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How to persuade my wife to start working?

Discussion in 'Married Life' started by Ajith, May 27, 2010.

  1. Ajith

    Ajith Silver IL'ite

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    I am posting my query here because other forum members are mostly from India, women who may have had a similar upbringing like my wife and can offer a solution to a problem I am facing.

    I have been gently requesting my wife to start working. She worked for one year and stopped after that saying she prefers to stay at home than work in a stressful job. My wife is an American Board certified Gynecologist (ABOG). She finished her MBBS in India and moved to US after marriage. She had to take a series of written exams (USMLE) followed by various other exams just to qualify for residency. She was particular about Gynecology residency. We were living in a Houston suburb at that time. Though she got an offer from a Houston hospital she declined it saying the hospital was not reputed. She (along with me) went through interviews at many hospitals across the US. Fortunately she got into a program of her choice in Chicago (Mercy Hospital). But she was not willing to do the residency alone nor was I willing to let her do it alone with our baby. So I quit my job in Houston and joined a company in a Chicago suburb.

    Those 4 years of residency was tough on our lives. Sometimes she had to work for 36 hours continuously. I was taking care of the kid, taking him with me to work and leaving him in the company's on-site daycare. During lunch I was the only father who was feeding while all other kids had their mothers. The brutal Chicago winter was tough on me who was used to Houston weather. I can keep on telling all the hardship, but we endured them hoping we'll have a better life after residency.

    After residency she got an excellent offer from a hospital in California. So we moved again. My wife wanted a nice house and we bought a big home in a nice locality. My wife was making 240K+ plus bonus in the first year. We had a full time domestic help and life was going smoothly. My wife used to complain about the workload in the hospital but I never thought she would quit. When the hospital wanted to renew her contract, she refused saying she is not returning to work once her contract ends.

    I tried to convince my wife saying she can work part time but she refused. I didn't want to force my wife to go to work, so now it has been 3 years since my wife stopped working. My friends and family do not understand why she is not working. I try to explain that she prefers to stay at home, they ask how can a doctor sit at home? Well, I have spent countless hours with my wife explaining to her that she is at the prime of her working career, with the qualifications only a very few have and most dream about. We are US citizens and there is no visa issue. I suggested working 2 days a week. Not many hospitals give that kind of flexibility, but a local hospital is willing to let her choose her hours but she is not interested.

    When I told her if I lose my job, her job will provide the family some financial cushion. Her answer was: If you lose your job, then I will work. How is that the husband has to work even if the job is stressful but the wife can quit? She says her job is not like sitting in front of a computer but dealing with the lives of a mother and her baby. She was called frequently when she was working mostly when her patients had labor pain. I agree, but there are so many other Gynecologists who deal with the stress and continue to work. Why choose this profession (or do the residency/PG) when you cannot take the stress? Two of her friends are also doctors who are MDs but don't work, so my wife is not alone.

    How does she spend her time? She does help the kids get ready, but after 9am she watches Indian channels and soaps(Tamil and Telugu). Then visits some friends or friends visit her or goes to gym. Some days when I return from work I see pregnant desi women in the living room getting medical advice from my wife and she sometimes orders prescription for them. She has no problem in helping others but doesn't want to work full/part time. Sometimes when I return from work she says she is bored and wants to go out to a mall or for dinner. I can go on and on. I am really moved by the posts on IndusLadies where I see women trying hard to get EAD/H-1 just to be eligible to look for work and women with EAD trying hard to find a job. Yet my wife has no visa problems and can pick and choose her jobs but not willing to work.

