My husband wants me to be a SAHM. I don’t want to.

I have been following your posts about men, women, employment and SAHParent balances and power struggles. I am not sure if this is the right place to ask you, but here it goes.

My passion is acting. My husband is an uber expert in his field of IT. We (Gen Xers) met in college where I was a Theater major, and he a Psycho-biology major who wanted to be a dentist. I wanted to break into the industry, but couldn’t in Los Angeles. We now live in Atlanta with two children. Lately, acting opps are presenting themselves, and I started to do some film/tv work without disruption to my day job.

For the last 15 years I’ve been working full-time jobs I never really cared for, just going through the motion, because being a SAHM does not interest me, and my hubby threatens divorce if I were to quit my job.

I am trying to build a case to give this acting thing a real shot. I can make some income on a weekly basis doing just extra work while doing auditions in between that. He wants me to work steady, predictable jobs. I make less than 1/3 of what he makes (he is in high 100K range). Other than needing to spend less on groceries and vacations, we could survive for awhile on his salary.

Over the years, he seems frustrated that I never “advanced” my career, or appear happy with what I do. I have a physical condition that will lead eventually (probably in a decade) me filing for disability. So between that, and the short window of time to do this, I feel like he is “forcing” me to break apart our family and marriage. I don’t understand this dynamic – a spouse that makes good money and LOVES what he is doing, but equates his wife’s passion as a deal breaker, and not as a career.

How do I negotiate this? Thanks for listening.

PS He now travels a lot in his job, so I am more or less a single parent shuttling the kids to extra curricular activities and doctor’s appointments and helping with homework besides working 8-5pm weekly, Mon-Fri.

19 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    Your husband earns enough to support you guys. You can live off of just his income.

    He is providing no child care. Which means it’s fair that you provide all the child care and none of the money.

    It’s a fair trade. But it’s a trade that neither of you seems to be willing to make.

    Right now he won’t accept responsibility for supporting the family and you won’t accept responsibility for taking care of the kids. But in fact, that’s the only way things can work given your two skill sets.

    It’s very difficult to launch an acting career when you are the primary caretaker of the children. It sounds like you are very unhappy with your marriage and you want to stop taking care of the children in order to make yourself feel like you are getting as exciting a life as your husband has. But that’s not fair to the kids. You can’t have a marriage where it’s no one’s job to take care of the kids. In marriages where there are two careers that are too big for kids, there are nannies, but you do not earn enough for nannies to stand in for parents.

    Everyone has disappointments in life. Yours is that you do not have a very exciting life right now. You can change that, but not with acting. The first thing is that you need to stop working your stupid job because you can’t be responsible for the kids and money.

    Your husband has to admit that you cannot provide as much as he wishes you would provide. So he has the luxury of not having to worry about child care. That’s the only luxury he gets. He has to shoulder the responsibility of supporting the family.

    Each of you needs to make concessions and then things will feel easier for you. You will find something to do besides acting. Your job is to take care of the kids. If you don’t want that job you need to earn enough money to pay a full-time nanny. Which I don’t think you can do . So you and your husband should embrace your family and your respective roles in the family and stop threatening each other and whining about your plight. Also, tell your husband that divorce will be a much bigger financial hit to him that you stopping working would be. Tell him he can having custody during the week and you’ll take weekends. That’ll stop him in his tracks.


  2. Becky Castle Miller
    Becky Castle Miller says:

    You can probably afford an au pair on his salary. Look into it. It might help you get the breathing room you need by helping lift some of the immense childcare responsibility while your husband is gone.

  3. Amy A
    Amy A says:

    “Tell him he can having custody during the week and you’ll take weekends. That’ll stophim in his tracks.”

    Yup. Don’t put up with his threats.

    And focus on your inner growth. That’s what makes parenting (well, life) worthwhile. Our own kids are the best teachers.

    I loved these 2 books:

    -Loving What Is, Byron Katie
    -The Power is Within You, Louise Hay

    “All in due time” is a great mantra in an 18-plus year parenting commitment.

    P.S. The title of this post seems incorrect. The writer said her husband threatens divorce if she quits her job.

  4. Di
    Di says:

    I reckon your husband knows little about your job, so work out a way of making him think you have no choice but to leave. He probably knows nothing about the day to day finances, so work out how to save the money you need. Sort out the kids and go for auditions, if you must, as long as it doesn’t affect him I doubt he’ll mind. If he loves what he does it seems weird that he would be so agressive about you changing lifestyle so maybe he resents something (Travel? Hours? Less time with the kids? Pressure of financial resp?) If there is an issue and you can support him with I’m sure he’ll be more forgiving.

  5. jessica
    jessica says:

    Reading between the lines it sounds like you guys spend a lot of money on things that interest neither of you. Atlanta is not that expensive of a place to raise kids. Are they little?
    Your husband is probably tired of working at this point in his life and is earning a high income and watching it disappear month after month. That’s frustrating. If not, there’s no reason he should be upset at you leaving your job.
    When was the last time you two went on a date? And didn’t talk about careers?

