Why Full-Time Breadwinning Makes Most Married Mothers Miserable

If I had a dime for every breadwinning wife and mother I’ve heard from who’s angry and resentful for having to keep the family afloat financially and who wishes she and her husband hadn’t reversed roles, I’d be rich.

Yes, some wives are content in this role. But they’re the exception, not the rule.

It is far more common for full-time female breadwinners, if they’re also wives and mothers, to be unhappy about carrying both ends of the load: the one at home and the one at work. In fact, when asked, most mothers—67%!—do not want to work full-time and year-round.

If you listen to the culture, you’ll hear plenty of tripe about men not keeping up with the changing times. Women are breadwinners now; therefore, men should do “their part” by taking on more responsibilities at home, including raising the children.

There are two problems with this assertion. One, men are already taking on a tremendous amount of responsibility at home—three times more, in fact, than their fathers did.

Two, most women don’t want a full-on role reversal any more than most men do. They’ve just been groomed to think they do.

In roughly two-thirds of married or cohabiting couples, men earn more than women. And the difference between the percentage of people who say men should be able to support a family financially and the percentage of people who say women should be able to support a family financially is striking: 71% to 32%, respectively.

These attitudes don’t exist because Americans are sexist. They exist because most people understand that men and women are different, both physically and emotionally—that because of that, allowances must be made.

Unlike the average man, the average woman’s identity isn’t inextricably linked to her ability to provide and protect. It’s linked to her desire to nest. Any gynecologist can tell you that most women, if they haven’t had children by their mid-thirties, become anxious. They cannot envision a life without children. No matter how committed they may be to their jobs, that desire is there. And when it’s met, the woman’s nurturing gene kicks in.

Providing for that child emotionally, not financially, is her first instinct.

So when wives and mothers try to take on the male role in addition to their own, they can (and often do) become resentful. Here’s the latest email I received from a woman who asked to remain anonymous:

I’m the sole breadwinner in the family, with a C-level job. My husband is a stay-at-home dad. We have a child entering kindergarten this year.

If I could have had it my way, I would have been the one that stayed at home, but my career trajectory was better and we made the decision to go this direction. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for high paying jobs that have been interesting and meaningful. And I’m grateful that our child had a loving and wonderful parent at home and didn’t need to go to daycare. It’s a true gift that not everyone gets.

But I won’t pretend that I don’t have phases of extreme resentment and anger towards my husband and my life. I sometimes feel like it’s unfair that I had to be the one who worked (even though I’ve done well and many people would like to have a job like mine). And it felt too hard “logistically” to have a second child, so I didn’t. It feels like this shouldn’t have happened this way. I should have been the one at home. I should have been able to have another child.

That my emailer is in this boat has everything to do with living in a culture that assumes a woman will and should be employed throughout her life in order to prove her value as a woman.

That is a recipe for disaster.

A better plan is to choose a career that has a lot of flexibility or that can be done on a part-time basis, thus allowing women to enjoy their nesting years. Because the bigger your job is, the more you’re going to struggle—with your marriage and with your kids. Guaranteed.

If the suggestion that women curb their work goals to accommodate family is offensive, ask yourself why. It’s likely you’ve placed too much value on work. It’s likely your identity is wrapped up in what you do rather than in who you are and in whom you love.

If you reverse those values and put family and relationships at the center, if you stop trying to prove your value in the same way men prove theirs, your load will lighten considerably. And you’ll be amazed at the results.

Suzanne Venker

Suzanne Venker is an author, columnist and radio host known as The Feminist Fixer. She helps free women from feminism so they can find lasting love with men. Suzanne's newest book, WOMEN WHO WIN at Love: How to Build a Relationship That Lasts, will be published October 2019.

Reader Interactions


  1. Bags says

    Do you have any advice for the woman who bought into the lies, accumulated student debt to acquire multiple degrees, and now feels trapped as the primary breadwinner in an inflexible career, even though she has had a change of heart and would rather be home with her small children? Or it is a matter of living with her ill-advised choices and doing her best to keep her children from making the same mistakes?

    • D'James says

      Yes. Listen to Neville Goddard talks, for free, on youtube. Or Florence Scovell Shinn.
      Then clearly define what you actually seek. Make a very clear picture in your mind, of exactly what you would have, if you were where you seek to be. Feel what it would feel like, if you already had it, right now. Get into a very relaxed state of mind, and run it like a commercial, on TV, at least 3 times per day, more if possible, and really enjoy it. Napoleon Hill researched the millionaires of his day, for 25 years, at a time when $5/day was a princely wage. And he came up with essentially the same formula, used by every millionaire he ever interviewed, starting with Andrew Carnegie, who sold US Steel for the equivalent of over $1 bn, in today’s money. Bruce Lee followed this path, and if you google Bruce Lee, and Napoleon Hill, you’ll find the NH type statement he used. Joseph Murphy is another one to listen to free on youtube. Disregard the religious stuff; Joe was writing in a different time. The principle works, and well. Which is one reason many religions have survived, but that’s not relevant for you.

