I dislike being a housewife: My struggle with being financially dependent on my spouse

Updated Jun 4 2018
Guest post by Rosi Posi
Yeah… doing this does not make me THAT happy. (By: EthanCC BY 2.0)

Many women dislike the word "housewife" because of implications of feminism and the stigma of gendered domestic roles. I dislike the word "housewife" because I am one. Well, I don't dislike the word itself but the actual role. I dislike being a housewife!

I'm also not a housewife and "stay-at-home mom"; not because I dislike that word either, but because I am not a mother nor am I expecting. My only children are a nine-year-old dog who thinks she's the queen of the world and a rescued cat with the personality of Garfield. I am, however, a wife to a very loving husband who drives me insane and woos me simultaneously. My love for my husband, my animals, and my beat-up home do not change the fact that I really dislike being a housewife.

Like any other housewife (or househusband), I get shit done! However, I still find myself attempting justification of my housewife role to others. More importantly, the biggest challenge I've faced is justifying that role to myself. Why I dislike being a housewife and why I've struggled to justify this role to myself is complex but at the core is a very simple explanation: I can't handle being financially dependent on my husband.

Financial dependency has always been an emotional struggle for me. I have a hard time even taking money from my parents, which typically comes in the form of payment of a student loan or treating at a restaurant (both of which I greatly appreciate). With my husband, I struggle even more because this dependency typically involves receiving cash directly.

My husband knows that I struggle with this. He attempts to make me comfortable with the situation by reminding me that I contribute greatly to him and our household, that I brought a fair amount of savings (from pre-law school employment) and financial savvy to our marriage, and that my lack of income is only temporary. These well-intentioned attempts rarely ease my discomfort.

I remind myself that I help in ways that make his life more comfortable and convenient, I maintain my legal skills through my freelance job, and I volunteer contributing to the greater good. Sometimes that makes me feel better. But most days my contributions make me feel like my husband is paying me to be his maid/chef/dog walker.

I understand and even encourage one to provide for his or her spouse, family, or household in non-monetary ways. However, I am not offsetting many expenses but rather am an expense. I do not feel like a provider. I feel like the line item on my husband's budget so that he can provide to himself, our animals, and our home in order to relax and not have to do it himself. I am "earning my keep" and that makes me feel like a financial burden. Because of this feeling, I have yet to ask my husband for money when I need it; I just wait for him to offer and begrudgingly accept it.

My husband is not to blame for this; he even tries to mitigate the situation. It's all in my head. But I can't be the only who feels like this. Whether you prefer the term "housewife/husband," "homemaker," or another term entirely, how do you deal with the discomfort of financial dependency on a spouse?

  1. I get this.

    In the first year of our marriage I was the provider, mainly because my husband was finishing his degree. He didn't really like that but I won't speak for him. This year it's switched a little, although I have a part-time job, and I was lecturing two classes and trying to work on my art all at the same time, I often felt that I was dependent. What was worse is that at times I was made to feel as if I should take more of the household duties because I was home more often. This wouldn't have been a problem if it was just my part-time job and home filling my life, but actually I was home working on multiple issues.

    It sounds like you're trying to fill your time to prove that you're worth being "an expense", but that's not helping you because it's not a personal aim, it's you acting as if you are making it up to your husband.

    If these things were simply out of love for him and yourself that would be fine and great. But it doesn't sound like your husband needs you to prove your worth and would himself feel better if you weren't feeling so rubbish. Try and look at your personal aims so instead of being a housewife, you are simply a girl on a mission who has housework and a dog like everyone else. I think your husband would rather pick up a few chores than have you feeling this bad.

    Right now, I am about to become the "expense", however it's in order to pursue something I really feel strongly about. We've talked over the boundaries of house and office, and we both know that my working hours are the same as his no matter the monetary difference. If I get a load of laundry on at the same time as designing a project then I'm superwife.

    Figure out what you want to do with your time. Until then I find chocolate works – there has to be some benefits about being so close to the kitchen!

    • Elle, you are so right! My husband doesn't want me feeling like this. You also hit the nail on the head with the following paragraph:

      It sounds like you're trying to fill your time to prove that you're worth being "an expense", but that's not helping you because it's not a personal aim, it's you acting as if you are making it up to your husband.

      I am one of the people who feels indebted to anyone who helps me out in any way. Thus, I always feel the need to return the favor by going above and beyond. I do feel like I have to make it up to my husband. This is due in part to my own mental struggle that often makes me feel like I'm "not good enough" in any circumstance. That is a separate issue that I've addressed and deal with accordingly.

      I have a hard time asking my husband to pick up the slack because 1) his job and commute keep him from the house 12+ hours a day during the week and 16+ a weekend 1-2 times a month; and 2) I am a Cuban girl from a sometimes traditional Latin/Catholic family which distorts my need to be a subservient wife. Although I am considered by my family to be the rebel/black sheep/bitch who does not succumb to tradition/stereotype, I still have the subservient Latin housewife (and let your husband relax) mentality that I cannot entirely erase.

      This is not an excuse…its just an extra component that makes the situation difficult. However, what I probably need most (other than chocolate which I LOVE) is time, the time to actually sit down with my husband to actually discuss my priorities and how he can support me (other than financially) in those priorities AND the time to accept that I am not superwife, nor should I attempt to be.

      • This so hard!! I'm a Puerto Rican from a traditional Latino/Catholic family and go through the same struggle. I KNOW that I don't have to follow tradition. I'm marrying a man who doesn't expect me to be that kind of wife. Still, every time I doubt my role in our household I still hear family members telling me I need to cook more, keep our house cleaner, listen to my man more, be less sarcastic, and for the love of all things holy, dress like a lady and watch my weight so he doesn't leave!

        I've been having problems with my job, and my fiance keeps telling me to quit after the wedding when I can be on his health insurance. It's so hard to explain that I'm not keeping my job for insurance purposes, I'm keeping it for self-identity purposes. I hate being dependent, it scares the crap out of me. It also makes me feel like I'm becoming the woman I've always been told I have to be. That woman is a woman who is a shadow of her husband. She should only get pleasure from the happiness of her family. She needs to have lots of babies. That's just not me. I'm not saying that's what being a housewife means, I don't think it does at all. It's just in my insecurity, that's where all my panic attacks start to set in.

        • I laughed when I read your post, not because it was funny (obviously its serious) but because you sound exactly like me. When it comes to family members giving me a hard time, it is almost always the old ladies (abuelita, the tia abuelas). I don't know if the same applies for you; I find it silly that the very women who were oppressed or restricted by my culture are the ones imposing the oppression and restriction upon the younger generation. What's sad is that I got lucky when I got married at the lovely age of 24. My cousin who is older than me and still unmarried gets asked all of the time, "When are you going to find a husband?" She has lost a lot of weight so now I'm the heavier one and the unlucky recipient of the "weight loss" comments. I feel your pain!

