If we want an equal society, we need to get more comfortable with unequal marriages.
Fantastic article (and pictures!), but I may suffer from confirmation bias! You can talk to me about my experience, but you honestly probably know it already. :)
I think this is incredibly important:
"As a result, it sometimes makes financial sense for parents to specialize—for one parent (in our case, my wife) to focus on their career, while the other parent (me) prioritizes the needs of their children."
Unless you are willing and able to outsource raising kids to professionals or family, a two-income household should only have 1 "greedy" job, not just for kids - for all the other stuff in life that needs to be done that two 60-80 hr a week jobs can't do. I know two-intensive-specialty-doc families and that seems overwhelming.
Beautiful. Thank you for this.
I enjoyed the article, but I wonder how to reconcile it with this, which I just saw: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/cp/charted-actual-working-hours-of-different-income-levels/
This is a great article. As someone who stayed home with our kid so his wife could advance as a professor at Carnegie Mellon, I'm really pleased to see this. Such a breath of fresh air in comparison to Bryan Caplan and his mob of misogynist followers (not that all of them are misogynists).
Great article, thanks Tim!
Great article, I have some quibbles but agree with the general point.
Something you left out, though, is that women will have to become more comfortable and even enthusiastic with this sort of arrangement as well for it to work. To be blunt, I think many/most women I know, even educated millennial women, tend to be attracted to traits like ambition and having strong passions outside the relationship. I do wonder how many of them would be able to maintain attraction to a man who took on a more domestic and supporting role, and still see him as a full romantic and life partner versus merely a friend/roommate/helper.
I know for me this would be one of my greatest fears about arranging my life this way. I find it uncomfortable to talk about as it can superficially sound similar to certain sexist ideologies I reject, but I still think this fear is at least partly based in reality.
(To be clear, these are generalizations and won’t apply to all couples, and I am by no means trying to imply anything about Timothy’s relationship here, which I know nothing about except what is in this article)
This is an ok notion but in practice I don't understand how most women would implement this. 90%+ of women I know with a greedy type job are married to partners with another greedy type job, whereas the majority of men I know in greedy jobs do not have spouses with another greedy job (I work in the tech industry).
Is the advice to women to change their pattern of choosing a partner? To somehow be exceptionally good at persuading their spouses to stay home?
And I should say that I don't think this pattern exists because women look for more ambitious partners but because for most fields with greedy jobs there is already an imbalance in genders pursuing these jobs (medicine excepted) so the marriage pools are not equal for men and women.
It's interesting to think how this may intersect with men seemingly more keen to be hobbyist content creators. Do more men become stay at home dads because its a way to fulfil their dream of focusing on their substack/youtube/twitch project
You are a good dad
I have a very progressive and feminist network of social connections, and yet I still know many women who are not naturally attracted to the idea of being a breadwinner wife with a domestic husband. And that's only the people who will say so outwardly; there must be more who quietly are not interested in that arrangement. Gender roles are sticky and powerful.
I agree with everything you've said here and think the world would be better if it evolved in this direction, but I think you underestimate the number of women whose revealed preference would be against this arrangement. And I think you'd be surprised how many progressive feminist women would be among them.
A few years ago I was having lunch with some senior executives (CxO and VP types) and one of them (a woman) noted that all of them had a stay at home spouse to make their executive careers work. The men had stay at home moms and women had stay at home dads.
Obviously this isn't some universal rule (especially since some people have grandparents or nannies helping or are just extremely productive and time efficient) but it wasn't something I'd ever noticed before it was pointed out to me and now I'm always low-key checking which super successful people have a stay at home spouse (or at least one working very flexible, part-time type hours).
I guess that's my long winded way of saying I think I agree with you. As much as we might wish for companies to be more family friendly, there's only so much they can do when THEIR customers don't care about being family friendly.
A friend's wife works in some kind of commercial real estate (like $1 billion developments, big stuff) and she frequently works terrible hours like midnight meetings with South Korea or 2am EMERGENCY EMAILS from Singapore. But those are all driven by the customer who demands immediate 24/7 responsiveness for the hefty fees that are being paid. Even if her company wanted to have more humane hours, it would just result in them going out of business as customers switched to someone who didn't.
In the face of pressures like that, having a spouse who can support her career is the only real way.
Hey Tim, a friend just sent me this post late last night. I just wrote a guest post for Neal Bascomb's Work/Craft/Life about being a stay-at-home-dad: https://www.workcraftlife.com/p/dad-wass-for-bweakfass
My story is more qualitative/personal, but I'd be happy to share any insights I have regarding work/life balance and economic calculus. My wife and I traversed a similar path to your family.
Looks like the Calendly was booked but if you'd like another voice please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You're missing one very large problem at the end. The reason homes can't have a partner stay at home and do community based activities is because it is now basically a requirement for households to have two incomes to survive. It's not about finishing the feminist revolution.
I cannot help but wonder why one parent must always be absent because of work? There should definitely be more women in the higher echelons of work but why must that come at the expense of family time? It’s a bit confounding when there is talk of work life balance but then we’re advocating for women to be the ones working 50, 60 plus hours a week because it may make financial sense. Ultimately, why must one parent sacrifice time with their family because financially it’s the better option? Why isn’t time spent with your children the priority?
The last section is strange- you're saying that domestic work is important, but then you say you want to take the "opposite perspective" as traditionalists. Do you agree that there should be more domestic-engineer mothers too, in accordance with women's stated preferences? Acknowledging that is an important part of restoring the status of domestic work.
Just to make sure it's clear, I agree that domestic-engineer fathers are great.
Thanks for this thoughtful article! It is especially interesting to me, as we now have a 3 year old and 8 month old and I recently "leaned out" of my career so my wife could move from part-time back to full-time. Of course, there are many factors that went into that decision, but I agree with the comments that you either have to have consistent help from family, pay for professional help/full time daycare, or choose to have one parent at home with limited or no work hours.
The calendly was full when I looked, but happy to chat sometime if you wanted to hear more.