On “getting wifed” after getting married

Guest post by Divamezzo

If you’ve read Offbeat Bride the book, you’ll remember the final chapter is called “Getting Wifed,” aka dealing with people’s expectations about how your life will change after the wedding…

Don'ts for Wives

I’ve noticed something a month after getting married… I feel like I’ve totally been “getting wifed” recently, and not-so-much by strangers or friends, but by my family, who really should know me better. One of my sisters has asked me a few times “how’s married life,” even though she knows I lived with my husband before we were married, and nothing much has changed. Still, in that case, I know she’s just making conversation, and that part is really not bad.

The assumption that now that I’m married I will be a “good girl,” have a nice, predictable, stable, practical career that keeps me home most of the time, buy a house, make babies, is baffling.

My dad, however, has been saying all kinds of weird stuff to me lately. He felt the need to spend most of his speech at my wedding talking about having babies, which at the time, I really didn’t mind that much, plus the whole room had a good laugh at his speech and my reaction. But recently he made a comment that he was glad I was married and “settled down.” I answered that I was married, but not-so-much settled down. There’s something about the phrase “settled down” that makes me want to pull my hair out.

I also remarked that my husband and I are really not sure if or when we will ever have kids, as we have no desire to do so anytime soon. My dad went on to say he hoped I did, and implied that if I didn’t have kids and do everything I could for them, I wasn’t repaying my parents for everything they did for me.

But the big “wifing” stuff came out, when he was making a check out to me, asking which name to use. I told him to use my maiden name/his name and said “You’re not changing your name?” “Nope!” “How does David feel about that?” “He doesn’t care at all.”

What bothered me about that conversation is that the notion that a woman “should” change her name is still prevalent, and whenever a woman doesn’t, or a family has a naming-arrangement (for lack of a better term) that isn’t the traditional woman-and-kid-takes-husband’s-name, people assume there must be some controversy around it.

Then, when I was talking about some of my long-term opera singing/professional goals and traveling abroad for auditions, my dad felt the need to ask, “Well, how does David feel about that?” I answered that he was supportive and it was something we discussed at length. David was given ample warning ahead of time of the realities of sharing your life with a professional singer. Neither one of us is wild about being apart for likely a month or more at a time, but it’s what my career requires, and he wants me to have a career.

When I talked to my sister about my hopes to travel to Germany for singing in the near future, she remarked, “but do you really want to do that your first year of marriage?” Whether I want to be away from my husband or not is beside the point: of course I don’t want to be away from him, but do I want to follow my dreams? Yes, and he wants that for me as well.

I’ve gotten variations on this “but you’re a wife now!” theme from a few people. The assumption people seem to make that I haven’t discussed these things with the person I’m arguably closest to and will be sharing my life with is baffling. As is what feels like the assumption that now that I’m married I will be a “good girl,” have a nice, predictable, stable, practical career that keeps me home most of the time, buy a house, make babies, etc.

Without passing judgement on anyone else’s life, (because I don’t think that people who work in a more “stable” profession, have babies, or buy a house all have the same, traditional life) it seems so odd to me that, in this day and age, the fact that there are so many different ways to be married, to make a living, or to live your life, is news to so many people.

Comments on On “getting wifed” after getting married

  1. So glad to see this discussion. After a nine-year relationship, my partner and I got married at the end of last year. My job (which I love) also requires that I travel internationally quite often (which I also love). My first month-long trip after we were married happened in April and I got so many of the same incredulous questions–from everyone from colleagues to the tailor who was hemming my pants. “What does your husband think of this? Is he ok with you being away for so long? Won’t you be lonely? I didn’t think you would keep travelling after you got married!”.

    I completely agree with the author here–we are lucky to live in a place and a time where there are so many ways to be married. Why is this still so surprising?

    • “Ya know, he was pretty chill with it for the first 9 years, so all bets are he’s still on board, but thanks for your concern.”

  2. First off, professional opera singer? AWESOME.
    Moving on, I’m not married/engaged but the kids thing I totally get, even though I’m not near there at all yet. Your line here-

    – “I also remarked that my husband and I are really not sure if or when we will ever have kids, as we have no desire to do so anytime soon. My dad went on to say he hoped I did, and implied that if I didn’t have kids and do everything I could for them, I wasn’t repaying my parents for everything they did for me.”

    That hit home for me very hard. I even told my father that I would like to adopt in order to help a needy child etc and he said “okay but at least have a few of your own, that are actually yours”. Since I was dating an adopted person at the time, needless to say that created tension, but even just the idea of “a few” as in many got me rankled as well. I’m glad to see that you have dealt with it in a calm way. Hopefully I can do the same πŸ™‚

    • I told my mom that I will probably want kids someday, but where I am right NOW (recognizing that possibly tomorrow my biological clock might start screaming) I feel that if my husband and I were unable to produce babies of our own, I don’t feel like I would be devastated. Her response, “Well, maybe you just shouldn’t have kids then.” As if a lack of life-long mommy obsession means that I’ll be a terrible mother, locking them in a closet or something. If I point out the option of adoption, she just rolls her eyes and says how expensive it is. And then sends me emails about people she knows who have adopted and how expensive it was. Great.

