Admit it: You’re a married single mom and you hate it

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When things are tough on the single-mom front, this is what I tell myself:

I may sometimes be an overwhelmed single mom, but at least I’m not a married overwhelmed single mom. Because anecdotally, most married moms I know often feel like they’re often without a spouse. I know this because a) I was a married mom for a minute, b) I look around and see all these married, stay-at-home moms getting through the days by the skin on their teeth while their husbands build their careers, and they look as though they’re about to lose their minds (many have, frankly), and c) when you’re a single mom, women (and men) complain to you about their spouses. A LOT. And they tell me they feel like they’re single parents.

Oh, and there are some facts to back this up.

While about half of mothers will spend at least a year as sole custodian of a child (according to University of North Carolina researchers), kids are being raised by one parent in many other circumstances, even if the mother and father are technically married. These include:

  • The 1.7million children who have at least one parent in jail, according to the nonprofit Justice Strategies.
  • All those husbands with jobs requiring long hours and travel, resulting in them hardly seeing their kids.

And then there are the all those millions of kids I mentioned in an earlier post who are being raised in households where parents are addicted, depressed, abusive or chronically ill. Of course, lots of these situations can and do overlap – kids whose parents are addicted, depressed and in the can, those who are divorced and in the military, etc. The point is, statistics about moms raising children without a husband to whom they are legally married are misleading – there are far, far more women who identify – even if secretly, you know who you are! – as married single moms.

Don’t take it from me. ForbesWoman.com and TheBump.com recently conducted a survey of 1,200 mothers and found:

  • 70 percent of working moms and 68 percent of stay-at-home moms resent their partner because of the unbalanced load of household and parenting responsibilities.
  • 84 percent of stay-at-home moms don’t get a break from parenting after their partner walks in the door at night, and, 50 percent of stay-at-home moms say they never­­—NEVER!– receive a time-out from parenting.
  • Not surprisingly, 24 percent of working mothers and 28 percent of stay-at-home moms say they sometimes they feel like a “married single mom.”

And in a lot of ways, they are: Married moms take on the majority of childcare and housekeeping regardless of whether they work outside of the home. Which is just like a real single mom. Except for the money part, of course. Because in most cases, the economic research on raising children alone will inspire you to stick your head in the toilet after your toddler poops on that little shelf in there that makes it impossible to flush. But much, much more on that later.

Because, really, nothing has to be that bad.

 

35 thoughts on “Admit it: You’re a married single mom and you hate it

  1. Hi Emma,

    Morghan’s been sharing your posts on our mommy board. I wanted to let you know that I’m enjoying reading your blog. This most recent entry left me feeling better about my marriage. I frequently fantasize about being a single mom, and don’t appreciate all that my husband brings to the table when I’m feeling selfishly tied down.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Wow. You hit the nail on the head. I am definitely a married single mom. I love my husband and we have a great marriage but when it comes to workload, well, it’s better for me to not tally it all up. My solution to not sinking into bitter, overworked, resentful land was to change careers. I’ve switched from being full-time teacher, part-time writer, full-time mom. (Nutty situation, that…) to full-time writer/mom. It needs to be acknowledged that my husband’s career has made it possible for me to change mine so I can pursue my passion instead of just clocking it in. So, yes, as you say in your description, money does change everything.

    1. Kelly – very well said. Your situation sums up the feelings of many people, though I really admire that you took charge of your family life and started your own business (hello! totally relate!). I also respect that acknowledge that your husband’s income facilitated this change. I’m glad you’re reading.

  3. I’ve been a single mom for almost a year now and I’ve realized two things: 1) my married female friends now confide everything about their marriages to me and 2) all the men in my life suddenly think they have a chance with me as if I’m really lonely and desperate because I’m a single mom now.

    1. So true Nicole; somehow men feel that if you are a single Mom then you are a sitting duck and that you are so desperate to have just any man than be alone. I think it’s also partly because a lot of single Moms (be it post divorce, or deserted after falling pregnant etc) believe that they are not good enough to find a really great guy, so they settle for low lives and married men. And this feeds the idea that single Moms are loose and desperate. Not so!

      1. Yes, I agree that this stereotype comes from two places: Women’s own actions, as Frau outlines, and married people’s own fears about what life without a spouse must be like.

