Author Topic: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option  (Read 10919 times)

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #100 on: January 26, 2017, 09:15:48 AM »
I'm being pressured now to commit to coming back as soon as I can medically (6 weeks or less), and I really want 10-12 weeks so the baby is sleeping more and I'm not falling asleep at the wheel on my commute or in long meetings. So what I have done is started compiling a list of work projects that only I know how to do that can be done remotely from home. When the time comes, I'll act really willing to come back, but try to negotiate a 2-4 week transition of working from home. My supervisor is supportive, but the execs are already complaining before I've gone out on maternity leave, and I've never missed a day of work during this entire pregnancy or before!

This is bullshit, and needs to be called out. When my wife was pregnant, people referred to her "baby vacation" once or twice. Thankfully, it got shot down hard and fast, but it never should've happened in the first place.

Six weeks is an absurdly short parental leave, and we're pretty much the only developed country who doesn't recognize that. Take what you're entitled to.
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caracarn

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #101 on: January 31, 2017, 02:10:30 PM »
This thread contains some great advice. I'm due to have my first child soon, and I am cutting and pasting some of this advice for later when I'm sleep deprived and an emotional wreck- Especially the advice about having the dad hand off the baby when mom leaves, and the inlaw stuff. I haven't had the baby yet and already I'm in a panic at the idea of leaving them with a stranger- and I am going the nanny route because my coworkers kids come home from daycare infested with lice and I do not want my child fed junk food, exposed to bad behavior, or my sleep structure training ruined. All my life I thought I'd want to be at work ASAP after having a child, but definitely pregnancy has changed that.

The nanny is so expensive, especially with taxes etc, that it is almost a wash with my take home pay from a 6 figure salary! Still, I know that if I look at myself externally as a stranger would, the "rational" decision for me is to suck it up and work for 2 years in a career I hate, because the health insurance for 3 people savings are huge and I can pay off my remaining debt to where I no longer need to earn anywhere near as much (plus keep the employer contributions to my 401K). But I already have that powerful, visceral urge not to leave my child, so I anticipate having strong urges like the wife in this thread during the post partum period. Also, I would have very short tenure at my current job, which paired with short tenure at the previous job would impair my ability to find a good work-from-home job. In the longer run, if I stick it out, my education and experience should translate to a decent work from home or part time job.

Initially I too had fights with my spouse. He hates that I have debt from before we were married (school, house, etc), and initially refused to pay any of those items because he disapproves of them (they are old and at low rates on fixed payment plans). What has been difficult for me is that if he helped me with those payments while I stayed home, they would be far less than what he is willing to pay some total stranger nanny off Craigslist to stay home with OUR child in OUR home all day long while OUR child gets the end-of-the-day scraps of my time and what's left of me after a long miserable day at a stressful job. To me, this is just paying someone else's (a stranger's) school loans and mortgage for them instead, and these people are an inferior choice in child care. I understand my debt is not his responsibility, but it still hurt my feelings deeply, because I'm having this child now on his timetable- not what's best for my career and financial situation. I already have fallout and pressure at work because they are openly put out and disapproving that I'll be out on 6-8 weeks of (unpaid) maternity leave and I feel like it will  cost me a potential promotion. It already cost me one at my last job- the promotion my boss discussed with me was given to someone else as soon as word got out we were planning to have a family.

As my pregnancy has progressed and we started really looking for child care, and my husband can see and feel our baby moving and the baby has a name, we have gotten closer as a couple and started working together more and he is much more willing to help and try to figure out a way for me to stay home. Just that willingness has transformed my willingness to stick it out at work and try to take the rational route and get through another couple of years at work, which allows me to freelance from home without pressure and with no debt.

I'm being pressured now to commit to coming back as soon as I can medically (6 weeks or less), and I really want 10-12 weeks so the baby is sleeping more and I'm not falling asleep at the wheel on my commute or in long meetings. So what I have done is started compiling a list of work projects that only I know how to do that can be done remotely from home. When the time comes, I'll act really willing to come back, but try to negotiate a 2-4 week transition of working from home. My supervisor is supportive, but the execs are already complaining before I've gone out on maternity leave, and I've never missed a day of work during this entire pregnancy or before!

Anyway, this thread has given me the opportunity to write advice to my future sleep deprived new mother self to help with these same struggles when they inevitably come up soon.

There are a lot of issues that you and your spouse need to work out in your note.  Wishing you all the best.  It does seem like the work situation could does need to be traded for a better one.

MrAlanBreck

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #102 on: January 31, 2017, 02:45:55 PM »
I am a little shocked at all the answers that lean to "just let her do her thing and not worry how that's going to affect you

I wouldn't put that spin on it.

I think it's more "ultimately, we hope you [OP] support her in what she wants."

That includes not automatically presuming she's being "irrational" (e.g. title of the thread) in her desires.

Except, why aren't you also advocating that she should support him in what he wants? I'm not sure how (or why) her "wants" override his?  -- That's my point.

I am.

I said it should be a relationship "of equal partnership where both people's feelings matter."

I mentioned a middle ground.

And I said "Open and honest communication is the best path to a healthy relationship, IMO."

Neither partner's override each others, because you should be a team.

Those were all from subsequent clarification/response posts I made.

Here was my original post.  Adding bolding to relevant parts to your accusation, but the underlined part was in original:
You are her partner.

It is not your job to tell her how to feel, or to determine by yourself the best plan for your future, and then "rationally" explain it to her.

It is your job to support her as an equal, and a partner.

"Talking her off the ledge" is a warped way to put what appears to me to be substituting your wants (her to keep working so you can retire early) for hers (raising the child).

Definitely communicate. All the time, non-stop.

But that doesn't mean you just explaining things to her. It means listening, and problem solving together.

Throughout this thread your responses have all been why you need to get her back to work, and how you can do that.

I would suggest that your whole approach to this is not conductive to a healthy relationship.

There are more important things then FIRE. If you to decide together that the best thing is for her to keep working, okay. But you going into that conversation with the goal of convincing her of that is not fair to her (or your relationship, or possibly your child).

Don't misinterpret me: I'm not saying I think she should stay home. I don't know nearly enough to have a thought on that.

What I'm saying is that your deciding on your own that she should go back, that her wanting to stay is just "emotional" whereas you are being "rational," that you have to "talk her off a ledge," etc. is all quite (many terms could go here.. arrogant, selfish, egotistical, short-sighted, disrespectful, etc.). It's the wrong way to approach the situation.

I don't think you're a bad person, I just don't think you're considering what your wife wants... you are just thinking about how to convince her off what YOU want.

As evidenced by your questions here. Not asking other moms how they've felt in similar circumstances to understand your wife better, but asking how you can convince her.

I know my post will raise immediate hackles/defenses.

You don't need to respond, or defend yourself. I'm just a stranger on the internet.  Better not to reply to me.

But I hope you pause your immediate reaction, take a break, and revisit some of these ideas, maybe in a few days. Think: How can you support your wife?

That's the goal, much more than quickest FIRE.

Good luck!

Quote
I brought up the possibility of extending her leave by a month, unpaid, to make the transition slightly easier. She immediately thought this was a great idea. We also talked about how her boss is okay with her working from home 2 days a week, and if she crams all of her work into the 3 days she has to work at the office then it can almost be like she is working part time which is pretty ideal.

This is great!  Nice that her company is so supportive.

Might be a good way to help work something you both are happy with.

The bottom line is they should each approach the conversation as "how can we make our lives better" (not "how can I make my life better") where "our" is defined as both of them and their child(ren).

They should try and understand what each other wants, and needs, and support that person, and work towards everyone getting what they want, as much as possible.

An antagonism of "she's irrational, help me convince her" isn't helpful.  A "she should just support what he wants" (or vice-versa) isn't helpful.

Open, honest communication, and love and support, on all sides.

That's the goal.

I agree in principle.  One should always make a mutually beneficial decision. 

I will make one caveat, which you'll probably agree with, that the reality of finances trumps feelings.  I've seen way too many relationships ruined and families in constant stress to avoid a hard conversation with a spouse over out of control finances.

We're not talking retire at 45 vs. 50.  We're talking consistent negative monthly cash flow.  For the security of the family, a hard decision has to be made, even if it invites marital conflict. 

