My wife won’t go back to work – what do I do?

I have two children who are now both at nursery/school. My wife, who studied and had some fair career ambitions before having kids, took maternity leave from her office job for both pregnancies, and has since left her job and moved into part-time charitable work. I was really happy when she did this and fully supported her move, partially also because she struggled with post partum depression and told me she wanted to ease into working again before committing to a full time job once the kids were in school. However, she has since left her charity role as she said there was too much drama and she wasn’t coping, and she seems to have no immediate plans to go back to work (charitable or paid) anytime soon. On top of that, she keeps mentioning ‘tradwife’ concepts she seems to be watching a lot of on social media. She is suddenly very enthusiastic about staying home, caring for the kids (even though they’re in school and we have help), and is spending her days following these trends, trying to bake sourdough and kombucha and wearing long, fancy dresses, even though she’s a sweatpants kind of person. I’m really happy she is pursuing new hobbies and keeping busy, but I’m also conscious of the fact that my salary can’t support us both endlessly, especially when we’ve made saving plans for our kids going to college. I don’t want to spoil her dreams, but I don’t know how to wake her up to reality either…

 

It sounds like you’re in a very challenging situation, and kudos to you for reaching out and trying to find the best way to navigate this.

Your next moves shouldn’t be about crushing your wife’s dreams, but about pulling her back into reality (like you very aptly worded). The sudden change in her ambitions, along with the influence of “tradwife” social media, suggests there’s more going on than just wanting a relaxed lifestyle. Has your wife expressed unhappiness with her career direction or other life goals? It might be worth exploring this gently with her.

Considering your kids are in school and you have household help, yet she’s busying herself with sourdough and social media fixations. Not that I have anything against culinary pursuits, but this being her sole focus while you’re carrying the financial load and stressing about the future – that’s sure to breed resentment fast.

It’s time for a frank conversation. Stop just being the “supportive husband” and lay out the financial reality she’s conveniently ignoring.

Focus on her sudden personality change and why she seems determined to avoid any sort of paid or meaningful work. Don’t fixate on the “trad wife” thing as the core issue; that’s likely a symptom of something deeper – boredom, career dissatisfaction, a sense of being adrift.

Once you address those underlying issues, it’s time for solutions.

Does a traditional 9-to-5 not fit? If so, that’s fine. Could she explore freelance or part-time work related to her new hobbies? Are there fulfilling volunteer roles that could provide purpose and rebuild confidence? This absolutely needs to be a collaborative discussion.

This won’t be a single conversation, and expect resistance, but you’re entitled to financial stability and a fulfilling partnership. This isn’t about crushing her spirit, it’s about reminding her that adult life requires a degree of responsibility and contribution.

Remember, listening without judgment is essential. Change might be hard, but open communication helps you both navigate it as a team.

Best of luck!

Evie

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Ask Evie

Evie is on a mission to revolutionize relationships and help you sort through your emotional woes. Her popular column helps readers break free from societal restraints and create empowering relationships - both with their inner selves and with those around them. With a wealth of experience in relationship counseling, backed by several professional certifications, she’s open-minded, big-hearted, and extremely compassionate… But she’ll also be completely honest in telling you the (sometimes) brutal truth, so you can get straight to the heart of the matter. Maybe you’re trying to save a marriage that currently feels like a sinking ship? Or worrying that your new friend isn’t quite as nice as they seem? Perhaps you’ve accidentally killed your partner’s goldfish and are weighing up the pros and cons of going to the pet store and finding a doppelganger, or fessing up? Whatever the dilemma, Evie’s at the ready to help sort through the emotional turmoil and guide you towards the next best step. To get in touch with Evie, click here.

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