Is your man suddenly a “stay-at-home” husband? Are you finding it difficult to adjust to the new and abundant time together? My friend Janet Thompson – who knows exactly how you feel – offers great insight and practical help in her new book “Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man.” Thrilled to have Janet as my guest blogger today!
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 situation. And don’t feel alone. When I sent out a request for stories of women with a husband home due to retirement, illness, disability, out of work, home office, the military . . . whatever reason…the stories flowed into my inbox.
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. Every couple’s response 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, 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. John expresses the lament of many wives:
When I retired from the Navy (and was a stay at home retiree) my wife (after a few weeks) said, “I promised for better or worse, but I didn’t promise lunch every day. Go out and get another job. So I did…
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. Dear God, He’s Home! has discussion questions at the end of each chapter to get the talking started. In the Sanity Tools section, there’s also a Leader’s Guide to use the questions in support groups or book clubs.
Words of Wisdom from Wives with a Stay-at-Home Man
- Understand where your husband is in his life and don’t make his retirement or at-home-experience miserable. —Alice
- Don’t belittle or put down your husband—build him up. Find out his concerns and needs, don’t just focus on your own. —Alice
- Communicate your needs honestly and lovingly. —Joan
- 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. —Sue
- 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! —Janet (me)
Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and the 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. Janet and her stay-at-home man, Dave, are enjoying this season of life in the rural mountains of Idaho. Find out more about Janet, her speaking, and her books.