- “For Love & Money” is a biweekly column from Insider answering your relationship and money questions.
- This week, a stay-at-home mom asks what to do about her husband who doesn’t value her unpaid work.
- He expects her to handle the housework and care full-time for their kids because he earns a paycheck.
- Got a question for our columnist? Write to For Love & Money using this Google form.
Dear For Love & Money,
I’m a SAHM [stay-at-home mom] and my husband doesn’t appreciate my financial contributions to our household. This leads to all kinds of problems in our relationship, mostly surrounding division of labor. He believes that because he spends his days at a desk, on the phone, bringing home the paychecks that pay our bills, every other household responsibility should fall to me. I stay home so I can spend my days with my children, not so I can slave over every household detail while they watch cartoons (don’t get me wrong we spend plenty of time enjoying cartoons).
How do I get him to understand that although I don’t bring home a paycheck every other week, my financial contributions to our household matter? I don’t want my husband to view me as an employee of our household, but I want him to understand the value I bring to the table. When every argument about household labor ends with, “I work, so this is your responsibility,” it feels like a dead end. How do I fix this?
Overworked and Underappreciated
Dear Overworked and Underappreciated,
First of all, I’ve been there. Sometimes it feels like I’m still there. While I write freelance, it’s a part-time gig, and I make substantially less money than my husband, which is why my first thought when I read your letter was, “I have to answer this question.” But also, “Can I be objective about this?”
So, I decided to pull in Dr. Avigail Lev, psychotherapist, author, mediator, executive coach, and founder of CBT Online. With a decade of experience using cognitive behavioral therapy methods to help couples, Dr. Lev confirmed my suspicion that your dilemma — my dilemma — is a very common dynamic.
Part of the reason this dynamic is so common is that it isn’t limited to SAHMs. Statistics show that, across the board, as far as women have come in the struggle for gender equality when it comes to housework, little has changed. Whether they are like you, a SAHM doing unpaid labor full-time, or they are like me, working for pay part-time and …….