Vol 1, No. 10 Aug 2011

...A monthly newsletter designed to help make your marriage great. Each issue contains articles, tips and more.

Stay-at-Home Dads and Non-Traditional Marriage Roles

By Lynn M. Griesemer

     Depending on where you live and on your background, you may notice various roles that men and women adopt.  During my lifetime, I’ve observed the following:  (1) A majority of partners are within a five-year age difference.  It could be that partners met their beloved in high school or college. (2) Women are more apt to shop for groceries, cook and prepare meals, tend to indoor household chores and dress their young children. (3) Women are more likely to volunteer at a child’s school or assist with homework / educating children. (4) Husbands are usually the higher income earners. (5) Men tend to serve as driver when both husband and wife enter a car. (6) Husbands are more likely to cut the lawn and perform household repairs and projects.

   Some might think my list is sexist or mundane, but these are the visions I grew up with and I often see today.  It could be cultural or it could be regional.  Did you grow up with role observations?  How about role expectations?  Do you have role preferences in your relationship?  Are there male / female patterns in your marriage?  Have you entertained the idea of deviating from established images or visions of what a husband or wife does?

     Sometimes our world can be shaken if we purposely choose, or if we find ourselves in what might be considered non-traditional roles.  Let’s say a husband and wife met at a prestigious business school while working on their MBAs.  Upon graduation, the woman is offered a job at almost twice the salary as her future husband.   Her expertise and interest is perceived as a greater value to the economy.  The two get married and the pattern that is established is that the woman’s career is of more value and  importance.  Although the husband and wife are both professionals, this is new territory for them.  The husband’s parents are both doctors, with the father earning more than his mother.  The wife’s parents were clearly more traditional, with the father earning significantly more than her mother.

   The challenge to couples who are in the minority is the attitude they have about something outside the cultural norms.  Men are seen as protectors and providers.  If the husband, in the example above, places his self-image mainly on his job, he might struggle with the arrangement.  There must be mutual agreement, respect and admiration in whatever situation couples find themselves.  If the husband begrudgingly “accepts” his wife’s higher income status, there will be other problems that may find their way into their relationship, such as contempt, resentment, regret, frustration, anger, feelings of doubt and low self-worth, and perhaps depression.   I put quotations in the word accepts because a spouse does not accept anything which he does not fully embrace.

     Marriage comes with enough challenges.  Put any two people together for a lifetime and partners are bound to encounter difficulties and adjustments.  What happens when couples adopt patterns that place them in the minority?  Do they face additional adjustments?  The strength they have within can certainly help ease the pressure from the outside. 

   Some couples can easily integrate differences such as a 20+ age difference, stay-at-home father or mixed race marriage.  Others face subtle or blatant discrimination or disapproval from others.  When the father spends most of the time raising the children, there can be negative assumptions by others: “Is something wrong that you cannot hold down a job?” “Are you lazy or incompetent?” “How can you shirk your manhood by not caring about providing for your family?”

    Instead, when we consider stay-at-home dads or other non-traditional roles, we have the opportunity to stop and think about the benefits of a unique situation.  Fathers have a lot of “quantity” time with their children to form special attachments.  We cannot replace or recover the time that is otherwise invested in a career or lost to a job.   We are always making decisions and choices and the choice for a father to invest in his children can be seen as a gift, not something that is wasted.

Lynn M. Griesemer is a Marriage Coach and has been happily married for over 25 years. She helps struggling marriages improve and good marriages become great. www.marriagecoachlynn.com.

Listen to internet radio with Marriagecoachlynn on Blog Talk Radio Marriage Coach Lynn

Promote Your Page Too
Follow MarriageCoachLn on Twitter

If there was ever a time for candid discussion between partners, it is when there are increased reasons for external criticism.  Non-traditional roles raise concern simply because it can be new and unknown territory for those around you.  Couples need to discuss non-traditional roles before they enter a situation and as they live through it.  It is not too much to periodically discuss feelings about your arrangement. 

    Outsiders, such as family and friends can threaten a marriage.  Of course they mean well (they always do, don’t they?!) when they voice their opinions, but are you strong enough to stand up for yourself and your choices?  Be proud of your choices and do not let interference bring you down.

Picture Couples Corner

Meet Chris and Sarah Kuhner, who have been married for 11 years.  They are the parents of Bekah and Hannah.   Sarah works as a NICU Nurse, while Chris functions as the primary caretaker of their daughters.  Sarah says that in the early days of Chris’ role as a stay-at-home dad that it is important to be patient and understanding of your husband; he has to work through the issues our culture throws at us – the idea that a husband’s worth is closely aligned to his ability to provide an income for the family.  It took Chris about a year to work through the idea that he would serve as a stay-at-home father, but now he is so grateful to have the irreplaceable time with his daughters and experiences awe from others he meets.  Chris and Sarah were guests on my show on 6/14/11.   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/marriagecoachlynn/2011/06/14/stay-at-home-fathers


"…marriage, when it works, enriches existence as nothing else can." – Catherine Blyth.

  Marriage can "work" in many different ways for couples.  Couples who decide on non-traditional elements in their relationship can thrive if they have the basic qualities of successful marriages: understanding, acceptance, appreciation, and healthy communication skills to name a few.


My book Reenergize Your Marriage in 21 Days is now available in ebook form via Smashwords.com at the following URL: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/59883 If you’ve already started the program, let me know how it’s working!

© 2011 Lynn M. Griesemer

To ensure you receive our montly newsletter, make sure you add noreply@marriagecoachlynn.com to your address book. If you prefer not to receive future email from MarriageCoachLynn.com, please unsubscribe here.