The stay at home spouse is an increasingly popular role as families adapt to the absence of in-person school. Many men and women are choosing to take a step back from work and focus on the family. As I write this blog, I will do my best to keep it gender neutral since it applies to both men and women who take this role. At the end of the blog I will recap some of ideas for male stay at home partners since I have some personal experience there.
1) Create a Task List or Routine
Without a routine it can be difficult for complete tasks that are set out for him. I have an expectation that an alarm will be set no later than 7am to begin his day. The shared task list will ensure that things are actually getting done and his productivity can be rewarded. The shared list also allows her to add new things to the list and help keep her plate full by delegating household tasks to him. This includes setting doctors appointments, car repairs, home improvement projects and other tasks. Stretch his expectations to learn new skills and do household labor that would otherwise be paid to a painter, gardener or handy man. The cop-out of not knowing how to do something is moot with YouTube on his side; he can learn most any skill if properly inclined.
2) Gain Perspective & Focus
This one is the least tangible item in the list but it is perhaps one of the most important. Gaining perspective and focus is about separating yourself from the day to day and doing something that gives your life meaning. This can be personal development, reading, yoga, online classes, learning a language, playing a musical instrument. If you stop learning, you lose your sense of self. This can also be some sort of hobby or side-hustle, it can be anything that brings your spouse joy in their life. It is unfair for your spouse to expect you to be everything as we can’t be everything to everyone. Gaining perspective an focus is about soaking in the bigger picture, staying positive and making sure that your needs aren’t dwarfed by the other person.
3) Dress Appropriately
There is nothing worse than coming home to a spouse that is still in pajamas and never took a shower. There is an expectation the he or she will be showered and dressed every day shortly after his alarm. The act of getting dressed will start his day off with motivation and the routine will discourage laziness.
4) Take Care of Yourself & Stay Fit
Part of this goes with dressing appropriately but if a spouse is staying home, he or she is expected to maintain a certain level of fitness. If I am working a job, it may be difficult to hit the gym every day and supplement my workout with some home exercises. I am not saying that I expect him to be some musclebound gym stud but I have an expectation of being able to appreciate an above average fitness level if I am the primary breadwinner. This may sound sexist or perhaps a callous expectation but if I am bringing home the paycheck I have certain expectations. Fitness inspires productivity and a fit boyfriend keeps my arousal levels high which is key for both of us.
5) Quiet Time
When I come home, the last thing I want is to be hounded by my spouse. When coming home, I want to decompress and relax prior to hearing about all of the day’s problems and accomplishments. I’m proud of you honey, I really am. Just give me some time and space.
6) Get Out of The House
It is important to get out of the house. We can all become stir crazy or depressed if we don’t make a conscious effort to get out of the house at least a few times per week. If you have errands to do, don’t stack them all into one day even though it may seem more efficient to do so. Life isn’t always about efficiency, get out of the house a few times a week and run errands, volunteer or socialize with friends.
7) Connect With Others
This goes along with getting out of the house but I wanted to specifically call out cultivating interpersonal relationships. This isn’t a brief conversation with a bank teller or a cordial greeting with a grocery store employee. This is an interpersonal relationship with men, women, couples that allows for deep conversation and self expression. The stay at home partner isn’t a literal term, he isn’t expected to stay at home all the time. He has taken on a role which does not involve him taking a job or contributing to the household in a financial way but he is still expected to foster friendships and pastimes outside the house. If he were to expect her to provide all of his emotional stimulation, he would be severely disappointed and she would be exhausted.
It is expected that meals will be provided and ready at the anticipated time. If the spouse has agreed to have dinner ready by 7pm it is expected that dinner will be ready within a few minutes of the expected time. This is of course unless he has informed her of the delay or they have mutually decided on the change of plans. There is nothing worse than coming home hungry and finding out that dinner plans were not as anticipated. This is a great opportunity for him to learn to enjoy cooking and to enjoy providing a home cooked meal for his family. There is no better way to a man (or woman’s) heart than through her stomach.
9) Control Masturbation
Most of us don’t have any idea how much of a distraction his little guy can be. Without rules or expectations, masturbation can become a problem that prevents other tasks from being completed. Masturbation takes key hormones and sexual attention from your spouse. This one is male specific because of the different physiology. Masturbation is selfish and has negative consequences for your relationship and for his overall motivation. I highly recommend either using the honor system or using a locking device to help keep things under control. Idle hands will undoubtedly result in broken masturbation promises so I recommend that you employ some type of device. Specifically a cock cage that can be used to reward productivity and positive behavior. Sexual motivation is an incredible motivator for men with both positive and negative results.
10) Communicate, Connect & Level Set
I’ve laid out some rules that are applicable to my experience but they might not be completely relevant to yours. I recommend that you set aside time to communicate and set expectations. This conversation should be grade of how the week went from both of you. It is important that you aligned your expectations and that both partners validate the stay at home partner’s progress. Communicate freely and openly, resentment is a massive burden for even the strongest relationship to bear.
Gender Role Acknowledgement
The reversal of gender roles is deeper to the male psyche than it may seem. The man has traditionally been the breadwinner and his ability to provide for the family determines much of his perceived value and self-worth; as a man. Role reversal should not be overlooked in this scenario. The man is unquestionably taking on a role that has traditionally been reserved for females. If you don’t think this will bleed into the sexual aspect of your relationship, you are either kidding yourself or consciously choosing to suppress these urges.
Does his decision to work from home or take a hiatus from his job mean that you must immediately lock him in a cock cage and start pegging him? Of course not. What it does mean is that you are treading new ground as a couple and he is taking a role that is presumably new to him in your relationship. As you explore where that takes you, you might begin to see sex differently as it relates to your changed relationship dynamic. Many relationships see sex as a relationship perk earned by the man for providing either financial or emotional resources for the woman. When reversing the roles, things may not feel quite as natural at first. It may simply not feel as natural to take a passive role in the bedroom or with initiating sex.
Taking a more active role in the bedroom may feel more comfortable as it does in my relationship. In my relationship, I use #9 above and strictly control masturbation and ejaculations. We have sex several times per week but ejaculations are saved for specific times, typically once per week. We also enjoy pegging which is a unique gift for a man to give his partner and a showing of trust and complete sexual surrender. I highly recommend it but can almost guarantee that it will be a turning point for communication and intimacy in your relationship.
After the rollercoaster of Covid-19, the scenario of one partner staying at home has never been more lucrative to some families. I highly recommend that you do whatever is right for your family and that includes the stay at home spouse scenario. Know that a stay at home husband is a non traditional role and it may be fraught with challenges. A written agreement may help the two of you stay on course with goals and expectations. The stay at home husband topic continues to be one of the most popular on this site so please share your experiences like this reader did in her Q&A.