2009 Shows

More than 80 percent of the jobs lost in this recession belonged to men. As more and more women re-enter the workforce, marriages turn upside down while the men become stay-at-home dads. Dr. Phil speaks with families struggling to deal with the role reversal. Why does it oftentimes hurt a man’s pride to become a househusband? And, how do women feel having to dust off their resumes and bring home the bacon? Plus, don’t miss the top five tips for finding a job. Join the discussion.

Find out what happened on the show.
Replied By: parrish1 on Dec 6, 2014, 12:42AM
We're still in our first year of marriage, so things could get better. My husband hasn't had a full time job in over a year. I earn 80% of the income in our household, and our income is less than our expenses, so we're always getting more and more behind.

Forbes says that breadwinning wives actually have to work harder in their relationship to make sure we're not emasculating our husbands. And I realize that its true. The stress that I have accepted, and I don't even have kids and I refuse to until I can stay at home with them and homeschool them, is too much. More so than stress, I now have resentment in my heart from working 8-12 hours a day and coming home to my husband who is playing video games, has not applied for jobs, and hasn't done any housework. I feel many emotions and I often find it hard to feel genuine respect for my husband. We've already suffered an affair, that he's forgiven me for. After self-reflection, I realized that it was because this man promised to take care of me and give me everything I wanted. I knew my husband had a history of being underemployed or unemployed for our entire dating time, and he made me promises that this would change when we got married. It hasn't. I've made my bed by saying those vows, so now, I get to lay in it. I just hope that I can figure out how to not be miserable, feel unloved, and despressed by our situation. He responds with anger whenever we talk about how being responsible for finances, housework, income, shopping, bill-paying, and everthing else makes me feel, so I've decided to take the responsibility and just be ok with it. 
Replied By: sparktest on Oct 1, 2009, 1:28PM
Oh puh-lease!! Where has everyone been for the last decade or two? Depending on whose statistics and research you can find, and there is some, at least 25% of women now make more than their husbands, possibly up to 35%. Maybe not a lot more, but close to equal or a little more.  This is one of the least talked about social issues today, and it is HUGE in the social implications for all, for today's earners as well as the next generation coming up.  Everyone "knows" at some level that who earns what in the relationship impacts who has the power in the relationship. I am tired of all the lip service from both men and women about how "valuable" time spent doing housework is. These men who are struggling mightily with doing basic household chores as part of their share of what needs doing in the household only validate just how "valuable" they consider that time spent and work done - it's worth squat. I am with the writer who stated, "When the trash is full is when it needs taking out. Even my 6 year old knows that."  What is going on here is not just about the chores, it is about the change in the balance of power in the relationship.

In a year when women can finally earn even close to what men make, who would pass up a chance for the better financial security you have with 2 incomes when you can?  Money may not make you happy, but money give you options.

I spent many years married, sometimes the bread winner and sometimes not. When I was not the bread winner, I stepped up and did more at home, we did not have a housekeeper, I cooked more, and I learned basic home repairs we might normally pay someone to do, right down to hand shoveling the drain trench for the backyard. When I was the breadwinner, my ex did not "step up", I came home to the "washed clothes mildewing in the washer" and stinking trash experience of one of your guests. Over and over and over and over again.  I grew up in a household where everyone pitched in to get the chores done so we could all go out and do other more fun things. My ex grew up in a household where if he didn't pick it up, wash it, or organize it, his mother did it for him. Our marriage ultimately failed because it was not a shared experience, and lacked any sense of shared purpose.  I worked the same hours or more than he did and was left with the grocery shopping to do, meals to prepare, and household to run as the second shift. When he was sick, I took care of him. When I was sick, I took care of me. Where is the "shared purpose" in that? And in any economy, good or bad, for a woman to earn as much as a man means the same or more long hours, possibly grueling travel, and may include working several weekend days every year. It's just part of the deal.  I was too f-ing tired to "be more fun" while he seemed to be cheerily unemployed. And I have never been an immaculate housekeeper, I just want "good enough in the public rooms", so it wasn't about setting my standards too high.  All that said, I would rather be a breadwinner or equal earner than totally dependent on someone else's income. I get an equal say in how the money is spent, and he has to listen because half of it is mine. While marriage has a financial element, the financial piece is not the sum of the relationship. If we can't negotiate what to spend on and then commit to and live with our agreements, then there are more issues in the relationship than who is earning what.

