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SAHM feeling a bit useless/belittled(87 Posts)
Apologies for length.
Hi, am looking for advice about things I can do to resolve/improve our situation. I will pre emptively say that I know we are materially v v lucky and I appreciate this. I just would like to make the relationship side better.
Been with DH 10 years, married 5, 2 DC, 4yDD & 7moDS. Rented house in London.
We both went to Cambridge, he came out with a 1st in maths, me with a 2.1 in history When we met, post Uni, we were both jobless but I'd had, and left, a fairly well paid consulting job whereas he was looking to enter banking.
10 years on he is on a v v good wage. I have has a fairly chequered career having had several different jobs which I've not stuck out. Retrained as a therapist, then had DC1 as planned, and then, after 18 months of trying DC2. DH works fairly long hours and is away anroad fairly often. I am in charge of house stuff, making him packed lunch, dinner and children. DD attends nursery 3 short days a week. I am meant to be in charge of savings too.
I'd always wanted to be a mum. Pretty much sum total of my ambitions, both of us had SAHMs but mine is now breadwinner and my dad retired. His Ma never went back and has probably suffered a bit for that (in terms of esteem and stimulation I would guess).
DH has always planned to leave after 10-12 years. He'd never had the Dream of banking, tho' has enjoyed the intellectual challenge etc.. He is a keen tax payer(!), mentors kids etc., we tithe his base salary. In short he is, honestly, not a tosser in an environment where most of his colleagues are to some degree.
He is frustrated that I am not working, and especially that I did not work when we were trying for DC2 (I kept thinking that the next cycle would be The One, etc.).
We are saving money so that he can leave his job, we can buy a house without a mortgage and he can go back to Uni. Again, I know this is exceptionally lucky. Plan is that then we will both work, I think I'll try to do therapy stuff in evenings but maybe look to be a teaching assistant or something. If we have DC3 then I'll probably stay at home until they are 3 or 4. Unless DH can fit it around his work/study.
I have not been good at managing savings. In fact I don't think I've been v good value as a SAHM. Children happy and fed, washing (so much washing, done) but house chaotic (and this is with cleaner), helper twice a week for 3 hours to help with bedtime, but our paperwork etc. us still disorganised. Lots of his colleagues have v v glam wives and I am not..
He is a brilliant dad, really involved and imaginative. Other people's kids look him out at parties and in the park. He'd be a brilliant nursery worker if we could afford for him to do that! So he is good at his job and good with the kids.
All came to a head last night when I made a comment about a friend whose child had starred school and before I could even finish the sentence he snapped "you'd just get a job if that were you", obviously this is something that he is v stressed about. But it feels every time I say anything he is looking to score a point or criticise me (eg if I say how proud I am of thr DC or something, so I end up hedging my comments or self censoring). We dont get much time together anyway, our sex life is dead after TTC misery and the incredible never sleeping baby. He comes home and often still works over dinner time. Or watches sport on the iPad, I'll mumsnet or grocery order etc. next to him
So...and if you have managed to read this far thank you, what can I do?
We used to be v good at talking through everything and being kind to each other. I feel belittled and I think he feels unsupported. We both believe in marriage being forever and getting through stuff but would prefer not to be looking at 60 years of misery ahead of us.
T I A!
I'll come back to this I've been/am in a similar situation but without the high earner DH.
Thank you! I feel a bit rudderless so would be v appreciative of an opinion. Not really something I want to dixcuss IRL.
Oops just saw "am in" not just past tense then. Hope it's resolving for you
I think you are at the worst point, it's very hard to have very small dc and do a rewarding part time job. I work 4 days a week with one small dc and it's exhausting and we do argue more, I can just see the strain of a second dc (and you to the strain that ttc puts on a rlnsp). Honestly, if you're not saving enough and he wants a career change, stop tithing his salary until you can afford for him to quit. Personally I'd get myself a job in your situation as all the family members who've been sahm's have paid a huge price in respect. He won't realise how hard it is until he has to do it. Sympathies op, I think you have to sit him down and make some plans and be honest about how you feel he's treating you.