      • I WISH that was my mother’s reaction. Despite my assurances that yes, I probably *would* lock them in a closet, she’s convinced that I’ll magically turn into June Cleaver if I get knocked up.

        • So much This!

          The only concievable reason I can think of for having kids is so that they can wash the dishes and take the rubbish out…. maybe do some vacuuming…

          And even then I don’t think it would make up for the mess and noise and 5 YEARS OF ASS WIPING (someone I work with told me about that recently, I’m deeply disturbed)

          And yet, mothers, and mother-in-laws, and brothers, and sisters, and friends, and grandparents keep asking me when we’re going to make with the babies…

          I honestly don’t know what makes them think I wouldn’t lock it in a cupboard.

          • Ha yes ! The. 5 years of Ass wiping is very very true! The echoes of “mommy can you wipe my butt” fill my house daily.

      • BTW… You can adopt for FREE. In fact, the state (in the US) will often PAY you to adopt. As in a check every month to help take care of your new child, plus health insurance etc.

        There are hundreds of kids and babies waiting to be fostered or adopted, many of whom are being constantly bounced around in the system.

        I know that one of the OBH sponsors is an adoption agency, and if you want to go that route, you often get your pick of the gene pool and the expenses to match. But there are free and low cost options for adopting other kids, some of whom have special medical concerns. The best news is that if you have the kind of heart that could help a kid with a medical or developmental concern, the state will train you in how to work with that specific concern. For free.

        No income limits or qualifications necessary, no relationship qualifications (you can be a single man or woman, married, living with a partner, gay, straight, whatever) for adoption. Check it out… And email it to your mom πŸ˜‰

  3. I understand this. How does one answer the “how’s married life?” question, anyway? I mean, how does one respond to it other than saying “it’s great” or “it’s fine” or whatever? So bizarre and I wish people would find more interesting (though also non-prying) questions to ask newlyweds.

    When I was applying for jobs as a newlywed (my husband and I had both finished our master’s degrees just before we married), I was applying all over the place. At the prospect that I might get a job that was in a different place from my husband (albeit as a short-term situation), everyone kept asking “well, how does he feel about it?” Uh, obviously we’d discussed things and decided that it would have been for the best for both of us. As a couple that had spent much of our relationship long-distance, it wouldn’t have been a completely new experience or anything.

    Even now, although I fit into a more stereotypical “housewife” situation (yes, I did take his name, yes, I work at home and also clean, do laundry, and *sometimes* cook), I am starting my own arts business and doing my own thing, which makes me happy. At the same time, once again, I’m getting that annoying “well, what does *he* think of what you’re doing?” It makes it seem as though either 1. it’s as if I have to get permission now for every action I take, or 2. that they think I wouldn’t ever bother to talk things over with my husband. (For the record: he’s happy that I’m happy now. And this business was in the works for a while–it wasn’t some spontaneous thing, so when it finally clicked that I really needed to do this, it seemed like a natural progression.)

    Obviously, your husband would have known the kind of lifestyle your job would entail before you got married, so the questions people have asked are absurd. PS: I think it’s totally awesome that you sing opera.

    • Totally curious, does your husband (or anyone else’s) ever get asked “How does she feel about it?” when he’s sharing a decision?

      • Ooh, does this get my panties in a bunch. Hubbington gets asked how I feel about things, but only in relation to domestic -type things, ones which a typical 50s housewife would be opinionated about.

        Jon told some people he’s turning this weird basement room we have into a drum room. I overheard a few people asking, “Oh, really, what does Morgan think of that?” It’s equally offensive to assume that he’s in charge of all career things (“how do you feel about her traveling for her job”) and to assume I’m in charge of all household things (“how do you feel about his drum room”).

        I think the drum room is going to be epic. We agreed it was the perfect space for it. Just like we agreed I would have a great time working in China for 2 months, and that it would be a great opportunity for him to meet me there so I could show him around after having lived there. Just like we agreed to have an amazing offbeat wedding, or to get married in the first place.

        So how do I deal with this? I make sure people are educated about it, and I question them. I ask very plain questions (usually without a hint of sarcasm), like, “why would you ask that?” or “what makes you say that?” or “could you say more about what you’re really asking?” And sometimes I gently remind them in a joking way that most households are no longer a single-income situation where the power goes with the money, and I jovially say things like, “Well, since it’s 2013 and not 1913, we tend to have equal say in matters like this”.

        The “how’s married life” thing doesn’t bug me. To me it’s like people saying, “how’s life? Also, I remembered that you got married.” But I always answer with, “Well, it’s the same. Except I have another piece of paper around.”

        • Thank you so much for such a great response!

          And the drum room DOES sound awesome.