Does that mean go full Rambo on your spouse?  Of course not, but at some point cold, hard numbers trump feelings.  Financial insecurity is just divorce on an installment plan.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 02:48:57 PM by MrAlanBreck »

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #103 on: January 31, 2017, 03:39:45 PM »
I'm being pressured now to commit to coming back as soon as I can medically (6 weeks or less), and I really want 10-12 weeks so the baby is sleeping more and I'm not falling asleep at the wheel on my commute or in long meetings. So what I have done is started compiling a list of work projects that only I know how to do that can be done remotely from home. When the time comes, I'll act really willing to come back, but try to negotiate a 2-4 week transition of working from home. My supervisor is supportive, but the execs are already complaining before I've gone out on maternity leave, and I've never missed a day of work during this entire pregnancy or before!

You have to keep in mind that FMLA only applies to employees that have been in a job a year and only employers that employee a certain number of people.  Not everyone is entitled to 12 weeks (as much as I disagree with this policy).  My state for example says the employer has to allow you the time when you are disabled from the pregnancy.  That can be less or more than 12 weeks.  Since my employer is too small for FMLA, my employer could legally require my return after I am no longer medically disabled, which is often 6 weeks.  I'm just clarifying that the OP might be getting push back about what she is entitled to.

This is bullshit, and needs to be called out. When my wife was pregnant, people referred to her "baby vacation" once or twice. Thankfully, it got shot down hard and fast, but it never should've happened in the first place.

Six weeks is an absurdly short parental leave, and we're pretty much the only developed country who doesn't recognize that. Take what you're entitled to.

LadyMuMu

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #104 on: February 01, 2017, 12:04:47 PM »
You've gotten some good advice here. I am a SAHP who does a little part time work from home now that the kids are in school. If your wife doesn't want to downshift lifestyle expenses (2,700 sqft house, vacations, etc.) then something else has to give. I love being available to my kids and running our family operations. In the end, it is worth more to us monetarily than what I could earn and it's worth more from a lifestyle perspective as well. We never have to worry about sick days/snow days, we can travel freely on my husband's academic calendar, we eat better food via home-cooked meals, and we're more plugged into the community via volunteerism with our spare time. We are only going to slightly early retire (earlier than most Americans, later than most of the MMM community) but for us, it is about having the most quality time throughout.




Jules13

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #105 on: February 05, 2017, 08:25:25 AM »
YES to all that LadyMuMu said.  Having one parent who can stay home or work part-time/flexibly from home is so under-rated in today's society.  I stay home and we get all the benefits that she mentioned and more!  It's worth more than money, or retiring early, to us.  I get that most on this forum might not feel the same.

Cassie

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #106 on: February 05, 2017, 06:07:36 PM »
I stayed home with my 3 kids until they all went to school f.t. I have nothing against permanent SAHP but my one caution would be if they find themselves in a divorce down the road they may never be able to restart their career or work for much less $ too. Some say that about taking some years off but I have not seen that with people I know but have seen some really devastated older women in poverty when a spouse divorces them.  So it is just something to think about.

dogboyslim

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #107 on: February 06, 2017, 08:27:20 AM »
So I've only read bits and pieces of this, and by now I suspect you have resolved your concerns, but I thought I'd share our story.

My wife is a credentialed professional.  It took her 6 years of additional credentialing work post BA to get to that point.  When we had child #1, she was making about 125k per year while I was making 80.  Our company allowed me 6 weeks of unpaid paternity leave after her 12 weeks.  About two weeks before my paternity leave ended, she went on an emotional bender.  She was freaked out and wanted to quit and be a SAHM.

I listened, and we worked through the costs of doing so, and what it would mean to our budget.  I explained to her that we could do it, but that this is what it would mean.  She wasn't fond of the consequences.  We agreed that she would not work full time, and that SAHM was an acceptable solution, but part time was a better solution.  She approached her boss, fully expecting that he was going to say no to the PT request.  He said yes.  Her income dropped to 80k, and she worked 3 days a week.  We adjusted our schedules so I dropped our daughter off at daycare in the morning and she picked her up in the afternoon.  We were prepared for him to say no and for her to quit and become a SAHM.  That made it easier for her to ask, knowing that regardless of the outcome, she was in control of what happened.

This worked to give her the extra time with the kids that she was seeking.  Fast forward 7 years and she was still working part-time, pulling in about 95k a year.  I had been promoted multiple times by then, and was now making 180k.  We were frazzled with the 3 kids (7,4 & 1) and we were spending like crazy on dining out and other stupid things.  She came home and informed me that she was going to quit.  It wasn't a discussion at that point.  I said okay and we worked through the budget and it turned out that the only loss to our lifestyle was the crappy fast food and her retirement funding.  3 kids in childcare 3 days a week is still really $$$.  At any rate, she is now a fully credentialed professional SAHM.

I work full time (about 60 hours per week), but I don't view it as wasting away in a cubicle.  I'm providing the income for our family and she is there so our kids know that they are safe.  We moved a few years ago and while they didn't like it, they handled it fine.

So what's my point?  She is the one that had to choose what she wanted to do with respect to child care.  Being a SAHD isn't in me, so we didn't discuss it, but we walked through all the options from the perspective of achieving both her goals of raising the kids herself, FI and overall lifestyle.  If she had stayed fully employed we might have a much higher net worth, but I can't say we'd be happier.  We didn't really start watching our budget until that point, so for all I know we may have just been in the spendy-pants leverage world.

Talk with your wife and help her achieve her goals.  You are not wasting your life in a cubicle, you are supporting her and helping to raise your children.  FIRE may take longer, but remember: "Happy wife, Happy life!"

LadyMuMu

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #108 on: February 06, 2017, 12:12:57 PM »
I stayed home with my 3 kids until they all went to school f.t. I have nothing against permanent SAHP but my one caution would be if they find themselves in a divorce down the road they may never be able to restart their career or work for much less $ too. Some say that about taking some years off but I have not seen that with people I know but have seen some really devastated older women in poverty when a spouse divorces them.  So it is just something to think about.

Yup. One of the greatest risks to having a SAHP is the financial damage to them in a divorce. It is pretty one-sided even with spousal support and equal division of assets is involved. You have a few options:

1. Have external forces that make divorce less likely (religious, cultural, etc.) For example, Indian-Americans are WAY less likely to divorce. If you are from a traditional culture/religion with significant social barriers to divorce, you may take that into account.

2. Draw up a post-nuptial agreement that gives financial weight to the SAHP in the event of a divorce.

3. Put a disproportionate amount of retirement savings into the account for the SAHP (only works if you're not already maxing everything).

4. Take a chance and put a conscious effort into sustaining a strong marriage. Date nights, counseling, etc.

Just because something carries a risk, doesn't mean it is a wrong choice, just a riskier one.

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #109 on: February 09, 2017, 11:09:01 AM »
I stayed home with my 3 kids until they all went to school f.t. I have nothing against permanent SAHP but my one caution would be if they find themselves in a divorce down the road they may never be able to restart their career or work for much less $ too. Some say that about taking some years off but I have not seen that with people I know but have seen some really devastated older women in poverty when a spouse divorces them.  So it is just something to think about.

Yup. One of the greatest risks to having a SAHP is the financial damage to them in a divorce. It is pretty one-sided even with spousal support and equal division of assets is involved. You have a few options:

1. Have external forces that make divorce less likely (religious, cultural, etc.) For example, Indian-Americans are WAY less likely to divorce. If you are from a traditional culture/religion with significant social barriers to divorce, you may take that into account.

2. Draw up a post-nuptial agreement that gives financial weight to the SAHP in the event of a divorce.

3. Put a disproportionate amount of retirement savings into the account for the SAHP (only works if you're not already maxing everything).

4. Take a chance and put a conscious effort into sustaining a strong marriage. Date nights, counseling, etc.

Just because something carries a risk, doesn't mean it is a wrong choice, just a riskier one.

Number 3 wouldn't matter because those assets are usually split 50/50 in a divorce, at least in my state.

MayDay

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #110 on: February 10, 2017, 11:08:24 AM »
H and I were discussing the SAHP/divorce risk last night.  I have 2 friends, one who just finished the divorce process, one who is starting it.  Both are mid-late 40's and used to have very niche arts careers that they will never be able to get back into.  Both have been at home for ~15 years.  Both have xH's who made a decent middle class living but not 6 figures plus where supporting 2 households is no big thang.  Even if they are ordered to receive spousal support, if you are dividing 50-60K between 2 homes, its not going to be a fancy life. 