  4. Unmarried parents can get financial assistance not just in the shape of foods & property assistance, but also within their education. Numerous national federal grants can hold your schooling. Numerous non-government organizations provide academic grants with regard to single mothers along with other valuable individuals. Another critical edge is there are many university federal grants that enable unmarried parents to have free child care aid for children. In this way their children could have a secured destination while their mums are studying.

    1. This type of thinking is sadly not true. I was a single mom with 3 kids and the $800 a month child support I got made it impossible to qualify for any programs. I had been a SAHM for 14 years and hadn’t work experience, when I tried to get help from different organizations I was declined again and again based on the fact that I was getting a very small amount of child support. Just to pay the bills I had to waitress and make very little money. Now that I was working that made it that I now qualified for even less programs. When I tried to get educational grants I was offered a student loan in which would cover part of the tuition, I would have to pay books and child care myself. These programs may be available but are for women with no income, no child support and usually they have moved back in with parents or friends. If you have kids that you have to feed, and you have made an effort to make money, sorry, you do not qualify.

      I started searching for work after getting declined so many places, became a banker and eventually I got my real estate license from home study on nights and weekends. Then started my own business and finally got back on my feet. Got married a few years ago and now can say it was worth it all. If I had been given a ton of handouts not sure I would have worked so hard and struggled through so much. I learned life lessons about money, security, hard work and so much more.

      But don’t fall for the thinking that anyone is going to help you out when you find yourself a single mom, it just is not reality.

  5. YES I felt this way the WHOLE time I was married. My now ex husband and I slept in different rooms and were for all intensive purposes separated. My still married GFs tell me this all of the time

  6. It’s too bad that so few spouses realize what their non-contribution to keeping the house functioning and raising the children does to the marriage. It led to our separation. It breaks down intimacy.

    1. I so get where your coming from. Mine hardly contributed to anything at all . Came home expected to be fed then went upstairs to watch tv leaving me to do all the activities and child raising . The resentment wasn’t because of the fact that he didn’t contribute to the child raising but he would also sit and criticize my parenting style. What a gall when he would do nothing to help me . If i had a meltdown which is normal when your constantly juggling a two year old and a 9 year old he couldn’t understand it. I would tell him to stop sitting on the side lines and start jumping in and helping .

  7. I was the text book case of single married mom. My abusive addict of a husband could never keep a job (barring that one year that he actually attempted to clean up, and managed to hold a job for a year) and other than the occasional fits of rage induced house cleaning (because I wasn’t able to maintain spotless, looking after him, his son, and our infant daughter) he basically did nothing but watch tv or sit on the computer, when he was home. I spent my time missing him and wishing he was home, but dreading when he did actually come home. Originally I agreed to do the inside work, if he did the outside work. All of it fell on me, as well as dragging him kicking and screaming to welfare when he couldn’t or wouldn’t find a job. As a single mom now, I am no longer in bad health, and I have lost 70lbs just from lack of stress. Even though my daughter misses her dad, who has no desire to be part of her life, I know that she is better off without him in the end and I do everything humanly possible to help her feel secure and loved.

  8. Being a “single mother” means that a mother has one or more children that were neither conceived nor borne in marriage, e.g., that they are bastards. Why does this matter? Because single mother’s wombs are in effect the breeding ground of criminals (for boy children) and future mothers of criminals (if girl babies). The odds of these are conservatively 7:1 compared with children born and raised to maturity in marriage between both biological parents. This does NOT apply to widows, and partially does to children of divorced mothers.

    From http://poetrypoem.com/cgi-bin/index.pl?poemnumber=710351&sitename=vulgerlove&poemoffset=0&displaypoem=t&item=poetry

    Effects of Fatherlessness (US Data)
    1) BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS/ RUNAWAYS/ HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUTS/CHEMICAL ABUSERS/ SUICIDES

    85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
    90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
    71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
    75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God’s Children.)
    63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
    2) JUVENILE DELINQUENCY/ CRIME/ GANGS

    80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978)
    70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
    85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)
    California has the nation’s highest juvenile incarceration rate and the nation’s highest juvenile unemployment rate. Vincent Schiraldi, Executive Director, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, “What Hallinan’s Victory Means,” San Francisco Chronicle (12/28/95).
    These statistics translate to mean that children from a fatherless home are:

    5 times more likely to commit suicide.
    32 times more likely to run away.
    20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
    14 times more likely to commit rape
    9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
    10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
    9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
    20 times more likely to end up in prison.

