My wife and I had our first baby 3 months ago. As a breadwinner, my wife has just returned to work after 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Our savings are a little low and she is “now asking my blessing” to work part time.
This distresses me for several reasons. We’re doing pretty well, making about $ 200,000 between the two of us, but my wife is making about 60%. 100 of our income. If she were to go part-time (she offers 30 hours per week), it would cost us about $ 30,000 per year.
Losing $ 30,000 a year will limit our ability to save for our child’s education, save for retirement, and take vacations. We currently have 100% covered child care between two groups of grandparents who are both eager to look after their first grandchild.
“Losing $ 30,000 a year will limit our ability to save for our child’s education, save for retirement and take vacations.
We are both 31 years old, but my wife just finished her professional degree in 2018 and has therefore only been working for two years. She now holds a doctorate which has entailed a considerable opportunity cost.
Not only did she give up working for those four years, but she has around $ 160,000 in student loans and only the last two years of 401 (k) contributions. Our previous plan was to use the public student loan forgiveness program.
She currently meets all the criteria, but if she left part-time, she would no longer meet the criteria. Once all of our bills and utilities are added up (including my own student loans of $ 45,000), we have about $ 6,000 in monthly expenses, not including food and entertainment.
The biggest expense is our mortgage, which is about $ 3,000 a month. We built a house in 2019. At the insistence of my wife (and my voluntary complicity) this house is in the best school district in the region, despite the fact that the house exceeds our predetermined budget by 10%.
“When we both graduated and got jobs through our degrees, I finally felt we could both enjoy our lives.
Before signing, we had a frank conversation about engagement. She has expressed a desire to work part time previously. I said her new home would limit her flexibility to work part time until she paid off her student loans. She was, of course, okay with that at the time.
While in school, I worked 50 to 60 hours per week in a stressful management position while earning my masters degree online in the evenings. When we both graduated and got jobs through our diplomas, I finally felt that we could both enjoy our lives.
So far it has been working very well. I felt like we were living comfortably, making sure to save money to hopefully retire at a reasonable age and help our child avoid student loans. My wife usually lets me make all the financial decisions.
I want her to be happy and I don’t want her to blame me. While I know we can technically afford it, I don’t think it’s financially safe for her to go part-time. I can’t help but feel like I’m pulling the rug out from under me. What do you recommend? payday loan requirements .
Before responding seriously to your letter, I have a confession. I saw the subject line of your email and thought, “Oh, boy. This man’s wife has just given birth, would like to take care of their baby ”, then I read your letter. I get so many letters from people who, frankly, are so deeply rooted in their own resentment and unfulfilled expectations that they often don’t see the other person’s point of view and / or their own position from the outside. . However, your letter is different.
You both agreed to a financial deal before getting married, and I agree that you both should stick to it – for now (I’ll get to that later). You presented your plans when you were working and your wife was studying, and you made a joint decision to buy a house together as 50/50 partners. Thirty hours per week are considered full-time under the public loan forgiveness program if you meet your employer’s definition of full-time or if you work at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater.
You both agreed to a financial deal before getting married, and I agree you both should stick to it – for now.
Of course, giving up a career and / or going part-time is a burden and a decision borne mainly by women. They become more full-time or part-time caregivers than their husbands. It is their careers that are impacted, and this is one of the many reasons why there is wage inequality between men and women in the United States. inequities embedded in the system.
I want to be very clear: the work-life balance is unfairly skewed against women, even with progress in paid paternity leave in many companies. Working women again do most of the housework. It will take generations to get out of the family system. American companies are not much better: women are paid less than men and more likely than men to perform “non-promotable tasks”, or tasks which are beneficial to the organization but which do not entail any loss. ‘career progression.
“ Your wife carried another human being for 9 months ”
But the problem here, as you present in your letter, is a national problem. You worked and studied for a master’s degree, while your wife studied for her doctorate. You did it on the basis of a plan you had agreed upon together. Having said that, your wife also carried another human for nine months and gave birth to your child, which you will never have to do and can never imagine in your wildest imagination. You should review your finances and agree to review your arrangement.
Marriage – hell, life! – is full of difficult compromises. Some concessions that seem unfair today may not seem so unfair 10 or 50 years from now. It is a question of balancing the principle with the practical aspect, the knowledge of a couple with children with the unknowns of a couple before starting a family, financial health with mental health. Having a child, raising a family, and working hard to maintain a marriage has untold physical and emotional consequences.
Some concessions that seem unfair today may not seem so unfair 10 or 50 years from now.
Twelve weeks after having a baby is not long. From a friend who has been the victim more than once: “I was like crazy for at least six months. See if she can negotiate the transition from part-time to full-time over the next three to six months with her employer. This way, she can relax gently, but not lose everything that she has worked so hard for, that is, an amazing career in the future. In addition, 30 hours a week does not seem very part-time to me. ”
There is no bad actor in your letter, just two people trying to make it through the next 18 years the best they can. I think you should be careful when making big changes to your financial plan. A final word of warning from my married friend who is a mother and has chosen to work full time. “Working part-time, especially when a new mom is a new mom, is a cup game. She will end up working full time for part time pay, plagued by the guilt of the new mom. The only person who will win is their employer. ”
‘I work in the same apartment as my child’
Another mother of a daughter had this slightly different view: “I had no idea how I was going to feel about the job until I got it, and I was lucky that my plan gradually came to light. nearly conforms to reality. I’m back part-time after four and a half months because we need the money. I am the biggest earner and our money provides the extra we need. I can’t imagine going back full time. I work in the same apartment as my child, and it’s always hard not to be with her, even a few hours a day.
Talk about what you’ve agreed to, what you can afford, and agree to see it again in one, two, and / or five years. Your wish – “I want her to be happy and I don’t want her to blame me” – is understandable. You like yourself. You want to do the best for your wedding, your family, but you too both need your needs to be heard and hopefully met. Our needs are not always met at the same time, especially those of us who are juggling life to raise a family. This is true for both of you.
You can survive according to your wife’s plan. Find common ground before taking drastic action. You can both afford to have this conversation. It will be a challenge, and it is also a luxury.