How to be a Single Mom When You’re Actually Married

*author’s note:
“I would like to preface this post with a few thoughts. When these words originally went live on Orlando Mom’s Blog, I received a good amount of push back from single moms and those advocating for single moms, telling me I was giving myself a badge of honor I was not worthy of. I absolutely agree that I am NOT a true single parent. I do have a husband who provides for our family and I don’t have to work outside of the home to pay our bills. As someone so eloquently put it, I’m not a single mom, I’m a stay at home mom with a husband.

When I wrote this post, I spoke to many women in the same position I’m in and they agreed with my feelings of loneliness and overwhelming responsibility. After this was published and I received negative feedback, I went straight to some of my single mom, formerly single mom and military spouse mom friends and asked for honest and open criticisms. They lovingly told me they saw no reason to be personally offended. They know me, they know my heart, and they completely understood my point of view. These are some of my very dear friends whom I love and respect. All that being said, I would like to say, before you even start reading this post, that I in no way believe I am a true single mother who has to deal with parenting alone like so many amazing women do. I don’t actually think of myself as someone who is doing this alone. But there is a real and valid feeling of aloneness that comes with being in a marriage with someone who is gone more than they are home. The only point I am trying to convey in this blog post is that there are many many women who are left to parent, cook, clean, and teach without the physical help of a husband, who exists but is mostly away working. It is not the same burden that a single parent has, but a burden none the less. A pain is a pain, even if someone’s is greater. I know this will pass for us but for many, it is their whole life. Please read this with an open mind to the terminology and know that I come from a place of love for all mothers. I only wish to share in and relate to any pain that may come with parenting.
How to be a single mom when you're actually married

I never thought I’d be a single mom when I got married nearly eight years ago. We vowed to remain married for the rest of our lives. Hell or high water, we always say. And we tested that vow. We tried really hard and we messed up and we had days that we just knew we would fail. But alas, married we stay. But I’m still a single mom.

About three years ago, when we moved to Orlando together as a family of four, I became a single mom. My husband started medical school and I have barely seen him since! No that’s not true. He’s around most nights about the time we all hop into bed. And always on Sundays. But there have been many nights, weekends, even some weeks, when my husband is MIA. He is working so hard for us. I’m so grateful for the time and effort that he is making for us, for a better life for his family. I am able to stay home and be with our children. We’ve even added one to the bunch. It’s hard but it’s worth it.

So how do I do it? How do I remain married whilst still doing all the parent things alone? I’ll tell you.

  1. My husband is still the head of our home and the ultimate say-so when it comes to our kids, finances, and travel plans. I don’t exclude him from any planning or decisions. He is aware of all our events and purchases. This keeps us on the same page and up to speed when it comes to basic and general life happenings.
  2. We are a team. (I know that sounds like my first point, but it’s different!) As a team, we stand united. We have each others backs. So if I had a bad day, he’s there to listen to me vent. If the kids were unruly, he’s on my side no matter what. Even if he thinks I’m wrong, he never shoots me down in front of the kiddos – he knows I need them to know I’m the boss when he’s not there, and that won’t happen if he belittles me.
  3. It takes a village, kind of. I like to ask my friends to help out if I need them. But I don’t want to abuse that. I want my kiddos to know that mom has got this. I’m capable to being there for them, even when, and especially when dad cannot. But still, don’t be afraid to ask for help! We’re moms, not super heroes.
  4. Take the easy way out when you need to. That means having meals in the freezer for when you literally can’t even. Also using paper plates and disposable cutlery so I have just a few less dishes to clean.
  5. Don’t forget about you. Sometimes I am slightly happy when my husband calls me to say he won’t be home until 9 or 10 that night. I can get the kids to bed, shower, put on a facial mask, and watch something mindless on TV for a couple of hours. I will browse Pinterest, or fill a fake shopping cart with a new wardrobe, or send silly Snaps to unsuspecting gal pals. I enjoy having the down time when I’m not being touched or yelled at constantly.

So there you have it. You now have a little peak inside the life of a married single mother. It’s definitely not as demanding as being the actual single moms out there – I don’t have to go to work everyday, I don’t have to be the only support system in our home constantly. There are many perks to my life style, I don’t want to downplay the rigor that is actual single-parentdom. I get that. But, none the less, I struggle alone to be there for my kids most of the time and my kids have often gone days without seeing their dad. And I have gone days without seeing my husband.

Do you know any married single moms out there? Reach out and offer to help them if you do. Watch their kids while they go to the grocery store or to the post office. Ask them how long it’s been since they’ve gotten a hair cut! Reach out and offer babysitting when her husband is around – they certainly need a date night!