          I've always been very honest with my husband about that aspect of my identity. Of course, he makes jokes about the Latino sexism (he doesn't take anything seriously except really bad stuff). My husband is not Latino but he says (jokingly) now that we're married he's full-on Latino and can be machismo. That's when I cut him a dirty look and threaten (jokingly) to throw some cookware at him. We share a "Three Stooges" humor in our relationship, BTW.

          This struggle wasn't prominent for me while in law school because I was so busy studying that my husband worked full-time, did most of the cooking, and took care of most of the cleaning. He is 12 years older than me so he lived as a bachelor, and thus had to cook and clean on his own, for a long time. He's also a better cook then me. Now that his position changed, he's gone more hours a day (a lovely commute) and has built-in overtime which means every few weekends he's working 12+ hour shifts (plus that awesome commute). Our circumstance have drastically changed which has caused a major shift in our household roles. It has been a major adjustment on both of our parts. As much as I dislike being financially dependent and struggling with my self-identity, I would rather deal with that than be in a miserable job.

          Although I do not want to be the kind of person who puts her husband's happiness before her own, I would not put a job (read: individual job different from profession/career goals) before my marriage which is why I turned down a job offer that I was concerned would make me unhappy and thus, might be detrimental to the health of my marriage (as well as my own sanity). However, if I found a job that made me happy (which is what I'm currently holding out for), then I would be a happier person when it came to that part of my identity. That happiness could then transfer to other parts of my identity, one of them being my marriage. I feel as though a job that makes me miserable would have the same domino effect and thus, I might have an unhappy job AND an unhappy marriage.

          What helps to remember is that your self-identity and independence are not solely created by financial freedom (i.e. a job/income) but by being productive with the values you hold important to your identity. An example I can give you about myself is that I support public interest (as in that's the kind of lawyer I want to be) and community service (not just physical volunteer work but contributing to society mentally). I am currently volunteering on an organization's language access task force. In my volunteer work, I've been able to sit in on and be intelligently vocal at important meetings with government agencies.

          I guess the point I'm trying to make to you (if you even want to hear it) is that quitting your job and working at home (temporarily or on a long-term basis) does not mean you have to be submissive. Sometimes, an individual has more power when they are free from the constraints of being a "worker bee."

          • I know exactly what you mean about the abuelitas. I always found it silly as well. Sometimes I see my cousins start to push the same ideals on their daughters and it is so surprising to me. I guess the cycle is a lot harder to break than people understand.
            I also love the humor you and your husband share. My guy and I have very similar conversations. He is also not Latino and jokes that he would be happy to be the one pregnant and barefoot if it means I won't go all Latin and throw the cookware at him.
            I really appreciate the advice, and I do take it to heart. I hate to make it sound like the only reason I go to work each day is for the paycheck. My job has been increasingly demanding lately which has made me come off as very bitter. We also recently found out they might be closing down my department right before the wedding which is what started the stay at home option conversations. However, I actually do find a lot of value in my work. I teach kids who dropped out of high school at a program for foster youth. The kids make me crazy, and there are a lot of days they push my buttons and I just want to give up. I also work really long hours most days, so I'm out of the house between 10 and 12 hours a day which is taxing. Still, every time I think I've hit my limit, they pull me back in. I can't count how many times I've said I was just going to walk away to find myself muttering, "well after this one last kid gets his GED." However, the long hours and high stress I come home with also set off my internal Spanish church bell alarm. It leaves me feeling guilty for being away from home so much, and giving so much of myself to people who aren't in my household. That leads to an internal debate on how my family doesn't define me, and caring is not a finite resource. It goes around and around. It's all in my head, but it makes it harder to think about giving it all up.

        • i think allot of people on here are confusing self identity with rolls.

          YOU are not your job or roll. your true identity is who you are if you are a lawyer, a mother, lost at sea, mopping floors, wearing a clown costume, locked in jail, doctor, wife, daughter … if you cease to hold your identity when your roll changes, this is not your identity.
          & another thing, this is the exact opposite of independence. if your job has the power to keep your identity, that is dependence … plain & simple. all you're changing is the roll, not the reliance.

        • Natasha, I understand where you're coming from in regards to your job. I see now that you enjoy the substance of your work but certain matters, especially the structure of your work environment are not ideal.
          I've worked for several non-profits including one where I was often an advocate for children with mental illnesses. Although I do not condone stigma of mental illness or the treatment (pharmaceutical, alternative, etc.), I know it is not always easy to deal with kids, clients, or people in general who have "issues" of some sort.
          As you weigh the decisions to stay or leave your current job, know that you can still do work of value. Remember especially that with such stress in non-profit jobs (overworked, underpaid, underresourced) comes burn-out. I've had jobs where I feel the burn-out coming. Sometimes leaving temporarily allows you to recuperate (from burn-out or coming awfully close) so that in the grand scheme, you can become useful to a cause again. If someone is burnt out from a job, he/she is probably not as useful and thus not able to fulfill the needs of a cause.
          Caring is not a finite resource but our body's ability to handle stress can be finite, at least without the opportunities to rest and recharge. Remember that if you decide to leave your job.

          • I don't comment very often most of the time just read the articles( another black sheep of the family Latina here) , but I was blown away by how much I could relate. I am also married to a very understanding English man who keeps telling me he loves me just the way I am.
            I teach history at continuation high school during the day and adult basic skills at night, I love what I do despite the high stress levels. But I also feel super guilty that I don't have time to be some awesome homemaker that has been ingrained in me all my life that I am supposed to be. I would love to be both,but holy crap I'm tired when I get home at 9:30 pm. I'm struggling to find a good balance.
            Not to mention the whole weight thing, at first the women in my family were all happy because they assumed I was pregnant, now I just get a lot of advice about juice machines, zumba, and how to keep a better household before my husband drops me for a slimmer model.

  2. I'm actually dealing with a lot of the same emotions.

    I graduated from college, became a Navy wife, and moved across the country where I lived alone with my husband. No field experience and one vehicle (and… being a military spouse no one wants to hire lest I get sent somewhere else) led to me becoming a housewife for the last two years. And, I've pretty much hated it. I've struggled with feeling like a freeloader and I've also struggled with the, "Oh, what do you do for a living?" question from new acquaintances and strangers.

    It's hard when we live in a society where money-making and job status are engrained into our brains as a basis for self-esteem. I do not pretend to know enough to give you advice but here's what I do: I blog, I stay somewhat busy, I do fun home projects, and I plan for the future. What helps is to also remember that being married or in a committed relationship is being a team, you're facing the world together and there is no your money versus his money. It's just [our] money. I struggled a lot with this so I know exactly how you feel.

