My husband and I gave birth to their first child 3 months ago. As a breadwinner, my wife has just returned to work after 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Our savings are a bit low and she is currently “asking for my help” to work part time.
This saddens me for many reasons. We are doing pretty well, making about 200,000 dollars between us, but my wife makes about 60% of our income. If she’s going part-time (she’s proposing 30 hours per week), this will cost us around $ 30,000 a year.
Losing $ 30,000 a year will limit your child’s ability to save for school, for retirement and to go on vacation. We now have 100% covered child care between two divisions of our grandparents who are eager to take care of their first grandchild.
‘Losing $ 30,000 a year will limit your child’s ability to save for school, save for retirement and go on vacation.’
We are both 31 years old, but my wife just graduated professionally in 2018, and has therefore only been working for the past two years. She currently has a PhD which comes with a substantial opportunity cost.
Not only did she quit her job in these four years, she also had about $ 160,000 in student loans and only 401 (k) contributions in the past two years. Our previous plan was to use a debt relief program for public students.
She currently meets all the criteria, but if she works part-time, she will no longer meet the criteria. Once all our bills and utilities are added up (including my own $ 45,000 student loan), we have about $ 6,000 in monthly expenses, excluding meals, and entertainment.
The biggest expense is our mortgage, which is about $ 3,000 a month. We built a house in 2019. According to my wife’s insistence (and my willingness to agree), this home is in the best school district in the area, even though the home is taller than 10 % of our predetermined budget.
‘When we both graduated from school and we both got jobs with our degrees, I finally felt like we could both enjoy my life. ”
Before we signed, we had a candid conversation about the commitment. She expressed her wish to work part-time before. I said her new home would limit her flexibility to work part-time until she pays off her student loans. Of course, she was fine with this at the time.
When she was still in school, I worked 50 to 60 hours per week in a stress management position while getting my master’s degree online in the evenings. When we both graduated from school and we both got jobs that match our degrees, I finally felt like we could both enjoy our lives.
Up until now, this has been going very well. I feel like we are living comfortably, making sure we are saving money in hopes of retiring at the right age, and helping our kids avoid student loans. My wife usually lets me make all the financial decisions.
I want her to be happy, and I don’t want her to be upset with me. Although I know we can technically afford it, I don’t think it is financially necessary for her to go part-time. I couldn’t help but feel like I was being pulled from the rug below me. How do you advise you?
Before I take your letter seriously, I have a confession. I’ve seen the subject line in your email and I think, ‘Oh, boy. This man’s wife had just given birth, asking for care of them Honey, and then I actually read your letter. I receive so many letters from people who are so outspoken, deep down in their resentment and unfulfilled expectations that they often fail to see other people’s views and / or stances themselves from the outside. However, your letter is different.
You both agreed on a pre-marriage finances, and I agree that you both should stick with it – for now (I’ll come back to this later). You work out your plans while you are at work, your wife is doing research and together you make the decision to buy a home as a 50/50 partner. Thirty hours per week are considered full-time under the debt relief program if you meet your employer’s definition of full-time or work at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater.
You both agreed on a finances before getting married, and I agree that you both should stick with it – for now.
Of course, giving up a career and / or going part-time is a burden and the decision is mostly carried by women. They become much more full-time or full-time caregivers than their husbands. That is of them careers influence, and that is one of the many reasons for the gender wage inequality in the United States Men argue to keep their careers afloat because they often don’t make more than their wives, but they often earn more precisely because these unequal structures are introduced into the system.
I want to make it clear: Work / life balances are unjustly skewed towards women, even with progress during paid leave in many companies. Working women still do most of the house chores. This will take generations to work its way out of the home system. American businesses hardly any better: Women are paid less than men and more likely than men “mission cannot be advertised,“Or assignments that benefit the organization but do not lead to a career advancement.
‘Your wife brought another person for 9 months’
But the problem here, as you stated in your letter, is the domestic one. You work while studying for a master’s degree, and your wife is studying for a doctorate. You did this on the basis of a plan that you have agreed upon together. That said, your wife also conceived a different person for nine months, and gave birth to your baby, something you would never have to do and would never be able to imagine in your imagination. your wildest. You should review your finances and agree to reconsider your arrangement.
Marriage – hell, life! – full of tough compromises. Some of the concessions that seem unfair today, may not be so unfair in 10 or 50 years. It is a matter of balancing principles with reality, the need to know of a married couple with the unknown of a couple before they start a family, financial health with health. mental. Having children, raising a family, and making an effort to maintain a marriage come with unforeseen physical and emotional consequences.
Some of the concessions that seem unfair today, may not be so unfair in 10 or 50 years.
Twelve weeks after giving birth is not a long time. From a female friend has experienced it more than once: “I have been insane for at least six months. See if she can negotiate moving part-time to full-time over the next three to six months with her employer. That way, she can regain her spirit gently, but without losing everything she has worked hard for, which is a great future career. Also, 30 hours a week doesn’t sound like time for me. “
There are no bad actors in your letter, just two people trying to get through the next 18 years as best they can. I think you should be careful when making any major changes to your financial plan. The last word of warning comes from my married friend who is already a mother and has chosen to work full time. “Part-time work, especially as a new mother, is a human game. She would have to work full-time to get paid part-time, with the guilt of a new mother. The only one who will win is her master ”.
‘I am working in the same apartment as my child’
Another mother of a daughter had a slightly different opinion: “I don’t know how I would feel at work before having a baby, and I’m lucky that my plans almost coincide with reality. . I come back part-time after four and a half months because we need the money. I’m the one making more money and our money gives more of what we need. I can’t imagine going back full time. I’m working in the same apartment as my baby, and it’s hard not to be with her, even for a few hours a day.
Talk about what you have agreed to, what you can pay for and agree to review it after a year, two and / or five years. Your desire – “I want her to be happy and I don’t want her upset with me” – is understandable. You guys love each other. You want to do your best for your marriage, your family, but you too both Your needs are being heard and expected to be met. We don’t always get our needs met at the same time, especially for those of us who are struggling to nurture a family. That is true for both of you.
You can exist in your wife’s plan. Look for a middle ground before you take any drastic steps. You both can afford to have this conversation. That will be a challenge, and it is also a luxury.
(This story was republished on Equal Pay Day on March 23, 2021.)
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