I am Sonali, 39 years old and my husband Pranav is 42 years old. We have been married for 16 years now. I have 2 children aged 15 and 13 years. We live in a joint family with my in-laws and younger brother-in-law. I have started to work in a multinational credit card company where I used to work prior to my marriage. My husband thinks that I am not able to manage both the house and the office. He accuses of neglecting my children. He has asked me to leave my job saying he earns enough in his business. I have tried to explain to him that it is not only money but also a question of my career. What should I do?
Today more and more women are working and that includes a number of mothers also. This is not an easy situation for most people. The husband is not comfortable with the idea of a working wife and more so a working mother. He is more interested in her abilities to keep the house and be skilled on the domestic front. Even if a working wife is accepted, it is more of stereotyped careers like teachers. A demanding, competitive field like management or finance is less acceptable. These careers have a workload that is sometimes heavy. The husband may not like other people to take care of the children when the mother is out to work. Normally the children are quick to adapt to the alternate caretaker. This problem may sort out but it hits at the marital relationship. Under no circumstance, should any working mother apologize for her working status. There is no need for you to feel guilty at any point of time. If you are guilt-ridden, you will not be able to do very much that is positive. If you are happy working, there are more chances that you can give happiness to your children. To feel guilty would be a sad state of affairs. If you are working without the full-hearted support of your husband, there will be a criticism whenever there is a lapse on the domestic front. In order to counteract that, you will probably go overboard to do your duties and to please your husband. Often the problems concerning your children- be it academic or otherwise often land the blame on the doorstep of your working status. Sometimes the children too pull the sympathy chord. They may whine and whimper that you are not around often enough and these accusations may make you feel extremely guilty. You may actually start believing that things could be better if you are not working. To compensate, you may end up doing some of the very things that you should not be doing like being indulgent and deliberately being less critical of them or showering them with expensive gifts or parting with money easily. Much of this is generated by societal expectations. When you are not around, you are criticized for neglecting your maternal duties and duties towards home. If you are over involved, you are criticized for overindulgence. This creates a dilemma where to draw the line. You may also fall into the trap of wallowing in self-pity. You feel that nobody understands you and how hard life is for you. Such an attitude may make you expect more from your children. If the mutual arrangement is fine, things work out otherwise there is a lot of friction.
What you can do.
You have to ensure that you convey in a matter-of-fact way that you have to be doing your thing the way you have to. Firstly, you will have to talk to your husband. Let him know what interests you at work and what your hopes are. Explain to him that nothing can replace that and it is not for money that you are working. Discuss what is happening in your office, your day and the type of your work. Many husbands, though may not expressive on the surface are quite paranoid about their wives at the working place. He may be insecure about you because the freedom that you have because of your financial independence and attitude. This may be masked under the concern for your children for whom he is asking you to give up your job. Your working may have unleashed an inner anxiety that you are no longer under his control. So, assure him of the position that he has in your life and how your job cannot make a difference in that. Rarely it is possible that a husband may be internally pleased that his wife is doing something meaningful and the surface anger may just be a mask. You also have to communicate with your children about the importance of your working. Convey this in a manner that makes them proud of you. You should also make sure that the time you spend with them is meaningful. Discuss what is happening in their lives, their friends, their problems and their concerns about you. Assure them that you will be there when they need you. Call them from work or ask them to call you whenever they feel like. Let them confide in you. The other major factor is your in-laws. You might need your husband’s help in explaining the value of your work to them. You need to do that, as they are an important influence on your children and your relationship with them. In-laws who understand this can create a wonderful atmosphere for the working mother and put her at ease regarding the care of her child. Lastly, you need not to lose confidence in yourself about managing both the home and the office. Remember that you are best when your mind is pleased, so do not compromise on anything and never feel guilty.