The main thing that struck me reading your post is that most of it is about you feeling rudderless and lacking much sense of purpose about your own life.
Then I came to the bit about your relationship right at the end.
I can see that there is an issue there - rubbish sex life and tiredness with little kids, slightly lost connection. It's basically textbook marriage with small kids stuff.
But I wonder if there is more of a problem with you (NOT meant as a criticism) - that you aren't sure what work you should do, that you are clever but have never found your vocation/direction, that you don't want to be left like your MIL with no status but aren't sure what you contribute.
You have a LOT of good things to say about your husband, but you seem a lot less sure about the good things about yourself and what you contribute.
That's more of an observation than an opinion, I suppose. Maybe you could just talk this one out a little bit?
I'm not sure you really know what your exact issue is yet.
When our first was born we both decided that DW would be a SAHM. This was 14yrs ago and I was earning around £16k a year. We knew it would be tough but managed to budget so that we had around £50 a month in our pockets. We were blessed with a small mortgage which made it easier.
We now have 2 DS (14 & 10)
Thinks....i need to make up a new acronym for teenage children.
So...I digress, and my DW is still a SAHM.
It's no biggie for us, we deal with it but DW does regret not going back to work.
She finds, on a few occasions through the week, herself alone in the house, a bit bored.
She misses adult company as most of her time is spent with DC.
Occasionaly she does get some work covering holidays as a receptionist, she loves it. It gives meaning to her life now to go back out to work on the few occasions she does.
You have plenty of time to go back to work if you want to. Your youngest isn't even a yr old yet.
My advice, if I was in your position. Plan to go back to work in a year or two. You won't regret it.
At this stage I think it's normal to feel a bit belittled. My DW did. and all we can do is support you through this. Being a SAHM is no easy job, It's a full time, 24/7 job. Don't beat yourself up over it. All you SAHM's are fantastic, and I really mean that.
You are both intelligent people, sit down together and set out a plan for your future, you seem to have DH's future plan sorted, define yours now.
Good luck xxxx
"you seem to have DH's future plan sorted, define yours now."
Yy to this, I think that is very good advice
It's always difficult in these situations to advise because only when you're in the relationship do you know the best way to approach a conversation. And I really think that a series of heart to hearts is what is needed here.
If it was me and DH I would find some time when we could be alone (DC in bed or out at GPs) and say "I'm worried about us. Can we talk?" And then explain how I was feeling, how I worried about how he was feeling and the effect it was having on the relationship.
What do you want? I would definitely put a pin in the DC3 idea for now. If your DH is unhappy in his job and wants to retrain then I'd say your next priority would have to be taking on some of the financial responsibility. If you feel being a SAHM has not made use of your strengths then you won't feel fulfilled an he is probably not seeing the best in you.
I would also tell him what you need from him so that you feel respected and valued. Tell him how much you value him incase he is feeling similar.
My advice is TALK TALK TALK and make a plan to move forward.
If communication is something you struggle with would you consider couples counselling as a way of facilitating opening up about how you both feel?
Agree with PP you don't seem sure what you want just now.
I am happy in my marriage though - we don't get a lot of, ahem private time, but it's lovely and we still like each other
When DH and I met we both did the same job and earned essentially the same salary. I have been a SAHM the last 2 years. I don't like it really. It is convenient for some things - eg can always say yes to school events and children's parties and I can go shopping/to the bank/whatever while the children are at school.
But I liked working and loved earning my own money - I was very independent before the children (as in I bought the house before we met, I do all the bills, etc. Lived alone happily)
But I had a proper job and I want to be doing it. I am a crap housewife. I was good at my job.
A few thoughts - DH says you can get a job. How kind of him. Is he offering to share the workload at home to make it possible for you to work?
Will you be expected to arrange and pay for all childcare while DH just plods along doing nothing different?
I am going back to work very shortly and I am looking forward to it. Just PT. DH's life will be changing to accommodate it. He already does lots with the DCs but he will be doing more. At the moment he is quite 'well looked after' by me - I make his packed lunch, do pretty much everything to 'organise' stuff and so on. But he appreciates it, knows I am choosing to do it, and doesn't take the piss.