    • Hi Ashley,

      Thank you for your comment. We are also a one-vehicle family. Our car is actually a stick shift which I've only learned to drive in the last 6 months. Now that I know how to drive it and my husband takes the train/bike to work, the one car, which is typically seen as limiting, has become a source of freedom and confidence-building (its an art to learn how to drive stick, lol).

      I agree with you that society's expectations of a job status are in part causing me this turmoil. Even when I was in college and dependent on my parents, I had a part-time job and worked ridiculous hours (the weekend night shift) just to make the most money I could from a student job. At the hear of this for me is the anxiety about not having a job.

    • Thanks for sharing—my boyfriend is planning to join the military to practice medicine, & I'm very leery of becoming a military wife. I'm currently a teacher, but I get the sense that there's a stigma of being a military spouse in terms of people (a) not wanting to hire you and (b) still expecting you to be productive. How supportive is the community in which you live? I'm wondering if you encounter this attitude from people you interact with on-base, or in the same situation, for example, or if it's more of an external thing.

      • I live in a military town, Army specifically. I don't find there to be any stigma that I can see attached to being a military spouse. When I was an employer, I never hesitated to hire a military spouse for a job…yes, she might end up leaving town, but so might any other employee for any other reason. Certain jobs, like on post, even have precedence for spouses because they understand that spouses are sort of stuck here and need to work just as much as anyone else. There are resources to help you with employment and with learning to adapt to military life, as well. Not saying it's easy, but it's not something that you have to do completely alone and blind either. Good luck.

  3. I am struggling with this issue also. I quit my job working in as a commercial glass artist for someone else to work in my studio at home. I didn't make a lot of money at my old job but it certainly added to the bank account every month. My husband makes a lot more money than I do but I came up with the down payment on our house. So I remind myself that I have already paid years worth of mortgage payments etc when I used my inheritance as the down payment.
    I never wanted to be supported by a husband or significant other because I don't like giving up that kind of control or feeling that someone else has more control than I do. My husband does not have any control issues over money, he is very easy going, these are my issues about it. I really struggle if I have to ask him to pay a bill or add extra money to an account that I normally would have taken care of myself.
    I definitely feel like I should take on more of the house hold chores because I am at home. At the same time I am trying to develop my own art, find new locations for my work, book art/craft shows etc all the things that go along with working for myself.
    I don't know if I will ever get over my money issues but I haven't been working for myself for very long so fingers crossed I will build my income back up to where it used to be and beyond, then I will be able to relax about working from home/ being a housewife.

  4. Might there be a way to make accepting money from him easier? Instead of him pulling out his wallet and handing over cash–which would totally remind me of asking my dad for money when I was a kid–would a joint checking account be an option? That way, he could quietly put money in once a week (or whenever) and you'd have it right there on your debit card without needing to ask or waiting for him to offer.

    • I was going to ask something like this, too. Why don't you have access to any money without going through him? My husband stays at home, but our situation is kind of different as we have a child. He has never asked me for money. In fact he pays all the bills, and takes care of our budget.

    • We actually already have joint checking/savings accounts. The reason I typically take cash from him is because we prefer to pay for things like groceries and gas in cash and not on a debit card. Even if I go to the ATM to get cash, I still have to tell him about it because he is the one who pays the bills and balances the budget. But you, and several of the other commentators are onto something which is basically a review of our financial system which hasn't changed since I graduated law school and is due for some updates.

      • Even if he's doing the actual paperwork, it's important for both of you to know where the money goes. (In our household I am the one who balances the budget, but I insist on keeping my wife up-to-date; we recently switched to shared budgeting software so she can access it whenever she needs or wants to.)

        So say you have $XX a week or month for groceries, and you want to pay cash. At some point one of you will withdraw the cash, and then it is for both of you to spend on groceries. When it's gone, it's gone (or you work together to adjust the budget). That task may fall to you more often, but it's money that is needed to run your household no matter who is doing the grocery shopping. No need to put your hand out like Jane Jetson.

      • May I recommend Mint.com? Saved my marriage. If you're doing things mostly in cash it will be more cumbersome because you will have to add in transactions manually, but if you keep it up to date you will both know everything that is going on with your money at all times. My husband pays most of the bills, but I do most of the budgeting (since I'm the one doing the grocery shopping, car maintenance, kid shopping, doctors visits, etc). This works because we both have full access to all of our financial information. He puts in the monthly bills and I build the budget out of what's left over.

        • I second the mint.com recommendation, awesome app/website. It's what we use and it's amazing for what it is.

      • As a housewife I totally agree that the one *not* making the money should be the one managing it. It completely solidifies the "OUR money" vs. "HIS money" mentality. It allows the non-earner to feel a part of the finances and relieves some stress the earner may feel about making enough.

    • My husband has a transfer from his checking to mine every payday. I asked that he do this so I have funds for myself that don't have to be discussed or budgeted. It makes a world of difference for me even though it's $20 a week. It adds up on weeks I don't need it.

    • My husband campaigned very hard for combining our finances into a joint account because he really disliked having money transactions between the two of us and the power dynamic that suggested. I dragged my feet about it because not being able to keep the money I earned separate from the money he earned felt like a loss of independence and of the accountability to not spend more than I, personally was earning, but in the end, I gave in because it was important to him, and it has worked out well for us.

      At the moment, he earns most of the money, but I do most of the grocery shopping and handling of things like car maintenance and house repairs, so having a joint account saves the trouble of having to transfer money around for those things. Also, pooling our funds means that we don't have to worry nearly as much about whether the bank account we are drawing on has enough money in it to cover a large expense, like car repairs. It also makes budgeting easier because all the money is going through a single checking account.

      And, it turns out that I am much happier not having to either ask hims for money to help cover large, joint expenses or hope he volunteers it. The money is all just there, to be spend on whatever we, as a partnership, need to use it for, regardless of who is writing the checks.

      • My husband and I joined our accounts a couple of months before we got married. We both work full time, but he chose to have his paychecks go into my account, which I made a joint account. He doesn't trust himself with money, so he asks me for money when he needs it. Sometimes I feel like he feels bad about asking for it. I've offered to get him his own card, but he refused. Recently, he had the card and I was carrying cash, but he went a little crazy buying things, nothing big, just eating out more often instead of packing a lunch, and other small things, but it adds up.

        We were having a small amount go to his personal account, while the bulk went to my account, so that I could pay the bills, pay for groceries, gas, etc., and he could have enough for gas and incidentals, but he ended up spending it all on food and snacks.

        We've only been married for a month, so we're still trying to figure it out. I like us having a joint account, and he likes me handling our finances, but we're still trying to work out a good way for him to have access to the money, without him having access to all the money. Again, this was his idea, he told me again just yesterday that he doesn't trust himself to not overspend. Some of his buddies at work teased him when he mentioned it, but he's happy with the arrangement.

