A happier marriage
Credit: Morguefile photo by grietgriet

Leaving the Two-Income Pressure Cooker

Recently, we've had painters and carpenters come to our house to repair a leak that happened on the second floor. During that time, we had another visit from an insurance agent. All of this happened during three separate occasions, on three separate days.

If I had a job outside the house, I'd need to take this time off of work. Or, my husband would have to finagle time away from his job, so one of us could be at home when we needed to be.

In addition, one of my children frequently forgets to bring his lunch to school? Working from home has allowed me to swing by school and drop off his lunch, as I was picking up another one of my children who needed a ride home.

However, if I had a job a 9 to 5, in an office, none of this would be possible. Fortunately, though, I'm available to do these things.

Is the Extra Income Worth It?

It's a safe bet an employer wouldn't be happy with the amount of hours I'd need away from the office, in order to run my household and attend to my family.

All of this would be extremely stressful, which, in turn, would put pressure on my marriage. If I wanted to keep my position, I'd be begging my husband to split the difference with me.

But his job is highly demanding. Skipping out for a few hours during the afternoon, to let a plumber in the house, or to drive our children around, isn't possible. This would create a great deal of tension. Having two highly anxious people live under one roof would turn our relatively peaceful abode into a pressure cooker. So, in our case, would the extra income be worth it?

Certainly not on an emotional level. But what about financially?

Working from home
Credit: Morguefile photo by cohdra

Living Without Luxuries

There are many hidden costs associated with being a two-income couple. However, overall, it does result in a better cash flow. Our society is set up with the expectation that both marriage partners will work full time.

So, because we're not doing this, we've had to cut out a few luxuries. We live in a nice house in a safe neighborhood. But we both drive old cars, not luxury vehicles. We go out to dinner about once a month, and, when we do, it's usually to an ethnic restaurant with excellent food. I don't get my nails done and I've found a hairdresser who works from home who will cut my hair for only $8, although I insist on giving her $10.

Other than that, we haven't sacrificed much and we feel as if we have everything we need. What we don't have is the extra stress associated with both of us attempting to hold down outside jobs.

Hidden Costs of Going to Work

However, there would be hidden costs if I worked. For starters, it might bump us into a higher tax bracket. I'd probably need to own a professional wardrobe. I'd probably have to commute. There would be more wear and tear on my car.

Since I'm working from home, I'm always able to get dinner on the table, usually by the time my husband walks in the door. If I were working, this wouldn't happen as much. We'd be relying more upon restaurant meals and take-out dinners. In addition to being more expensive, this is a very unhealthy way to eat. At home, I can cook from scratch, using organic ingredients.

Grocery shopping is also made easier by working at home. If I had an office job, I'd probably do all my shopping on Saturdays, rushing to one store and grabbing whatever I needed. Instead, though, I'm able to hit a few stores, including Aldi, which, over the course of a year, probably saves us thousands of dollars in grocery bills.

Being Able to Unwind

My husband likes his job, but it's a high-maintenance position in an intensely stressful industry. When he comes home, he's able to unwind, while I make sure he has a good meal. If he wants to sleep, I make sure everything else is taken care of, so he can get his rest.

It's not that I don't work at all. I do work online, a full 40 hours and then some. I also pick up outside freelance-writing assignments. But this is different than being employed by someone else, and having to go into an office for a set period of time, five days a week.

I certainly hope I'm not coming off as preachy, because that's not my intent. I realize that some couples must both work in order to survive. But many others could probably make it on one full-time income, with a few adjustments.

Although I have no proof this is happening, I believe that over-stressed couples who work too much may do harm to their own relationship. (If parents are not getting along, the children suffer as well.)

The Workplace as a Battleground

It's a rare job that isn't free from office politics and strive. The workplace, for whatever reason, is a tough place to be right now. For some reason, there is a lot of discord, which seems to run rampant in society as well. Right now, workplace bullying is a virtual epidemic, with more than one-third of Americans being abused on the job, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI).

Having one person at home, attending to the details of running a house, helps take the stress off the partner who must contend with leaving the house, going to work every day, and, sometimes, having to interact with very difficult people.

Here's another reason I'm happy I'm home. Women seem to have it especially difficult in today's job market. The WBI has found that 40 percent of the time, workplace abusers are women. Most of the time, they target other women.