When I did all my research for For Women Only, I was stunned to see thousands of men say that even if their wives fully supported the family, it made no difference to their deep male compulsion to provide. Almost eight in ten men said, essentially, “I still feel like it is my job to provide for the family, and it is painful to feel like I’m not doing a good job at it – or doing it, period.”
I was also stunned to see that the men internally still felt this pain, even if the couple had decided together that it made more sense for (for example) the lawyer wife to work full time while the electrician husband cut back to a part-time schedule to be with the kids. Even though a man could logically decide that this was the best decision for now, his emotions still whispered at him: you’re a failure.
I’ve seen this very personally. When the market crashed and my husband’s business shut down, he suddenly went from years as a high-paid lawyer and entrepreneur to someone who was struggling to pay the mortgage. Then my research and books took off. Suddenly I was traveling and speaking, and it made much more financial sense for him to work as an independent attorney and not go back to a high-demand law firm, so he had the flexibility to be on call for the kids when I was away.
It made more financial sense … but it could have torpedoed our marriage.