- I decided to become a stay-at-home mom after the birth of my first child.
- However, I had never earned any income and suddenly saw the money as “my husband’s”.
- When we purchased life insurance, I clearly saw my financial worth and embraced “our” money.
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Entering our seventh year of marriage, my husband Ian and I are a well-oiled machine; we’re on the same page when it comes to money most of the time. But this has not always been the case. The first or second year of marriage was an adjustment, not only for learning to compromise and setting our priorities as a family, but also for me to give up some of my independence when I decided to to be a stay-at-home mom.
We got married when I was only 24, but I had left my parents’ house and had been supporting myself since I was 18. I preferred to live alone, without roommates, and even when I was financially very thin, I made it work on my own. But after marrying Ian, combining our finances was a surprisingly welcome change. While we were both working, I felt so much safer knowing I wasn’t doing everything alone.
When my husband and I planned our future, we both agreed that when we had children, one of us would stay home with them. We didn’t care who it was, we gave free rein to practical considerations like who earned the most and who was most committed to their work. But when our first daughter was born, I realized it didn’t matter – I wanted to be home with her.
Not only do I have want to being home with my new baby, it made no sense to only keep my low-paying job for all the money I made there to go to daycare. Since then, I have been a stay-at-home mom. When I have contributed financially to our family, it has been by doing jobs that I can do around the house, such as a nanny or a freelance writer. But Ian has always earned a lot more working a regular 40-hour-a-week job outside the home.
I had a hard time adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom.
Torn between my desire to be with my new baby all the time and my insecurities of being financially dependent on my husband, I was uncomfortable spending money on things I wanted or even wanted. needed. Unaccustomed to not working outside the home, I realized that I almost felt like I was living off of Ian’s goodwill. I admit that I could get defensive and would even go so far as to fight for money just because I felt a loss of control and identity from not having my own paycheck.
Simply put: I felt that the money my husband earned from his job was his money and that I was living in a house because of his money and if I needed new clothes I would spend it with his money. I felt that way not because of anything he said or did, but only because I had a background about money and financial independence. Even as the mother of his children and the woman he loved, a voice in my head told me he was doing me a favor.
There is a lot to be said for women maintaining financial independence from their husbands and pursuing their careers rather than withdrawing from the workforce altogether. But speaking strictly of my contribution to our family as a stay-at-home mom, I needed an attitude adjustment.
Life insurance finally changed my perspective
Nothing has achieved this fit quite like getting life insurance for ourselves. It may be morbid, but it made me imagine the financial situation of my husband and I without each other. If I lost it, it was obvious why I would need the life insurance money: I didn’t have a job and would have no way to support ourselves. I could imagine our family drowning in bills while I tried to find work.
But then I thought about the financial impact if my family lost me: my husband wouldn’t have to worry about finding a job if he died, no. But where would our children be while he was at work? In daycare, which costs money. My share of housework and 24/7 childcare would fall to her in addition to her own share. Unless, of course, he has hired help – a cleaner, a cook, a nanny. It would be an untenable situation, even leaving aside the grief he would experience.
One day, our situation may change. I will be graduating from undergrad next year and this could signal a time when my husband and I need to change, with him at home and me at work.
But anyway, our family is a cooperative, neither of us is more necessary than the other, none of our property is more his than mine. Proof of his contribution may currently be his name at the top of a paycheck, but my financial contribution is no less real. Together we support our family and each other.