        • Ha – when people ask me how married life is I tell them it’s about the same as living in sin. I may have to steal your answer to change it up a bit since some people keep asking.

      • Not much that I know of , but a while back, before we were married, when he decided to take on department head responsibilities, a well-meaning coworker/friend whom we like very much, and I believe his parents, asked if he’d discussed it with me and how I felt about it (as it required extra meetings, extra work, etc). I don’t recall him discussing it with me before deciding to do it, but nor do I mind, because, as he said to them “her schedule is so busy, she probably won’t even notice that I’m gone a little longer”, which is true. I’m proud of him for being a great department head at such a young age, and it’s not like we have child care stuff to coordinate, so why would I mind? Plus, it’s a little extra money, always good!

      • @Claire: I think sometimes he does get asked “How does she feel about it?” but it’s usually about really, really stupid stuff. Example: last fall he went from having a shaggy sort of bowl cut look to having much shorter hair. People kept asking him how I felt about his new haircut. This was stupid, because I cut his hair (with his interest in changing it up), as I have been doing for a few years, now. How do I feel about his haircut? Glad I didn’t accidentally cut off his ears, I guess? Glad I didn’t mess up too noticeably?

        Honestly, the things they ask “How does she feel about it” are usually things that really don’t bother me in the first place. Another example: some people ask how I feel about him spending time with his female friends without me. Frankly, I don’t care–they’re his friends (or sometimes friends of both of ours), and I haven’t reason to be worried. He can spend time with his friends just as I spend time with my friends. It’s a stupid question.

    • “How’s married life?” “Ummm….pretty much the same as before we were married, except now I have people asking me that question or trying to insert his last name for mine without asking.”

      • “How’s married life?”

        “A little heavier on the left side”. We lived together for 3 yrs before we married, so really the only thing that changed was the ring and my name.

    • I’ve always answered “how’s married life?” with a laugh and some variation on “pretty much the same as unmarried life.”

      But we both hyphenated, so people already know we’re non-traditional, I think.

      • I’d love to know both of your experiences as a couple with hyphenated names. I’ve studied (a sociology graduate student) women who kept their names, either through hyphenation or retention without change, but I’ve never studied men…or a couple where both did this (as most men are unwilling/uninterested). I’ve thought about doing a study, though this is somewhat difficult given the few men who make this decision. Anyway, if you’re ever interested in sharing you and/or your husband’s experience, my email is [email protected].

        • His parents are uber-Catholic, so for them, we were totally living in sin. For everyone else, it’s just a funny old-fashioned phrase that usually gets a laugh. πŸ™‚

      • I’ve used this one too!
        We’ve got to reclaim these ridiculous phrases for our own purposes, you guys! Bonus points if you say it in a scary voice!

        “It’s much like living in SIN was. oooOOOoooo!”

  4. After being married for nearly 10 years this seems to never go away. I always hated the when are you two going to have kids and pressure from family (even a few friends). I always felt like there’s more to me or any woman than just that.

    It makes me so frustrated (passive aggressively of course) that my husband who is far more bold than I straight out says it’s none of anyone’s business and stop asking about it. I’m far from settled, working on a variety of ideas and things, a good portion of people have gotten over it but there’s always those hold outs.

    Good luck, and be straight forward. “I’m not ready and I’m not talking about it.” or “This is my dream and we respect each others dreams and are supportive of each other, that’s why we got married.”

    • When they get particularly obnoxious about the “when-are-you-having-kids” question, I usually respond:

      “When they discover how to have someone else give birth and raise them until the age of 18. Then I will have children.”

  5. Yes and yes! I hate those questions! “How does he feel about it?” Or being told it’s good that I’ve settled down. My skin quite literally wants to crawl off my body and into a corner when I hear that.

  6. This definitely happened to me after our wedding too. Many eyebrows were raised at the fact that he hyphenated while I kept my maiden name – which of course begged the question of what our kids’ last name would be, which raised eyebrows further over the fact that any hypothetical-but-not-planned-for-anytime-soon kids would get MY last name! (Let’s face it, my name just sounds nicer)

    It stopped after a few months, though. People just get weird when things change. In a way, it’s a bit like when it’s your birthday and everyone is all like “how do you feel now that you’re [number]?” when really, you feel just like yesterday, except maybe hungover.

    As an aside: come to Germany, it’s nice here! πŸ™‚

  7. actually, it is a two sided coin – which means the other side is different for men. my husband and I have been together over 30 years and while I get “what does your husband think of that” when I travel alone, when he recently bought a motorcycle he got a slew of “what does your wife think of that” questions. questions and comments that assume negativity always make me wonder about the asker’s relationships.

    • “questions and comments that assume negativity always make me wonder about the asker’s relationships.”

      So much this.

    • At the same time, I understand the motorcycle thing. I think that one is gender-neutral.

