Marriage and the Stay-at-Home Parent
I've read some interesting discussion lately about whether marriages with a stay-at-home father are more likely to end in divorce than other family models. On the one hand, there is no specific evidence of such. On the other, theories and experiences suggest a level of unhappiness for some when reverse-traditional arrangements become long-term.
Men who become SAHDs are as varied as women who become SAHMs. A man who finds himself in the home role by default is very different from a man who purposefully chooses to be the primary childraiser. SAHDs have the same potential difficulties as SAHMs - isolation, financial dependence, boredom; they probably also have some challenges most SAHMs don't, such as cultural stigma and possibly extended isolation from even other parents. This can't be easy to weather, especially if a man doesn't really want to be doing it.
I believe the family that chooses a lifestyle that truly makes both parents happy is the one that will stand the test of time. If a stay-at-home parent really wants to be home with the kids (and I mean really, truly) and if the working spouse really wants to get out there and support the family (and forge ahead with a career that will allow this), we have a winner. If, however, one or both spouses is not fulfilled by the chosen arrangement, the truth will eventually come out.
Are women divorcing their SAHD partners because they are not manly breadwinners any longer? That's like saying that men divorce their wives because they are no longer as physically attractive. Are men divorcing their primary breadwinner wives because they can't stand the power imbalance? The same can be said about SAHMs. These are all stereotypes - probably true in some instances but hardly applicable to an individual couple. More than likely, divorces in any family happen because the couple grows apart; what was once a marriage of equals and a true partnership becomes an uneven one-up-one-down arrangement between strangers.
According to experts like Kathleen Gerson, most young couples today want equal marriages. But, they don't know how to get them. So they settle for something more traditional (or perhaps, reverse-traditional) - a big mistake if this isn't their first choice. In the end, the price a couple might pay to get the lives they really want is very small compared to the damage of a divorce. I'd much rather settle for less money, a messier house, fewer things or a less prestigious job than take that winding and torturous road to divorce court.
Go for what you really want!