My Husband Changed His Career To Support Mine


The traditional gender roles portrayed in society drive me bonkers sometimes.

A few months ago, I came across a news story about a CEO who was leaving his job so his wife could pursue her career. At first, I thought, “Cool, what a supportive husband.” Then I thought, “Why is this a news headline?” Women have been putting their careers on hold for their husbands for years. In fact, it’s probably more common than we think because women are traditionally viewed as the primary caregiver to children.

While researching this topic, I also stumbled across a news story about our country’s first “Second Gentleman,” who quit his job to support Vice President Kamala Harris.

My husband changed his career to support mine.

This brings me to my news. My husband recently left his job of 20 years to support my career aspirations. He is still working, but he has changed career fields to one that does not require his being on call 24/7.

In 2009, I left my career to stay at home with our two kids and returned to work full time for a federal agency in 2015. Since then, my career has taken off. I finished school, got selected for an intern program, got promoted every year, and am now a warranted contracting officer. This was no small feat. If I sound proud, it’s because I am. At 40 years old, I’m finally crushing the goals I had when I was 18. But with my success, I always had this nagging fear that my husband’s career would take precedence over mine as it had for the last 20 years.

Until recently, my husband’s earning potential in his career field was exponentially higher than mine. I resigned myself to that fact and thought we could never take the financial hit a career change would face us with. However, the more we talked about it, the more we opened up to the idea that he could leave his job and take a different one. One that would allow him more time to focus on family (a role I traditionally took on since my job wasn’t as demanding as his) and position him in a different career field that would complement mine once my job opportunities take me further.

The What Ifs

It took almost a year for us to agree on pulling the trigger. He and I talked about our financial situation. Could we still manage to put our son through college and save for our retirement? We are both pleased with his decision. I won’t lie to you, though. I’m worried about our role reversal. What if he doesn’t like his new position? Will he miss being the top man in charge (like he was in his last job)? Discussing these potential issues at length and knowing we will have to work through them if they become an issue is how we are navigating this territory. In almost 20 years of marriage, we learned how to maneuver through the hard times and handle any issue that may arise in our relationship.

It’s okay to ask for what you need.

I want people, especially moms, to know that it’s okay to break the mold of traditional gender roles. It’s okay to ask for what you need. I need the validation I get from my career. Although I was never happy as a stay-at-home mom, I don’t think any singular choice is right or wrong. I chose that role when the timing was right for me. My husband made his choice when the timing was right for him. It depends on the person, the family, and what will meet your needs.

I also want dads to know that there is no shame in supporting a mom’s choice either. In fact, I think my husband’s choice to support my career makes me love him even more. We’ve managed to stay married because we chose to support one another and communicate our needs. So this is what I say to traditional gender roles and those that judge others based on them . . . mind your own business.

Originally published January 2021.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.