Both are feeling really defeated, that they can't go back to their old careers, and that they'll be working at Target the rest of their lives and never be able to retire. 

It sucks.  I have encouraged them to go back to school now and make a new career.  But both are still the "primary parent" who is on call for school pick-up at 3pm, random Mondays off, etc.  So they feel like they can't just jump into a new full time career.  I'm not saying their isn't some complainy-pantsing going on, but it is really really hard. 

I was home for 6 years.  Part of the reason I went back 4 months ago is that I felt like it was now or never.  6 years was probably already "too long" but I got lucky.  If that had stretched out to 8-10 years at home, I would have had to retrain or I could have only gotten hired for a retail type low skill/low pay position.

OTOH if you are mustachian from the start, if you split after 10 years of SAH, you may well have a million in the bank, and after a divorce, 500K in investible assets is plenty to let grow for another ten years while you work at Target. 
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caracarn

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #111 on: February 10, 2017, 11:24:27 AM »
These last few posts have taken this thread in a really dark direction.

Having gone through a divorce myself, I understand the concern to a degree, but now having come out the other side and being remarried and using everything I learned about what I did wrong the first time around I'd encourage all of you to take the energy you put into worrying about what to do in case of a divorce and instead channel all that brain power into how you create or change your marriage into one that does not go in that direction.  Having run a a divorce support group for many years now to help others through the aftermath, it all seems to come down to a few things; being selfish, letting other parts of your body other than your brain decide who you will marry, not putting in the effort to have serious conversations about serious topics and assuming it will all work out or love conquers all.

Some of these last posts are a bit like planning for getting fired while wondering why your employer thinks you suck at your job.  Work on doing a good job and that's a lot more productive.

Hargrove

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #112 on: February 12, 2017, 01:44:09 PM »
The OP's problem was supposedly that his wife would not accept cut expenses or working, and, according to him, wanted a situation with negative cashflow. Forget FIRE entirely. Negative cashflow.

It is possible the situation was embellished, it's possible the wife merely said "SAH or nothing" and would not thereafter listen to the conversation, it's possible she had a post-partum condition, we have no idea. If, however, she wanted to spend even more money and not work and also stay at home, consequences be damned, it's not monstrous that the OP wanted to discuss the finances, too. The bank will not care for your good reasons.

A lot of goal-oriented guys need to develop a much better delivery on topics where they undervalue the emotional content involved for the other person. No, emotions and rationality are not separate, but emotional content certainly has a higher or lower impact and priority for different people in different situations. Good luck convincing a ravenously starving person to settle down and think carefully. There are leaders who ask about the goal first, and there are leaders who ask about the team first. With a partner, you are always trying to address both enough to reach success and happiness. Compatibility is about communicating even when those priorities don't obviously match, and he's literally asking how to have a discussion. I could understand giving him shit over bias, but not thereafter saying "you should work together" as if he weren't here asking right now how to have a discussion!

What the OP realized is very important. He may be arrogant about it or not - I think we read too much into "rationally discussing" in the thread title, frankly. I think all the title proves is that the OP values rationality. The fact is, he doesn't know how to have that conversation. OP, the recommendations are out there, and I'll try to give you some, because there are entire systems devoted to how to approach those difficult conversations to get better results for both parties. If rationality is your thing, embrace the system!

The sorts of things I'm describing may sound like bullshit to a goal-oriented person who is less impacted by emotion, but you have to overcome that bias, if you have it, to help your wife, and to help your team. Get past your own frustration. Watch "It's Not About the Nail" on Youtube, laugh, acknowledge that others understand your frustration, then MOVE ON and focus on how to heal your partnership, because focusing on your frustration won't do that.

The principles of negotiating start with asking what the other wants, working in good faith to understand the other's wants and needs, asking questions and reflecting so you can help heal emotional panic (which is often built around the fear that the emotional topic won't be addressed satisfactorily), and sharing your own wants and needs as well (that knowledge will hopefully reduce your concern that you won't be heard). Not every marriage can be saved, but many more than are can be.

The limit of therapy is that it's not on your mind enough, and a lot of partners are too likely to hear "listen!" Then, they try listening once because they're following a script, not being empathetic enough, then say "no I tried that and it didn't work." Learn about communication (it's a lot more complex than "talk a lot"). Go to therapy and ask for follow-up books. Tell your wife about techniques you learned to try on yourselves to solve your problems and make you stronger. Therapy as a team translates directly into teamwork if both parties let it.

It may be that your concern that your needs won't be met is hurting your ability to reach out to your wife successfully. You have to prioritize reaching out to her first. Emotional panic cannot be talked through as long as the cause is still there. You wouldn't chat about someone's 401k while they were dangling off a roof. Consider the emotional content of separating from the child to be, for your wife, of similar gravity, whether you experience that gravity or not. She may expect or need "JESUS honey are you ok?" (and she may need a lot of time). If you respond instead "Yes. /sigh. Yes, yes, I REMEMBER, you told me already that you're hanging from the roof, I do listen, but if we can just talk about our finances for a minute...".

Anxiety and fear, like hunger, are not easy to negotiate with. If you can't reach your wife through what you consider totally irrational behavior, the first step is probably HEARING why she is so emotional. Terror that you won't be heard is an easy way to begin ignoring your partnership. Are you doing this? You are already afraid she is doing it to you, so you may well have picked up dismissive behaviors yourself. You can't have a conversation where your objective is to get to what you want, even if what you want is totally rational and important, and learning to do that is hard. It won't matter who was right if you're divorced.

1. Start with concern about her. Talk in whatever setting would be least likely to cause additional stress. By request, I have even started conversations by email for someone with high anxiety, which I initially was totally against, but they helped the person significantly. We would pick them up in person when the emotional impact that something much more terrible must be around the corner had faded. Stay focused and don't react or fight - the more flippant or anxious she is, the less she feels your concern, which means the more she needs to feel it and the more of it you need to show right then.

2. Listening doesn't mean enduring whatever is said. Don't defend yourself. Reflect by summarizing what she says and asking if you have it right. I have solved many fights by saying "You think because of x and y, my first motive was z?" Sometimes she says "I don't know," or something in anger, or even laughs and says she "guesses that can't be right." Hug. Pause. Tell her you care about her, you don't want her to feel bad, and you wish you had known the effect that behavior would have had if it wasn't your intent. The number one cause of failed communication is that we stop listening, and focus only on our agenda, or that we fear we won't be heard, and that fear can be powerful and dangerous. You can get halfway through listening and disagree with an appraisal of your behavior, then ruin the whole thing by defending yourself. Instead of hearing her, you switched to telling her she's wrong. If a beloved aunt/grandmother/best friend/whatever said you were being selfish and that would stun you long enough to make you reflect, consider that you should do the same if somehow your wife got (whatever appraisal of your behavior) that she did.

3. Take your time. If your attitude is that nothing is more important than your partnership, this will automatically turn into better results because it will be easier for her to be on board when she knows she will be heard. Whether reasonable or not, if she thinks it's finances or else, kid or bankruptcy, you win or I win, everyone loses. It may be a huge mistake to assume she doesn't care about the finances. She may need to be heard and then find her own time to come around. A successful relationship requires you to assume this, though that may be scary. It takes a lot of trust. There is no 100% chance that she will. But there's a lot you can do to help, by becoming more communication-fit yourself, and offering as much trust as you can.

The book Difficult Conversations (Stone, Patton & Heen) of the Harvard Negotiation Project is one of a handful that stuck with me. It's an entire book of difficult habits to learn that take faith and patience but tend to automatically spread to people close to you once they feel you're hearing them and reaching out. I think the classes I took on negotiation were the most helpful of my entire academic career. We are all in situations where we feel we know something well, and someone else doesn't. In partnerships, partners need to know they have our trust before anything else, even if they're asking to do something we think is "obviously" foolish, because the bigger thing for their growth or well-being is not the task, it's having our trust. I can't say tanking your finances is a wise choice, but I can say that some people need to know certain things have priority. Your wife may need to know that not separating from her child has priority if she's terrified that your goals will demand separation. Yes, she may even later decide to when it's not so emotionally fraught. From what I've heard from others posting, the powerful aversion to leaving the child anywhere ever is not likely to last forever.