      You won’t understand this, yet, but that is how you got where you are, right now. Just change course. And you might add in a scene of playing with your kids, in happy way. And stop, stop, stop watching mass media- it is all poison. It is designed to make you feel powerless, and bad, and sick, so you will buy more products. Dr. Richard Schulze has some advice on the media, at his website, which I enjoy. And every single stress management and/or empowerment course I ever took said as the first rule: Stop watching the TV news. It is poison to your mind.

      The mass media does not want to empower you, help you, or do anything positive for you. You are just another statistic, to sell products to, with their advertising. The media puts a major slant on everything, and their slant is almost always very wrong.

      Or, if that’s too much, go and look at a stream, in nature, one weekend. Shut down your thinking mind. Let your mind flow wordlessly, like water. Let this flow wash out all the crap from the media. Get into a deep state of relaxation. Really enjoy this. And then, ask yourself this question: What does your heart most yearn for?
      And once you know that, ask:
      What could I do today, to get closer to that goal?
      And ask that question every day, and do whatever comes up.
      The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, and continues, step by step by step.
      And persist. The above method, and persistence, are common to all successful people.

      Thanks Suzanne for saying what needs to be said.

      And if you want more confirmation, ask a minority woman on welfare, in the projects, living from check to check, who has been exploited by the bad boys, how much she likes her life, with the occasional sleep in boyfriend who always leaves soon. How much she likes the conditions her children have to endure. How much energy and hope she has, for life. She is a human being, with hopes, dreams, and yearning, and she was led astray, by the mass media. She knows it, almost always. Go to the church she goes to, and hear the yearning, as they sing. Ask how mothers feel when their sons become criminals, and kill, and maim. Most of the people in the projects are actually good people. They don’t have good guidance. They don’t trust the mass media much, either.

      • D'Kareem says

        The projects are the feminist paradise. It is socialist: they just get checks, their rent is subsidized, they get food stamps. Moses Maimonides ranked charity. The highest form of charity is an interest free loan, because you are saying that person has value, and can repay it. The lowest form of charity is the no strings attached grant, because this is saying the person who gets it cannot do anything of value. And that is our American welfare system. It is possible to get out of it, with a staggering amount of work. Where are the role models? There are no positive role models. Black people say the system is racist. Feminism like this is racist. It is destroying black culture. Larry Elder talks about this. The destruction of the black family was the feminist experiment, which has led to the destruction of families of caucasians, latins, and others. Black people were experimented on, yet again. Look carefully at the projects, because this is what the feminists want to do, to everybody.

    • MalcolmN says

      Sorry – but – bottom line – a generation made the choice to ignore the harm to men – that has consequences. His education and career damage – is not merely wished away.

      It is time to accept- you need to move for your sons and daughter. It is that choices have consequences, but it is also a choice to damage your children’s lives or not.

      Is your son getting a fair shake at school – because the harm to his education is likely to have a far greater effect than anything else in terms of the road back. Is the education of your daughters peer boys being protected? I have looked in schools and seen – books for boys (based on best research ) have been massively lacking – this is where the enduring social damage is being done.

      Girls understanding later – does not matter – when the boys of their generation have been in effect deprived of the ability to earn. Many young men, will simply never enter the serious relationship market – because they know they cannot earn. Many more will, even when their parents saved their education will see the broader choices and on-going silence – and choose to stay clear.

      Your early choices – you own – you can do a lot to minimize the damage in your own life – by being clear you see the hate, however, the fastest way to build trust – is to act for the next generation (that will show the men of your generation you really get it).

  2. Mary Ann says

    It’s all about choice for women, right? Not being forced to go down one path, and instead having flexibility? Right?

  3. George says

    Men have faced this problem for a long time.
    Harry Chapin wrote a song, “Cats in the Cradle”, about it.
    You might listen to this song on youtube.
    My ex ran off with a boyfriend- I am male- and I got custody of our child.
    It wasn’t easy. I gave her as much as I could, working fulltime.
    And she has turned out fantastically well.

    This is a good song. I’ve known very bright women to take a break, to be with their kids in the early years. You wanna create it? Listen to Neville Goddard, or Joseph Murphy, or Florence Scovell Shinn, on youtube. You want it bad enough, you just create it.