    Intentionally becoming a single mother? Child abuse.

    1. Men always clain that they are more valuble, capable and smater then women. So when men dont take care of thier kids=child abuse. If men are really all they claim to be then they can wash the motherfuckin dishes and change the diapers and clean the house. Its the gross ugly men who arent doing thier job and creating single mothers. I bet your a mens right activist who never gets laid, so go fuc kyourself luke and go take care of your baby and your babymomma lol

  9. So Luke, what your saying is that children are better off in an unstable household where the parents constantly fight then they are in a household with one parent who is happier? Or what if the father is in the picture, but barely. i.e. does playtime, occasionally feeds the kid but basically is in the background 90% of the time? Where one parent does 99% of the work, has other responsibilities and can be full of stress constantly? So according to you children are better off in this environment where one parent is constantly on the verge of a stress breakdown because they have very little if any real help raising the child and the other parent is basically a playmate with occasional seconds of helping, then they would be if the parent doing all the work was to simply leave and be happier? Children reflect their parents. If they see their parent miserable and upset all the time because they are in a bad situation, then that child will internalize that struggle. But if a child sees their parent happier, and enjoying life more then they will clearly internalize that. I hope you never have to experience what it feels like to be married and raising a child basically on your own so your spouse can live all their hopes and dreams while yours are constantly pushed to the back burner day in and day out. Then you might understand what its like to worry that your child will end up in the same type of relationship, on top of all the other hundreds of worries you have as well.

  10. This is great article that I can relate to because for a while, I too was a married single Mom. My then husband specialised in dressing himself, wating, going to work, watching tv and spilling beer on the floor while I did all the work (I was working and had a toddler at home). Besides carrying the full burden of looking after the baby and the home, I also had to ensure the loneliness of being home every evening alone while he had “cocktails with clients”. I was lonelier with him than I ever was alone. So I divorced his lazy behind, dove headfirst into the dating world, and am now now happily married to a guy who loves my son and fully supports me the way a real man should. :)

  11. This is great article that I can relate to because for a while, I too was a married single Mom. My then husband specialised in dressing himself, eating, going to work, watching tv and spilling beer on the floor while I did all the work (I was working and had a toddler at home). Besides carrying the full burden of looking after the baby and the home, I also had to endure the loneliness of being home every evening alone while he had “cocktails with clients”. I was lonelier with him than I ever was alone. So I divorced his lazy behind, dove headfirst into the dating world, and am now now happily married to a guy who loves my son and fully supports me the way a real man should.

    (I just hate spelling errors, and couldn’t find a place to edit so I reposted, sans errors)

  12. I’m a young (27) wife and mother of three. Married 5 years. Before I was married I was a single mother of one for two years working (30-40 hours a week) and in college (20 hours a week). I haven’t been married long so I don’t act like I know it all, but it seems like a lot of women are weak. They allow their spouse to control them and their feelings and they complain that they can’t do what they want, but why not? Instead of complaining, catch your spouse on a day where he’s sitting comfortably, watching tv and tell him you’re heading out for a second then go out for an hour or two and do what you want (shopping, mani, pedi, hobby, etc.) because that’s obviously what he does to you. You should know who you married and feel comfortable enough leaving your children with your HUSBAND because he’s not going neglect your child or allow anything bad to happen. Where is the communication? Some women seem too nice and need put their foot down and stop allowing your husband to disrespect you and treat you like and indentured servant. I am a college educated stay at home mother and at times, yes, I feel like I’m doing it all on my own but then I remember how my husband works 45-50 hours a week for our family. I am able to bring in a little extra money doing what I love. If you don’t think he’s spending enough time with you, schedule a babysitter and date night. If you want something done, do it yourself. He’ll eventually catch on and get with the program. If not, oh well. Stop depending on your husband for your joy and happiness and stop being weak-minded. Stop complaining. Think about your own faults as well. How often do you stroke your man’s ego? As women we need attention as well and if you don’t get it, speak up. Be honest. Tell him what’s on your mind. I know a friend who told me her husband told her he was tempted to go outside the marriage because she was holding out sexually and she stepped up and did what needed to be done. I won’t get into that situation, but she was at fault. We need to stop the blame-game and double check us before we check our spouse. And stop being so negative. No more pity parties.