Anecdote on trust: I was with my SO, and I was very exasperated that she wouldn't let me help with a college class. She was going to fail. I had all the answers. I had taken the class. I knew it inside and out. She didn't want help. I said ok and kissed her and went on my way. She failed and later left college. Her parents were doom and warnings. I said I had faith in her. She told me a few times that knowing she was trusted before failing, and after failing, ultimately proved far more important than the college "task" she was going through but never cared much about in the first place. She tried many new things she was once afraid to because her confidence grew as her ability to trust grew, from being trusted herself. She's now a freelance artist and writer running her own business, does odd part-time jobs, still has anxiety, but long since recovered from depression and dystemia.

"Only Connect."

sixkids

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #113 on: February 12, 2017, 01:53:02 PM »
My wife has refused to get a job in the whole time we've been together. Now that we have six kids, it's probably better, but before, when we had none, or 1-2, it caused a lot of arguments. She does photography, and pays $150 a month of the rent, which I have to hound her like a bill collector to get. Today is February 12, and I'm still waiting on January's portion to put it into perspective. Meanwhile, she spends her photography money on useless crap.  She does get groceries, so I appreciate that.
I've tried to get her to contribute more to the big picture, but she doesn't have any interest. 

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #114 on: February 12, 2017, 02:03:36 PM »
Whoa whoa whoa!  Your wife is at home with 6 kids, and makes enough money on the side to pay for groceries, and part of the rent, and you're complaining?

I think you're just yanking our chains, right???

sixkids

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #115 on: February 13, 2017, 05:48:55 AM »
Whoa whoa whoa!  Your wife is at home with 6 kids, and makes enough money on the side to pay for groceries, and part of the rent, and you're complaining?

I think you're just yanking our chains, right???

Not complaining at all. It's a great help. Just pointing out that she has a very different view of growing a Stache than I do.

Poundwise

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #116 on: February 13, 2017, 07:38:17 AM »
Okay, it's an interesting situation you have there.   Actually it doesn't sound like your wife is on board with FIRE at all? (I haven't followed your story.)  Or does she pay lip service to wanting to be frugal, then go crazy at the mall?

 I suppose your wife feels like she is doing a good thing, by fulfilling her wish for spendy stuff without dipping into your earnings, whereas you feel that earnings of both parents should go into a common pot that pays for needs and savings first, before going into wants (that's how it goes in my family).  I guess it's another case where two wants are going head-to-head: your desire to stop working earlier, and her desire to buy useless crap.  Of course your desire sounds more sensible to me, and better for the family, especially if the working parent adds value when home with the family.  And in an optimal relationship, both partners would want to do their best for the kids first, then make their spouse happy next, and finally themselves. Maybe it would help to explain to her how her life would get easier if you retired early?

Anyway I am amazed that she has the time for a profitable side gig, with all those kids!

cats

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #117 on: February 13, 2017, 08:23:34 AM »

Anyway I am amazed that she has the time for a profitable side gig, with all those kids!

I am amazed that she has a side gig profitable enough to cover groceries for 8,$150 in rent AND useless crap. I'd be curious to know what fraction of her earnings is actually going to said crap.

FinallyAwake

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #118 on: February 13, 2017, 07:34:37 PM »
The OP's problem was supposedly that his wife would not accept cut expenses or working, and, according to him, wanted a situation with negative cashflow. Forget FIRE entirely. Negative cashflow.

It is possible the situation was embellished, it's possible the wife merely said "SAH or nothing" and would not thereafter listen to the conversation, it's possible she had a post-partum condition, we have no idea. If, however, she wanted to spend even more money and not work and also stay at home, consequences be damned, it's not monstrous that the OP wanted to discuss the finances, too. The bank will not care for your good reasons.

A lot of goal-oriented guys need to develop a much better delivery on topics where they undervalue the emotional content involved for the other person. No, emotions and rationality are not separate, but emotional content certainly has a higher or lower impact and priority for different people in different situations. Good luck convincing a ravenously starving person to settle down and think carefully. There are leaders who ask about the goal first, and there are leaders who ask about the team first. With a partner, you are always trying to address both enough to reach success and happiness. Compatibility is about communicating even when those priorities don't obviously match, and he's literally asking how to have a discussion. I could understand giving him shit over bias, but not thereafter saying "you should work together" as if he weren't here asking right now how to have a discussion!

What the OP realized is very important. He may be arrogant about it or not - I think we read too much into "rationally discussing" in the thread title, frankly. I think all the title proves is that the OP values rationality. The fact is, he doesn't know how to have that conversation. OP, the recommendations are out there, and I'll try to give you some, because there are entire systems devoted to how to approach those difficult conversations to get better results for both parties. If rationality is your thing, embrace the system!

The sorts of things I'm describing may sound like bullshit to a goal-oriented person who is less impacted by emotion, but you have to overcome that bias, if you have it, to help your wife, and to help your team. Get past your own frustration. Watch "It's Not About the Nail" on Youtube, laugh, acknowledge that others understand your frustration, then MOVE ON and focus on how to heal your partnership, because focusing on your frustration won't do that.

The principles of negotiating start with asking what the other wants, working in good faith to understand the other's wants and needs, asking questions and reflecting so you can help heal emotional panic (which is often built around the fear that the emotional topic won't be addressed satisfactorily), and sharing your own wants and needs as well (that knowledge will hopefully reduce your concern that you won't be heard). Not every marriage can be saved, but many more than are can be.

The limit of therapy is that it's not on your mind enough, and a lot of partners are too likely to hear "listen!" Then, they try listening once because they're following a script, not being empathetic enough, then say "no I tried that and it didn't work." Learn about communication (it's a lot more complex than "talk a lot"). Go to therapy and ask for follow-up books. Tell your wife about techniques you learned to try on yourselves to solve your problems and make you stronger. Therapy as a team translates directly into teamwork if both parties let it.

It may be that your concern that your needs won't be met is hurting your ability to reach out to your wife successfully. You have to prioritize reaching out to her first. Emotional panic cannot be talked through as long as the cause is still there. You wouldn't chat about someone's 401k while they were dangling off a roof. Consider the emotional content of separating from the child to be, for your wife, of similar gravity, whether you experience that gravity or not. She may expect or need "JESUS honey are you ok?" (and she may need a lot of time). If you respond instead "Yes. /sigh. Yes, yes, I REMEMBER, you told me already that you're hanging from the roof, I do listen, but if we can just talk about our finances for a minute...".

Anxiety and fear, like hunger, are not easy to negotiate with. If you can't reach your wife through what you consider totally irrational behavior, the first step is probably HEARING why she is so emotional. Terror that you won't be heard is an easy way to begin ignoring your partnership. Are you doing this? You are already afraid she is doing it to you, so you may well have picked up dismissive behaviors yourself. You can't have a conversation where your objective is to get to what you want, even if what you want is totally rational and important, and learning to do that is hard. It won't matter who was right if you're divorced.

1. Start with concern about her. Talk in whatever setting would be least likely to cause additional stress. By request, I have even started conversations by email for someone with high anxiety, which I initially was totally against, but they helped the person significantly. We would pick them up in person when the emotional impact that something much more terrible must be around the corner had faded. Stay focused and don't react or fight - the more flippant or anxious she is, the less she feels your concern, which means the more she needs to feel it and the more of it you need to show right then.

2. Listening doesn't mean enduring whatever is said. Don't defend yourself. Reflect by summarizing what she says and asking if you have it right. I have solved many fights by saying "You think because of x and y, my first motive was z?" Sometimes she says "I don't know," or something in anger, or even laughs and says she "guesses that can't be right." Hug. Pause. Tell her you care about her, you don't want her to feel bad, and you wish you had known the effect that behavior would have had if it wasn't your intent. The number one cause of failed communication is that we stop listening, and focus only on our agenda, or that we fear we won't be heard, and that fear can be powerful and dangerous. You can get halfway through listening and disagree with an appraisal of your behavior, then ruin the whole thing by defending yourself. Instead of hearing her, you switched to telling her she's wrong. If a beloved aunt/grandmother/best friend/whatever said you were being selfish and that would stun you long enough to make you reflect, consider that you should do the same if somehow your wife got (whatever appraisal of your behavior) that she did.

