Advice for a Stay-at-Home Dad With Marriage Tension
Caroline Manzo puts the real in The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and her fans relate to the reality star's no-nonsense attitude, focus on family and, above all, abundant common sense. Check back at Glo every Monday as Caroline helps solve your most pressing dilemmas.
The Dilemma: I'm 46 years old, currently unemployed and the stay-at-home dad to two boys. My wife and I have become unattached emotionally: She's carrying the load of full-time work and has no time or patience for me or for our kids. I feel horrible and guilty and want to get back into the workforce. We are struggling financially to keep up with the bills and maintain our sanity. You seem to have such balance and a good sense for all things family even though you're surrounded by craziness and drama on your show—any advice? —David
Caroline's Ruling: This must be difficult for you. I respect you for having the maturity to recognize your circumstance and take over the role of homemaker.
I have a few questions: How long has this role reversal been in effect? Were you both working before, or was your wife a stay-at-home-mom? Was the decision for you to stay home mutual?
The reason I ask is that, unfortunately, as forward-thinking as we'd like to say we are, we're programmed as a society to believe that men provide and women care for the family. Your wife may feel guilty about the role reversal, and perhaps she feels that she's missing out on time with the kids. The fact that you're struggling financially may magnify those feelings as well.
You mentioned that you feel guilty about your lack of employment and want to get back out in the workforce. If you are looking for a job and nothing has materialized, then don't feel bad about it. Stay the course and keep on trying, but realize at the same time that you're fulfilling a very important role, and that shouldn't be ignored or minimized.
I believe your relationship is being tested and you have to address the issue head-on. Your wife's vision of you has shifted; you need to bring it back around to reassure her that the man she fell in love with is still there and that your situation is temporary. This isn't about gender roles; it's about adjusting to circumstances and working together towards a resolution. Talk about your frustrations openly and honestly and try to understand each other's points of view. Don't allow this to fester—the gap will only widen and no one will win in the end. Good luck, David.
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From marriage dilemmas to family issues, Caroline's got the answers!Photo by Michael T. Greco