    Now, why am I asking for suggestions?
    With huge mortgage to be paid every month, I would like to move to a smaller house so that I can manage the mortgage comfortably with single income. My wife is reluctant to move to a smaller house. I am thinking of moving back to Houston where the housing is cheaper. My mortgage alone is $4600/month. I am honest in saying that I want my wife to work full time so that we can live comfortably. We are not getting rewards for the hard life we had during her residency. Ideally I want my wife to start working full time. Can you offer any suggestion that can make her reconsider her decision? I don't want to use harsh words or assert my views like a (typical)husband.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
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  2. Foundlove

    Foundlove Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Ajith,
    I do understand your issues but its hard to force anyone man or woman to work if they don't want to. I was discussing this with a poster in another thread.

    here are my suggestions
    • If you think that the mortgage is a burden then you should move to a smaller house and different location. Discuss this with your wife and tell her that its becoming hard for your salary alone.
    • I understand you went thru hardships and so did your wife. There might be a pretty good reason for her not to work. So you need to find that out gently. Maybe encourage her to volunteer.
    • If you stop forcing her to do something she may do it then. She maybe feeling crowded and pushed. Also she may want to spend more time with her kid.
    If its a financial burden then work on your budget but its hard to force someone to go back to work if they don't want to.

    I understand you saying "what if a man wants to do this?"

    Similarly if a woman says " I don't want to cook or keep house or have children.." no one will support her . In the same way no one will support you if you want to force her to go back.

    These are our societies ways of thinking and we cannot change it. Just like I have not been able to change "why woman have to serve and men can eat first"

    I hope this helps.
    FL
     
  3. asuitablegirl

    asuitablegirl Gold IL'ite

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    Ajith,

    If your wife doesn't want to work, I guess there's not much you can do about it. But if that's the case, I definitely agree you need to down size your life style. If she has a problem with that, too bad. You need to explain to her the clear economics of the situation. Either she starts working and you all live a two income life style, or just you work and down size to a one income life style. But for her to expect you to shoulder a huge mortgage and provide her with an ultra posh life style is not fair. Explain clear and simple that you cannot provide xyz earning $xyz. Give her a time frame (i.e. 1-2 months) to decide what she wants to do, before you put the house up for sale and start looking for something within your means.

    It might help for you to ask her why exactly she wants to quit the medical profession, or if there was one event in particular that made her want to stop practicing? Could it be she never liked her career path in the first place? Probe a little and find out what made her want to be a doctor in the first place. Let her know you will support her in whatever she decides, and that you do not want her to do something that makes her so unhappy. But at the same time, you will not stretch yourself beyond the breaking point financially, and that it could mean moving back to Houston SOON.

    I can understand your frustration. After all that sacrifice, I would be frustrated too. Hang in there and sort this out rationally and cooly. Good luck! :thumbsup
     
  4. Happysoul1234

    Happysoul1234 Gold IL'ite

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    Ajith one of my good friends is a general physician at a regional hospital in the bay area. she works just 8 shifts per month and gets 100k + per year.

    Could your wife practice as a general practitioner? my friend told me she had the choice to work 8, 15 or 22 shifts per month and she chooses according to her financial needs. she works weekends and nights so that her husband can take care of her child while she is at work. basically she had a good work-life balance.

    agreed you made decisions in the past based on a 2 income household. now that you have just 1 income, you need to live by that only. your wife can't have her cake and eat it too. but this has to be put across delicately so she does not get offended. maybe rather than telling her she needs to work, you can tell her that on my income we can't afford this lifestyle (bay area is expensive!) so we either need to downsize or move back to houston. see how she responds and make your plans accordingly.
     
  5. Tridev

    Tridev Silver IL'ite

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    Ajith, I think the suggestions should come from her as to how you will sustain that big mortage in CA. She was working, wanted a good home, is enjoying it. She does not want to work, I understand your frustration but then we as husbands should not force our wives. You tried making her understand she did not so its upto her. You cannot keep going to her with requests of all soughts..

    I agree that she saying if you lose job I will work that is not right. A husband will be in constant stress and never think of leaving job even if driven to because one would know there is no other hand to earn. And if you lose your job how soon will she get or she is confident getting ? that is again another question

    She should offer suggestion of moving to Texas or downgrading life style to meet the new budget.