3. Take your time. If your attitude is that nothing is more important than your partnership, this will automatically turn into better results because it will be easier for her to be on board when she knows she will be heard. Whether reasonable or not, if she thinks it's finances or else, kid or bankruptcy, you win or I win, everyone loses. It may be a huge mistake to assume she doesn't care about the finances. She may need to be heard and then find her own time to come around. A successful relationship requires you to assume this, though that may be scary. It takes a lot of trust. There is no 100% chance that she will. But there's a lot you can do to help, by becoming more communication-fit yourself, and offering as much trust as you can.

The book Difficult Conversations (Stone, Patton & Heen) of the Harvard Negotiation Project is one of a handful that stuck with me. It's an entire book of difficult habits to learn that take faith and patience but tend to automatically spread to people close to you once they feel you're hearing them and reaching out. I think the classes I took on negotiation were the most helpful of my entire academic career. We are all in situations where we feel we know something well, and someone else doesn't. In partnerships, partners need to know they have our trust before anything else, even if they're asking to do something we think is "obviously" foolish, because the bigger thing for their growth or well-being is not the task, it's having our trust. I can't say tanking your finances is a wise choice, but I can say that some people need to know certain things have priority. Your wife may need to know that not separating from her child has priority if she's terrified that your goals will demand separation. Yes, she may even later decide to when it's not so emotionally fraught. From what I've heard from others posting, the powerful aversion to leaving the child anywhere ever is not likely to last forever.

Anecdote on trust: I was with my SO, and I was very exasperated that she wouldn't let me help with a college class. She was going to fail. I had all the answers. I had taken the class. I knew it inside and out. She didn't want help. I said ok and kissed her and went on my way. She failed and later left college. Her parents were doom and warnings. I said I had faith in her. She told me a few times that knowing she was trusted before failing, and after failing, ultimately proved far more important than the college "task" she was going through but never cared much about in the first place. She tried many new things she was once afraid to because her confidence grew as her ability to trust grew, from being trusted herself. She's now a freelance artist and writer running her own business, does odd part-time jobs, still has anxiety, but long since recovered from depression and dystemia.

"Only Connect."

Where's the like button when you need one?

arebelspy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #119 on: February 13, 2017, 08:02:18 PM »
Where's the like button when you need one?

Facebook.

:)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

FinallyAwake

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #120 on: February 13, 2017, 10:55:56 PM »
Where's the like button when you need one?

Facebook.

:)

NOOOoOOOOOoooOooooo!!!!  I refuse to set foot on that filthy no-man's land.

Ok, how about this:

Where's the facial hair rating system when you need one?
 

:)

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #121 on: February 14, 2017, 11:10:18 AM »
Wow this discussion has gotten really intense.  Where's OP?  I need an update!

And sixkids, I must know, what % of her side gig income is going to trinkets? 
Make $22/hr teaching English from home FOR REALZ! https://t.vipkid.com.cn/?refereeId=4568896

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Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #122 on: February 14, 2017, 01:28:02 PM »
My wife has refused to get a job in the whole time we've been together. Now that we have six kids, it's probably better, but before, when we had none, or 1-2, it caused a lot of arguments. She does photography, and pays $150 a month of the rent, which I have to hound her like a bill collector to get. Today is February 12, and I'm still waiting on January's portion to put it into perspective. Meanwhile, she spends her photography money on useless crap.  She does get groceries, so I appreciate that.
I've tried to get her to contribute more to the big picture, but she doesn't have any interest.

So why did you have six kids with her? I'm always amazed when people come to me getting divorced and tell me their whole sordid tale.  It usually starts "she refused to ___ from the beginning."  Yet they still got married, they still had kids.  Things usually get worse post kids yet they keep having more kids.  They can never really tell me why. Were you hoping you would change her? It never works. I'm hoping instead that you decided this is just something you live with. 

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arebelspy

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #124 on: February 17, 2017, 02:37:00 AM »
Where's the like button when you need one?

Facebook.

:)

http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/07/7-ways-to-be-insufferable-on-facebook.html

I missed the connection to this thread?

But my reaction reading that was to read the first status post it's based on, go "wow, cool" and then be told it was annoying.

Huh. I mean, I guess it could be?  But why take a negative opinion, when you could do a positive one?  It seemed like the guy had a great year. I was happy for him, and I got some ideas of things I might like to do to make my life better.

Why go "ughz annoying bragging" instead of "oh cool, inspiring list"?

People nowadays are too quick to turn a negative view to every situation.

I think I'd have liked that WBW post quite a bit when it came out 3-4 years ago. Now it makes me sad.

Be positive, people!  :)

EDIT: Just read the comments. Seems like a lot of people agree.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2017, 02:42:42 AM by arebelspy »
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with a kid.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

frugaldoc

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #125 on: February 17, 2017, 08:06:53 AM »
Where's the like button when you need one?

Facebook.

:)

http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/07/7-ways-to-be-insufferable-on-facebook.html

I missed the connection to this thread?

But my reaction reading that was to read the first status post it's based on, go "wow, cool" and then be told it was annoying.

Huh. I mean, I guess it could be?  But why take a negative opinion, when you could do a positive one?  It seemed like the guy had a great year. I was happy for him, and I got some ideas of things I might like to do to make my life better.

Why go "ughz annoying bragging" instead of "oh cool, inspiring list"?

People nowadays are too quick to turn a negative view to every situation.

I think I'd have liked that WBW post quite a bit when it came out 3-4 years ago. Now it makes me sad.

Be positive, people!  :)

EDIT: Just read the comments. Seems like a lot of people agree.

Haha, no connection to this thread. You mentioning Facebook just reminded me of that article. I  think that was my first WBW article and I really couldn't stop laughing the first time I read it. I immediately went through my Facebook feed to see all the ways I was being insufferable and just started laughing harder.

The fact that it made you sad makes me think there might be something wrong with me like maybe I have a personality disorder or something. I'm gonna go see a therapist and I'll get back to you on this ;)
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MoneyMage

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #126 on: February 19, 2017, 10:46:07 PM »
I was all set to keep working after having a baby but after actually going back to work I changed my mind! First, the job I came back to was NOT the same job I left. It was grunt work, below my pay grade and job level, and I was given new "rules" to follow that were highly uncomfortable for a new mom to deal with. If my job had been the same one I'd left, it might be a different story. (I should have talked to HR earlier... when I told them all the stuff that had changed after I got back from maternity leave the HR rep was horrified.)

Secondly, leaving my 4-month-old for 5 days a week was just impossible. There's an emotional, hormonal thing going on that spiraled into depressive thoughts of "why the heck am I here doing this stupid meaningless work when I could be at home with my baby?" So I negotiated with the boss and worked part time for a couple of months before quitting altogether. Thank goodness my husband's job is good enough to pay the bills! Savings has slowed a little but his earnings have increased since I quit and our stocks have done well so we're doing just fine!

High Income Parent

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #127 on: March 13, 2017, 07:35:48 AM »
I know this post is four months old now and the OP probably already made some decisions but there is evidence that having a parent care for the child in the first year of life is cognitively beneficial. After that there could be some cognitive benefit if the child goes to childcare in years 2-3. There are so many factors but maybe there could be a compromise to stay home the first year. I wrote a blog post about balancing child care and career.

farmecologist

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #128 on: March 13, 2017, 07:55:53 AM »
I don't think there is any easy answer here.  There are so many variables.

  - Number of kids.
  - Is day care needed?  If so, the cost of daycare and what is available?
  - What career will the 'stay at home parent' be leaving?
  - And the list goes on and on....

The answer is that there is no answer...it all depends on your situation.

Using us as an example...we both had/have great jobs and made the difficult decision to put both of our kids in daycare quite early.  Luckily, we were able to find an absolutely awesome home day care situation for the first few years.  Even with that, there was some guilt involved...I think that is unavoidable.  I'm glad to say that our kids (18 and 15) have turned out great so far.  I assure you...regardless of the decision you make, everything will be a distant memory when they reach their teen years. 

Oh, and don't listen to what others are telling you about it...most of them don't know your situation at all and don't know WTF they are talking about.  We were getting opinions from people that didn't even have kids!

« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 12:38:40 PM by farmecologist »

cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #129 on: March 13, 2017, 10:52:15 AM »
I know this post is four months old now and the OP probably already made some decisions but there is evidence that having a parent care for the child in the first year of life is cognitively beneficial. After that there could be some cognitive benefit if the child goes to childcare in years 2-3. There are so many factors but maybe there could be a compromise to stay home the first year. I wrote a blog post about balancing child care and career.

Thanks for the input High Income Parent and everyone else.

Wife has been working for about 2 months, averaging 3 days working from home and 2 in the office. She's feeling some big time guilt that she isn't spending quality time with our daughter (we pay my Mom to watch her at our house while my wife works) and she is really pushing toward quitting work and staying at home for a few years. The other option is to find a less stressful job that is exclusively work from home. Several factors are contributing to this desire:

1) Not feeling like she is as "connected" with our daughter as when she was on maternity leave
2) Her job is extremely stressful and it's hard for her to not think of the baby as an inconvenience when she just wants to relax and wind down
3) Some territorial issues with my Mom, she doesn't want the baby to have a closer bond than with her
4) (perhaps) some mild post-partum depression coupled with common "mom-guilt"

The bad news: If we end up going down to one income, undoubtedly it will affect our saving and investing. Instead of socking away ~$7,500/month (2 401k's + company match + $4K/month) we will be stretching to hit $4,000/month (1 401k + company match + $2K/month). If she never goes back to work, I'll be putting in an extra 5 years to make up for the lost income (2030 vs. 2025)

The good news: We already have $250K in investments that will continue to work for us. Dropping down to one income will (I think) make us eligible to deduct contributions to her IRA (as a non-active participant spouse) and shield some more dollars from Uncle Sam. If she only takes 5 years off work and gets back into it close to her previous salary, we will only be adding 2 years to our FI/RE date (2027 vs. 2025).

Conclusions: It really sucks that I might have to work an extra 2 years but I suppose retiring at 42 isn't much worse than retiring at 40. Happy wife, happy life is the word on the street.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2017, 11:04:41 AM by cheapass »

mm1970

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #130 on: March 13, 2017, 12:50:50 PM »
I know this post is four months old now and the OP probably already made some decisions but there is evidence that having a parent care for the child in the first year of life is cognitively beneficial. After that there could be some cognitive benefit if the child goes to childcare in years 2-3. There are so many factors but maybe there could be a compromise to stay home the first year. I wrote a blog post about balancing child care and career.

Thanks for the input High Income Parent and everyone else.

Wife has been working for about 2 months, averaging 3 days working from home and 2 in the office. She's feeling some big time guilt that she isn't spending quality time with our daughter (we pay my Mom to watch her at our house while my wife works) and she is really pushing toward quitting work and staying at home for a few years. The other option is to find a less stressful job that is exclusively work from home. Several factors are contributing to this desire:

1) Not feeling like she is as "connected" with our daughter as when she was on maternity leave
2) Her job is extremely stressful and it's hard for her to not think of the baby as an inconvenience when she just wants to relax and wind down
3) Some territorial issues with my Mom, she doesn't want the baby to have a closer bond than with her
4) (perhaps) some mild post-partum depression coupled with common "mom-guilt"

The bad news: If we end up going down to one income, undoubtedly it will affect our saving and investing. Instead of socking away ~$7,500/month (2 401k's + company match + $4K/month) we will be stretching to hit $4,000/month (1 401k + company match + $2K/month). If she never goes back to work, I'll be putting in an extra 5 years to make up for the lost income (2030 vs. 2025)

The good news: We already have $250K in investments that will continue to work for us. Dropping down to one income will (I think) make us eligible to deduct contributions to her IRA (as a non-active participant spouse) and shield some more dollars from Uncle Sam. If she only takes 5 years off work and gets back into it close to her previous salary, we will only be adding 2 years to our FI/RE date (2027 vs. 2025).

Conclusions: It really sucks that I might have to work an extra 2 years but I suppose retiring at 42 isn't much worse than retiring at 40. Happy wife, happy life is the word on the street.

The bolded items:
Have her get checked for PPD if she hasn't been.
Seeing the baby as an inconvenience when she wants to wind down.  This is normal.  And I don't know if it completely goes away.  There are only 24 hours a day.  Your need, as an adult, to "wind down" doesn't go away.  My kids are 11 and 4 and I still feel this way sometimes.  I *need* time without kids talking/ grabbing/ needing.  So she should schedule this time, knowing that once the kids hit about age 4 it gets easier to get that time.

My advice is be flexible!  Happy wife can make for an overall more relaxed home life.

Laura33

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #131 on: March 14, 2017, 08:01:33 AM »
Hey Cheapass - just wanted to say, I thought the tone of your most recent post sounded much more cooperative and focused on hearing your wife's concerns instead of convincing her to be rational.  So really good job listening to some of the excellent advice here on how to communicate more effectively.

One thing to keep in mind:  I think many here have a tendency to see the 'Stache as the be-all, end-all.  I tend that way myself. :-)  Ergo, actions that increase the 'Stache are "rational"; actions that don't are irrational. 

(As an aside to my aside, that is the fundamental problem with referring to your argument as "rational":  it means, by definition, you view her argument as *irrational* and therefore less worthy.  Which immediately shuts down any reasoned discussion before you even have a chance to get it going.  Because I guarantee you, your DW thinks she is being just as "rational" as you are.)

But the key to keep in mind is that the ultimate goal is maximum lifetime happiness -- money is just a tool we use to get there.  But that doesn't mean it is the only tool, or even the best one; sometimes what you need is less money and more time.  And sometimes, making money actually gets in the way of happiness.

Example:  I read another post just yesterday about a guy who spent his 20s chasing the dream of playing pro sports.  Say you had a choice at 22 to sign with a minor league team for $50K/yr, or jump into some big-power job for $200K/yr.  If you are looking to maximize money, you choose Door #2.  But making that choice means giving up a lifelong dream -- you can't delay it, you can't say, well, I'll make $200Kyr for a couple of years and build by 'stache and then go for it -- you chase it now or it's gone.  So which is the better choice?  I'd argue that it's your once-in-a-lifetime shot.  Because if you aren't living to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as they arise, what exactly are you living for?

The point is really that each day you have is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, for both of you.  And so you both need to figure out which choice will maximize total family happiness for both of you, without requiring either partner to give up too much.  For you, the gut reaction is for Current Yous to suck it up and sock it away for the Future Yous to kick back and enjoy, because that's how you see the world and your priorities.  For her, the gut reaction is for Future You to work longer so Current Her can stay home with the baby, because she is focusing on the once-in-a-lifetime aspect of This day with This child.  So whichever decision you make, whatever compromise you reach, one or both of you are going to give up some portion of your maximum possible individual lifetime happiness.  That is brave and good and a key component of being part of a team, part of a family -- it's what we do for people we love.  But it is also difficult and hard and a sacrifice you are making for the overall good of the team, and so it needs to be acknowledged and appreciated, not argued away as "irrational," dismissed as "selfish," or whatever. 

BTW, I realize this sounds like I am taking your wife's side.  I'm not -- this is totally a decision for the both of you to make together.  I'd argue that if you decide she should stay home, that she needs to appreciate your sacrifice on your FIRE date, as much as you need to appreciate what she is giving up by continuing to work.  Personally, I think much more like you and decided to keep working post-kids.  But I did it knowing that I had DH's full support to make things work no matter what I decided to do, and I offer the same to him.  And that is really the most important thing you guys have to offer each other.
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cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #132 on: March 14, 2017, 09:10:41 AM »
Great perspective Laura, thank you. It's all a time vs. money trade off, now vs. future. I like the analogy about the baseball player. I applied to be an astronaut last year understanding that it was a 1 in a million chance and that I would make less money.

I think what helped me come to terms with it is that she is totally willing to go back to work once our kid(s) are in school, and she made the promise that it would happen. What also helped me to come to terms with it is the fact that with that agreement (off work 5 years w/ TIGHT budget, then back to work) we are only delaying FI/RE 2 years. Maybe we can even meet our original 8 year goal if our house appreciates or I get more than cost of living raises for the next 10 years.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 09:14:01 AM by cheapass »

Easye418

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #133 on: March 14, 2017, 10:13:54 AM »
Bub is on his way in July.  #1. 

