The feminization of the workforce, especially the international migrant workforce, has altered the traditional family set-up. As more and more women get gainfully employed, more and more men become stay-at-home husbands or househusbands. They are left at home to take care of the children and to look after the house.
However, being a househusband is more complicated than being a housewife. Most men are not psychologically and emotionally prepared for a domestic role. Shifting of roles require drastic adjustments on their part. Society also adds to the pressure. People expect men to provide the economic needs of the family. Thus, when they stay at home, men become the butt of cruel jokes like being “under-de-saya” or henpecked. It’s not an ideal situation to be in.
If you have a stay-at-home husband, here are some reminders for you.
You are equal partners
Do not belittle what he does. You raise the money. He raises the kids. Even if you can do some parenting online, we have to admit that nothing can replace physical presence when it comes to taking care of the children. Therefore, your husband is doing a critical job. Do not assume that his role is inferior to yours. You are on the same level. When weighing important decisions, seek his opinion. Compromise with him if your points of view differ. Both should jointly make decisions for you. Examples of these decisions are the location of the new house, a school for the children, ways to discipline the children, and the amount of help to be given to other relatives in case of emergency. Just because you are the breadwinner does not mean that you have the sole or the higher authority in the family.
Ego or pride is essential to a man
Always remember that. No man will ever be comfortable being dependent on his wife. So, make sure that your actions and words do not offend his pride as a man. Be careful with the words and tone that you use. For example, instead of saying ” pera ko ” (my money), you should say “pera natin” (our money). Make him feel that you and the whole family need him. Even if it is true that you can survive without him, that fact is better left unsaid. If he has mistakes, correct him in private. Make him feel special, for example, by showing excitement about his birthday.
Teach others to respect your man
Never allow your children, relatives (the biyenan, hipag, etc.) and other people to insult him, offend him, or make fun of him. Make sure that your children know how important their father’s role is. Tell them to be proud of him. Don’t tolerate offensive comments or jokes about your husband. Defend him — both when he is present and absent — against other people, even if those people are your parents.
Aim for his financial independence
Once you have saved some money, set up a home-based business for your husband. If he becomes financially productive, it will be better for him. It will also be safer for the future of the whole family. The husband can sell small household and food items, cell phone load, cooking gas cylinders, and others. Another option is for the husband to learn skills like upholstery making and shoe and bag repairs. Tools and equipment needed for these trades are affordable. He can also train for real estate and insurance selling. Those who are quite tech-savvy can earn from the internet. Examples of things they can do are encoding, writing, and answering surveys. Determine in which area your husband can excel, and encourage him to keep on learning and growing. Once both of you are already earning, other economic goals will be easier to hit.
Teach him the essentials of family and household management
Before you leave the country, introduce him to the children’s pediatrician, dentist, and teachers. Make sure he has their number. He should also know the symptoms of deadly diseases like dengue and typhoid fever. When it comes to grocery shopping, some men just put anything in the shopping cart. Or worse, they let the children put anything in the cart. This may lead to overspending. Thus, you have to teach him which brands (for soap, cereals, milk, juice, etc.) give value for money. Home safety is another crucial issue. If you have small children, always remind your husband to check electrical outlets, sharp objects, hot cooking pots, and other hazards.
Stay faithful to him
Don’t use your financial advantage to play with fire. Just because you’re supporting him does not give you the right to cheat on him. There are tough times when you want to blame your husband – for example, in your most profound loneliness when you miss your children, or when your employer is making things hard for you. You tell yourself: if only my husband were capable enough, I wouldn’t be in this
trouble. And so you think of getting back at him. How? By cheating? By going to bed with another man? Extramarital affairs never solved any problem. So, even in times of severe hardships abroad, stay faithful to your husband. If you have a relationship problem with him, resolve it quietly and decently.
Do what you can to support your stay-at-home husband. Most likely, he will fulfill his duties excellently and will be faithful to you as well. If he still chooses to do the wrong things (like cheating on you, having vices, or neglecting the children), then it’s no longer your fault. No one can point accusing fingers at you. Your conscience is clear. It’s already his fault, and you have to handle things differently. (That will be the topic of the next article. You have to wait for it!)
Marily Sasota Gayeta is currently an English lecturer in Salalah City, Oman. She has held this job since September 2013. Before coming to Oman, she was also an English lecturer in Sebha City, Libya, for three years. Marily studied Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English at Tomas Del Rosario College in Balanga, Bataan ( her hometown ), and earned her MA in English Language Teaching from the Philippine Normal University. Her career, which spans more than 20 years, also includes teaching Vietnamese refugees in a training camp in Bataan, and teaching collegiate English in three private colleges in the same province. She enjoys watching action movies, listening to rock songs, reading, and writing. Her articles are available on her blog at www.gardenerofthoughts.blogspot.com. Marily is married and has two children.