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41 Responses to How to be a Single Mom When You’re Actually Married

  1. Sue March 14, 2017 at 5:12 am #

    thx. Good to know others have the same issues sometimes.

    • Samantha
      Samantha March 14, 2017 at 10:48 am #

      I’m glad you felt even slightly comforted. Thank you!

  2. C.L. March 14, 2017 at 6:48 am #

    No, you are not a single mom. You have a husband who is working hard for your family. He might not be there for a lot of the day to day, but he there..enough that you added one to your bunch. This is insulting to actual single moms. There is no husband working for the betterment of our family, just me. There is no husband coming home ever, just me. I was once a SAHM as well, that ended when my marriage did, now it’s just me working full time to support my child. You are NOT a single mom.

    • Samantha
      Samantha March 14, 2017 at 10:49 am #

      I’m sorry that you were offended.

    • KB March 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

      I respect your opinion, and the hard work you do as a single mom CL. But Samantha clearly delineated that her life wasn’t the same as yours in the article. It IS hard to be a SAHM to a family where the husband is gone most of the time. It doesn’t belittle your experience for someone to call themselves a “single mom when she’s actually married”, especially when it’s clearly explained what she meant. If the article doesn’t speak to your own experience (although I feel like it has good implications no matter what type of mom you are) then that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great article. It had a lot of good ideas in it. It’s a shame that instead of getting so upset, moms from all backgrounds could share in supporting other moms, period.

  3. Lisa March 14, 2017 at 8:08 am #

    Medical school is hard but residency is worse. Having been there, this is your new normal. Some specialties are better than others as far as time commitment once they are an attending.

    Final thought, medical families are in a unique situation but when it comes to psudo-single parenting it’s not the only area of work that creates this situation. I strongly recommend making a few friends who have spouses in the military, restaurant work (chefs have insane hours), fire fighters or police, music industry.

    I’ve done this and it’s a major game changer from the pity party of my husband’s always at work.

    Wife of Snufalufagus (yes he’s real even if no one ever sees him)

    • Samantha
      Samantha March 14, 2017 at 10:50 am #

      I do have friends in those boats. In fact, my husband used to be a firefighter, and one of my very good friends husband is a medical student while also being in the military. I’m not oblivious to other professions and situations. This was just my take on the issue.

      • Lisa March 15, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

        I bet if you’d swapped military for medical people would be all happy and encouraging.

        Medical spousehood is a unique and difficult path. Totally worth it, but it has it’s challenges.

  4. Jessica H. March 14, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    I’ve been reading the Orlando Mom’s blog for some time now and find Samantha’s so easy to ready and light hearted.

    I too was a married single mom raising a teenager to be a man while my husband studied and worked hard to secure our future. Our son is all grown up now so I work full time to support the family.

    In our home medical school was know as the “other person” she is relentless,demanding and exhausting.

    I’ve reached out to blogs and other portals to make sure I am an understanding wife.

    I offer my home, ear, heart and time to medical school spouses that need encouraging I too have needed an ear once in a while.

    Samantha, thanks again for the great read they always help..:)

    • Samantha
      Samantha March 14, 2017 at 10:51 am #

      Thank you so much for your very kind words. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed some of my work.

      • Jessica H. March 14, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

        My pleasure Samantha.!!! I just want to add, I was a single mom “for real” before I married my current husbend now who’s in medical school and it’s hard, but again I can appreciate looking at others point of views it helps see things in a different prospective. I raised my son from three to eleven on my own no village just me I finished my MBA…. how.???? By seeing how others encourage single moms of all walks.

  5. LC March 14, 2017 at 10:41 am #

    While I appreciate the effort the writer of this article made, I don’t understand how this topic benefits any other reader. At most, I find that it may insult other readers and lacks perspective. Please consider adding more beneficial & relatable articles/posts in the future.

    • Samantha
      Samantha March 14, 2017 at 10:55 am #

      Thank you for the appreciation. I do disagree though. I believe there are many women who have husbands who are often gone for long periods of time and feel very alone when it comes to parenting their kids. I have only my own perspective to share and doing some of my own light research, I know I am certainly not alone in this.

      But this may not relate to you at all. I’m sure there are several other blog posts on this site that would speak deeply to you. I encourage you to look through some of the other mom’s profiles and see if there are any women who share a similar life track to you.

    • KB March 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

      It has really great implications for all moms, I think. And specifically other moms who are in similar situations. I share in this similar life track and appreciate her insight.