As a practical matter, in any good relationship when the relationship is put first, you do things for the other party, or for the third party that is the good of the marriage, and you do them even if it is sometimes unpleasant or you may not feel like it. This can be anything from attending sports events to classical music choral concerts to taking the kids to swimming 4 times a week even if you make up work later to vacuuming and cleaning your shared home. It is clear for the men on the show, and for many men out there, that their view of their marriage is "I'm the boss", and because they have been the financial bread winners that position has been financially reinforced. They pick the chores they will or won't do and the wife gets everything else.

It is important to realize that there are other models of marriage, and being married successfully to a breadwinner wife requires that they become a partner.  This requires change. Living successfully in general requires accomodating change.  Deal with it. If they can't cut it, no sympathy here. Maybe it would be good for them to get a taste of what some of us have lived with and accomodated for years. If they can adjust for the good of their joint marriage experience MAYBE they will one day also have a very different and more balanced point of view when their daughters are looking for men for forming their own relationships. If they can't adjust, divorce may end up being the best outcome, especially for the bread winner wife (let's think hard about the implications of this one guys). Speaking from the woman's point of view, once you achieve breadwinner status, you usually don't choose to go back to the one up / one down marriage model.
Replied By: amonite on Sep 20, 2009, 11:13PM - In reply to bullock607

While finances don't make a man less of a 'person' - they certainly do ruin him as a marraige candidate. And I don't mean whether one is rich or middle class (Richer does not mean better)

Simply this:

If a man is not 'financially stable', I would not consider him for courtship, dating, or an arranged marraige, or any other sort of match. By financially stable, I mean, his finances are 'in order' - he is supporting himself in a safe manner (a temporary ermergency would not send him homeless) - and he could move to support a larger group such as another person or a family either on his current income or within one or two years. Whether this means a tiny 1000 square foot starter home, or a nice middle class house, is irrelevent - his investments and income are 'stable' and unlikely to go down.

Also, if a man makes dumb financial descisions, I am unlikely to consider him. If he budgets poorly (fancy, overpriced clothes on a low budget when you don't even need to dress up for work), (fancy car on a low budget), (never putting any money in savings) (spending money on going out to eat and movies all the time) - if he budgets poorly now that is a good indicator of his budgeting practices in the future. Most marraige arguments are about finances.

Now, would I marry a man I 'loved' who had poor finances? No. Not until he got better financial skills - there are classes for it. It is far harder to respect and support someone than it is to 'love' someone - and it's a fair bet I will have a hard time respecting someone if their wasting money - and I do not want to turn into the 'nagging wife' - that would be a huge disservice to them and I would hate a marraige like that.

So, is it wrong for girls to look at a guys finances? No way! They are making huge lifelong mistakes if they ignore bad budget practices. Now, a guy can be poor and be good with finances. And I am not saying golddigging is good. But a little caution before you decide to 'fall in love' is definately worth it.
Replied By: amonite on Sep 20, 2009, 10:55PM



I fully expect my husband to be the main bread winner of the family. While I would work on the sidelines probably during periods of my life when I had the time for it -it would simply be foolish of me to enter a marriage where I was -expected- to be the breadwinner or it was reasonably possible where I would be a main source of income down the road. Instead, right now, I prepare for marraige. Cooking, cleaning, managing my finances, emotional management, peacemaking classes, clearing the clutter out of my life - I want to be able to support my husband andf respect him, and have that be more than 'lip service'. Since I have all this free time, then now is the time to gain the tools. I expect my husband to be the spiritual leader of the household - however, I consider it my current responsibility to know what I believe and why, so that I can discuss things about faith and child-rearing before I even enter marraige with any future prospect, and so in the future I can teach my children.

Camelon - Legally I can't get married (I think, that would be an interesting court case.) But if I did, I would know it was my responsibility to head the household. As I have an interest in finances, I would prefer to manage them, however, if my wife was financially saavy or interested in learning I would welcome sharing the duty of balancing the budget.  If we have children, I would prefer my wife stay and watch the children rather than a nanny or babysitting service. In today's economy it is very difficult to get by on only one spouse working: however, I would rather my wife not be forced to work, so, if I had my choice I would continue with school and climbing up in my chosen industry until I was at a level of financial stability that could support a family - emergencies aside. As to chores, if they were needed I would do them, however I would expect that most of my chores would be in the repair or outdoors category. I would probably help my wife with the dishes after dinner, as I find that an excellent bonding time.

Li'Nia: If Jecklen will take the kids, I'd let him take them...but I do not espeially want to have kids either. I actually enjoy cleaning a fair bit (not the spic&span sort where everything shines because that takes -forever-, but general tidying I do like) - and I love cooking and sewing, so that sort of thing I would do for fun. As for work, if I like my job, definately - if not, I'll find more fun things to do.