We discussed and after the 12 weeks off, we will put him in daycare and my wife will return to work 2 days a week/26 hours weekly (nurse).

She will make enough money to cover daycare and allow us to aggressively save/pay off debts.  That is all I could ask for.  At some point in the future when debts are lessened, I wouldn't mind having her stay home with bub.

I actually have this forum to thank for getting me into the mindset to craft my financials in a much better way and allow me to have my desires in life.  I may not retire at 40, but I will be able to live my life how I want.
You either cut expenses, raise income, or both.  Simple as that.

cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #134 on: March 14, 2017, 10:44:54 AM »
We discussed and after the 12 weeks off, we will put him in daycare and my wife will return to work 2 days a week/26 hours weekly (nurse).

Sounds like a great plan, but be prepared that the plan may change once that baby is here and motherly instinct kicks in.

mm1970

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #135 on: March 14, 2017, 02:20:05 PM »
Bub is on his way in July.  #1. 

We discussed and after the 12 weeks off, we will put him in daycare and my wife will return to work 2 days a week/26 hours weekly (nurse).

She will make enough money to cover daycare and allow us to aggressively save/pay off debts.  That is all I could ask for.  At some point in the future when debts are lessened, I wouldn't mind having her stay home with bub.

I actually have this forum to thank for getting me into the mindset to craft my financials in a much better way and allow me to have my desires in life.  I may not retire at 40, but I will be able to live my life how I want.
I had some neighbors a number of years ago that did this.  Wife was a nurse, worked 2 days per week only.  In fact, she chose to work at a hospital a 45 minute drive away (instead of the one a 5 minute drive away) because they would
1. allow her to work 2 days a week
2. did not force her to work nights
3. gave her a regular schedule.

This allowed them to use grandma care for 2 days a week.


Duke03

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #136 on: March 14, 2017, 11:51:06 PM »
My wife has been a stay at home mom for 4 years.  Since then we have added another kid.  I'll be honest I actually like her being home.  I work weird hours and travel a lot for work.  The flip side to that is I'm also home for two or three days at a time.  It's nice being a family and spending time together when everyone else is at work or school.  Honestly we didn't even notice the lost income when she quite her job.  Luckily I've gotten a promotion and several nice raises and between not buying gas, lunch, work clothes, nor paying for day care I think it's actually a wash.  Now we can't wait till the little ones are in school.  We laugh all the time how great it's going to be to go to lunch, watch a movie, or even have sex during the day when they off at school.

Villanelle

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #137 on: March 15, 2017, 01:18:45 AM »
I know this post is four months old now and the OP probably already made some decisions but there is evidence that having a parent care for the child in the first year of life is cognitively beneficial. After that there could be some cognitive benefit if the child goes to childcare in years 2-3. There are so many factors but maybe there could be a compromise to stay home the first year. I wrote a blog post about balancing child care and career.

Thanks for the input High Income Parent and everyone else.

Wife has been working for about 2 months, averaging 3 days working from home and 2 in the office. She's feeling some big time guilt that she isn't spending quality time with our daughter (we pay my Mom to watch her at our house while my wife works) and she is really pushing toward quitting work and staying at home for a few years. The other option is to find a less stressful job that is exclusively work from home. Several factors are contributing to this desire:

1) Not feeling like she is as "connected" with our daughter as when she was on maternity leave
2) Her job is extremely stressful and it's hard for her to not think of the baby as an inconvenience when she just wants to relax and wind down
3) Some territorial issues with my Mom, she doesn't want the baby to have a closer bond than with her
4) (perhaps) some mild post-partum depression coupled with common "mom-guilt"

The bad news: If we end up going down to one income, undoubtedly it will affect our saving and investing. Instead of socking away ~$7,500/month (2 401k's + company match + $4K/month) we will be stretching to hit $4,000/month (1 401k + company match + $2K/month). If she never goes back to work, I'll be putting in an extra 5 years to make up for the lost income (2030 vs. 2025)

The good news: We already have $250K in investments that will continue to work for us. Dropping down to one income will (I think) make us eligible to deduct contributions to her IRA (as a non-active participant spouse) and shield some more dollars from Uncle Sam. If she only takes 5 years off work and gets back into it close to her previous salary, we will only be adding 2 years to our FI/RE date (2027 vs. 2025).

Conclusions: It really sucks that I might have to work an extra 2 years but I suppose retiring at 42 isn't much worse than retiring at 40. Happy wife, happy life is the word on the street.

I'm a wife, and I find "happy wife, happy life" to be condescending and unfair.  My happiness is no more important or valuable than my partner's. 

It seems like there may be room here for compromise.  If her #1 priority is being a SAHM, what is she willing to change/sacrifce to make that happen? Can she plan to cook more and dedicate more time to shopping sales, cutting groceries by $100 per month?  Can she start cloth diapering, which may have significant savings over time (especially if you plan on a second, which I believe you said you did)?  Is she maybe willing to stop with one kid rather than adding another--and the associated expenses--in a couple years (if that's something you too are willing to consider)?  Downgrade her vehicle?  Move to a smaller home?   Cut spending on both her clothes and the baby's, as well as toys, perhaps to the point that nearly everything is thrift?  Fire the gardener?   (Some of these may or may not apply.)  Pick up some side hustle, either immediately or when the baby is 6/9/12 months old?

To me, that's the way to approach these things. "Okay, it's clear that X is really, really important to you, so I want to make that happen.  Let's find a way to do that that still honors the things that are important to me, too.  You don't want to work now, and I don't want to work for 8 more years.  What can we do to make both of those things possible?  If we can trim our budget by $x (in addition to the savings on day care, wife's commute, and other things that will naturally decrease if she quits working) or increase income by that much, or some combination of the two, then I'd only have to work 6.5 more years (as opposed to 5 if she keeps working and 8 if you don't change anything other than losing her income, or whatever the actual numbers are), then it seems we are both getting what is most important to us.  So what from the budget can be trimmed if you start SAH?  Is there some super part time work you can pick up, perhaps from home?  Expenses that can be cut? And yes, that may mean some slightly uncomfortable sacrifice on your part, Wife, and I understand that, but I'm hoping that if we each sacrifice a little, we can find a middle ground so the whole financial burden of this decision for our family isn't covered by my working longer."

To me, that's how partnerships work.  A team isn't really about one partner's happiness = success. 

Hargrove

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #138 on: March 15, 2017, 06:00:20 AM »
I'm a wife, and I find "happy wife, happy life" to be condescending and unfair.  My happiness is no more important or valuable than my partner's.

To me, that's how partnerships work.  A team isn't really about one partner's happiness = success.

Oi, thank you. That phrase does all parties a disservice.

Cassie

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #139 on: March 15, 2017, 04:03:39 PM »
I stayed home with my 3 kids until the youngest was 5 and went to school f.t. I then went to college and at 34 got my first professional job. When I was asked what I did before I said raised kids and went to college. It was not a problem and I had plenty of job offers. I was out of the work force for 15 years. Yes people may have to take a pay cut or train for a more relevant job but they can get back in. I think this is much easier if the person is still married because they have the other spouse to help with finances and with picking up the kids from school, etc.  As a divorced parent where do you find the time to do everything yourself for the home, kids, work and go back to school. These are the people that are caught in a very hard spot and I really feel for them.

Easye418

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #140 on: March 16, 2017, 01:34:12 PM »
We discussed and after the 12 weeks off, we will put him in daycare and my wife will return to work 2 days a week/26 hours weekly (nurse).

Sounds like a great plan, but be prepared that the plan may change once that baby is here and motherly instinct kicks in.

Oh yes, yes, I am preparing for that as well.  I wouldn't necessarily hate the idea of her staying at home with the bub and taking care of the house as that has a $ and emotional value to it as well. 

With her working the 26 hours, it will cover daycare and a few other bills AND MAYBE be able to max out her 401k (that's the dream).  As long as she is just covering daycare and the one other big bill, we will be just fine.

However, I think my wife will get bored being at the house that long, honestly, I think two days may fall in between the optimal range and not enough work. 


I had some neighbors a number of years ago that did this.  Wife was a nurse, worked 2 days per week only.  In fact, she chose to work at a hospital a 45 minute drive away (instead of the one a 5 minute drive away) because they would
1. allow her to work 2 days a week
2. did not force her to work nights
3. gave her a regular schedule.

