Tuesday, May 31, 2011

He Changed the Rules

I continue to listen to Dr. Laura as a Family Plus Member, which allows me to download podcasts of all three hours of her show (which runs Monday-Friday). It is the only paid podcast subscription I have. On Thursday, May 26th, her third hour pretty much began with "Jennifer". Jennifer said she and her husband agreed when they married that she would be a "stay at home mom" to their children. But now that she's out on maternity leave and has told him she still wants to be a SAHM more than she wants to return to her job, he has responded by saying he "didn't marry a housewife" and asking why she bothered to get a degree.

Before calling, she had even already done what Dr. Laura usually suggests in this situation, which is for her to come up with a workable budget and present it to him to prove that it is possible for them to live on his income. He rejected it, because he wants a more expensive lifestyle.

It is an incredibly sad situation.

Jennifer's husband is and example of someone Dr. Laura will say is not a "real man". Chastity "Chaz" Bono is not a real man. Just about anyone with an "XY" chromosomal makeup is a real man. They can be lousy men, or evil men, but they are still men. Notice we never hear the phrase "real woman". But Dr. Laura is allowed to talk like this in my book because she doesn't insist on radical egalitarianism. I often write about "guys" when I want to distinguish some men from more mature men. But I've digressed.

Anyway, this is one reason that I, unlike Dr. Laura and so many others, favor prenuptial agreements even in first marriages, even when neither person has much in terms of personal wealth. I'd like to see each couple getting married have to swear under penalty of perjury that they have discussed this issue and what their agreement is, and I'd like to see the laws and courts back it up. If Jennifer's husband truly stated that he agreed that she should be a SAHM, she should have been able to get that in writing, and if he refuses now, he should be required to pay her enough in child support and alimony that she can be a SAHM with or without him. Likewise, if a woman agreed she was going to be a SAHM and then refuses, the husband should be allowed to be a SAHF and to get enough from her that he can. Or, switch the sexes. That should all be enforceable via prenup.

Perhaps Jennifer's husband wouldn't have married her in the first place if he had to sit down and sign a legally binding agreement about all of this. Or, maybe he would have married her and bitten the bullet now, instead of trying to change the rules.

When the woman who is now my wife brought up the subject early on in our dating, I firmly said that strangers would not be raising my children. I also added that how that works out is open to discussion. All she ever wanted was to work in her chosen career field (which she was doing at the time), be a wife, and then be a SAHM. So neither of us had a problem with me being the income earner and her being the primary caretaker. She now says she has the life she's always wanted, and I'm glad for that.

Would it be nice to have more money? Yes, it would. And I'm sure Uncle Sam and the State of California would both love the extra income tax. But I'd rather my children have their mother as much as possible.

I guess that would make me a real man in Dr. Laura's vocabulary. But I care more about the respect and thanks I get from my wife.

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