Inside the Mind of the Mormon Man
“I don’t feel like it’s ever factored in that I have to work for fifty years,” said one man we interviewed. “Fifty years is a long time. It’s forever. It’s my whole life. And I have to work for fifty years, and I want to love it, and I want to feel good about it. I feel like sometimes there will be conversations where it’s just ‘work harder,’ or ‘get a different job,’ and it’s like—I’ve got to do that for fifty years, and I can’t just jump into any job for fifty years. I have to be kind of happy.”
Many men pointed out that women have a lot more options: They can stay home or work outside the home. They can work part-time after their kids are in school. They can go back to school or pursue hobbies after their kids are grown. Men aren't saying they work any less than the men—but they do have a lot more options available to them to find what work brings them the most joy and satisfaction. Men, though, have only have one path ahead of them.
In almost any kind of an introduction conversation, one of the first questions is 'What do you do for a living?'" explained one man. "You feel like a leper when you're unemployed." Being the stay-at-home dad, according to another man we interviewed, is "the equivalent of being 30 and living in your parents’ basement with two kids." It's just not as acceptable in our culture—LDS or more broadly—for the men to stay at home as it is for women to work outside the home.
“My mom right now, her youngest children are fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen," explained one man. "And she’s gone back to school, and she does a lot of the things she wants to do. In the meantime my dad is still working. He’s still working like he has been his whole life, ever since I remember, and he can’t go back to school.”
“Fulfillment is just not a word you use with men,” added another man. “Women need to be fulfilled, but you don’t say men need to be fulfilled. Men are responsible.”
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