      Every time I buy a new one, people ask me what he thinks of it. LOTS of people ask. The bottom line is motorcycles are a dangerous, potentially deadly activity. A loving partner is naturally concerned about the other partner’s safety and well-being… of course he’s not crazy about me riding around in crazy LA traffic on something that doesn’t have the safety measures a car does. Of course he worries about me.

      Then again, more gender stereotype stuff comes up when people see it on our garage and assume it’s his…. and that I passively ride on the back.

      • “Then again, more gender stereotype stuff comes up when people see it on our garage and assume it’s his…. and that I passively ride on the back.”

        A thousand times this! PS We should go riding together πŸ˜‰

        • YES!

          It’s also interesting how the riding community responds. I’ve gotten a lot of, “What, he doesn’t ride? How can you be in a relationship/married to someone who doesn’t ride?” As if we can’t have separate interests and still be a unit. So strange.

          • Okay- I’m guilty of this- but as a gamer.

            And meeting *so* many couples where the wife is slowly trying to *change* her husbands likes of gaming/anime into “normal” things, just because she doesn’t want to get involved in his interests at all(That’s so WEIRD!)… I find it disconcerting.

            Also, I cannot think what they do with their free time- just home-making? When does your brain let go of reality? Only TV? What?!?? Do you even read? You read *biographies*?!
            But we’re in the Harry Potter generation?
            ……
            What do you mean you don’t like dragons?! *culture shock/mind-blown*

  8. The assumption people seem to make that I haven’t discussed these things with the person I’m arguably closest to and will be sharing my life with is baffling.

    I got this during wedding planning, and it was kind of hurtful — it seemed to assume that I was the kind of person who would make important decisions all by myself and announce them without consulting the person she’s marrying. OF COURSE we’ve already discussed it between ourselves. OF COURSE my fiancee agrees, or I wouldn’t be requesting a contract / sharing our plans / asking for help executing it. She was doing the same thing, but on other parts of the list; we were speaking individually for Team Us. ‘Cause it’s a wedding. I don’t know whether any of the pushback was really friends and family saying, “What does your fiancee think about that?” while MEANING “I don’t like that idea,” but it was very strange.

    • Yes! Outside of the Offbeat Tribe, I read a lot of wedding blogs and I’m appalled at the many posts about “how to convince him to dance”, “how to make him buy you a big diamond”, “how to make him stop him from being such a dumb boy, urgh” (yep, in the world of wedding blogs, men are usually depicted as immature, cheap and stupid, and brides are f*cking princesses). Why do those people get married at all?

      • “How to make him buy you a big diamond”?? Ugh! I didn’t even get a diamond, nor did I want one. I got a sapphire, I fortunately only got one rude comment about it from someone I didn’t know well, apparently to them, my fiance at least should have gotten me a fake diamond. I love my sapphire ring and still wear it with my wedding band.

        • Yay for non-diamond rings! I have an amethyst (I specifically said I *didn’t* want a diamond), and I love it, and wear it with my wedding band! I was lucky enough not to get too many “what, it’s not a diamond?” reactions β€” my favourite reaction was actually my one aunt, who said, “Oh, good, it’s not a diamond!”

        • I also did not want a diamond, nor did I even want a big ring. I got a lovely little emerald set inside a silver band. My usually sane mother-in-law asked her son when he was going to get me a “real” engagement ring. I also had a coworker who, upon seeing it, said, “Hm. Small.” But she lives in a fairy tale sitcom world, so I don’t pay too much attention to what she says.

        • My engagement ring is a titanium band with celtic knotwork. My wedding band has a ‘diamond’ (i’m not 100% sure it’s real, but i love it either way) that is set in a flush mount. Think of a traditional men’s wedding band with a small diamond (1/4 carat, maybe? It’s small) inserted so it’s flush and that’s what i have (oh, it’s also titanium. I’ve reacted to silver and ‘gold’ before so we didn’t want to invest in something I couldn’t wear).

        • Not only did we go not Diamonds – I MADE our wedding bands. after working in the jewelry industry I knew that diamonds were over-hyped rocks. I chose a 2k amethyst solitaire in a basket setting paired with and a gold “eternity” style strip setting on silver to make an open band to jacket around it. His band is a matching gold/silver eternity band. Since we were on a tight budget, I got the metals wholesale and pulled it off for low $$$ (pre-jump precious metals prices) We get nothing but complements on them, one stranger at the check-out aisle in the store remarked that she’d never seen such a “Byzantine” looking ring. Yay!

      • The world outside Offbeat Tribe can be a really scary place. Occasionally I’ll wander off aimlessly and get a rude shock in the comments section of articles that seem to only be trying to further the “divide” between men and women. Did you know they still make people who believe that all men will cheat given the slightest opportunity? Gross… people can just be gross. Meanwhile I’m pulling out my hair, wailing and gnashing my teeth at the insanity of it all.