Thank you for being so kind and helpful. Has made me cry!
I think you are right, I never really have a plan. My parents didn't either (but are sloggers rather than work dodgers which is what I am scared I am). I retrained and do love the therapy work that I do- tho' I probably have a session only once a month or so atm as I have dialled it all down a bit but we are doubting whether it will work when we move out of London. Thanks andy too for the thoughts about your DW, that is helpful to have shared.
I will put some thought into future roles and maybe that way I can be a bit more reassuring to DH so he can feel he can ease off a bit. I am very very good at networking people and hooking people up and setting up social groups and making nights out/kids events/clubs happen.
Thank you again, I really appreciate the outside input.
Was also dreading unhelpful LTB/stop being such a drip responses
I do sympathise I've never had a plan, also did history and then consulting, still stuck in a job that's not quite right! I know dh finds it annoying as he's working very hard and I can in theory 'do anything' or at least anything that fits with him working 6 days a week and travelling good luck op!
YY, we were v good at talking, we used to talk our way through everything. I need to think how we can get a few quality (not catatonic with exhaustion) hours to talk through. I even found our old talking books recently where we used to write out things separately and then discuss. I think I even mentioned wanting respect for SAHMwork (just got to find where DC1 might have hidden it amidst the chaos...).
I think I am a v good mother, but a shocking housewife. I don't have good systems and we have too much junk. I will chat to DH about how he has more quality time with a single DC at the weekend BECAUSE I have been slogging all week so he doesn't have to do house stuff.
Problem is tweetytwat that I don't really have a career o go back to and he earns 20x what I earnt in my last poxy job. So he couldn't takes any slack atm.
I think I probably need to look at what I can do and craft my plan and then have a good talk with him and definitely raise that I understand he is also not feeling happy or supported enough either.
Look, not everyone has a plan.
I'm a demon for making plans all the time, but some of life's best people are the ones who can just let life happen to them.
If your husband is a planner, maybe you need to talk to him about appreciating that you are just not like that and never will be?
"I am very very good at networking people and hooking people up and setting up social groups and making nights out/kids events/clubs happen."
Those are very, very valuable (and pretty rare) abilities.
Honestly, people who have those qualities are always in demand.
You just need to figure out what you would like to do with them.
"I know dh finds it annoying as he's working very hard and I can in theory 'do anything' or at least anything that fits with him working 6 days a week and travelling"
And this is where I think you need to get stern with him.
You have many qualities, but you are a human being with flaws and it's not cool for him to find it "annoying" that you are not a planner.
In fact, that's not even a flaw, it's just a characteristic. And he loves you, so he needs to appreciate that about you and stop bitching about it.
It's bogus that you could "do anything" while his (lucrative) career is prioritised.
He needs to start appreciating your many very good points and stop hassling you to be more like him.
"I think I am a v good mother, but a shocking housewife."
You sound like my Mum. A lot like her actually.
Everyone adores her, because she's so lovely
YANBU. This could be my story (minus the domestic help ).
I agree with Hermione there is a high price to pay for being a SAHM - and that is the loss of respect. When you have had a career and earned your own money, it is a shock to realise that you are seen as a glorified housekeeper when you become a SAHM and just good for cooking, cleaning and picking up dry cleaning.
When we moved out of London I gave up a job that I was good at and paid a decent wage to be a SAHM. Now that my youngest will be starting school I am more than ready to get back into the world of work. God knows what as!
My husband conveniently forgets that if it wasn't for me resigning and dealing with all the children/school/house/admin stuff, he wouldn't be able to devote his time to his £££ career or been able to leave London and stride around like the lord of the manor in this house.
And I hate being financially dependent on someone else. I need to get back to work to reclaim an identity out of the home. I have started doing a Microsoft Office course to bring my IT skills up to date.
Well I was a real planner, Right up to the "children in September '09, sept '11 and sept '13. I don't think I'd really thought what happened after that!