  6. Tia March 14, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

    “He is working so hard for US. Iā€™m so grateful for the time and effort that he is making for US, for a better life for his FAMILY. I am able to stay HOME and be with our children.”

    This should be titled “How to be a vet without having served in the military”.

    The term single mom is not offensive. It is offensive to give yourself a label of hardship (lack of emotional, physical and/or financial support from the other parent) that comes from being a single mom when you are in deed Of course you couldn’t understand why it is offensive – bc you are not one. It would be just as offensive to label yourself a vet or disable or a performer if you do not or have not experienced those things.

    “How to have an MBA without going to school”.

    I could go on and on but I have a family to

    This isn’t one upmanship. This is a ridiculous article making privileged citizens look bad for taking the time to type on your computer about #firstworldproblems of a SAHM.

    Good day and peace be with you sister!

    • Samantha
      Samantha March 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

      How about, “Don’t bash your bad day because other people are having a worse day”? Or “Don’t complain about your job, at least you have one”? Or “Better not vent about your kids, at least you have them!”

    • KB March 16, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

      Tia, I’d argue your commentary is far more offensive than anything in the article. People are allowed to vent and encourage others, whether or not you deem them to have a hard time. So silly to argue if another mom is having a “hard enough” time to be able to give insight or to describe her own hardships. It’s not the same as any of the comparisons you made. Those are completely straw man arguments that have no connections to the article whatsoever. And for another straw man argument to add to your list, if a man can remove his masculine attributes and surgically superimpose a woman’s likeness to himself and win “Woman of the Year”, then I think we can all agree that CLEARLY saying “I’m a married single mom” shouldn’t be offensive šŸ˜‰

  7. Sherry March 14, 2017 at 1:42 pm #

    This article is a slap in the face to every single parent out there. I have no doubt that school is difficult for your family, but you are a stay at home mom with a husband that comes home to you every evening. Please don’t pretend to think for one second that your situation is the same. It’s shows a level of ignorance and privilege that I thought was beneath the Orlando Mom’s Blog.

  8. Tia March 14, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

    p.s. Your feelings of the struggle are valid. The offensive is not from your expression of feeling “alone” or denying the hardships of others.

    The offense is from giving yourself a “badge of honour” that you did not earn sister.

    Ask a single mom – and they can help you understand.

    • Samantha
      Samantha March 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm #

      I have friends who are single moms. And friends who are wives of men in the military. Please don’t assume you know anything about me by reading one blog post. I certainly didn’t give myself any badges. And we’re not sisters. I don’t speak to my sister so unlovingly when I disagree with her.

      • Tia March 14, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

        Wow Samantha. You claim to be a Christian. Go to church this Sunday and tell your paster and congregation you are also a paster bc you feel like one. Oh, I don’t know, you might just be one although I think not.

        What great writing when you can’t accept constructive feedback and recognize or internalize what you are actually saying and how it denigrates people who are actually single parents and actually do that job.

        Seems extremely closed minded when I did in fact acknowledge your feelings.

        No remorse or acknowledgement of your reader feedback (many many similar Facebook sentiments at that).

        Shame on you for your careless thoughtless disregard in your response.

        Peace to you then Woman.
        Yes, what church sister would have such a response.

    • Amanda March 14, 2017 at 8:32 pm #


  9. Tiffany March 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm #

    Thank you for your article. I too have felt like a single mom for the nearly 17 years I have been married. Early on with our first child my husband was away fighting in Iraq. By the time we had our second child my husband was traveling most of the time with a sales job and would be away for weeks at a time. Now with three kids he works full time and is also a full time grad student. In 15 years of raising children he has never been to a pediatrician appointment (other than the first check up after they are born) , a parent teacher conference, an open house etc. I am pretty sure he hasn’t the slightest idea what there teachers names are. Not to mention the laundry, shopping, cleaning etc. And I do work as well to provide for our family from home so I can still manage all of the other things and so my husband can further his career. This is not to take away from Single Moms who do not have a husband but in the role of a married “single mom” I also have a husband that I have to take care of. Which means another persons laundry, another persons opinions I have to consider, another person that needs my attention, another person who needs help with homework that is not my child. So while I do not carry the entire burden of earning money there is so much that I do carry and so little time that I can actually call my own.

  10. Tia March 14, 2017 at 6:03 pm #

    Again, you are allowed to vent. You are allowed to call yourself blond of you have brown hair. And you are certainly allowed to call yourself a single mom when you are a married stay at home parent with a husband in medical school.

    On Facebook, you asked why people are so offended by the title. See above – that is why.

