I myself have worked since I was fifteen years old. I started working in construction during the summers and during the school year I would work as a bus boy and short order cook. When I graduated from high school, rather than going to school, I worked full time in construction. I took pride in myself that I was self-sufficient at such an early age. I have always made enough money to support myself and my family. For the first twenty years of my career I worked as an employee and was only laid off from one job. I will admit that I had a piss pour attitude and my boss actually found another contractor for me to work with as he was hoping they would help me see and change my bad attitude. My employer really was a great guy and took the time to teach me so much. I just ended up taking advantage of him.
For the first five years of our marriage I was the lead man for a very large construction company. My wife was and is employed as an escrow officer and has been for nearly thirty-nine-years. As young parents we both took on the duty of raising our children as a team. Because I worked in construction my days would often start at six o’clock in the morning leaving Cathy to get the kids up, dressed for the day, pack their lunches and get them to childcare. On most days I was usually home by 3:30, which would give me time to go for a bike ride or work out before I would pick up one or both of our children. Then I would come home and make sure the house was clean and have dinner ready by the time Cathy got home. Our marriage was never one that said you have to do this, and I have to do this. We just did what we had to do in order to make everything work.
In 1990 we moved to the Coachella Valley where I started my own masonry company. We had help from Cathy’s parents in the way of being able to stay in their desert house rent free for as long as it took to get the business going. During this time and for the first year or two Cathy was the primary bread winner as I was not pulling in an income to speak of. So, I would help Cathy get the kids ready for school in the morning and take our children to preschool. Then at the end of the day I would pick them up. I was working out of the house, so it made it really easy for me. As my business grew, so did my income as well as Cathy’s as she was moving up the ladder in her company.
Through our business growth, our children were also growing. This meant involvement in all the extra-curricular activities such as; T-ball, soccer, dance, etc. Cathy and I have always been very involved in our children’s lives in a healthy way. The one thing Cathy and I never did was to put our careers in front of our children. This meant that both of us had to continue doing what we had always done, work as a team which took constant communication. Did we always do it perfect? Absolutely not, but we did it. Our careers eventually afforded us the luxury of be able to support our children and their sport escapades around the United States and abroad. There adventures in the states always included one or both of us and all their siblings being able to travel with them. The trips abroad always included our whole family. Our kids have always been the most important people in the world to us. Yes, there were times when we couldn’t be there with them. Because we participated with them in so many things, they understood when we couldn’t. They knew they had our support no matter what.
When I started my business, it was a real struggle for a couple years. First the recession. Then a business partner that took me for a quarter million dollars. I was wondering if it was all worth it. So, I got rid of my business partner and made right all the things he had wronged. It wasn’t easy, but eventually the business took off. Through it all my wife stood by my side and supported me as well as our children emotionally and financially. She never said a bad word about me. And yes, through it all I was still the father and husband I had always been. By 2007 I had built a very lucrative business employing eighty employees. Then at the height of my business when I realized I had finally made it, the financial crunch hit.
Fortunately, I had about two years of work on the books, so I was able to keep going for that long. During those two years I kept on bidding as I always had, except it was getting tougher to win a job. I had always been first or second bidder and if I wasn’t, I would often get jobs on my name alone. I was also in a position where I was getting last look at a project. The numbers I was seeing were so low, I had no idea how they could even buy the material for the job, let alone pay their labor cost. I could not even buy a job. Eventually I had to take paid vacation away from the employees. Then my salary employees went to hourly. Next came the lay-offs. First my assistant and then as jobs wound down my foreman, masons, and tenders were laid off. All of this was taking a toll on me. What was I going to do?
Eventually it got down to just myself going to the office every day, making cold calls and doing whatever I could to round up work. Cathy and I had gotten use to a lifestyle we thought we’d never have. I couldn’t just give up and quit. After all construction is all I had ever done, all I knew. After hours talking with my mentors and many heart felt conversations with my wife, we decided it was time to close the doors of the business I had worked so hard to build over the last twenty years. It was strictly a business decision. Fortunately, the company was liquid and fluid. We owed no money to anyone and would be able to walk away cleanly with some cash to live on for at least a year or two. This was the hardest decision I had ever had to make in my life, and it was profoundly life changing for me. Who was I now without my business? How was I going to make money? This is when my transition from working husband to house husband took place.
It has been eight years since we made that decision and today, we can honestly say we would not do it any differently if we had to make the choice today. This move actually allowed me to follow my calling and dream to help men and their families heal from the scars of sexual abuse. While I have not had a paycheck to speak of in the last eight years, I have been working diligently on developing the Courageous Healers Foundation, my life coaching business, and mentoring men and couples with my wife by my side. I have written a book and become an International Best-Selling Author, public speaker, and pastor. The reality is, I am working a full-time job, I’m just not earning an income, yet.
My wife and I made this decision together and she fully supports what I am working towards, both emotionally and monetarily. Her income has been enough to sustain us financially over the past eight years. Sure, we don’t have all the extra money we use to have or are able to travel like we use to. We do however have enough to pay our bills and treat ourselves to an occasional out of town get away as well as a few nights out with friends and family. We have been paid in ways that no amount of money can replace. We are happier than we have ever been, and our marriage just keeps getting stronger.
The deal we made with each other when we shut the business down, is that as long as I did not just sit around the house and do-nothing Cathy was okay with supporting us financially. I also have to make sure the house is clean, I do the dishes, cook dinner on occasion and even do the laundry. I started the last sentence with “I have to.” The reality is I do not have to do anything, rather I get to do these things for both my wife and myself. I choose to do these things because it makes my wife feel good to walk into a house that is in order. I choose to do these things because I love my wife. Don’t get me wrong, Cathy not only works, she also does her share around the house. Our marriage has always been a 50/50 marriage. We work together instead of against each other. It has worked for us since we first got married, had kids, and now as empty nesters.
I fully understand that our relationship is not one that society would see as the “norm,” and I know how lucky I am to have a partner like Cathy. What I am saying is that it is very much possible to have a successful relationship with the wife being the bread winner and the husband being a house husband if you both can come to an agreement as to what each of your parts will look like in the marriage. There is nothing easy about marriage, it takes work, lots of work. But if both parties want the marriage to succeed and are willing to do the work, the marriage will work and even be better than you ever imagined.