Pursuing a Dream


mich-wrtiterPursuing a Dream

What should you expect from your spouse?

By Micah Cargo

Dear Micah,

I am a husband and a father who has worked very hard for many years to provide for my family. My wife didn’t work much of those years but has in the last two.  She brings in a good income and to be honest it’s enough to provide for all of us. I’m writing because I want to ask her if she would be okay with me quitting my job to pursue writing. I have always written and even had a few things published over the years. Nothing of any great importance though, yet. I’d like the opportunity to do that now. It worries me what people in our lives might think about me if I up and quit my job.  What if I do this and all the pressure of taking care of our financial support is on her and I never turn anything out worth publishing? So many concerns spring to mind. Still I really want to do this. I figure I can eliminate the need of the maid once a week because I can clean the house. That will save some money. I can grab the kids from school everyday and eliminate after care costs. I can have dinner ready each night and keep up the house and still make time to write.  I figure she will be onboard but I am a little embarrassed to ask. Will it make me less of a husband or father? Will she start to think of me as less? What’s your take on it?

Will

Dear Will,

You know your wife pretty well. If she has supported your writing in the past I think she might be supportive of your putting more time into it now. Naturally it will require downsizing. Even if she makes enough to support the household on her own, you’ve also had your income streaming in. So you’ve been making more money than you really need. Maybe you’ve been spending that extra income or maybe you’ve socked it away somewhere. Regardless, that income will stop flowing and that will make a difference in security for her.  Still, I think you deserve a chance to try for your dream—especially if you’ve had something actually published. If that’s the case then other people have liked your work.

I say try it. Ask her. The worst she can say is no. Then you just need to get to the root of why. It might be too much of a stressor for her to carry the weight of the household alone. Or she may actually not have much confidence in your writing capabilities. Who knows?  But if she says yes, that’s spectacular!  She may even prefer this new situation. Dad at home with the kids in the afternoons or on sick days and holidays could be a great relief to a working mom. Having a meal to come home to every night and a clean house…let her experience the dream life of a 1950’s husband in reverse for a while. She might really like it.

I think you should first set a definitive timeline for making this work. If you haven’t become rich and famous after two years, or written anything that gives her hope that you might achieve some literary success, then it will be time to go back to work. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. All you need is the chance. Though I realize stamping a two-year expiration date on your dream may sound harsh, I think it’s the right way to go about it.    

As for how you’ll be viewed by others, no one can really predict that. I would assume that those who really know you will understand that you have long dreamt of being a writer so it won’t be too much of a surprise.  Your wife will probably get a lot of credit for being so supportive while you give it a whirl.  I’m sure there will be some whispers behind your back and some jerk somewhere is going to make some sort of joke about who wears the pants in your house. You can’t let those people get in your head.  You’ve done a great job earning an income in the past and now you are rolling the dice on perhaps making an even bigger income. The only real opinions you have to worry about are your own and your wife’s. If the two of you are comfortable with it then it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t make you less of a man to have a wife earning the greater income. Women have come too far in the workplace to mentally devalue their men for making less money. I think you’re worrying for nothing. Go ask your wife and start writing!

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