  13. Great article!

    I remember when a very good friend consoled me while I was entering the single-mom life. She said that her experience growing up as an only child to single co-parents was an amazing experience. When she was with one or another parent they always had time for her, they seemed fresh and engaged while most of her married-parent counterparts seemed constantly bedraggled.

    Now I am a pretty happy single mom to a child who has an equally happy single dad and we marvel at how hard life must be when married and raising children. It must be hell.

    That said, if you have good co-parent and a solid income and/or live within your means, that makes life easier too. We might just be lucky.

  14. “we marvel at how hard life must be when married and raising children. It must be hell.” That made me laugh.

    I agree – all kinds of scenerios can work. In the case of divorce the big deal-breaker is whether you have enough money to maintain two households comfortably.

  15. I can agree so much with this article. I was married for 7 years and was a single married mom. My ex was in the military and was never home. Yes some say ‘ well thats what you get when you marry the military.’ Really ? Well we are all human and you dont really know until youre in it to know if you will stick with it. It was depressing ! Now that im a single divorced mom, I can no longer have to carry the resentment on my shoulders of living in a marriage that was never really a marriage.

  16. I am a single married mom of 5 wonderful children. My husband was in the Army when we first married 7 years ago. He deployed to Iraq and got injured (he was in a humvee and they hit a land mine being blown 50 meters from his truck ) He has since retired due to the injuries and through that time have had 4 boys, retirement pay from the military wasnt enough for us to rely on, and we didnt want to rely on the govt our whole lives. I worked for a short time to help make ends meet, but it too wasnt enough. So my husband got up and got a job himself. Since getting this job (with the hours being 2nd shift and an hour from where we live), we have had many break throughs and opportunities to have what we want and what we need all together! I love my husband for this everyday! I do not complain that he leaves the house at 1:30pm and doesnt get home from work until 5:30am most nights. He is working to support me and 5 children. I take care of everything from keeping my house clean and organized, to taking care of every child’s needs. School, activities, grocery shopping, i pay all the bills, etc. My husband is not lazy by any means, as he also has a “hobby” on the weekends that also help support us financially. It is very hard work and i am determined to help in any way i can to make sure my kids have every need met. I do not complain about anything that is going on in my life as i love every minute of how we have a routine. Do i miss my husband- absolutely!! do we have alone time- yes! do we have family time- yes! what he does, and what i do is extremely hard work and is not fun at times at all but our children are growing up knowing that no matter what life throws at them they can work through it, and no matter what you have to work and work hard to get what you want! i never imagined my to life be this way, but i am so thankful that i have an amazing husband willing to work as hard as he does for us, and still has time to help me on occasions to get somewhat of a break. we make this work and it works well for us! so i can honestly say that i am an extremely happy married single mom, and my kids and husband are equally happy!!

  17. I’ve never married. From the sounds of all the resentment and complaining married couples – not to mention the high incidence of divorce, remarriage, and divorce again – I’d say I dodged a few bullets.

    I’ve been fortunate to witness my own parents and both sisters marriages seem to work well. I have a couple friends whose marriages have lasted, one a stepfamily that is the only good stepfamily mix I’ve ever seen. Most all marriages these days just fail.
    With 70% of second marriages failing – from my research most likely because of all the extra issues that go with kiddos, dealing with ex-es, step family melding problems, etc. I say “don’t bother.” I’ve dated my share of single moms, and I like kids fine, but I’ve seen my share of lazy moms who see my responsibility and willingness to pitch as an ATM with a strong back. Throw in often undisciplined kids with whom I would have no real say, an ex who doesn’t pay child support, or work, but the single mom wants to let him come over and hang out and play “friends” for the sake of the kids, and all that mess gets looking like there’s nothing in it for a responsible single guy with no kids who has a lot to offer.