    My cousin is a gynaec in Gulf and I know she has worked whole life. Her husband is ortho in same hospital. In 20 years they cannot even change job, they dont have PR. They are on Visa as in gulf they dont get it.
    Now you know how working conditions will be in government hospitals in gulf esp for gyneac. She is round the clock available to patients..

    Yes this profession is taxing . Many people go into medical thinking its lucrative but when it comes to actual stressful life it is tough. Also why does she not start her own small practice and see patients. why is she have to work in hospital? Starting own practice will giver her proper work timings and choice to see how many patients each day?
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  6. adhrusya1

    adhrusya1 New IL'ite

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    Well..the way I see this -

    There are two different angles to this problem...

    1.your wife was forced to do her residency and she did it because of pressure from everywhere when she didn't like the profession in the first place. You have been given false hopes and security of marrying a highly earning Gynec.

    OR

    2. Everyone has good intentions. You both went through so much of hardship during her settlement. But now, she just wants to spend time with your little kids (Unlike watching TV and going to the malls as you described), which is not wrong at all. A doctor or an actor..is a mother first. So she has every right to make the decision of working/not working like any other mother. Just because she could be making $300K, doesn't mean she has to just work, work and work.

    So..between you two and your kids..what can be done??

    If she is still interested in her career and want to continue her work..but is unable to take care of the kids - Get help and Get going!
    Call parents to help you out/have a nanny/maid etc. She will be earning a lot anyways. And with this option, she and you can still live in the same house and afford the $5000 mortgage. You and I both know it won't be easy even with parents or maid. The long work schedule and missing out on kids will take its toll. But hey..nobody said, a doctor's profession is an easy one. You tradeoff many things...

    But if she wants to take care of the kids herself..etc, then you need to explain her that "it is OK if you take off now, but you should be aware of the loss of prime years of your career and depreciation of your value with this taking off. Also you should be aware of the financial burden on one person".

    I say, you move back to Texas and live in a smaller home and try to continue her life style. If she is comfortable with that life style, then you just convince yourself that you married her, just for her being and personality and nothing else.

    But she should be aware of all the losses, of not working even a part time thing to keep her career going. It is a loss of you both financially anyways, but if she doesn't work in future, it is a loss for your kids too. Not just financially, but morally too. A kid thinking that his/her parent is a Doctor, helping others will have a lot of effect in his/her own life and these kids go on to become good human beings and successful professionals. It will be a shame if your wife doesn't use her education and experience to give that feeling to your kids.

    But again, I am not advising you to harass and push your wife to work. It is OK, if she wants to take a few years off. But a decision of staying home for a long term will be an utter waste of all your (hers, her parents and yours) energies and time.

    I hope she realizes where you are coming from and makes a decision on working at least part time till the kids are a bit bigger and goes on to full time later. If not...hear the lone star state calling..

    Good Luck.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  7. OOPALL

    OOPALL Silver IL'ite

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    Hi Ajith,
    IMO I would get to the economics of running the household vs income. If you are killing yourself with a huge mortagage, what quality of life do you have? Moving to a more affordable home would make sense.

    If your wife doesn't want ot move to a smaller home, then just let her know that she will need to contribute financially to keep up with where you are at. Even working part time would help not just financially but her experience in the field she is in.

    Thanks,
    OOPALL!
     
  8. DDC

    DDC Silver IL'ite

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    Ajith,
    I applaud you for the clarity in your post-you are narrating your issue rather than blaming your wife. Lets hope you use the same tone with her.

    1)The first thing you have to establish is does your DW not want to work at all or she doesnt want to work for now.

    2)If she wants to work eventually , does she want to continue as a Dr or as something else? If she doesnt want to be a Dr anymore, there are other options available. She could pursue Hospital Administration or even Law. This option would mean going back to school, added expense & time but ultimately if it will make your wife happier & life smoother then go for it. Please see a Career Counsellor who specializes in career change & am sure they can help.

