What you described is what happens. And if/when the marriage fails before your children are grown, you will be the one left with underdeveloped earning potential and the lion’s share of the parenting responsibilities.
If I had it to do over again, I would’ve postponed motherhood and gone to grad school. I would’ve ensured that I could support myself, if the need arose.
Actually, I take that back. It’s not necessarily true.
If I had it to do over again, I may have still had my children young and possibly even stayed home with them. But as a prerequisite to doing so, I would’ve married a very different kind of man: a grown-up.
With the support I gave him over the years, my ex now makes twice what he ever could’ve without me and four times as much as I will ever hope to, being that I am now 15 years behind in career development and a single mom to 4 kids whom I have custody of 95% of the time.
Yes, I get alimony — more than most, because two of our kids have disabilities — but 1/5 of his salary for 10 years will keep me from being destitute until my youngest is 18. It will never get back the time I signed over to him that made his career prospects so very lucrative at the expense of my own.
Career-wise, I am fucked.
I am smarter, harder-working, better educated, and far more competent than he ever will be but nothing can replace the time I can’t get back. I am also a full-time single mom to 4 kids which limits my future career prospects and renders me regrettably dependent my ex for my financial security — something he doesn’t hesitate to remind me of by withholding support payments when his petulance gets the best of him (as tends to happen with man-children who don’t get what they want).
Think long and hard because your trepidation is legit.