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Man's Wife Wants To Quit Working After He Spent 6 Years 'Grinding' While She Got Her PhD — He Wonders If He's Wrong To Be 'Resentful'

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Man who resents his wife for leaving her career

Having kids changes everything, and it's natural for goals to shift once a baby has arrived. But is the decision to leave your career and become a stay-at-home parent fair when your partner made sacrifices to put your career first?

That's the question a man online is facing with his wife, and it's sparked a debate about resentment in marriage and whether partners are justified in feeling frustrated when their other half's priorities change.

A man is resentful that his wife wants to leave her career to be a stay-at-home mom.

In a post to the tech-worker discussion board Blind, the dad lamented that since he and his wife had their first baby, "my wife who had high ambitions for the longest time, suddenly decides she does not want to work ever again, and instead wants to be a stay at home mom forever." He adds that "she figured she can do this b/c of how well off I had become."

But the work he had to put in while his wife got her education has left him feeling angry about her change of heart. 

The man spent six years 'grinding' at his career to support his wife while she earned her Ph.D.

"While my wife completed her [English] Ph.D. (5 years)," he writes, "I got a master's degree, moved to her city... found an entry-level job at $65K, somehow worked my way up to $250K, and paid off my student loans."

He "also supported her financially (rent and other living expenses, since grad school pays peanuts)" throughout her studies, and writes that he "kept my career as a lower priority and merely as a means to support my wife's career ambitions" in academia.

He moved cross-country with her more than once as she pursued her various post-graduate and post-doc programs, and toiled to "find a role with a fully remote company so that I can have flexible working hours and conditions to look after the little one, and...remain flexible for my wife's career."

But since having kids, her ambitions have changed drastically.

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They can afford for his wife to be a stay-at-home mom, but her change of course has made him resentful given the sacrifices he made.

"Technically, it can work since we moved to a [moderate cost-of-living] location and my income alone can easily sustain us," he writes. And, as any stay-at-home parent will tell you, taking care of a home and kids all day is definitely a job—and one far harder than many so-called "real jobs" out there.



This husband definitely understands the work his wife is putting in to raise their children. "But this was such a huge curve ball to how I thought our life was going pan out," he writes. He expected that not only would his wife have a career, but their dual incomes would leave them "really well off financially."

Instead, he now has "the burden of being the sole breadwinner" in an uncertain economy and job market "and between work and helping out at home with 2 kids, we are financially OK but I am extremely time poor."

"Kids throw all kinds of wrenches at your life plans," he went on to say, but he can't help but wonder if he's justified in "feeling even a little bit resentful that my wife just decided she never wants to work after being supported for 6+ years to get a Ph.D."

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Experts say resentment in marriage can be incredibly damaging—even more so than infidelity.

Back in 2016, therapist Lesli Doares explained to us how resentment in marriage can eat away at a partnership, likening the effect to that of "termites." She urges couples to address their resentments rather than bury them. "Once feelings of resentment are firmly in place," she says, "the relationship becomes vulnerable — and if they are left unaddressed, it will surely die."

Doares says the root cause of resentment in marriage is often unwanted concessions made while trying to solve disagreements over decisions—like, say, whether one partner should quit their career to become a stay-at-home parent, like the man in this story and his wife. 

And as psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini explains in the video below, resentment can often "poison" a marriage in truly devastating ways.

Doares agrees, writing that the impact of resentment in marriage is often even more damaging than cheating. "In fact," she writes, "resentment is often the first step anyone takes on the path toward infidelity."

"This doesn’t mean that you draw lines in the sand and require your partner to accept your way at all times," Doares clarifies. "It means that you keep talking and listening until you find common ground." She urges couples to make a commitment that "you will no longer agree to a solution that doesn’t work for both of you" when confronted with big decisions.

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Most people online agreed the man is justified in his feelings, but that he needed to deal with the resentment in his marriage before it's too late.

A few people, like one of the man's fellow Blind users, were not on his side. "Bro people grow, it’s part of life," the user wrote. "Your income can sustain you, it’s your ego that’s the problem."

But others felt that the man's frustrations were totally understandable. "That's a huge life change to spring up on a partner," one Twitter user wrote, "especially if that did not appear in the cards from the start," while another felt the "unilateral" nature of the wife's decision was totally inappropriate.

But not everyone saw it that way. One woman on Twitter wrote that while she did understand some of his resentment, "she actually was working full time (PhD + post doc) and gestating and birthing two children" during the time the man says he was supporting his wife entirely. "To act like she was just frittering away her time? Lol," the tweeter went on to say.

One Twitter user summed the situation up perfectly. While they admitted the man had a right to be upset, they wrote that he "also needs to have that conversation with her and a therapist." 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.