    It has nothing to do with you sharing your story and everything to do with wearing and titling and professing a FAKE badge. Being a single parent is a bage of honour. You do not have that badge my dear. But call yourself a duck or whatever else you want.

    You asked why the offense. And trust me I’m not one to enforce being PC.

    You’ve disregarded your reader feedback. Obviously public writing invites it.

  11. BB March 14, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

    I’m amazed at the lack of graciousness from other moms in the comments. I mean, I shouldn’t be, but I am.

    Can’t we acknowledge that parenting is hard for everyone and try and support each other through those challenges? Yes, it’s harder for some than others. But that doesn’t make it okay to belittle another mom’s struggles or hardships because yours are clearly worse than hers.

    And guess what ladies–no one is gong to give you a badge, single mom or married mom. It’s a selfless job that rarely gets appreciation from anyone. Which is why we should support other women (and men) who have even a glimpse of how difficult raising a family can be.

  12. Catherine March 15, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    Hi BB,

    We’ll stated. I read the comments above and also the ones on the blog’s facebook page. I don’t see any negative remarks regarding the writing expressing her frustrating or giving tips to other moms who share her frustrations.

    It appears that some moms including myself are offended with the writer calling herself a single mom. I am all for supporting moms, women etc.

    I do see however how the mislabeling can and did create an uproar and how the subsequent responses from the writer did too.

    I see it as a matter of respect on both sides and I love the comparison to calling oneself a vet without having served in the military.

    I’ve been married, divorced, SAHM, working mom and raised a husband! Lol. They are each unique positions and honestly I couldn’t understand the position or truly relate to being a single working mom before I was one.

    Sorry Tiffany (presumed friend of Samantha) but raising a husband with the joys and support that comes from it is a disproportionate comparison. But we don’t need to go there. And yes the joys of raising children are beyond compare and I gladly do what I do.

    It looks like the readers simple wanted some acknowledgement that the title was inappropriate and a SAHM calling herself a single mom is disrespectful to single moms.

  13. Catherine March 15, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    Oh BB,

    Like Tia I give myself a badge, you a badge and Samantha a badge for doing what we do as mom’s, partners etc.

    But they have different names šŸ™‚

  14. Julie March 15, 2017 at 8:45 pm #

    I’m glad she feels content; however, nowadays women should not be so depedant of husbands financially. If relationships fails they find themselves helpless because they sacrificed their careers for the families. It is also not fair for the kids to have an absent parent. I understand is a choice, but risky in the long run. Best wishes to her and her kids!

  15. Ashley March 17, 2017 at 5:56 pm #

    I was a single mom for many years before I got married this past august. My husband works 60-70 hour work weeks and I stay home with my two boys and am about to have boy #3 any day now. It’s worse for me now than it was then. I can say with 100% certainty I’d rather be a single mom again than be home alone all the time with all these kids and see my husband for (maybe) an hour every night. As a single mom, I was regarded as a super woman who worked and balanced child rearing. As a stay at home Mom with a husband whom I never see I’m told to just suck it up and be happy that I don’t have to leave my house for a 9-5 every day, even though I’m doing nearly every thing I did as a single mom minus supplying all the money for bills. Both worlds are amazingly lonely and hard and I wish everyone would stop trying to quantify your pain in doing everything alone in the day to day because on a technicality you aren’t actually alone alone.

  16. Laure. March 17, 2017 at 11:17 pm #

    I thought this was great. This is my life, too. My husband works long hours. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Lauren March 17, 2017 at 11:17 pm #

    I thought this was great. This is my life, too. My husband works long hours. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Candy Beckwith March 18, 2017 at 3:16 pm #

    You are not a single mom. You are a married mom whose husband is gone a lot. Neither one is great but there’s a big difference.

  19. Melissa March 19, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    I am so sorry you are getting negative feedback. This is not constructive.

    Your title actually stated that you acknowledge that you are “NOT” actually a single mom.

    I get you. I call myself a “corporate widow”, but my dad died when I was 7. I KNOW that I am not a true widow.

    I get you. Don’t listen to haters. Focus on what is good, lovely, pure, noble…you know. šŸ˜Š

  20. Elisa March 20, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    I’m a single mom, and I get where you are coming from… when I was married I felt lonlier than I do as a single person.

    I think it is the expectations.

    I expected that we would spend a lot of time together. I expected life to allow for that.

    When it didn’t I felt worse than being single, because as a single person I had some expectations that were still on the horizon.

    I get what you mean, but it is starkly different financially and timewise there is no one paying for anything.

    You will get push back on this issue, since doctor or medical school sounds like a bright and beautiful future… I don’t know what my future holds yet.