    I agree that both husband and wife need to be pitching in to get work done. My parents, thankfully, treated one another with great deal of respect, caring, and affection, and I’m so glad I witnessed it. They raised a son who in my mind (and from the critique of my closest friends) would have probably been great relationship material. ….And yet today I read this article where women in their first marriages seem to be in the majority in their resentment and frustration with their spouses. Wow. Can’t wait to find my “true love” so the anger and resentment can blossom and grow. Not.

    Is this what married life really is: keeping endless score? And if it’s this bad in first marriages, how much worse it must be in a stepfamily where there are all kinds of split loyalties, additional bodies to resent and be resentful, exes to deal with jealousy and more frustration. I find a lot of sites where once single moms are now married and comment how they love it, but find few forums where stepdads are bragging about how great married life is with a wife, stepkids, and the ex, ex-in-laws, etc.

    I’m glad for those of you who have happy and successful marriages. There are days I wish I could have the same. I appreciate the truth of this article, and this is a day I’m thankful I never did find “true love”.

    And Britney, most of all, thank you for your comments. I so agree with you on so many points. The same could be said for many weak men who need to grow up, be a bit more giving and forgiving.

  18. I have been married for 15 years and love my husband to death. We have a 6yrs daughter, and what do you say to a 6 year old that wants daddy time? My husband works in the manual labor field and I also have a full time job. But I feel that I take care of everything, some days I want to get off work and just do nothing….. Not have to pickup our child, make dinner make sure homework is done, clean up dinner and put her to bed. meanwhile he get home at dark, and showers, eats and goes to bed…. Don’t get me wrong I love my husband dearly, we have beat the young marriage rate, as we got married at 18, and waited to have a child until 27… I just want to tell him WHAT HAPPENED, he use to help around the house, make dinner, do laurdry, take our daughter places without me. But a fight always starts. Oh and if I tell him how our daughter feels it’s worse, and she won’t tell him how she feels, because she can’t get 5 mins of his time….. Divorce is not an option, I just want things to be the way they use to be…Oh just to be extra clear, our daughter has never heard us fight, EVER.

    PLEASE HELP!!!!!

    1. Nicole! So sorry to hear about this … I think it is common for couples to be more or less equal in housework before a kid comes along, but something happens after: He starts seeing her as a mom, and even on an unconscious level believes that the mother has more responsibility for childcare than the man. ALSO: Women unconsciously believe the same thing. Like I wrote in this post about many of us professional moms struggling with working mom guilt: http://www.wealthysinglemommy.com/madonna-whore-complex-working-mom-ok/

      How do you deep down feel about working fulltime? DO you feel at all guilty about it? I wonder if you were to embrace your career and accept that you are not a lesser mom for it, your household dynamics may change for the better. You stop doing everything and he will follow?

      Thoughts?

  19. I have been married over ten years and I am certainly a single-married mom. My husband works nights, whereas I work days, which in and of itself wouldn’t be so bad if he didn’t have to do ‘homework’ also. I can have the house spotless, but when I come home from work, it’s a wreck. I’ve always been the bread winner of the family, but lately I find I can’t get any balance. My 9 year old gets anxiety at night and often won’t let me sleep…. some nights I’m up till after midnight, yet still have to get up by 5:30 or so. I’m always exhausted and think it’s leading to depression. He doesn’t see it like I do and insists the house doesn’t need hours of work a day. Well of course…. when the laundry/dish/ trash fairy makes it looks like there’s never anything to do. It’s really frustrating, but I try to be patient because he often works 12 hour days. I want to reduce my work (I do 10-12 hour days too) but not sure I can :( oh well! (Done ranting!)

    1. Hi Becki – I have to agree with your husband — why are you spending so much time cleaning? Can you adjust down your expectations of the house and yourself? Can you hire someone to help you? It sounds like the whole family is stressed out — if you are exhausted and depressed your family, career and self cannot thrive. How can we turn this around?

  20. No, working full time does not make me feel any less of a mother. I have always worked. I just want to know whe husbands just STOP helping. I had a total breakdown all alone the other day when my daughter and I were at restruant and I told her we’ll take daddy’s food home. She then states, ” Daddy is never with us Why is that?”. I was so embaressed as everyone around heard her. How do you make them understand? Just stop doing everything and see how long it takes for him to jump in???? HAHAHA

    1. Well, yes, that is why divorce is optimal to a bad marriage. But healthy disagreements are a small price to pay for a great relationship.

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