She might be lying because it’s easier than politely telling you to STFU.*
Sometimes working mom wants to work, regardless of her husband’s goals for income. Some women do, even mothers. Unnatural, I know.
When her husband says he can’t have more kids because they can’t afford them, well, he might not be telling the truth either. I imagine the wife also has some say in the additional children question… she may even not want more kids! But when a woman says she’s done with kids, that never goes over well. People always feel like they have to say, “Oh, you’ll change your mind” or “I’m sure if you had another one you’d be happier.”
I find the question really intrusive (although we do plan to have a second some day) and wish people would stop asking me about my fertility plans at work. Nothing I say ever satisfies them. Finally one well-meaning gentleman has stopped pressuring me (about 4 years of this, including in front of job candidates) to have another kid when I explained in detail the kinds of infertility treatment I had to go through to get the first one. Much easier to say it’s about money than whatever is actually going on, especially when it’s none of the questioner’s business in the first place.
Same thing with the working mom, we’re allowed to say we’d love to stay at home but we need the money but we’re not allowed to say we love our children to pieces but staying home with them would DRIVE US CRAZY. Coming off a week with DC in daycare and DH at a conference, I know that would definitely be true in my case.
The woman in question might not even realize that she prefers working and having a smaller number of kids because we’re so brainwashed into believing that the ideal of womanhood is staying at home and sacrificing ourselves for the Victorian ideal of the next generation. All those little boy chillin’s we ought to be martyring ourselves for (and boy grandbabies our daughters will be raising). So we say one thing to people who need to mind their own business, but deep down in our heart of hearts, may actually feel another, even if we don’t realize it ourselves. Oh, if only we didn’t have this mortgage, these schooling expenses etc, then we’d love to have 15 kids and no job other than to watch after them. Maybe not.
Not to say that there aren’t people who really would choose to stay at home or have more children if they had more money, but I bet those folks make a lot less money than most folks who answer the question in exactly the same way. (Not because of any SES reason, but because people who genuinely need 2 incomes to make ends meet are a subset of the people who say they do.)
Are you ever asked intrusive questions? Do you always answer them honestly?
*This is paraphrased from a reply I made on someone’s blog post I can’t find again. The point of the post was the blogger knows this guy who isn’t having any more kids and his wife works instead of staying home because the husband wants additional income. If they just lived super-frugal lives then they could instead have a SAHM and a dozen kids. Because that’s everybody’s ideal goal.