    3)How old is your child? If the child is in the day care/Pre-K stage, your DW wanting to spend time with him/her especially since she couldnt during her residency could be the reason she doesnt want to work. If thats the case, she could return to part time work once your child is in school.

    4)Talk to your DW & explain that supporting the lifestyle you had with 2 incomes is now not possible on 1 income. Downsize & move if you have to, while letting her decide what she wants to do. This step needs to be taken asap to avoid getting into financial trouble.

    5)You have to let go of the "what a waste all those years have been" feeling. You & your child endured seperation from DW, Cold winter, huge mortgage, many moves, losing touch with friends etc. But all that is in the past. Dont blame her for it. Some of us need more time to figure out what we want in life. If it was another field she can easily use her education to fit in somewhere but Medicine is a calling not a career.

    6)Your point of being stressed out about losing your job or not having the option to quit if you need to is very valid. As is the one about "if a man did this, it would be unacceptable". Unfortunately there are gender roles in Indian families still & though they are changing, its a very slow process, accept it.

    Talk to her patiently:)bonk), rationally & lovingly.

    Here's to hoping you will update us soon singing "Its a wonderful world":cheers
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  9. Vidya21

    Vidya21 Senior IL'ite

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    This might be a long post, but as someone who has been through something similar to your wife in terms of professional training and work, I can relate to what she probably feels now. I am still working and going through the very last stages of my training, and just like you, DH and I have sacrificed much so that we're both able to accomplish our career-goals. To an outsider, it would seem insane for me to want to leave all this and choose not to work, but honestly, I sometimes dream about leaving all this some time in the future, just to stay home with my DH and kids when we start a family. I am not sure if I will jump the so called fence some time in the future, but I might.

    The only reason for me to leave a highly-rewarding career, if it comes to that some day would be - that I've always been this career-driven girl, pushing myself hard, always choosing the tougher path. And sometimes I wonder if I am missing the other facet of being a woman, of being the care-taker, of being a mother, of taking life one day at a time - leisurely, rather than the whirlwind of professional accomplishments that it can be. Life is about professional, and personal growth. But sadly, you can't have it all.

    There might be n-number of reasons she quit - boredom (yes, its possible in spite of the high-stress), a feeling of having done-it-all, lack of appreciation for all her hard work, or dealing everyday with mothers and their kids while she misses the same bond with her own child etc. Stress is never the sole reason you quit. You quit because you want to experience something else.

    The only thing that might in future deter me from leaving work would be that I find my work meaningful, almost in a spiritual sense. I don't know if your wife thinks like that - in which case - she might go back to work after taking a break.

    Try talking to her about how her professional accomplishments made you proud (my DH and families (parents, ILs) think my work is pretty neat, that makes me want to do better at work) etc. Or, if she quit because of boredom and or predictable work, try suggesting that she might shift her professional focus a little. Or maybe, just plain and simple, tell her you need her support to build a strong-foundation for your futures at this particular phase in your lives. Work up the numbers, set a real time-line and tell her you would appreciate her working until a set date in future, and then once your liabilities are taken care of, you will support her decision to quit. A feeling of responsibility might make her want to work again, and knowing she won't be in the rat-race indefinitely will certainly help her make a decision to get back to work.

    Take a real-neat vacation with her, and try talking to her about this.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  10. mstrue

    mstrue New IL'ite

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    Exactly my first and foremost thought upon reading Ajith's post!
    :thumbsup , Ajith.

    My next thought was, such clarity will definitely help you get your point across to your DW.

    Well said and Complete, DDC. I second it.:bowdown

    Ajith,
    DDC, FL, ASG, Puja, Tridev and others have said it all, brought in different perspectives!!! I have nothing more to add but I hope you work it out soon and come singing as DDC said. :thumbsup
     

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