I Want to Go Back To Work, But My Husband Wants Me to Stay Home

Young business woman stretching rubber band on blue background
By Suzanne Poe, Family Consultant

Such a dilemma has become more prevalent as women value both the nurturing of their children and fulfilling their own needs for self-expression. It is also a dilemma likely to elicit very strong feelings from both sides of the argument. In close relationships and marriages, this is often the case. But, the fireworks can be left on the 4th of July with a little understanding and preparation.

Strong feelings often come from deeply held values and the fear they will not be honored. As the dilemma is considered from the wife’s perspective, she will set the stage better by herself honoring the values that underly her husband’s feelings. She can begin to do this by seeking more information from him with statements or questions such as- “Tell me why this is so important for you.” Or “Help me understand what is behind how you feel about this.” Such statements or questions raised by a desire to truly understand will help eliminate defenses and de-escalate the emotions when presented with an attempt to listen while withholding judgment. In other words, listen and absorb what he is trying to say.

Preparation comes with understanding how to use a gentle start

Using a statement such as I feel … (state feelings) about… (the behavior or situation)…I need….(state a positive need). Such a statement works well because the husband does not have to be on the defensive about the matter.

Preparation also comes for the wife with being willing to compromise and understanding what that may look like. The art of compromise can grease the wheel so to speak in any relationship. Being prepared ahead of time eliminates some of the potentials for the couple to dig in their heels and refuse to budge. But, the woman should understand exactly what she cannot live without and what she can be flexible on. The give and take in relationships has often been the rubber band that has kept couples together when dreams and values come into conflict.

For more information on compromise and gentle start-ups, please see The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, Gottman & Silver, 2000

Additional Resources: Gottman & Schwartz- Gottman, 2012, 2014

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