    • We still know when our husbands make the money and we spend it. In your mind and heart, you know. You know what you are – you are a homemaker and your husband pays the bills. There is nothing especially wrong with this because you contribute in work at home and work is work, but our society sees it as demeaning and that is the rub. When people ask me what I do I say I don't have a job, and then I tell them what my husband does because part of what they are asking is how much money does your family make, what kind of people are you, which box can I put you in. I might go on to add what I do as a hobby or interest since people also ask this as just a conversation prompt. I make a point not to ask people this horrible question. Some people are chronically unemployed, disabled, or desperately searching for work, and they don't like to answer this question either.

  5. I spent a couple months unemployed with my then-boyfriend-now-husband supporting me. It was also the first time we lived together, so up until that point we had completely separate finances. He agreed to pay all the common expenses (rent, food, etc.) until I had income again, and then we would reorganize our financial system.

    It's a difficult time because you have so much time but so much uncertainty (like how long this period in your lives will last). Like you, I HATED being financially dependent and would try to do housework/cook/clip coupons to "make up" for the lack of income. BUT…that equation doesn't work. You can't make housework "equal" income. It's comparing apples and oranges, and I think trying to make that comparison in the first place leads to unhappiness.

    In retrospect (which is always a self-indulgent luxury in cases like this!), I think that I was happiest when I had the mindset that TIME was a valuable resource. I did "house-wifey" things like making homemade stromboli and other food from scratch because I COULD and I had TIME. Since getting a job, I haven't done those things again, even though I like to! Like you mentioned, volunteering was another great way for me to get out of the house and gain some real world experience. This could lead to a job in the future or be in a completely different direction. If you have the budget for it, I would consider a hobby of some sort (gardening, painting?). Keeping yourself engaged with your interests is the best way not to feel like "just a housewife" or like you said a "line item." And treasure all the extra time you have now!

    After getting married, my husband and I combined our incomes. It helps that they are almost equal, even if they are small. I know that this doesn't work for everyone, but he wanted to try it even though I was a little hesitant. The benefits for us were great- I feel like more of a team. We're working towards the same financial goals and have similar credit backgrounds, so that helps too. We can just buy groceries or go out to dinner without having to think about who paid for what last time or if it was equal. It doesn't matter if one of us spends more money than the other overall because we're a "team" and it's things we need for" the team". But in about 5-7 years I know that he will out-earn me by at least double, due to our different career paths. I'm anticipating some of these feelings coming up again when our incomes differ by a lot.

    So the overall point that I'm trying to make is this: you and your husband are two members of a team. It's not just your income that is communal, but your lifestyle, happiness, etc. He didn't just marry you as someone to contribute to his bottom line! Right now one of you has income, but that could change (or not!) in the future. If you are worried about being equal or contributing, I think that you are asking the wrong questions.

    • In the time it took me to compose this comment, I am glad multiple other people shared a lot of the same ideas and thoughts. 🙂 Thank you for posting this thread!

  6. I am in the same boat! One of the things that helps is that I set up a separate checking account from my husbands, and he automatically transfers me money every two weeks when he gets paid. It is understood that this is MY money and I can use it on whatever I want, no questions asked. It is also understood that once I have spent it, there is no more for 2 weeks, just like it would be if I had a job.

    Oh, and I just tell people I am living the dream when they ask what I do. 😀

  7. I don't have an answer, but I can say I know this feeling. This was my exact situation for a year. I knew I was doing things to make my (our? his?) life easier by keeping house, running errands, freelancing, and volunteering. But I still felt like a paid housekeeper. A maid. Needless to say, this feeling of "working" for one's spouse does very very little for one's sex drive. Make out with the boss? How demeaning.
    Do whatever it takes to rid yourself of that mindset. Freelance more, refuse to do the dishes for an entire day, splurge on something you've wanted that you know you would buy for yourself if only you had a day job.
    Perhaps not terribly helpful, but damn, I KNOW this feeling.

    • See, I have almost the opposite feeling. I think part of the problem is the idea that being a housewife isn't a real job. But the truth is, there are plenty of people for whom cleaning houses, walking dogs, and running errands is their job. Whether they are housekeepers, personal assistants, or nannies, these are real jobs that real people get paid really money for. Being a housewife may not come with an hourly wage, but it does (effectively) have a salary.

      Now if you get turned off by the idea of thinking of your spouse as your employer then this mindset won't work. However, if your problem is thinking of yourself as a freeloader, you're not. You have a job.

  8. We have a child and I still feel like this and hate the feeling of financial dependency. We do have money deposited into my checking account from his paycheck once a month, and I pay most of the bills and everything so that does help. But I really dislike the feeling of inequality it brings me personally and in our relationship. I think part of that is that I lived independently and supported myself for several years (not a long time, but through and for a few years after college) and I really don't like being someone else's dependent. I don't dislike the actual work part of being a stay at home parent/ "housewife" but I have how it is just taken for granted and not valued as actual work of great value to society. Not only is it completely necessary to society to raise well-cares for and socialized children, it is at least compensated work when it is done by other people (maids, nannies, event planners, cooks, teachers) though caring labor of all kinds is usually s low-paying, and almost alays done by women. Also I hate the patterns it creates, where I become so used to doing chores that my husband really starts slacking and really doesn't seem to realize or care how much work really goes into it. Like our household somehow magically runs itself.
    I really like this: The Politics of Housework http://uic.edu/orgs/cwluherstory/CWLUArchive/polhousework.html

    • I agree. This whole situation stinks but much of it is our own fault. Some of it is just the way we were socialized. In this world, girls and women are not valued as much as boys and men. This is universal. Girl babies are often aborted just because they are girls. But…we choose our careers and we choose to downsize them or give them up. Granted, we have very good reasons – husband, kids, house, time, sanity, health. But men do not have this luxury. Men usually choose careers like computer programming, engineering, law etc. not because they like them but because that is where the better money is. Men know they will be expected to support a family while women suspect their income will be supplementary. Truthfully, I suspect that as long as women marry men, this problem will exist. Societies have been conditioning us into our gender roles for a very long time, and let's face it, we are attracted to men who can provide and protect or have the potential to do so. Work is energy applied to something to affect a change. A dirty floor needs to be clean. Work must be done to get it clean. A bridge must be designed. Work makes it happen. We need clean floors and bridges. Where do you want to work – in your own home making it better or in some high-rise office pouring over plans? I choose to use my energy in my home for myself and my family. No, my name will not be on a plaque and I will grit my teeth whenever I must answer, "What do you do?" But I have clean floors, chicken in the oven and the cat doesn't have fleas. And my at home work isn't taxed (yet). Sometimes the way it is just hurts; stuff sometimes hurts.

