this.
After consciously setting aside the possible implication that stay at home moms have somehow done a disservice to other women (another discussion for another time), my gut reaction to this complaint is this: it sucks all around when marriage doesn’t work out, and when you date someone who has had a past (marriage or serious relationship), you may have to either help that person adapt to a new normal, or learn to deal with aspects you may not have previously considered. If you date a widower, you may be facing a relationship with a man who will always love another woman. If you date a man who has been betrayed, you may face more trust issues than typical. However, both men could have amazingly positive things to bring to the table as well.
If a man is coming from a marriage in which he was the breadwinner and his wife stayed home and raised the kids, yes, he might be more likely to struggle with balancing all areas. He might expect a woman to take on certain responsibilities. This doesn’t make him a bad person or even a poor choice for a partner. He COULD be an asshole who thinks that a woman’s place is only in the home (THAT would definitely be a bad choice!), but so could a man coming from a marriage with more equitable roles in household duties and child rearing. Any man could have failings that might be difficult to incorporate into a relationship. But are they deal breakers? Being an asshole should be the deal breaker!
My ex husband is a good man and a very good father. Since the divorce he has taken on certain household duties that are new to him—cooking, laundry, shopping—but he also has much more time since he doesn’t have the kids every night. Additionally, he has me doing much of the parenting and filling in when he has to travel or go to dinner meetings. I am as flexible as he needs so that we can attempt to parent as well as we always have, and I don’t mind this one bit.
If you date my ex, you may not get him every night, as he is fully devoted to his kids when he is with them, but when he’s with you, he’s with you and focused there. He respects a strong woman, he will understand that your kids come first, and his patience is unwavering. He is a good man, yes, but I’d also like to think that I had something to do with the man he is today and the one you will get. And him having had a stay at home wife raising his kids was a big part of who he is today. I hope he ends up with a woman who appreciates this rather than sees it as a problem.
I respect that not everyone has my view, but if a man is good, respectful, kind, open, and supportive, whether or not he is used to having a stay at home wife, shouldn’t be more than an interesting topic for discussion. For me a relationship is about overall balance and ongoing communication about expectations. The fewer deal breakers we put on potential dates, the larger the pool from which can draw, and the more fun we can have in the game. Be open, communicate, and you might find that what you perceive as potential problems in a relationship that has yet to exist, could quickly evaporate over a leisurely afternoon coffee and discussion. Maybe not, but at least be open to that possibility.