        On another note, – and slightly off topic – try being in a long term relationship with stable jobs, and kids and houses and fending off almost daily “when are you getting married?” questions or some variation of that which feels like it basically translates into, “you poor woman, how damaged you must feel because he won’t marry you.” for me and “when are you going to make an honest woman of her?” for him. Which is as sexist as it is ridiculous. Like… maybe -I’m- the one who doesn’t want to get married and that’s OK. Anyone? No? Bastards.

  9. So glad I found this post. I’ve been getting this nonstop.

    I’m getting married in September, and in October, I may be going for a ten-month volunteer experience. (I should know yay or nay fairly soon–cross your fingers for me).
    “But you’ll only be married a month then! How will you be able to handle your first year of marriage apart?”
    The same way I imagine I’d handle it if we weren’t married: miss him, but understand that I’m doing what’s best for me.
    “But what does he say about it?”
    He’s the one who encouraged me to apply because he knows it’s what I really, really want. He’s also nudging me toward the Peace Corps after college, even though it’s a two-year commitment, because we can’t squash each other’s dreams just to be together. He’ll still be there when I get back.

    Conversely, when he mentions his tentative plans to join the military after we get married, all he gets is “Oh that’ll be great for you and Spazz!” Everyone assumes (correctly, but STILL) that we’ve talked about it and reached a decision together.

    He gets to be away for several months for training and deployments, but I can’t to follow my dreams? Thanks, y’all.

    • That is insane. Absolutely insane.

      What can be done to educate people about this? How is it still a thing to assume this stuff?

      (and good luck!)

      • To borrow a phrase from elsewhere (either this blog or captain awkward) : it’s not asked AT you, I think.

        I’ve been the friend asking ‘how’s married life / what does your partner say’.

        As Morgan Culture mentioned uptread, sometimes it’s a matter of asking ‘how’s things’ + ‘I remember you got married recently’.

        At other times, I’m simply speaking from the perspective of my lasting single state : I make decisions independently and always have. I reckon my true question is ‘wow, such a life-changing impactful decision… personally I make lists of pro and con and then still doubt for days or weeks… how does that even work if you have to manage your own list and take your partner’s list into account ? What’s your special strategy ?’

        None of my friends have indicated that my question is super annoying, so I’m hoping I wasn’t too bad.
        Perhaps this point of view is also true for other people ?

  10. I totally 100% feel you on this, I’ve had everything from being told it’s blasphemous to not change my last name, to being asked by my mom what my husband thinks of my new haircut and then the suggestion that maybe my partner would like my hair long (I like it short with bright colours…).

    People don’t realize that my husband and I have an equal partnership, and neither of us has veto power over the other’s decisions. We have a mutual respect for each other, and prefer to support each other in our life choices. Big decisions involve big discussions, by the two of us, not one of us telling the other one how it is. I don’t decide his hairstyle and he leaves mine alone. πŸ˜‰

    • I decide my husband’s hair style, but only because he lets me near his head with scissors, and he gets whatever the end result is. :p I also decide my own hairstyle, for the same reasons!

  11. I GET the purpose of the “how does your spouse feel about that?” questions. You are part of a partnership, and your actions affect you both.

    Remember that sometimes people ask those questions because
    1) they’ve been hearing them phrased that way their entire lives and have never contemplated what they imply
    2) they could just be curious and won’t judge you either way
    3) they could be asking because they are trying to see how they would feel in a similar situation

    HOWEVER, all it takes is one acquaintance to see you at the grocery store on a weekend and make a comment about the wife doing the grocery shopping while the husband must be golfing for these types of questions to get under your skin. And so many of them are always gender-stereotype-specific that it gets annoying very quickly. People love putting labels on other people, so when you have a new label like “WIFE,” people assume that you are now part of the stereotype!

    I wish there was a way to make small talk and bond with people that didn’t resort to antiquated stereotypes.

    • YES to the stereotype about “wife”. This is why I often say “partner” instead of “husband”. However, when people haven’t met my PARTNER and don’t know he’s a man, this can lead to confusion. I’ve had weird moments when I said, “Oh, my partner blah blah blah” and then gotten a reply like “Oh, my daughter is a lesbian too!”

      So… not a lot of ways to win here.

      • Even though I’ve been married for almost 4 years, I still don’t feel comfortable using the words husband and wife much. Especially wife. If I’m meeting someone that knew him first, I’ll introduce myself as “his wife,” but I otherwise never refer to myself as “a wife.” And as for him, if I’m mentioning him in conversation, I either refer to him by name or as “the spouse.” The funny thing is, some people get so used to me referring to him this way, they’ll ask “how’s the spouse doing?”

        • I tooootally feel the same way. Much like “fiance” felt weird for me to say, “husband and wife” feels so fucking formal. I say “that guy I married” when talking or writing about Aaron to people who don’t know him by name. And, of course, I am “that girl he married.”

      • Haha, I do find myself using “partner” a lot too, at least on this site or in writing. It’s such a great term for when you want to discuss your relationship… because it is a partnership and you don’t always have to discuss gender to get your point across!

