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priscilla arthus

The Working                


Win At Work. Thrive in Motherhood.

How to be A Successful Working Mom When You Have An Unsupportive Spouse

Personal Development
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Also known as P.A.
Welcome to my blog, The Working Mom Collective (formerly Girl Meets Soul), where I'm on a quest to help the ambitious working mom in a high-stakes career  win at work and thrive in motherhood!
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Hi,   I'm   Priscilla

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“That’s it.  I’m throwing in the towel and becoming a stay-home mom.”

That’s what my friend texted me out of the blue one evening.  We’d been having this conversation on and off for three years – ever since she gave birth to her first child.

She had always worked.  In fact, she is a marketing manager at a prominent Fortune 100 company.  It was never a problem until she became a mom, and her spouse wanted her to become someone else.

Naturally, we discussed the initial, normal feelings of wanting to stay home with her newborn versus working that practically all new working moms go through – especially in the nursing phase when work makes it nearly impossible to nurse your child.

And, naturally, she was torn on whether she wanted to stay home or continue working.  Because society in America isn’t set up for us working moms to succeed.  There were a few other extraneous circumstances affecting her decision, like an overbearing MIL, but she really thought she wanted to give staying home a try.  I encouraged her to give it a try if she truly felt that’s how she was supposed to pivot.

A few months into her stint as a SHM, she was most certainly 100% convinced that she was meant to work.

Cue the first instances of her spouse suddenly becoming unsupportive of her working. However, after talking it out over several sessions, she decided for herself that she is in fact built to work, and that doesn’t make her a bad mother.

And she was right.

Fast-forward to today after she’s given birth to a second child and back to the same struggles of the infant years, and her spouse is once again pushing for her to stay home in the face of inadequate childcare. To the extent that he’s questioning her spiritual commitment of what it means to be a woman and a mother (there’s always one dude out there mansplaining something).

We share the same faith (and I make it no secret that I’m a God girl), so she often likes to get my perspective on the issue.  I’m a big proponent on women choosing what they want for themselves.  If that’s staying home, excellent – more power to you.  If that’s working, fantastic – you’re to be applauded. Either way, it’s your choice.

Back to this exchange.  I asked her, “Do you want to stay home because you can’t find a competent nanny? Or do you want to stay home because that’s what you want to do?”

She ultimately confessed that the whole nanny search process, and fighting with her spouse about it, has just drained her energy, and she’s ready to give up the fight.

I get it.  Who wants constant turmoil at home? But I always caution, sometimes the easiest path isn’t the right path for you.  I’ve watched women fall into the trap of building a life they absolutely hate, for the sake of peace. It only breeds resentment, and in the end, doesn’t solve conflict between them and their spouses.

If you find yourself in the same boat, there are strategies to approach this problem that allow you to continue to choose to work, if that’s what you want.

  1. Communicate Openly

The key to any successful relationship is open communication. Start by having an honest and non-confrontational conversation with your spouse about your feelings and challenges. Share your aspirations, responsibilities at work, and the importance of their support. Be patient and give your partner time to process the information. Listening to their concerns and understanding their perspective can help bridge the gap and foster mutual understanding.

  1. Set Boundaries

As a working mom, it’s essential to set boundaries to create a harmonious work-life balance. Yes, even with your spouse.  Sometimes, especially with your spouse. Clearly define your working hours and the time you need to devote to your family.

Encourage your spouse to respect these boundaries and avoid disrupting your work when it’s not necessary. If you must force their hand, do so by establishing a physical boundary where they cannot disrupt your set working time by dumping the kids on you (e.g., go to the office vs working from home – a pain, I know). Establishing a structured routine can help you manage your time more efficiently and reduce unnecessary stress.

  1. Seek Support from Other Sources

If your spouse isn’t supportive, don’t hesitate to reach out to other sources of support. Connect with other working moms in your community or join online groups where you can share experiences, seek advice, out-of-the-box solutions, and find encouragement. Surrounding yourself with like-minded women can help you feel understood and empowered, as you’ll gain insights from those who have faced similar challenges.

Don’t forget to lean on supportive family members, friends, or hired help. It may not be the ideal situation for your spouse to abdicate their parental duties in the name of making a point, but you can still build a community of support regardless of what they do.

  1. Foster Empathy and Patience

Changing someone’s perspective takes time, and it’s crucial to remain patient and empathetic throughout the process. Encourage open conversations about each other’s roles, responsibilities, and feelings. Help your partner understand the importance of your career and how it benefits the family. Show appreciation for their efforts and contributions, which can encourage reciprocation in supporting your career goals.

But stand your ground.  Empathy does not mean being a pushover.

  1. Lead by Example

Demonstrate the positive impact of your career on your family life. For example, compare and contrast your time as a stay-at-home mom and as a working mom to show the positive effects on your kids and your spouse when you feel fulfilled (happy wife, happy life, right?).  If your spouse sees that being a working mom doesn’t compromise your ability to be a devoted parent and partner, they are more likely to relent their position with time and become more supportive and appreciative of your efforts.

  1. Involve Your Spouse in Decision-Making

Include your partner in decisions related to your career and family life. Discuss major milestones, potential changes in your job, and long-term plans together. Involving your spouse in the decision-making process can make them feel more valued and connected to your journey, fostering greater support over time.

Being a successful working mom while saddled with an unsupportive spouse is undoubtedly challenging, but it’s possible. By communicating openly, setting boundaries, seeking support from others, fostering empathy and patience, leading by example, and involving your spouse in decision-making, you can overcome these challenges and thrive both personally and professionally. Every relationship is a work in progress, and with time and effort, you can build a stronger, more supportive partnership that allows you to excel in your career while being a fantastic mom.

If you need help in this area, I encourage you to book a strategy call with me.

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