This allowed them to use grandma care for 2 days a week.

That is almost exactly what the plan is.  Her hospital is unfortunately 40 minutes away, but it should fulfill the 3 boxes you laid out there, 2 days, no overnights, regular schedule.

Side note, nurses get paid like dogs for what they do.  It is a definite grind on new nurses, but you can easily pull in $100k+ with call and OT.  Still, absolute shit pay for the amount of work.
You either cut expenses, raise income, or both.  Simple as that.

MrsPete

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #141 on: March 16, 2017, 03:12:28 PM »
My wife and I had a baby 2 months ago which means she is approaching the end of her 12 week maternity leave. Prior to the child, we were all set with our FIRE plan which consisted of both of us working for another 7-8 years and calling it quits at age 40 so we could be free to do whatever we want. My parents live 10 minutes away and my Mom is very interested in babysitting during the day. That put our minds at ease to have someone who actually gives a shit taking care of our kid.

Well..... I believe the mommy instinct has kicked in to some degree. She has started talking about how nobody will take care of our kid like she will, how hard it will be to leave our daughter, how stressful her job is, all the things she doesn't like about my parents, etc.

Has anyone experienced something similar? I'm trying to respect her emotions but redirect the conversation to the more "rational" sense (i.e. we shouldn't sacrifice long-term security for short-term comfort, her and I were both raised by people other than our moms, we have the unique opportunity to become wealthy at a young age, etc.)
I remember that point clearly.  Working made sense logically, and we too had a relative who was eager to babysit for free ... but as time ticked down to the last month, the last week, the last day ... it was hard to imagine walking out the door and leaving the baby.   

Knowing I was torn, my husband said the best possible thing to me: He told me to go back and commit to three months.  He said that after that time, if I wasn't happy, if the baby wasn't thriving, if things just weren't working out ... I could quit then, knowing that we'd given it a try. It was genius. I didn't actually have to make that decision BEFORE going back to work.  I could give it a try.  By going back to work, I wasn't committing to working for the next 20-30 years.  I had a job I liked, a job I knew. 

Things were FINE.  The baby thrived, as did the one who came along three years later.  We were able to save when we were still young.  Oh, we had bumps in the road:  Sick kid days were an issue.  It was tough for me when my husband went out of town.  But overall, things were great.  If I were back in that spot again, I'd make the same choice again. 

In contrast, I think my friends who stayed home for the typical 5-8 years had more trouble moving back into the work force. 

So, my advice is the same as that my husband gave me years ago:  Encourage her to go back ... commit to a couple months so that you're giving it a good try ... and then have this conversation again.  If you decide that her staying home is the best option for your family, nothing's going to be damaged by having tried it for a couple months. 

cheapass

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #142 on: March 16, 2017, 03:26:50 PM »
I'm a wife, and I find "happy wife, happy life" to be condescending and unfair.  My happiness is no more important or valuable than my partner's. 

Sure, in an ideal world those in relationships would have equal input into decision making and no doubt there are many couples where that's the case.

But I know many couples who, when one partner wants something, they will constantly nag and complain until the other partner just is tired of hearing about it and finally gives in regardless of the financial or other consequences. In my experience it's not the men doing the nagging, they typically don't make the other person's life miserable if they don't get their way initially.

Again, this is not always the case and your mileage may vary, but there seems to be a clear bias between the sexes and thus the phrase was born.

mm1970

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #143 on: March 16, 2017, 05:15:42 PM »
Quote
Side note, nurses get paid like dogs for what they do.  It is a definite grind on new nurses, but you can easily pull in $100k+ with call and OT.  Still, absolute shit pay for the amount of work.

Yup.  Though I have a friend who opted to work 1 week a month.  She'd fly out, stay with her parents in the other side of the state for a week.  Work 7 days straight.  Fly home.

One week a month, which, hours-wise was like 2 weeks of a regular work week.

$98k a year. Not too shabby.

madgeylou

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #144 on: March 16, 2017, 06:08:13 PM »
I'm a wife, and I find "happy wife, happy life" to be condescending and unfair.  My happiness is no more important or valuable than my partner's. 

Sure, in an ideal world those in relationships would have equal input into decision making and no doubt there are many couples where that's the case.

But I know many couples who, when one partner wants something, they will constantly nag and complain until the other partner just is tired of hearing about it and finally gives in regardless of the financial or other consequences. In my experience it's not the men doing the nagging, they typically don't make the other person's life miserable if they don't get their way initially.

Again, this is not always the case and your mileage may vary, but there seems to be a clear bias between the sexes and thus the phrase was born.

Hard disagree. For all your examples of a "nagging wife" I could bring up examples of "controlling, abusive husbands." There are shitty behaviors across all categories of humans.

Best to keep tired gender stereotypes out of your thinking as much as possible, especially when raising children. Don't want to pass that BS on to the next generation.
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Hargrove

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #145 on: March 16, 2017, 07:05:27 PM »
Sure, in an ideal world those in relationships would have equal input into decision making and no doubt there are many couples where that's the case.

But I know many couples who, when one partner wants something, they will constantly nag and complain until the other partner just is tired of hearing about it and finally gives in regardless of the financial or other consequences. In my experience it's not the men doing the nagging, they typically don't make the other person's life miserable if they don't get their way initially.

You're describing a power imbalance playing out. It's not even true your "nag" has "all the power," because there would be no need to nag. Sometimes, addressing the real or perceived power imbalance can help this. Sometimes it's just one or both parties' insecurity.

Villanelle was talking about relationships as partnerships, though, and that they should be partnerships, not that they all are. In your anecdote, the relationship suffers from not being a partnership.

Villanelle

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #146 on: March 17, 2017, 12:37:57 AM »
I'm a wife, and I find "happy wife, happy life" to be condescending and unfair.  My happiness is no more important or valuable than my partner's. 

Sure, in an ideal world those in relationships would have equal input into decision making and no doubt there are many couples where that's the case.

But I know many couples who, when one partner wants something, they will constantly nag and complain until the other partner just is tired of hearing about it and finally gives in regardless of the financial or other consequences. In my experience it's not the men doing the nagging, they typically don't make the other person's life miserable if they don't get their way initially.

Again, this is not always the case and your mileage may vary, but there seems to be a clear bias between the sexes and thus the phrase was born.

And every time the phrase is used, it perpetuates that bias.  I've certainly seen relationships where women's needs are considered less important than men's needs, so I disagree that it tends to go one way. She wants new curtains and he thinks that a frivolous expense, and then goes and buys a boat.  She wants to go apple picking this weekend, but he'd rather hunt.  Or just... she wants Italian, he wants burgers, so they get burgers.  I think it's just as common that unequal relationships have power ceded to men as to women.  I think it's more that when men are the tyrants, they are strong and masculine, and when women do it, they are nags.  But regardless, every time someone utters that phrase, the contribute to an acceptance that one partner's needs are more important than the others.  And regardless of the sex or gender of each partner, I think that's unhealthy and unfair, which is way I call it out.  I realize there are those who don't feel equality in a relationship is even the goal or ideal (those who think men are inherently the leaders and women should obey, mostly), but for those who at least think it's the ideal, when we use that stupid phrase or express similar sentiments (favoring either gender), we contribute the the culture that accepts or even expects them.

As someone who seems to agree that it's an unfair standard, I would think that you'd be happy to see it called out.

jezebel

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Re: Rationally discussing the "stay at home parent" option
« Reply #147 on: March 20, 2017, 07:30:24 AM »
I'm a wife, and I find "happy wife, happy life" to be condescending and unfair.  My happiness is no more important or valuable than my partner's. 

Sure, in an ideal world those in relationships would have equal input into decision making and no doubt there are many couples where that's the case.

But I know many couples who, when one partner wants something, they will constantly nag and complain until the other partner just is tired of hearing about it and finally gives in regardless of the financial or other consequences. In my experience it's not the men doing the nagging, they typically don't make the other person's life miserable if they don't get their way initially.

Again, this is not always the case and your mileage may vary, but there seems to be a clear bias between the sexes and thus the phrase was born.

In MY experience, it's mostly the male half of the couple that does this (my parents and many peer couples).  So there ya go...