        In general, I love using gender-neutral terms. For example “Are you dating anyone?” not “do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” It prevents me from offending people or putting my foot in my mouth. And I do LOVE asking obviously straight very conservative people questions in gender-neutral terms to see the look on their faces (but I’m kinda an asshole like that.)

      • In French, there is a word for husband but there isn’t a word for wife. We use the translation for “woman”. It’s like saying : this is my husband, and I am his woman. Originally it was because a woman first belong with her father then with her husband, so a woman would always be someone’s woman, there was no need for another word. I know everyone says it all the time but I think I won’t like being called someone’s woman. We’ll have to figure it out.
        There are “Γ©poux” and “Γ©pouse” though, which mean husband and wife too but they’re old-fashioned and it’s odd to hear them.

        We have been together for over 6 years and sometimes when asked by some random people I would try to say “my partner” or “my companion”, meaning we are together without implying we’re married but usually people would think I was a lesbian.

    • “He’s home doing my laundry” is my standard reply – often because it’s true! He gets into that whole “color sorting vs whites” thing I think of as more of a guideline than a rule. On the other hand, he is incapable of loading a dishwasher to my satisfaction. Division of labor baby! However, when we were getting the whole, “So when are you two having kids?” round of questions from family I came up with a conversation stopper. “Well, we’re trying, but if you want him to try any harder we’re gonna have to quit our jobs.” They usually left us alone on that point after that…well, except for Grandma. I think she kept asking because the answer made her giggle.

  12. I too got a lot of that when I was first married. I don’t remember it bothering me much though because event though my husband and I lived together for almost 3 years before we got married, I did feel that our relationship changed after we were married. Not in the sense that we suddenly became different people and our relationship had a complete overhall, but more in this sense of permanence. I’m having trouble finding the right word because it’s not closure or finality, but more of the difference of having created something new lasting. Like being forged.

    Anyway… I think my point is that when people ask “how does N feel about that?” or similar questions, to me I generally feel that they’re asking because they think that I’ll know how he feels, or that he might feel differently than I do and that might realistically impact how I make my decision.

    • I can’t agree enough. This is exactly how I feel.

      Maybe most of my interactions with people regarding my marriage have been really pleasant. But I guess this is just one more thing to add to my list of blessings I count each night.

  13. I ran up against this in a surprisng-to-me way after I got married. My husband’s parents are very old fashioned. Other than when my father in law goes to work, they are never apart for more than an hour or two. On the other hand, my dad flies for a major airline. It was normal in my family for him to be gone 16 days a month. These two background collided about eight months into our first year of marriage.

    My husband went “home” to help his parents with a health issue for about ten days. I stayed home – mostly for budget reasons. After he was there for two days his mother apparently very gently took him aside and asked what he did to upset me and if everything was alright in our marriage.

    Well, it warms my heart that she cares.
    She has continued to be baffled that we will leave town without each other, but she tries.

    • Its kinda been the opposite for my husband and I. My dad worked night shift and his worked away from home most of the year, so we figured it was common for couples to be apart, but the longest I’ve been away from him is a week, and that was odd. I didn’t get any sleep that week.

  14. Oooooh, this gets me angry. It just so happens my chosen career path is a largely stay at home one, but every time someone commends me for chosing “to make a home” I want to throw things. First, the home that I make contains waaaay more Doctor Who memorabilia than any traditional household they’re thinking of. Second, this is something my husband and I have talked long and hard about. We’re both writers- I write young adult, he writes speculative fiction and fantasy. He’s aware of the fact that should I be successful, I will likely make more money than he does. And so, apparently, is everyone else. They’re appalled, like, “Is your husband okay with you outearning him?” Uh, duh. It’s his money too.

    Props to you for following what you want to do, and props to your husband for being awesome and supportive.

    • Just to play devil’s advocate, but not all married couples combine their money. But the point is that the question “Is your husband okay with you outearning him?” is silly. I’m not sure what that means, either. Does it stem from the inequity in pay for men and women who have the SAME EXACT job? That the woman should make less?

      Also maybe the OffBeats should reclaim some of these phrases: Anna, I commend you for “making a home” TOGETHER with your husband filled with AWESOME THINGS that make you both happy.

      • And…. this from today, BAM: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/female-breadwinners-good-income-bad-outcome/article12322083/

        As a female “breadwinner” with a zero-income “househusband”, who has been so since two years BEFORE we got married, I find this article ridiculous, and the last two paragraphs, where Margaret Wente expresses her own opinion, are the most ridiculous.

        Yet it’s also really indicative of how people view our relationship from the outside.
        “He should get a job” “How can you be OKAY with him not working?!”

        Key point being income. He works, but he doesn’t earn an income for it. And I’m cool with that.

        …I suppose that’s also why he’s the one that gets the “What does she think about that?” questions, and I don’t.