  9. Totally sympathise with you, although I am not in the same situation. I recommend this link: http://down—to—earth.blogspot.nl/2011/10/homemaking-power-career.html and the follow-up article, 'home making the power career part 2'.

    It tells about a different perspective to home making. I realize that you might not agree with the article and/or feel that this is the kind of life that you want to have, but I think that it might be an enlightening different perspective to the matter. For me, it was definetly food for thought.

  10. It took me quite a while to get used to the idea that I really did contribute something to the household. If it weren't for me, kids wouldn't make it to the doctors or dentist, food wouldn't be cooked, bills wouldn't get paid….just a long list of things that I realized I do contribute to the household. I may not bring in any money in the form of a job/paid income, but I do contribute quite a lot otherwise.

    My soon-to-be husband used to remind me that we are a team. It's not "his/my" money but "our" money. I may need reminding of that when I hit those moments of feeling less-than, but he's right. If it were his money and not ours, I doubt he'd trust me to have access to emails, bank accounts, bills…all that jazz.

    The tl;dr version: I totally get what you're saying and I know how you feel. It sucks being in that moment. I hope you find that moment where you realize you are more than just a housewife but a pretty badass contributor to your household. 🙂

    • Haha! I love your input. I am a pretty badass contributor….now I just need to remember that when I'm not on OBH, lol.

  11. I remember feeling this way during my maternity leave. Even though I was busy taking care of an infant and even though I supported my husband for three years prior when he went back to school for a second degree and even though it was a very temporary three months, I still felt like I should be contributing monetarily to the household. I remember apologizing to him if he came home and the dishes weren't done because he had to work all day and I sat on the couch all day even though I had a good reason since I was breastfeeding every hour. I don't even particularly like working (my job is nice, but I'm just kind of lazy), but I do like contributing and I just didn't like feeling like I wasn't doing my part. For me, it was absolutely a mental thing that my family or society or maybe just myself have put on me to think that household chores and child care aren't worth as much the money earned at a real job. Of course, considering that I would gladly pay for a house cleaner and a personal chef (and I do pay for child care…a lot), I should know that those things are valuable and important.

  12. I know where you're coming from. I am about to graduate with my Master's and enter the job market, whereas my husband is well established within his field and earns a good salary. I really worry about not being able to find a job. I would be miserable staying at home all day. My husband always says that I don't need to take a job just for the sake of having one, that we can live comfortably on his salary alone until I find something I'm really excited about, but I know that my self-worth would take a dive and I would just feel useless if I were unemployed for a long time.

  13. "But most days my contributions make me feel like my husband is paying me to be his maid/chef/dog walker."

    I felt like that so many times before our economic roles changed here. You know what the difference is? If I was my husband's maid, he would complain that I didn't fold his shirts right and could fire me. Since I was his [house]wife, he could complain and I could tell him to do it his #$%^ing self, then 😉

  14. I can empathize with you.
    When I first emigrated from the UK to the USA I wasn't allowed to work (or even drive) until we were married and had my immigration paperwork sorted and green card in hand.
    This was a very long eight months for me!

    My husband was super supportive and we have a joint bank account but because I wasn't putting anything into it I still felt like I should ask when I took something out of it!
    I kept myself busy with craft projects (bought with birthday gift cards) and learnt how to coupon so I felt like I was contributing financially in some way.
    I walked to the shops to give me something to do a couple of days a week.

  15. I do wish that 'house keeper' were an acceptable term for what I do. I do work, I just don't get paid for it!

  16. I totally struggle with spending "our" money on anything specifically for me. It feels like I'm stealing from my husband when I go buy a new pair of jeans because the only 2 pairs I have are falling apart from overuse. I'm the full-time-Mommy so I contribute plenty but I still worry that I have to justify spending money that I didn't 'earn' and that he'll resent me for it (even though he's never once given any indication that he feels that way). I'm not his employee and I'm damn sure not his property… but the guilt makes me feel like such a burden!

    • I'm a stay-at-home mama too. One of the ways we deal with the clothes issue in our family is every month we talk about what we all need. Daughter needs rain boots, Hubby need socks, I need jeans (I also only had two falling apart pairs for the longest time!) and then we look at the budget and try to make it all fit. It's much more calculated, and there's never any crazy shopping sprees, but we're poor, so that could never happen anyway. But what I like about doing it this way, is that it recognizes that everyone in our little family needs things. The same goes with allergy medicine for the hubby and tampons for me, it all just goes into the budget. I think it's good to calculate and discuss what you need to buy as a family while looking at the budget, it makes being financial stable much easier. Also, when it comes to the really fun but unnecessary things, like yarn or tools. We talk about that too. We talk about what we just want for fun, and we try to put money aside for that, and because we always feel guilty, we try to figure out what fun stuff our toddler might want too. So we can all get little gifts. The only problem is if one of us is being deceitful, for instance, if I try to say I don't need jeans (because I hate shopping) my husband gets all manly and demands that I buy the things that I need. I'm the same way with him, and after a few years we realized that if we don't listen to each other, then we end up buying the things for each other and we are both so picky about our clothes that things always end up getting returned! haha!

      • "My husband gets all manly." That is what they do – men are programmed to provide. When money is short they will forgo their own needs in order that their wives and families have their needs met. It is because they are this way that we are the way we are. If I may – think about the sex act in basic terms; the male gives and the female receives. Then she gives back in terms of a baby and there is life. Jack and Jill (man and woman) went up a hill (life) to fetch a pail of water (work). Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after (men and women are interdependent; they always have been and always will be).

  17. I'm in almost exactly the same position right now, and dealing with the same problem. I don't have any good answers, except that it helps me to have something creative to be working on in my own time to give me a sense of purpose.

  18. I'm facing this when my fiance and I marry and we start making our family. We're negotiating exactly what roles we'll have when the kid comes along – he's preferring me to be a stay-at-home mom like his mother, and I know I will be driven crazy if all I basically did was keep house with a kid underfoot. (Just like Ariel wrote on OBF, motherhood is not going to be my most interesting feature.)

    I guess it isn't the financial issue that bothers me, but the fact that I want to keep my skills up to date for the job market so my transition back into it when the kid is older won't be so difficult. At least the compromise of me doing part-time is an option we can both accept.

    Be kind to yourself. Everything is done in love, that's what really counts.

    • A simple yet beautiful statement:
      "Be kind to yourself. Everything is done in love, that's what really counts."
      Thank you for that!

      Also not that you're soliciting advice, but I would definitely recommend keeping your skills set honed. Although my freelance work as a law clerk/attorney is sporadic, it helps keep my legal brain sharp. I also volunteer with Legal Aid on one of their taskforces so I do some policy/research/consulting work that keeps my resume growing and my name out there for when I can enter the work force full time (its actually helping me right now as I have a second-round interview tomorrow). Also I volunteer with a non-profit that assists senior citizens (but thats more physical than mental which is also nice). These things keep me from losing my mind and sometimes provide me the opportunity to get the hell out of my house for something other than a "household" errand. Also I take advantage of free trainings (CLE's or Pro Bono Programs typically) so that I can keep up my skills as well….plus I love learning!