    [Verse 1]
    My child arrived just the other day
    He came to the world in the usual way
    But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
    He learned to walk while I was away
    And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
    He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, Dad
    You know I’m gonna be like you”

    And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
    Little boy blue and the man in the moon
    When you comin’ home, Dad
    I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
    You know we’ll have a good time then

    [Verse 2]
    My son turned ten just the other day
    He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
    Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
    I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s okay”
    And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
    And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
    You know I’m gonna be like him”

    And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
    Little boy blue and the man on the moon
    When you comin’ home, Dad
    I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
    You know we’ll have a good time then

    [Verse 3]
    Well, he came from college just the other day
    So much like a man I just had to say
    “Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while”
    He shook his head and then said with a smile
    “What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
    See you later, can I have them please”

    And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
    Little boy blue and the man on the moon
    When you comin’ home son
    I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad
    You know we’ll have a good time then

    [Verse 4]
    I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
    I called him up just the other day
    I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
    He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
    You see my new job’s a hassle and the kid’s got the flu
    But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
    It’s been sure nice talking to you”
    And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
    He’d grown up just like me
    My boy was just like me

    WOmen wanted equality. Then they realized men’s reality was not pleasant.
    So they just wanted to cherry pick the good stuff.
    But it’s not that easy, is it… listen to young children in day care crying their eyes out, if you doubt they need attention from a loving relative. Hispanic and Black women aren’t nearly as stupid as Caucasian women, they do everything in their power, to have a relative watching their young children.

    • Tina says

      It is so refreshing to see so many women in the work force, getting to experience the special hells men have to endure. They complain and complain, of course, asking for special privileges, exceptions, and so on. There are women who enjoy being home, available for their kids, and feminists hate them, with great passion, and work to destroy their lives, and children.

  4. Tia G says

    Hey, Mrs Venker!
    This is a tad off-topic from your post, but you have talked before about women re-organizing their lives so that family comes first and career later. I was trying to explain this to a friend I’ve recently made.
    She wants to have a big family, but also be a lawyer, so I was cautioning her to NOT wait for her 30s when she’s finished school to have kids – to have kids first and THEN focus on career.
    I can’t think of the word for that structuring/sequence of life, though! Could you tell me? I’d appreciate it. Thank you!

    • Lisa says

      that structuring/sequence of life has a name. It is called what works. or Sanity. Let’s imagine a sequence. She finishes school. She gets a demanding position with a law firm, and those positions are demanding. She may not even be able to find a guy. Many guys I know will not date female lawyers. In a committed relationship, she has a base to work from. Oh, she can wait till she’s 35 to find a husband. But that is not the time to be looking. The time to be looking is in her full spring, 25-30. Sequence: get the education first, then some job experience while find a partner, have the kids, while working perhaps, and then be seeking out that lawyer position. There are positions- corporate, government, and so on, where they don’t demand 100 hour weeks, for lawyers. You cannot do 100 hour weeks, and be a mom. Not even with drugs. A 40 hour week is a challenge, but 100 hour weeks are hard enough by themselves, with no other stress.

  5. Deanne says

    Nadia Angelini was able to create a good job for herself- with a good income- and she works completely out of her house, to be with her children. Her husband moved to Holland; she was able to work the business there. I believe she has a website, describing what she does. The point is- it is possible to do this.

  6. Felicia says

    Oddly enough, Professor Elizabeth Warren, now Senator Warren, agreed with you, in her 2003 book The Two Income Trap.

    She notes that savings declined, and houses were bid up, which really hurt one income families, and single mother families. She called taxpayer funded day care a liberal sacred cow. She opposed government subsidies for education- because there was no cost containment, or desire to have it, in colleges. She criticized feminists for being very naive about economics, which is very true. She even criticized Hillary for flipflopping on issues, for political advantage. She also cited case after case where stay at home moms were a safety net. She even had some words about rigid ideology, which blamed it all on bankers, in an absence of evidence based thinking.

  7. Torin says

    Yeah, Women all want to live like men do. And when they get it, they hate it. Bill Burr says they all want to cherry-pick, and only have what they want.

    Men in the military can be helpful to women. To polite women, who are not dangerous. For women who are dangerous, they simply offer no advice, and stay away from them. Which means such women have problems, because if your buddies aren’t taking care of you- in the military- you will have problems. I see the same in the workplace; men are less and less willing to mentor women.

    And women don’t like putting up with all the crap men have been putting up with? Hey, you made your bed, now you get to sleep in it. All that BS about male privilege was BS.

  8. Julie says

    You know, when I look at the graphic for this thread, and take my eyes out of focus, it really looks like… nahhh, it can’t be.

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