Jecklen: Pretty much sums it up. I don't especially 'like' kids, but they are amusing, so I'd babysit if needed. I doubt anything would get clean - I might take out the trash. Both Li'Nia and I get bored pretty easily, so if we do get married like I hope we will probably end up being those people with horrible finances who spend more of their time outside their houses than in and their houses are a mess ;)

Corda: I am not sure what I would do with myself as a stay at home mom, I clean if it is absolutely needed - I would rather work than not work. By the same token I would find a man who did not work and who stayed at home (assuing he had a choice) somewhat annoying. If he did not have a choice, such as do to a layoff, I would survive so long as the house was 'basically' liveable. It would not be ideal, but the very fact the situation was poor would help us move forward to change it. I would rather he be looking for a job. I am not sure what the correct social response to children would be. If we had them, I think it would be best if I stayed at home and hired a nanny as well until I adjusted, as the learning curve would be very steep - but I would wish to know how to interact with my own children.

Kurischino: I think I am slightly young yet to worry, but I don't really have a career path I love, and I am perfectly fine with my husband working so long as he is ok with a house that isn't magazine perfect and spaghettie three times a week :) We'll worry about kids together when we have them - and yah maybe if he's rich I could have a nanny to help me adjust :P But I think I'll take my chances :)

Wendy: I want lots of kids, and I wouldn't get mad even if the house was a huuge mess, because happiness is better than fighting. But, we'd have a cleaning party, with icecream after, to fix it!
Replied By: jazzyv2000 on Sep 10, 2009, 3:48PM
I have been married for 20 years; I have been the breadwinner for the past 10 years. After years of trying and years of feeling like I am in this alone; I have decided to divorce. I can no longer work 10-12 hour day; coming home @ 9 and 10PM having to cook and clean house. I am not a super woman and I no longer want to feel that I am in this alone. I needed my husband to fill in where i left off and he is unwilling to do that. Relationships are never easyand taking care of the family should never be on one person. Relationships are a balance and sometimes we may need to do thing that we did not do traditionally. I can't simply say I am the woman even thought I make more money I am not paying any bill because it was not meant for me to be the breadwinner. If i did that there would be no house, no food no cars. When i was laid off the house was clean and dinner was cooked every day. Our daughter is off at college; so the only person he is cleaning up after is himself and i am still unable to get him to do that.  Guys if you are reading this please step up because a good woman is hard to find; don't let pride or tradition break up your marriage. We need to know that you are willing to do the same things on the home-front that we have always done for you.
Replied By: xmas1965 on Sep 9, 2009, 12:42PM
Wow Dr. Phil you really missed the boat this time as did most everyone I saw in the audience.  It is 2009.  Are these man/woman rules for success still in play.  It is a sad world according to your show.  Very disappointing from all sides!!  Men who must be the bread winner and can't seem to figure out the complicated mechanics and scheduling of maintaining a home while they don't work.  It is amazing to me that they would come on national TV and admit that!!  I am sure that they are just being deluged with offers now from employers that never plan to ever have anything new in their job description so that they aren't completely baffled by a new form or a change in office location...WOW.  I would never consider hiring someone who is not up to the task of running a vacume cleaner.
And Ladies...seriously now..as long as you keep considering yourself the second string to men- you will always be second string stepping in to help out when the man is down.  For crying out loud, please quit perpetuating this. It is a disgrace to all of us women out there in the trenches being second to no one!!
Replied By: metsuki on Sep 9, 2009, 11:14AM
All I can say is: LOL
Pathetic is the fool who needs to feel manly
Replied By: joker9to5 on Sep 9, 2009, 9:30AM
Watching this show made me want to speak out!  My husband stayed at home with my two son's when I was able to get a job making double what he could.  My 1 income allowed him to be a stay at home dad who was able to take care of our home, teach our kids how to behave, and how to be model citizens.  At first it was difficult for both of us because I had expectations for what I wanted when I was gone to work all day.  Finally, I figured out that I needed to let him be in charge of the home and I would do what I did best: work!  Once I let go of being at home and allowed him the chance to adjust to being a stay at home dad (it's not easy for a man to stay at home, especially with a wife harping on him when she gets home!), life got super easy for us.  In fact, we have the best marriage in the world.  We have never been happier!  Our kids have grown into good young men, my husband is a great husband and is very helpful around the house (he's gone back to work now that the kids are a few years older), and we have learned how to communicate and grow in our marriage on a daily basis.
Him staying at home for a couple years was truly the best thing that ever happened to our family.  If you have a husband who needs to stay at home or are a husband who has to stay at home, here's my advise to you:
1. Be respectful: give him space, allow him time to adjust, don't harp on him or vise versa: keep in mind that you should treat each other the way you would want to be treated!
2. Don't set expecations or give lists: it's a marriage and your husband is not a hired house keeper!  Have you ever stayed at home?  If so, did you like it if he gave you lists?  Or asked what you did all day?  Staying at home is a big job and you don't need a wife acting like she is the boss! 
3. Enjoy the experience: for most of you, the time will come to an end, the economy will rebound, the kids will grow up, or something will change and your husband will go back to work!  Enjoy the time when he gets a chance to be with the kids, help around the house, or just plain relax!  Most of these guys don't ask for this opportunity, it just happens...quit blaming them and embrace the opportunity. 