  19. Oh man. All I can say is: You are not an expense. You're his wife. Would he be a line-item to you if he were the one staying home? Or would the work he did at home make your life easier and more comfortable?

    We greatly undervalue the work of the home in this country.

    Obviously, if you want to work, or you need the additional income, than you should work toward that goal. But don't do it just because you feel like a burden. Getting a job might alleviate your feelings but it won't address the deeper issue.

    I wrote a blog post for A Practical Wedding on this topic a while back:


  20. One of the scariest things jumping the pond with my boyfriend was putting myself in a situation where I wasn't making enough to 'make rent'; going from a full time salaried job to being a full time student and taking an unexpected five months before finding even a small part time job. Gifts from my parents were always with strings, and the money 'sunk' into raising me was used to control me; I'd found financial independence to be a way to be my own person, and giving that up felt insane.

    My boyfriend has been amazing in proving himself to not be like my parents, and making 'us' feel like a team. I think his repeated expressions of 'I'd rather have you here than not' helps a ton whenever I feel bad about not having a full time job and feeling like a massive money sink. I try to remember that in the future I'll be able to pull my weight a lot better than I have in the past by having a good degree in hand, and the very biggest thing I try to keep in mind is this: I'd do the same for him, and I wouldn't even bat an eye. It's the hardest, but most helpful thing I try to remember. I wouldn't think anything about helping him out and making my paycheck work for the two of us if needed; I should give him the credit that he might feel the same way about me.

    • This is what men do. They want sex partners, cooks, housekeepers and mothers at home with their children (they may not admit this or even know it themselves). At home work is very worthwhile, but he will ultimately be the head of the household which is what he wants. Your children, should you have them, will see him as the leader. He will knowingly or unknowingly squelch any dream you have that threatens to take you away from the family. This is one of the reasons for the high divorce rate. Women typically marry up so we bring this on ourselves. I guess it's nature's way.

  21. Ohhhh I am hardcore struggling with this right now. In the next few months I am moving back in with my partner, who has kindly offered to pay rent and food while I am in grad school. I do plan on working part time, but I have no idea how long finding a job will take.

    It's taken (taking) a long time for me to be ok with being financially dependent on someone. There were freakouts. There still are freakouts. I have a big "I feel like a burden" complex due to some health issues, and adding the financial aspect was just horrible, horrible icing.

    BUT. One day I thought "If the roles here were reversed, if I was making enough money to pay our living expenses while Viking was in school, would I? Would that be ok?" And the answer was "Well, duh."

    So if it's ok by me that I support him, why can't he support me? Every reason I came up with was not actually a very good one, and I've felt a lot better since that realization. I mean, it's still a frightening prospect, but I'm more ok with it.

  22. I have been feeling much the same way, now that I've transitioned from single globe-trotting financially independent anthropologist to a stay-at-home wife and soon-to-be mother. The shift has been really hard on me, intellectually, because like a lot of women, I've been socialized to devalue domestic unpaid labor. The stigma that women only stay home these days when they're not capable of doing anything else is so ingrained in mainstream American culture that, even though I know it's absolute bullshit, I can't shake it.

    I'm a military wife, and I've recently been going back to school to get a radiology technician's degree, so I can work wherever we end up stationed, but since I didn't get accepted into my program last year and had to wait a year to reapply, by which time we'd be moving anyway, we decided to try for a baby. Financially, it's better for us if I stay home with the baby for a while, since childcare is so expensive. I wouldn't be making enough in whatever short-term retail-type job I could get right now to cover childcare any have enough left over to justify not having that time with the kiddo.

    Even though I know I'm doing what's best for the household right now, I can't get over the feeling of shame I have when I'm referred to as a "housewife", because it smacks of a woman with no options and no agency. Calamity Jane has an awesome blog on being a "radical housewife" and her article "Reclaiming Housewifery" has been helpful to me in reshaping my preconceptions of what it means to stay at home and take charge of the domestic sphere.

    It helps that my husband eschews traditional gender rolls and is very active in the housework as well, and would like to be a stay-at-home dad when he retires from the military. We have a financial set-up like those that have been mentioned above; after the bills are paid and groceries bought, all left-over money gets split into thirds. One-third in his account, one-third in my account, and one-third into an account for household things. That way we can both buy whatever we want with our accounts and it doesn't affect the household budget. If I want something expensive, I save up for it. If I need a new bra, I go buy it. It goes a long way toward making me feel less like a kid getting an allowance.

  23. I'm suffering from a number of medical maladies that are in turn temporary and chronic. Right now, and for the past 2 years, I haven't worked (worse yet is that I was the major breadwinner in our house for the year before that, and have been financially independent for my adult life). For one of those years, my mister was making enough money for us to get by, and even enough to get ahead on our debt if we decided to forgo any personal spending money. For the second of these years, we have been taking care of his elderly parents (for various understandings of "we"). I can manage a few minutes of productivity here and there, but nothing in the realm of the multiple hours or level of critical thinking required by a job, and certainly not anything resembling "my share" of the chores even if they were just 1/4 of them since there are four people in the house. I can't even keep up with my medical appointments and disability claim.

    It makes me feel rotten some days, when piled on top of the emotional and physical pain of my situation. I feel helpless, and a burden, I'm an expense, and a drain on more than just finances. I keep telling myself I'm doing everything I can, this is temporary, and muddling through, although in my case I also spend quite a bit of time wondering if this is in fact temporary. I have to assume that even if my medical condition gets no better, our living situation will be forced to get better in time. And if that's the only hope that gets me through the day, then it is hope I will gladly take.

  24. I recently became a house wife by intentional plan, and yeah, it's been weird. It's an ongoing balancing act that we're slowly getting better at but are far from performance ready. I get what we call my discretionary funds (after I vetoed allowance, stipend, and slush fund) as well as money to cover groceries and the few bills that are stubbornly in my name auto-transferred to my bank account at the beginning of each month. I don't have to ask for money and he doesn't have to remember to give it to me, if I have some large expense we would talk about it anyway even if I was contributing financially. Our finances are 100% transparent to both of us at all times, and though I hardly ever look it is ultimately quite satisfying and soothing to have the option.