        • Oh ew. This line, “They want partners who can prove they are providers. They do not want househusbands,” really steams me. My fiance lost his job a few months ago and is home 6 days a week. Is he any less of a provider because he’s not working in an office somewhere to bring home the big bucks? Hell. No. He cooks, he cleans, he fixes things, he f*king decorates. He’s a househusband and he gets done all the things that need to get done, so that when I come home from work and class I have a comfortable house to unwind in. How is this not “providing”?

          Like, what, housewives aren’t providing anything for their families? What a crock of cow manure.

          • Personally, I would love having a househusband. I mean, I love that my fiance and I are both ambitious, but this also means keeping our kitchen clean is a constant chore for both of us. If he was cool with it (and I could afford it), I don’t think I’d have a problem with him being a homemaker at all!

    • I don’t know if that was what was meant, but I think the right question is “is it ok that one of the other outearns the other”, no matter who’s the man and who’s the woman.

      I am currently unemployed and anyway with his job he will always earn more than whatever I may earn. And I don’t like it although it is more often the case than the other way round. Right now I feel hurt and shameful because I feel like I’m a burden to him. Maybe that was the question, not the gender thing.

  15. You’re married! Next up, orange flavored fiber drinks and Wheel of Fortune marathons, because your youth is over! Sheesh πŸ˜‰

  16. @Anna — I always thought that was hilarious (the concern that husbands /men should be offended if the wife makes more money), for two reasons.

    First – isn’t equal pay a battle that was already fought and (mostly) won? I feel like a lot of the people making these comments on the home-front would, in the context of the workplace, find the idea of paying a women less than a man for the same job/experience level to be ridiculous.

    And second – I have a few female friends who make more than their husbands, and as you said, to their husbands it’s just money in the bank so they love it.

  17. Your dad sounds like my mom. Just today on the phone, after asking how my husband is doing, she asked if I’m being nice to him… Being nice to him?! Why would I be otherwise??? I replied, “Yes, I am nice to him. If I wasn’t, he wouldn’t have married me.”

    • This made me laugh. It sounds like something my grandmother would say when she would really mean “are you giving him the sex he demands even though you may not want to?” And yes, my grandmother would probably actually do that. Yay for growing up in the rural South.

    • Haha! Yeah, that’s a weird question. It’s reassuring to hear that other people’s parents still seem to think their adult children are still 8 on some level too.

  18. YES to all of this!
    About a year after getting married, my husband moved across the country for a job opportunity – a 6 month contract job. We were hopeful that it would turn into a permanent position, but I wasn’t willing to move until that happened. Most family and friends were supportive, but my own parents told us that this would essentially ruin our marriage that we would end up cheating on each other. Thanks, right?!

    After 7 months of living apart, he got hired on full time and I made the move to live with him again. Imagine that- we survived and our relationship is stronger than ever.

    Now, we ARE getting some pressure to start popping out babies, but we are both focused on our careers at the moment… The parents DO NOT like that.

    • My FH’s coworkers recently told him as he moved towards the big 40 (he’s 35) he’ll have a mid-life crisis and want to fuck anything with a skirt.
      I think it’s total BS (plus, some don’t wait to be 40 for that) and I absolutely trust him but he told me this very seriously so I’m a little concerned that he might not trust himself.

      • Oh, this IS good to know. I just told my husband that he can only be around women in pants, just to avoid the temptation as he gets older. πŸ˜‰

        On the serious side, I’ve heard this, too, and I’m not sure why people think no man knows how to avoid having sex with people he shouldn’t. It’s not like he can just trip and it happens…

    • Yeah, when I even started talking about leaving my full-time day job to focus on music, and preserve my sanity, I heard a lot about the marital problems I would surely have related to finances because I wasn’t working full time, and all this “how will you buy a house? how will you have kids?” It’s another example of it not occurring to people that the fiance (at the time) and I obviously discussed out plans at length, being responsible adults and all. πŸ˜‰

  19. I really like this post. It hurt me emotionally when family and friends would say that now I’m with a country boy in Alabama, I’ll be settling down..having babies, be a working mom (thankfully both sides encourage this and we have a great support network for this to happen)…but I won’t be out at waffle house at 2 AM reading and drinking coffee, hanging out for girl’s nights, oh and planning to have trips overseas for fun.
    Uhmm excuuuuse me? I love my husband to death, but I don’t have to spend every waking moment with him. I get a last minute call at 11 at night to meet at the cigar bar with my friends for some drinks? Thats cool with the hubbs since he’s deep in his Doctor Who marathons. Oh he wants to go play a blackjack tournament with one of his customers tonight? Cool! I can catch up on a manga series I’m hooked on!
    Go to disney world before we have kids? HELL YEA!
    Maybe retire in Switzerland? Travel on cargo ships overseas? Send our future kids to Japan alone to see their grandfather?
    Dont get me wrong, we struggle with the concept of “oh you’re not a roommate/sister/brother/mother” you’re my SPOUSE!With a little teamwork we’ve been able to to tackle simple stuff like chores all the way up to making budgets together. But in no way either of us are turning into some 50’s nostalgic couple!

