Choose To verses Have To

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-17-2007
Choose To verses Have To
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 9:00am

Where is that line? Is there a line? What determines it?

I have been trying to figure out if I am a "choose to" or "have to" sahp. If one only looks at finances, I am definitely a "choose to" sahp. However, IF I had my druthers, I would be a wohp. My family's "unique" circumstances make it easy for our whole family to have a sahp and a wohp. We have weighed the pluses and minuses and sah comes out first- it isn't really close. If it were close, I would be a wohp. So, I feel like a "Have To" sahp.

If we look at the finances, DH is a "Have To" wohp if we have a sahp. However, when we made the decision to have me first work part time and then, later, quit. We talked about *both* of us working reduced hours (30 or so). He did quit a very demanding job at a start up and went to a *relatively less demanding job at a medium sized company. So, weighing his feelings, he is a "Choose To" wohp.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 9:22am

I don't think that there is a set line for every family but one that is individual for each family.

The only true "have to" is unless a family comes from money there has to be some source of income but how much that income is and whether it comes from one or more sources can vary widely.

Two people with the same exact figures in front of them could come up with completely different decisions.

"After working all week I'd only bring home $XX after expenses, not worth it to work?

"I'd still have $XX after paying expenses, it would be a waste to SAH."

Avatar for rollmops2009
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2009
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 9:37am

I find the distinction quite pointless. Some people think it is perfectly fine and worth it to have a SAHP (although, most often that is a SAHM) even if it means that dad works like a dog and the family is barely scraping by. Others are not scraping by, but prefer having a SAHM to having college funds for their kids. It is a choice one way or the other.

Also, given the high cost of daycare in the US, I do think that many people "choose" to SAH, because they can't earn enough to cover daycare. A lot of earning potential is probably wasted that way. I am sure many of those people would like to work and provide a better life for their kids, but circumstances do not allow them to do so.


What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce.

Mark Twain

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-12-2005
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 10:51am

I wonder this all the time. No matter how I categorize myself, I feel it is not entirely accurate. In the short term, I am definitely a choose to, because the amount I clear after the expenses only represents frivolous stuff--vacations, eating out, cute clothes, gifts, regular professional pictures of the kids, stuff for the house. In the long term, if I never worked again, we may not meet our financial goals with regard to retirement and education, and depending on my DH's career, we may not have the lifestyle we want with regard to vacations/travel, extras for the kids.

Then there is the part that is the bigger issue to us, the non-financial factors. Looking at the bigger picture, if we put all of the emphasis on DH's career, and eliminate day care, cleaning ladies, convenience items, we'd probably end up in the same place financially as we will with two careers. He'd work longer hours, get an advanced degree, and rarely have to take a day off for a sick child. So even if I categorize myself as have to, I have to be honest and say we are choosing to limit DH's career and income potential.

All those things considered, I would define have to as somebody who would be unable to provide the necessities (shelter, food, clothing) for their family without that paycheck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-10-2009
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 11:55am

I think that one of the reasons this is a hard determination to make is that WHEN you make it matters. And, for many once you've made the decision to WOH vs. SAH, you're stuck with it.

When xh and I

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2000
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 12:02pm

Looking on paper, I'm a have to wm. But that's because my working enables dh to have the low-paying career he finds rewarding. If dh's career made enough money to take care of all our needs, a few wants, enable us to help our children and parents, then I'd be a true chose to wm. On the other hand, dh would get a higher paying job if I insisted on staying home. But we have done that in the past and it's not good for our relationship or marriage and, by extension, not good for our children.


The truth may be out there but lies are in your head. Terry Pratchett

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 12:05pm

my position is a chose to, always has been.


iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2009
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 12:08pm
I think this answer changes over time, too. In the early years of our marriage, in order to meet our financial goals, both of us had to work. In the years that followed, we saved, invested, both of us got raises, and at some point, it became possible for one of us to quit, but neither of us did because we both really love our careers. In about a year (when the older one leaves private school) it will be possible for both of us to retire if we want to. But neither of us does.
Avatar for mommy2amani
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 12:24pm

This is our situation now.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-07-2003
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 1:21pm
This is one of the best posts about Have to vs. Choose to I've read on this board.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-15-2006
Wed, 04-14-2010 - 1:37pm