    I do the house work, though I did 75% of it when I was working , the rest was done by a house cleaner. He doesn't clean, he doesn't see dirt. I've accepted it. He still pays for a house cleaner twice a year for spring and fall deep cleaning. I do all the cooking, he's NOT a cook. If I'm sick or something he makes me canned soup and I love and appreciate it. The laundry is my constant source of failure. I don't wash it in a timely manner, I rarely fold/hang it, I don't have any clue how to get stains out properly, I forget it's in the wash and it mildews, I'm bad at laundry. We've talked about it. He isn't good at laundry either but perhaps he'll take on the folding job, or else we'll make sure to have a large closet when we move and just hang it all, we both hate that slightly less.

    And yes, I often feel like I'm paid to be his maid, cat sitter, and personal chef, and I hate feeling that way. But the truth is I like not working. I really do. I like not having a boss, having my own schedule – I do operate a very small etsy store rather half-assedly – being free to visit a friend for a week after the birth of her child, watch my grandmother for a week while my mom takes some time away. I love being home with my work-from-home fiance (yeah, we aren't even married yet, which makes it all feel even weirder sometimes) all day, making us lunch and sitting on our patio. I love having this time to adjust to this before we get around to reproducing. There is a plan, a 5 year plan, and this is just one part of it. It's hard to remember the big picture, and it hurts when friends give that 'suuuureee… you'll go back to work eventually, after the kids… uh huh…' look, like they don't believe it's possible.

    The loss of financial independence has been a very slow, but very steady road for us. He's always made a significant amount more than me, he has a 6 digit income and was the unexpectedly rich boyfriend I had in college. The one who could take me to dinner and pay for cabs and all that wonderful luxury that was so very far out of my waitress and pell grant funded budget. He revealed it slowly, I didn't really know how much he made til we'd been together for over a year, and it caused some ripples. It was weird enough the first time I ordered something I couldn't cover myself at a restaurant. Compared to now, when his money is the only money covering me anywhere for anything, it's still a visceral memory, those early pangs of dependance. When we moved into an apartment together and I only paid a quarter of the rent, it was something we discussed over and over and over, always me finding some way to justify what was obviously, for us at that time, the way things should be. He made more, I made less, we didn't want to live in a bad neighborhood anymore, I could never afford half the rent anywhere 'nice', etc etc. It was closer to my work, I spent less on subway cards, I had time to pack my lunch, I was saving us all this money! See how ok it is that I don't pay my share!

    But it still feels wrong sometimes. Mostly I just ignore it. I love our life the way it is, I really do. We'll be buying a home in the next few months and then we'll be semi-homesteading, with me doing the majority of the farming side of things. I'll be busy, I'll be done with our wedding, I'll be married and it'll be just a tiny bit less weird, I hope. There is no perfect here, there is only working perfect. I'll never be perfectly ok with this, but it's good enough for me to mostly enjoy it most of the time. When our perfectly timed babies happen and the youngest toddles off to school, I'll open that fucking restaurant or BnB. And I'll run the hell out of our homestead. And I'll be fulfilled, my hair will be amazing, I'll have the perfect life/work balance, and rainbows will shoot out of my every orifice.

    • My husband and I have been talking about what we want our lives to be like. We would both like to homestead, and I would love to take on that responsibility.

      Right now, we both work full-time, and I make more than he does. Since I'm older, and already finished my schooling, I have the greater potential for earning. At first, he thought he would like to be the stay-at-home dad when we have kids and I was happy with that, but now we're realizing that I might have the better skill set for homemaking. He said he thinks that he might not actually like staying at home and that it would drive him crazy. Neither of us is good about cleaning, but we've realized that I'm marginally better about it.

      Also, he's recently become really concerned that I don't feel fulfilled by my job, and that I'm too tired after work to pursue any of my creative interests. He keeps talking about how he'd really like for me to be able to stay home, take care of the house, and try to start selling my handiwork on Etsy. If we're able to pursue homesteading, I would also be able to sell our farm produce. That's definitely a life I would feel fulfilled in, but I don't see it happening for a long time.

      Without my income, we couldn't pay our bills. He wants to start a family, and I do too (but not for maybe 5 years or so). Meanwhile, he's not happy at his job either, so I don't know what we can do about it right now. We're newly married, so we're still trying to figure it out.

    • I know what you mean about the loss of independent finances. I also started dating my husband in college and didn't realize how much his family made until well into our relationship. (No loans, and no financial aid for a school that cost $64,000 a year?!) Eventually we moved in together and I picked the apartment, monitored our finances etc. When the bills came I told him his share and he either used his own cash or got his parents to cover it without blinking an eye (I graduated first so he was still in school for some of it.)

      At some point he was offered his dream job across the country and he told me he wanted me to come with him. At that point I had decided that I wanted to go back to school and going out of state was really not in my budget. The job payed well, though, and he told me he would cover all of my living expenses, and pay the difference for out of state tuition. He said he'd rather have me there with him than a few thousand extra a year.

      I decided to go with him and it was WEIRD for me for a good while. I hadn't asked my parents for a cent since undergrad and had a really hard time spending what I saw as "his" money. I think he saw it as "our" money from the beginning though. I never had to ask for cash. From the beginning we had a joint account that I had full access to. I maintained my own credit cards and bank accounts so if we budgeted we had X dollars in "spending money" I could just take half and spend it however. He never asked about what I did with it. Never frowned upon me treating myself or buying things he would never in a million years spend his own money on. If either of us wanted to buy something big we talked about it. But I still felt like I needed to contribute fanatically somehow.

      I took a job that I hated just to make myself feel better about contributing something. He told me it wasn't necessary and I should just focus on doing well in school. He was right, but I needed to do it for my psychological wellbeing. Eventually though, I felt like my grades were starting so suffer, so I quit. I was "home" more so tried to do more of the housework at least. But being "home" wasn't the same as not being busy and I started to feel a little resentful that I worked hard all day and did all the cooking and cleaning just because I happened to be "home". When I'd tell my husband this (we'd been married about a year and a half after moving together) he would pick up some slack for a while, but we'd always revert to me being the student/housekeeper/cook. Eventually we hired a housekeeper and got our laundry sent out to a service so neither of us would have to worry about it, and with just the cooking to share, its been a lot more equal. My husband's efforts made me feel special and loved, but I also kind of felt like a spoiled brat. I know I'm working hard for my degree, but some part of me still feels like a slacker for letting him do all of the earning and paying for housework when women everywhere manage to do both and take care of kids, etc.

      While I've spent a lot of time feeling guilty for all of this, I've also made a lot of progress towards cutting myself some slack. I think I've finally come to deal with it a little better over time because 1) time makes a lot of things less weird 2) my husband always backed up his word that the money is "ours" and not "his" with actions 3) sounds lame but being married helped me feel a little more entitled to joint finances (though I don't practice myself I was brought up in a conservative Baptist household) and 4) I have come to the realization that the best thing I can do for both of us is do well in school since my earning potential is equal to or greater than his once I'm all done. He can maybe retire younger and be a house husband while I bring in income later. Sharing our finances is part of us being a team and life partners and its taken me a while to realize that. And hey, we have it good, and when you got it good, you might as well shut up and enjoy it, right?