    Also, a lot of women will experience being alone at some point, like if their spouse passes away before them, learning to live alone is not a bad skill to have… married or not…

    Thanks for the article. Worth the read.

  21. WebMDiva March 21, 2017 at 10:14 pm #

    As a mom who has done it single, married, and married but may as well be single…I take no offense. Just remember when you get that “push back” – you’re doing it right!

    Thanks for sharing. Found you via #HappyNowLinkUp

  22. NW March 21, 2017 at 10:26 pm #

    I think the term they’re looking for is “default parent”. The long winded explanation at the start of the article makes it even more awkward and inappropriate . Default parenting while married is a totally different challenge. Just call it what it is.

  23. Ashly March 23, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    No one ever tells you how lonely and overwhelming it is to be a SAHM. Then you start feeling guilty for everything. You’re too much. You’re not enough. You’re doing it so perfectly {in a demeaning tone}. You’re such a mess. It’s so hard and I get choked up reading the post over and over again. Thank you for validating my feelings and affirming that many feel this way.

  24. Renae March 23, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

    Thank you for this article. I feel the same way … Like a single Mom. I am lonelier now then when I was single. My husband is gone more then he’s home and when he is home is on the computer. Thank you for sharing, I always felt like I was the only one who feels like a single mom while married. Prayers for the years to fly by for you until your hubby is done with medical school.

  25. Amie March 24, 2017 at 1:04 am #


    Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m sorry you are experiencing a lot of kickback for your wording. Although in a different line of work, my husband has been gone nearly 90% over the last three years, usually for weeks at a time. It’s exhausting, lonely, and very few people can relate.

    As moms, we each have our unique story and it can be difficult to step into each other’s shoes. But to be known and understood is so important – especially in this situation – and it’s in telling of these stories that brings our heart struggles into the light.

    I will also be the first to admit that I am NOT a single mom. I am married. I don’t work outside the home. The financial responsibility does not fall on my shoulders alone. But I am a solo mom. We have no family nearby, and I am all my boys have, 24/7, for weeks on end. I have to find the strength to care for the children and take care of the house all hours of the day and night. It’s exhausting. It’s lonely. It’s isolating.

    A friend suggested a while back that I call myself a solo mom, that it is more true to my situation. Maybe, if you choose to share your story again (which I sincerely hope you do!), a simple word change could help other people look past your title in order to fully engage in your story. Because your struggle is real and valid. And whether people can directly relate to you in this way or not, many women can.

    Thank you again for sharing your heart. It was a good reminder for me that even though I feel lonely and isolated, I am not alone. Because we, and so many more, share this story as our own.

  26. Kaye Traficante August 11, 2017 at 10:35 am #

    This is so typical of women. Catty, nit-picky and attacking. Ladies please! At 53 years of age, I’ve seen my share of this nonsense. Shame on you women who can’t just read a blog, take from it what is relevant to your life, if anything, and be gracious enough to leave it at that. Women have enough trouble as it is, without being bashed/criticized/attacked by other women. Oh and don’t dare call that corrective criticism. There is no such thing! Grow up and realize that the time you spent responding, because you took offense, could have been better spent elsewhere; i.e. praying for your prideful, self-centeredness over being offended. It is not necessary to react, respond or voice ones opinion on everything you disagree with or even agree with. If you actually know who you are; a wretched sinner, unworthy of your next breath without Jesus, you wouldn’t dare! Jesus, the perfect, spotless lamb, never defended his position for the sake of his own offense. What makes you think you should? If your offense is for the sake of the holy name of God, which none of this is, then by all means speak up, but if not, go do some laundry, cook dinner, read your bible or volunteer your services to the needy.

  27. Angela May 29, 2018 at 7:08 pm #

    As a former “Single Mom”, current “Single mom who’s actually married”, woman, mother and daughter, I am very distressed by the comments seen here. Whether her man has completely left her on her own, or has left her on her own to go “support the family”, the fact is, that quite often it is the women of this culture who are left to deal with everyday family life. And that is a burden! A burden we should be supporting each other to bear, not bashing each other! It is our responsibility to change the destiny of motherhood- put the anger aside and teach your sons how to be responsible for their choices. Teach your daughters how to be respected by being respectful.
    I will honestly say, that there are days that I long to be a single parent again. My life was what I wanted it to be and I was answerable to myself and my child. Now I have to coordinate everything, make sure my schedule works with his, etc. I’m not saying, being a single mom is easier, but I think we forget there are two sides to every coin!
    Samantha, thank you for sharing. It’s nice to know that someone else can relate to my struggles at least a little bit. Keep sharing and encouraging!

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