I, for one, am happy that we had this experience and I would never change a thing!  I think my husband is the best husband in the world, but I didn't feel that way before he was a stay at home dad...instead, that came as a result of this role reversal.
He also became the most idolized man of all our friends, everyone was jealous of him and the opportunity he had to stay at home with the kids and do things he wanted to do...He set the rule that he cleaned the house and did laundry and made dinner every night.  If he kept things up, he allowed himself time to do the things he wanted to do: hunting, golfing, playing baseball, etc.  Trust me when I say, he had lots of spare time and the house was ALWAYS spotless!

So, enjoy the time, get to know who you are, and use the opportunity to become a stronger family!
Replied By: margarita4 on Sep 9, 2009, 7:31AM
Dear Dr. Phil,
I'm not sure that your show got the gist of the frustration that these women feel when their husbands are not pulling their weight when they stay at home.

Like some of those women, I work and my spouse stayed at home. At first I was very patient and allowed him time to adjust to the new cicumstances. I still came home and cleaned and did the housework. I hoped that he would soon understand that when I came home to do housework it took away time from us having time together and if he helped it eased pressure for me. I was also dealing with pain that made it difficult for me to do certain simples things. When he did not catch on I started to say something and the more I had to say something the more upset I got with him and myself. And yes it seemed as if I was just trying to control him and yes it seemed that nothing was good enough. I don't enjoy housework at the end of a long day either and I don't like a dirty house either. Especially since I am renting and have to keep it in good condition.

Just as a man feels appreciated when his wife has a clean house and meal ready when he comes home, so do many of us working women. Excuses of not knowing how to do the work is lame. If I were seriously ill and he had to do everything how would he cope. Like you said at the end, many of the skills that housewives have can be used in the workplace. Well these husands can use those skill from work at home too.

Anyway I started to feel resentment and that I was not appreciated. Marriage takes effort and in this case men need to understand that the effort is different. I had to adjust to the new roles and was sensitive to his feeling less adequate also. It was hard for me too. I feel that you let these men off too easily. Not that they need scolding; they need to understand that their roles have changed and they need to adjust and consider how it is affecting their wives who are trying to be sensitive of the situation. It also means that intimacy with their spouses change and they need to step up. I just did not feel appreciated. He wasn't helping around the house and he was less affectionate.

This is a crisis in a marriage that affects both partners. Just because the wife continues working it doesn't mean she is unaffected by the situation. Funny enough my husband walked out and thinks it was all my fault.

Replied By: sunnny44 on Sep 8, 2009, 12:09PM
there's so much I want to say, I'd never fit it on one page.  Suck it up men, there are no such things as gender roles anymore.  CLEAN IT IF IT"S DIRTY.  Suck it up ladies, men can't be chivalrous anymore, because no one knows what their roles are.  Men still want control, Women still want control.  The divorce rate will continue to climb because everyone is so selfish, we want what we want, when we want it.  Maybe with the poor economy, we'll all take a piece of humble pie. 

I'm a single mom who lost my husband 4 years ago.  I was going through a divorce when he passed away, and I moved back into our marrital home.  Now I see how much he did around the house.  Now I see how much he did for our son.  How much money he saved us because he was a handiman.  I work full time, and keep up the house, the yard, the shoveling in the winter, the lawnmowing in the summer.  No, it's not easy, but I do it because it needs to be done.  I do it so my son has a nice yard to play in, clean cloths to wear, and a decent well kept home to have his friends over when he wants to so he won't be embarrassed.  I am teaching him to do the vacuuming, dusting, dishes, as well as the yardwork, driveway, etc.  I have learned that it is so easy to take someone for granted, but when it's too late, there are no second chances to tell them that they are appreciated.  It was a tough lesson to learn at the age of 35.  If I could do some things over, I would have appreciated my husband more, and argued less about who does what around the house.  Life's not a competition, because eventually, we all lose.
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