When Janet Thompson told me she had a book out that helps those who are under or unemployed or those who are at a stage in life where in addition to being “man of the house” hubby is “man in the house,” I had to invite her to post on both my book blog and my unemployment blog. Your comments below are most welcome. If you contact Janet directly please let her know where you saw her post.
Dear God, He’s Home!
“After Ken’s layoff, I’d wake up in the night trembling with fear and sneak out of bed to sit by the fireplace with my Bible. I’d read and read until finally peace came . . . and it always did . . . at least enough for that night.” –Deborah
THE WIFE OF A STAY-AT-HOME man is going to talk to God—a lot! Maybe she’ll write a cathartic letter to her journal: Dear God,…
Another wife might begin her pleading or thankful prayers with: Oh, Dear God,…
Still other wives in times of desperation or frustration cry out, “Dear God, HE’S HOME!”
The various times my husband has been a “stay-at-home man,” I regularly expressed each of those “Dear Gods.” So if you have a stay-at-home man and he’s driving you crazy, don’t feel guilty if you haven’t always been joyous about this new closeness in your marriage relationship. And don’t feel alone.
With unemployment at an all-time high, baby boomers reaching retirement age by the droves, military pulling out of many areas and returning home, businesses down-sizing or setting up virtual offices in homes, chances are pretty good you either are or know a woman with a stay-at-home man.
Myriad emotions and reactions erupt from both spouses when an otherwise out-of-the-home-every-day husband is suddenly home all day—every day. Many wives have their own label for this occurrence. In Honey, I’m Home for Good!, Mary Ann Cook calls it spouse-in-the-house syndrome. Then there’s retired-husband syndrome or military reintegration syndrome.
Every couple’s response to their unique syndrome evolves from how they’ve dealt with previous transitions in their relationship. Couples who stumbled and fumbled without finding workable resolutions in the past, will probably stumble and fumble through this new situation too. However, couples who have successfully developed and implemented coping techniques may be better equipped to adjust to a full time “stay-at-home man.” Even so, unexpected issues can blindside both spouses.
There’s no age qualifier for a husband suddenly being home 24/7. Sometimes it comes as a shock like a layoff or illness and other times it’s the natural progression of expected retirement or return from deployment. Whatever the reason, even when we know it’s coming, the reality of a hubby being home full-time is disarming.
Planning is essential, if you have that luxury. Each time my husband has been home—three layoffs, disability, retirement—it’s always been a surprise and no time to plan. It hit us both hard and we struggled through adapting to the transitions and changes we each experienced.
For Better or For Worse but Not For Lunch
The universal frustration expressed by wives of stay-at-home husbands: he’s invading “my space” and my work load is increasing while his is decreasing. The prospect of fixing lunch every day can push a wife over the top.
One incident about my husband losing his job and setting up shop in our home is now very funny, but wasn’t at the time. By 8 a.m., he’s in “the office,” which is now upstairs in our home, ready to begin his day. On the first day of his new life, he bounded down the stairs about 11:30 and said with an enthusiastic smile, “What’s for lunch?” I was in the kitchen, but lunch wasn’t my agenda. My mind quickly went into fast forward and I could see the rest of my life fixing one meal after another—cooking, cooking, and cooking . . . . I didn’t respond in a positive way. Should have said, “Wherever you’re taking me,” or possibly, “This kitchen is closed for lunch.”
What I said was, “Lunch! I do lunch with my friends!” Ouch. He looked crushed and I instantly knew I had mishandled this new phase of life.—Jean
He’s Home and I’m Not
A working wife, or a wife who has had to go back to work, may feel the burden of supporting the family when she’d rather be home. When a stay-at-home man takes over household chores while the wife continues working, she’s blessed. However, not all husbands are willing or capable of helping around the house. More often wives complain that when they walk in the door from work, their husbands are sitting on the couch asking what’s for dinner. Or she still has to come home and take care of a sick or disabled husband plus all the household chores. Just like a wife with a deployed husband, her work doubles and it’s hard not to become resentful and exhausted.
My former policeman husband has been home a year now (due to his work-related injury) “helping” take care of household duties while I went to work. We’ve struggled to figure out our new situation. House cleaning became an immediate issue: within two weeks, he hired someone. My first reaction: “You never hired a maid for me, why do you get one?” Once I got over those feelings, it was a grateful relief and I look forward to coming home from work to a sparkling house on Tuesday afternoons.
Food was another out-of-control issue: the children were accustomed to my cooking. Tears became a common part of our home for several months. It wasn’t just the kids. I shed my fair share also. Work stress after being out of the field for almost ten years, missing my children after being home with them for eight years, and adjusting to a husband going through an identity crisis, kept us all on our knees. Only an utter dependence on God got us through those first months.—Veola
Restoring the Joy
Not every husband can go out and get another job, at least not right away. Instead of feeling resentful or overwhelmed, we wives need to put into perspective issues like lunch or helping with household duties and discuss with our husbands in the same way we would discuss a major decision or planning a trip—talk it out. It’s better to unveil your frustrations and angry feelings, than letting negative emotions simmer and percolate in your heart until they spew out with words you can’t control or take back.
Start all discussions with prayer. Share how you’re feeling with your husband without using the accusatory “you” or all-inclusive words like “never” or “always.” Be watchful of not comparing him with other husbands in your thoughts or words. Comparing won’t motivate your husband, but it will alienate him. It’s a lose/lose manipulative tactic sure to close your husband’s spirit and ears.
Wise Words from Women with Stay-at-Home Husbands
• Make each day the best it can be. You don’t know how many days you’ll have left together.
• Understand where your husband is at in his life and don’t make his retirement or at-home-experience miserable.
• Don’t belittle or put down your husband—build him up. Find out his concerns and needs, don’t just focus on your own.
• Communicate your needs honestly and lovingly.
• When shopping together, pick a store that also has sporting, gardening, or electronic departments and let your husband browse or send him to find something.
• What’s important to your spouse should also be important to you and what’s important to God should be important to both of you!
This post includes excerpts from Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man (New Hope Publishers)—the third book in the “Dear God,” series by author and speaker Janet Thompson. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and the award-winning author of seventeen books, including: Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?, Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, The Team That Jesus Built, and the Face-to-Face Bible study series.
Get your copy of Janet’s book here:
Janet and her stay-at-home man, Dave, are enjoying this season of life in the rural mountains of Idaho.
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