Unemployed husbands help at home but will it last?

article-1149382-039203F2000005DC-401_468x481AP: Unemployed husbands help at home but will it last? I think couples can make it last! Do you?

MIAMI — Lily Pabian and her husband Jeff learned to tag-team household tasks when he lost his job and she went from stay-at-home mom to part-time consultant.

But the give-and-take turned into a juggling act when Jeff found work again three months later.

Lily, a 37-year-old mother of three from Mapleton, Ga., kept working, but also kept most of the parenting responsibilities and housework. And experts say her experience will probably be typical as more women are finding themselves becoming primary breadwinners temporarily.

“I feel like there are days where I am drowning,” Lily Pabian said. “We do fight about my overload, my work load, and he’s willing to say ‘What can I do to help?’ My thing is ‘Why do I have to think for you?'”

An estimated 2 million wives are now the sole breadwinners in families across America as more men than women have been laid off in this recession, according to the Center for American Progress.

Experts say that unemployed husbands are probably taking on more of the housework and childcare duties — for now. But they don’t expect that temporary change at home to create household habits that will stick around after men find work again.

“When men make more money they can buy out of housework in a way women cannot,” said Constance Gager, a sociologist in the Department of Family and Child Studies at Montclair State University.

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Filed under Career-Life Fit, Fatherhood, News & Commentary

4 responses to “Unemployed husbands help at home but will it last?

  1. IMO, Bringing home the bacon is only PART of the Dad role. Dad’s make such a significant impact on their family.

    In my own family I found *communication* to be extremely important to have a successful family.

    In order to avoid feelings of resentment, my wife and I regularly talk about our expectations and responsibilities in the family. This minimizes “poor-me” mentality and helps Mom and Dad see the value in what the other does.


    • Jeff, I agree that the regular communication about expectations and responsibilities – preferably a time not in the middle of an argument! – prevents a lot of resentment and promotes understanding of all the different kinds of work it takes to support a family.

  2. I think it all comes down to attitude really. Maybe I was raised differently, but I have always considered it a natural part of my routine to do my share of the housework and caring for the kids. Regardless of whether you’re working or not, a guy should be capable and willing to do their share of the work (without waiting for their partner to tell them to do it!).

    Currently we share the load like this:

    1. My wife (stay at home Mum at the moment) will vacuum during the day. On the day she vacuums I’ll mop the floors at night after the kids are asleep.

    2. My wife cooks, I do the dishes. On the weekends we swap.

    3. I do the laundry.

    4. At night, if my youngest daughter cries, my wife will go to her. If it is my eldest daughter crying, its me who tends to her.

    And the list goes on.

    • David, sounds like you have bucked the outdated assumptions about who does what when it comes to family and home. Even though my husband and I fell quickly fell into unexpectedly traditional roles (and then climbed out) I’m still amazed at how many mothers I talk to either a) find their husbands unwilling to share or b) take control in such a way that it keeps husbands from sharing – or both. I visited your blog – hope you know how important it is for you to share your experience and your approach to being a hands-on dad, not enough of those voices out there yet!

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