Househusband backlash as high-flying wives ditch men they wanted to stay at home
By DIANA APPLEYARD
Last updated at 09:00 10 July 2007
It’s the bitterest of ironies: thousands of men who’ve given up work to care for their children are being ditched by their high-flying wives - who wanted them to stay at home in the first place
At the time it seemed like a good idea. After all, Richard Dean told himself, he was earning less than his wife Louise, a high-flying marketing executive. And did it really matter who was at home to look after their children?
With that in mind, it was not such a difficult decision for him to give up his career as a manager in the manufacturing industry to look after their ten-month-old son, Jack.
He hoped it would bring them closer together as a family. In reality, it sounded the death knell for their marriage.
"I sensed that Louise was becoming more detached and less interested in me sexually within a year of becoming a househusband," says Richard, 50. "She was always picking on me for silly little things she said I hadn’t done, like the washing up or not tidying away the toys.
"It was as if she was losing all respect for me, just because I was the one at home, doing the domesworktic duties. Then, one day two years ago, she announced she was leaving me - and taking the children with her. She told me she was going to go and live with her mother 20 miles away. To say I was devastated does not do my feelings justice. It was as if the bottom had fallen out of my world."
For five years Richard, from Watford, Herts, had worked hard to become a perfect “mother” to their sons, Jack, who is now nine, and Edward, seven. But from the moment he gave up his job, Richard says Louise, 47, failed to see him as a “man”.
The phenomenon of the househusband is an increasingly popular one. The number of men deciding to become househusbands has increased by a staggering 83 per cent since 1993. According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, there are more than 200,000 fathers in the UK choosing to give up their careers and raise their children at home.
But are the couples who go down this domestic route sowing the seeds of marital disharmony? It seems that in many cases the rise of modern career women has had an unexpected - and disastrous - knock-on effect on many husbands who assume the traditionally ‘female’ role.
In short, having a man whose primary function is not as alpha male breadwinner, but domestic drudge just ain’t sexy.
Divorce lawyer Vanessa Lloyd-Platt says that in her experience, the decision to allow the wife to be the main wage earner will have a detrimental effect on as many as half of these relationships, and that divorce statistics in these cases have risen by at least five per cent in the past two years.
"My warning would be to think long and hard about letting the man stay at home,’ she says. ‘I know it is very trendy for the wife to be the breadwinner, but in my professional experience this decision will strain the marriage. It may be fun at first to say ‘I have a househusband’, but the wife will quickly begin to resent the fact the man is not pulling his weight financially.
"She will think: ‘You’re not supporting me’ - within all of us I think there is still a very deep-seated belief that men should be the protectors. A gradual lack of respect begins to eat into the relationship, and it puts men in a very vulnerable position.