Yet another vote in the “whatever works for that particular couple” category.
I’m very lucky in my situation. When I was single and first married, I worked and earned a low-to-mid level salary, and hated every minute of it. I’ve never been career-oriented, I still don’t know what I want to be “when I grow up,” waking to an alarm and having to wear “work clothes” and dealing with traffic and all that yuckiness was horrible. Luckily, I married a man who is extremely career-oriented. He glories in going to work every day, he lives it and breathes it and finds it very fulfilling. And he makes good money at it, too. So when we had our daughter two years ago, it was a no-brainer for me to stay at home and for my husband to support us financially.
*This *job suits me to a T. I love being a SAHM, I feel very fulfilled, I’m very happy. My husband’s happy, because he takes pride in being able to support us, and with me here to take care of the house he can focus more on his career. It works for us.
And I should add this was something we agreed on before we were ever married. I always knew I would want to stay home with my kids, and I made sure he knew that. Luckily, we were on the same page about that, so it was never an issue. If he had been adamantly against his wife being a SAHM, it might have been a deal-breaker and we might have never been married in the first place–it was that important to me. But everyone’s different.
I’m sure I’ll go back to work at least part-time when my kids start school full-time (I’m due for #2 in three weeks), but I’m not really thinking about that yet since it’s still at least five years away. I am dependent on my husband for now, but if anything were to happen to him we’d be okay. There’s life insurance, I do have a college degree, and a strong family support system on both sides. It would be hard, but we’d survive, and for now the benefits of me being there full-time for my kids outweighs the risk, IMHO.