So I live in a very traditional town. Dads go to work. Moms keep the households running. As uncommon as this arrangement is on TV dramas or sitcoms, I think most of the country still lives this way. Personally, I don't think it's such a bad way to live, especially when you're raising kids. Like many recessions before it, this one is forcing people to rethink this way of life. The question is resurfacing for wives and mothers: "What if I got a job, just to make ends meet?"

My next-door neighbor has prided himself on providing for his wife and daughter. But he got laid off three months ago and started a small company with his brother, making not nearly enough to pay the bills. So his wife approached him about becoming a sub. "Okay," he said.

Now, any man who has been the sole provider and then had that taken away knows that when it comes time to share the reins there is a certain amount of pain. The definition of a husband and father, as you’ve been taught it, includes providing shelter, food, and comfort for your household. Not being able to do that hurts. It hurts your pride. It hurts your dignity. It is like telling a woman she is unable to bear children or change diapers or cook. Initially, that realization knocks you to the floor.

But beyond the initial shock and fear, households are looking at this change as a creative way to adapt. Half a dozen of my neighbors have wives who are going back to school. My wife is studying to become an elementary teacher. In the meantime, the men are learning to reconnect with home. We are making dinners, changing diapers, helping kids with homework, and even working up little schemes on the side to make extra money.

Maybe, in a way, our families and even our relationships are more tight-knit than ever. For the first time in our marriage, my wife and I are doing equal duty in all facets of life. And it's actually a good feeling.

Maybe that's what this recession is all about: adaptation. Maybe it's about becoming better communities because of the challenges we face, instead of the ways we avoid them. Maybe this is the way our country will return to its promise, by every single household in America pulling together to solve its own little problems.

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