    You can do many things besides acting on film. You can start a YouTube channel. You can start a snap chat. Perhaps try to figure out what fullfills you about acting and do something on the side that mimicks that.

    Just please don’t resent your kids because you aren’t able to live in Hollywood and have a movie career!

    What would you tell your husband if he wanted to quit and pursue acting at this point in your lives? I think that’s where his resentment is coming from.

    Start letting your kids lead you. Make decisions in their interests. You will all benefit.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Can I just piggy-back something on what you said that is not being addressed here?

      This is gonna hurt but I’m sorry it needs to be said. If you were already in Los Angeles trying to make a career and nothing happened during that time, then there is absolutely NO reason to think that suddenly things will have changed.

      I live in Los Angeles and one of my kids has done a few auditions. The thing is Los Angeles is filled with about a million people who are all trying to do the same thing, and only a few people will ever make it. You have already tried and were unsuccessful here, I would not get my hopes up that things will have changed 15 years later. I’m sorry. But I would recommend that you just keep pursuing local acting roles there which will cater to a part-time work life and having kids.

      • jessica
        jessica says:

        It’s hard to let a dream die. To move on. To not get stuck in a ‘what-if’ mode.

        I think, mentally, expectations need to shift. Your family is really not fulfilling you right now and it should be! You can make that happen.

        There are some great things here though- you seem ambitious and your husband earns good money.

        You should quit for the kids sake, tell the hubby you are taking time away to work on the home life as it’s unenjoyable for the both of you. Check your expenses. Get a sitter for a side gig. Pursue the side gig outside of your primary concern right now which is keeping your family together, healthy, and happy.

        My therapist said kids first, anything personal (such as jobs\acting),second. Its a recipe for disaster if you try to change the natural order. Its not about you anymore, right now, but it is about your health. Stay healthy and fix the issues you’re having. Parenting is hard, relationships are hard, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be happy.

        I’m an artist and I’ve had to find a way to make it work -there are ways!! You just need to get out of the box you’ve put yourself in.

        Best of luck and I really hope you’re able to reorganize your life in a way that benefits you all.

  6. Lauren
    Lauren says:

    I don’t think she’s talking about moving to Hollywood. Atlanta has developed a booming movie & TV industry due to tax credits, and she said she had gotten some roles locally.

    I do agree that that there’s a piece missing from this letter. It makes her husband sound completely unreasonable, and usually that happens when the husband’s concerns are either unknown (in which case they need to talk this out better, maybe with a counselor) or intentionally left out.

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      It’s the theme I’m getting at.

      It doesn’t necessarily matter what arts scene Atlanta currently has when the rest of their lives are a mess.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      Not to quibble over small details here, but the majority of casting for lead and supporting roles for television and movies is and will continue to be done in Los Angeles. So what is her endgame? Extra and background work does not count as legitimate acting work in the eyes of agents, that is just a fact. She mentions that she couldn’t break out in LA when she was here before, I wanted to give her very real advice that things will not have changed for her.

      I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer but couldn’t cut it either…since I began unschooling I have found very new and just as fulfilling passions of mine that do not require me to be away from the kids.

      What is the husbands solution, is it really to just keep working the stupid job? It is obvious that we are missing info to protect the people…so it seems scattered, that’s why I only wanted to give acting advice since that was the main theme.

      • Pirate Jo
        Pirate Jo says:

        But did you quit swimming altogether, just because you didn’t make the Olympic team? Did you ever stop enjoying swimming? Can people have happier lives because they spend their time doing things that make them happy, or does it always have to Impress Other People?

        This gal may never have a big career as a Hollywood actress, but if she enjoys acting, she can still do local TV commercials or something similar. My dentist’s wife has been the TV spokesperson for one of our local grocery stores for quite a few years now.

        I’m not sure why this lady even had kids, but then I admit I wonder that about most people. She doesn’t want to spend much time with them, but she doesn’t get anything out of working at a stupid job all day either.

        She needs something in her life that makes her happy. Maybe she could strike a balance between some part-time acting work and spending more time with her kids. She might make a LITTLE money with the acting, and she would also save a lot on daycare. In the end she might come out the same financially but be a lot more satisfied with how she spends her day.

        • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
          YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

          I stopped swimming competitively two decades ago and haven’t been part of a professional swim organization since then. I do know how to swim as a life skill and was an excellent lifeguard for a few summers in my twenties.

        • jessica
          jessica says:

          It sounds to me like she wants to be good at something and either doesnt have the grit to get the skills or focus to do what needs to be done. She seems to not be good at anything she’s decided to do: acting, marriage, having and loving children, her multiple whatever jobs.

          Committ to something.

  7. Kim
    Kim says:

    The title of this post is wrong. It doesn’t sound like her husband wants her to quit, it sounds like he threatens divorce if she quits.

  8. Cascadia
    Cascadia says:

    It sounds like her husband is upset that he, a “successful” person, didn’t end up married to another conventionally “successful” person. To some people, their spouse is a reflection of themselves in a way. I know a couple of men who are upset at their wives for this same reason.

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