    • Not married yet, but I think I’ve behaved “wifey” for some time now. When friends offer me to go out or invite me to stay for dinner, I phone my FH to ask if it’s ok with him (it always is), and usually they smile down on me like I’m so cute. I’m not asking for permission, but what if he had been cooking for me, or cancelled plans to be with me that night? (yes he does that).
      Some people confuse respect with submissiveness.

      Also, I seem to be that super-cool girlfriend who lets him have his friends over on late notice, makes them tea and/or cakes, plays with them or leave them alone whenever it’s best. It’s nice to feel cool, but isn’t it normal?

  20. “Getting wifed” – it is an interesting, and incredibly frustrating, occurrence.

    It happened to and upset me in a completely different way. By the time my husband & I married, we’d already been together nearly 6 years and had been living together for most of that time. So by then, we’d already been quite settled into “married life” just without the paper work. For some time before and after the wedding, I was unemployed. BEFORE we got married, there were constantly hurtful comments coming at me (mostly from my mother, honestly) about not having a job and my dude paying for everything, it was seen as HIS money. Anything that was bought for me, even a simple necessity, was seen as a gift from him and ohhhh how he “spoiled” me. Nevermind that he never saw it that way, that I never saw it that way. That when I DID have a job, we had combined our money and it was all just “ours.”

    No one gave it a second thought after we were married. Nothing about our lives changed, but since we were married it was magically okay that he was the only source of income.

    My Mom actually told me, “You know, I really wanted more for you but now that you’re married I decided I’m totally fine with you not working. It’s like, you stay home and take care of the house and your husband and it works for you.”

    She said it as if, as a grown woman, I need that sort of approval. I do NOT. And I didn’t appreciate it, in fact it hurt my feelings a lot. Not to mention the fact that my unemployment was NEVER intended to be a permanent thing, and I’m working now actually. I’ve always wanted more for myself too, and I didn’t just give up when I got married!

  21. You know, I must say that I am incredibly blessed in that I really haven’t had much of this. I wonder if it’s because I’m the obvious dominant personality in our marriage (and I’m also a no-bullshit type of person in regular life, too) that makes people not ask those questions or make those types of remarks. I’d really be curious to see if that makes a difference, or if I’m just fortunate enough to be surrounded by more progressive-minded people? (Not saying that your fam & friends aren’t progressive, just that maybe on this subject they’re a little more steeped in tradition than others.)

  22. you’re right there are so many different ways… so how are people supposed to learn about these different ways if they don’t ask questions? and how are they supposed to avoid asking without using the frame of reference they know best which is “traditional”?

    i’m just saying instead of being miffed and defensive by “getting wifed” take it as an opportunity to educate your family in how you and your husband are making things work best for you.

    as for the grandbaby thing, just try to understand that your dad has probably spent most of your adult life looking forward to having grandchildren to love, play with, and spoil. that doesn’t mean you have any obligation to have kids! not at all! but try to be patient and understanding of his hopes just as you want him to be open minded and supportive of yours.

    • Very true! But re-grandbabies, my dad has 6 already (one born just a few months ago), so he totally doesn’t need to be bugging me for more! πŸ˜‰

    • Very true! But re-grandbabies, my dad has 6 already (one born just a few months ago), so he totally doesn’t need to be bugging me for more! πŸ˜‰

  23. THIS:

    take it as an opportunity to educate your family in how you and your husband are making things work best for you.

    • I do this regularly, and usually back up my lessons with articles from here to show I’m not some weird duckling alien off on my own. My family might have resorted to making jokes about my compulsive referencing…but it’s also opened their minds up way more than I would have ever been able to do on my own. πŸ™‚

      • *fist bump*

        Related: I’d LOVE to hear more about your situation with your house-spouse. Maybe he’d like to write a guestpost for us on being a husband homemaker?

  24. I’m thankful I don’t get the “how’s married life” very often anymore. I think that’s because I kept answering it like, “Well it’s the same as non-married life, except we both have another ring – and I’m pretty sure there’s a piece of legal documentation floating around somewhere.” Then the asker would get flustered and say things like “oh of course! so how is life going then?”

    I have encountered the “what does your husband think about that?” when it comes to my name. Neither of us changed. I always respond with, “I don’t know. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care. Why? Should he?”

    When people do those condescending comments like…”be nice to each other” or “what are you going to do after the baby comes?” (we’re pregnant right now) I like to respond with completely ridiculous answers.

    “No, we’re never nice to each other. We’re constantly beating each other with sacks of oranges, and having yelling matches.”

    “Well, I think our plan is to put the baby in the closet and then go party. Baby’s are self-sufficient right?”

  25. How about these sample responses to ridiculous questions to educate the masses:

    “Wow, you make it sound like we don’t talk things over together!”
    “Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice to be a kept woman.”
    “Unfortunately, that was not part of the dowry.”

    NB: sarcasm implied πŸ™‚

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