And actually, I planned everything for our first six years and was Organiser in Chief, especially when DH was having his fun Initiation of Fire 16hr-days year at work. So maybe he also feels a bit weird that I'm not telling him what happens now. This is all really helpful.
Hermione, I feel a bit of a fraud, I chose history as a proxy for a weirdy, and more identifiable, oxbridge degree. But as to husband who thinks you should be able to do anything, yy. Touching but slightly scary faith!
Anyone who doesn't respect you because you are a SAHM just doesn't respect you at all.
I am an accidental housewife really. Also would say I'm a good mum, and DH is a good dad.
But he also works irregular days/shifts that are very hard to work around for childcare - ie the gaps are when paid childcare doesn't exist unless you have a nanny or aupair - neither of which we have room for.
Right, am off to tidy for the cleaner- I love her too much to make her excavate her way to the floor. I wii revisit later but will also start thinking all this through.
For me a lot of it is also having the SAHM/WOHM debate with myself . The inescapable guilt that whatever we do is wrong.
I feel that working is a better role model for my children, I hate that the DCs see me as the muggins who just gets them bathed and into bed every night and washes the clothes and have no concept of me as a working person.
But it's hard to do all the 'mum' stuff that I would like to do if I am at work - the baking for school, the taking them out, etc. But lots of those are easier to do with more money coming in too. Can't win. So just got to do what we can I suppose.
<wanders off singing "you can always rely on the kindness of strangers" à la Marge Simpson in the streetcar musical>
"The inescapable guilt that whatever we do is wrong. "
But really, whatever we do is RIGHT.
If you are at home you get to do lots of cool stuff, life is a little less stretched at the edges, you are more flexible and in a better position to respond to stuff as it comes up.
If you work then maybe you like your job, or maybe you earn useful money that can buy nice stuff or things to do.
The great thing about the SAH/WOH argument is that there is no wrong answer.
And also that no answer has to be forever.
If you are doing your best (and failing a good part of the time, but trying nevertheless) then you are Doing the Right Thing.
I sort of know that . But I have also got a bit of the 'If you keep doing what you're doing, you will keep getting what you are getting' going on at the moment.
I need things to change but it's very hard on a practical level to actually change them? IYKWIM. Unless anyone knows of a local nursery that's open until 9pm of course Then it's all easy.
Sometimes I wish I'd married someone with a 9-5 job. But I quite like DH and we are used to each other now
I couldn't train up another one
A lot of your post resonates with me. I am an okay Mum, but a crap housewife. I'm good at interior design but rubbish at the day to day drudgery. I loathe washing and washing and cleaning and wiping and putting away toys and more toys and more toys and the groundhog day relentlessness of it all. We also have too much crap and I just never feel on top of it.
I used to be good at my well-paid job but gave it up to be a SAHM. I still think it was the right decision - we couldn't have both worked v long hours, with travel etc. and spent as much time with the kids as I wanted. But the lack of financial independence, the worry about the impression I'm giving to my kids about being in charge of all the crap whilst Daddy does his important job etc, does affect me.
I fell into doing something part-time that I do mainly from home, with the odd weekend work out of the house, that started as a hobby. It is very part-time, and the impact on our household income is relatively minimal, but I like the fact it gives me a focus other than the children (and the sodding housework) and that when I work weekends DH and I get to swap roles a bit.
I do feel that DH is sometimes pissed off at me because he comes home and the kitchen is a mess, but genuinely doesn't realise that I do some of the other stuff I do for the family. There are lots of jobs that he doesn't just not do, but I'm pretty sure doesn't realise they exist iyswim?
I'm not really sure i have that many answers for you....but just wanted to say I know where you're coming from. I guess I'm lucky that my DH isn't pushing me to get a job. I think you need to talk though. He is naive if he thinks that after several years out of the workplace you would get anything that would pay particularly well, especially after childcare costs. I have 10 years experience as an accountant with a Big 4 / FTSE 100 background but after 5 years out my earning capacity is a fraction of what it was.
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