Ledger Domain

6 Feb

Letterbalm LedgerDear LetterBalm: After working full-time, I quit my job two years ago to stay at home with our young twins, now aged seven. For the first years of their lives, we had a nanny who also did housekeeping duties. But we decided it was more affordable if I stayed home. Plus, I wanted to be there during their school years. I really love what I’m doing except for one thing: My husband constantly reminds me that he’s the breadwinner and teases me (not so lightly) if I want to spend money on myself. I’m careful to stay within our budget, and I don’t throw money around. I feel like he’s putting me down and treating me disrespectfully. I want him to stop.

–Caregiver 

Before you tell your husband to stop belittling you – yes, he’s acting like a chucklehead – Ms. L.B. suggests that you ask yourself several questions. Is he stressed or aggrieved that he’s the only one bringing in a salary? Is his job in jeopardy or are there financial problems of which you’re unaware? Are you so wrapped up in your twins that you’re not allowing your husband quality time with them? Are you doing the same thing: Making him feel his role is inferior to yours? Address these concerns first. (And, once again, both spouses should be involved in family finances, spending and investing.) Once you’re satisfied all is well, go online to websites that give estimates as to what it would cost if a stay-at-home parent were paid for services. Put the kids to bed and serve your husband his favorite meal when you know he’s not exhausted from work. Talk with him kindly and show him your calculations:

Darling, since we made the decision for me to stay home with the twins, you’ve been grilling me about any money I spend on myself. This hurts me – you know I’m keeping to the budget because we both know the family finances. You love your job, and all is well in that department. We’re very lucky. We both want our kids to have a full-time mom raising them at home, which most children don’t. So, I contribute a vital role. I went online and researched what it would cost if we had to hire people to fulfill everything I do. I didn’t realize it, but I’m “on call” more than 50 percent of the hours in the week, including time for sleeping. My services include chauffeur, laundry operator, day care teacher, nurse, housekeeper, cook, psychologist and janitor. Honey, I was stunned. If you figure all this on an hourly basis, it would cost us almost $125,000 a year. So, please don’t criticize me if I buy a pair of shoes on sale or hire a babysitter for a monthly lunch and afternoon with my girlfriends. Here’s the list of what I do – it’s a real eye-opener and shows me that both of us are doing our part as parents to provide for our kids.

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