  25. I used to have the exact same problem, but in the past couple of years we seem to have ironed out the kinks in the situation so I feel like I have a bit more financial independence, even if I am not working outside the home. We have a joint account which my husband's paycheck is deposited into, but I also have my own checking account. After he gets his paycheck, I transfer my "paycheck" (a set amount we've decided on to be my own personal monthly budget) into my own account. We budget out the amount we need for bills and such, as well as the money my husband uses each month, and that stays in the joint account. I am the one who is responsible for groceries, household expenses, etc so that amount goes into my account, as well as extra that is for my own personal use. So basically, its like I am getting a paycheck. It has been a much better situation for me because I don't feel like I have to ask or even tell my husband how much I spent, so it keeps me from feeling like a teenager asking for allowance. Also, even though I am not technically employed, at least by some people's definitions of employment, I still have things like an RRSP as well as established credit in my name, not shared with my husband. My husband was really adamant that I have my own credit and saving, etc. so that if anything were to ever happen to him I wouldn't be totally financially screwed.

  26. I was at a party last weekend and everyone there was a professional of some sort. An older man approached me and asked what I "do". I replied that I had been in the professional field for 12 years but that right now I am staying at home with my daughter. He snorted in my face and turned his back on me, ending the conversation. I thought: Dude, you might as well have just punched me in the face. And that's not the first time I have gotten that reaction. It's really hard to feel you have worth, when a chunk of society feels like you aren't even worth starting a conversation with.

    • meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, if you marry someone who doesn't make you work, it is instant status.

  27. Maybe I should have figured this out from the post, but are you a "housewife" or are you a "looking for work" attorney? Not that there's anything wrong with either one, but there's a big difference emotionally, I think.

    If you don't like thinking of yourself as a housewife, and you're actively looking for work, then say that you're actively looking for work but taking care of the home as you do it. If you're not actively looking for work, well, I'm a little confused. Again, not because there's anything wrong with staying home, but because you seem unhappy about it.

    You also seem to be freelancing (or whatever lawyers call the equivalent). Can you think about it that way?

    I know that the financial dependency issues would still be there, but sometimes it just takes a bit of a reframe. After all, this economy has done a number on lots of folks. Hopefully finding like-situationed people could make things feel better.

  28. It sounds like you are trying to become employed, so suggesting big projects may not be the way to go. However, if you think you have time, I strongly recommend gardening. Specifically vegetable gardening. While you may not be contributing actual cash to the household income, you are very definitively contributing something, namely food. I can look at the stuff in the freezer and think "That is three dollars I definitively did NOT spend on a bag of frozen carrots," "That's at least four dollars worth of vegetable broth," etc. Sure, it's not a ton, but its solid and visceral and less abstract then the value of housework or making dinner.

    Also, if your land and zoning laws are accommodating, get chickens. So low maintenance.

    • Oh my god THIS.
      Gardening, canning, and keeping chickens has gone so far in making me feel like less of a burden and drain on my husband and his paycheck and more like a contributing member of the household economy. We don't buy eggs anymore, sometimes when we're tired and neither of us wants to cook we can just bust out some home-canned chili or soup. And the chickens are fun and super-low maintenance(except when we had to take Rosie to the vet).

  29. In August 2009 I quit my part-time job, and, GASP!, dropped out of my PhD, and became completely financially dependant on my husband. This decision was partly made due to my ill health (I have a chronic illness) and partly because I was deeply unhappy with work. Initially, I started looking for other part-time work but came to realise I was happy being at home! It was tough to begin with, for two reasons: money was really tight then (thank goodness for savings) and I had always defined myself by what I did academically and professionally. I now realise that's bollocks. My husband has a successful career as a roading engineer but he sure as hell doesn't define himself by that! I do sometimes still get a wee clenching in my belly when people ask "what do you do?" and I say "housewife" (which ususally leads to people asking how old are our children. Answer: we don't have any) or "stay at home wife". The people who are the bitchiest and most judgmental about it seem to be women about my age (early 30's) and it makes me feel bad about myself. I've resolved to answer that questions with "I do all kind of things – at the moment I'm baking/cross stitching/building/painting". At the end of the day, we're not defined by what we do to earn money and we have to do what's best for ourselves and our families. For my husband and I, it's me being at home. Simple 🙂 But I would like to get that PhD one day – I hate leaving a project unfinished!

    • "I had always defined myself by what I did academically and professionally."

      One of the biggest shifts in my thought processes occurred when I was talking to a social worker friend about how I was feeling now that I was no longer pursuing a Master's and was staying at home. Her response was "Have you considered focusing on personal fulfillment instead of academic achievement?"

      It was like suddenly the scales had fallen from my eyes and I realized that, holy crap, those two things aren't necessarily the same thing, are they? It was a very freeing realization, and while I plan to someday get my PhD, I don't have to do it right now.

  30. I see articles and I wonder where that leaves me. I'm a 20-something woman who has been married for almost 10 years. I'm currently infertile but more then anything I want to be a housewife. It's what I want to do. I'm a feminist, I'm a hippie, I'm a liberal and an environmentalist. I guess really what this article spurs in me is "Is there anyone like me?" And where do I find them. Help!

  31. I struggled with this too, but my partner always brings me back to these facts: he is financially supporting me to help me do what I need/want to do so that we can both be happy. My happiness is the only outcome he cares about. So if I can't shake the guilt, I use it to my advantage: I "owe" it to him to accept his support and accept MYSELF. I try to practice "radical acceptance"–whole-hearted, no caveats, no justifications, no time-limits. We have a cultural concept that accepting something means you're giving in and becoming complacent. It's just not true. If you accept that you are an underemployed woman who has a loving husband who supports her, you will not suddenly lose all motivation and become a free-loader. You will have simply freed the emotional energy that was bound up in aversion. And I try to remember the alternative: I could be underemployed and NOT have support. Then I wouldn't have the luxury of developing my life artfully; I would just have to survive. It is a wonderful gift to have support, and it really is worthwhile to sometimes practice gratitude, whether it is meditation or "counting your blessings" or whatever. So…if we accept where we are now, we can concentrate our energy on making life awesome rather than on "making it up" to our partners. They are investing in us–we honor their gifts by making full, awesome use of it!

  32. When my sister quit her job to get their future home removated and to start their family, her husband started behaving like "the patron" because he was the one bringing the money. It stopped right away when my sister listed everything she was doing for him and threatening to charge by the hour.

    Doing the unpaid work at home is nothing to be ashamed of. Someone has to do it. Only the last years of brainwashing have led many women to believe that, in order to be successful, you have to have a carreer and a paycheck. Which is stupid, of course. We just continue believing it.

  33. I am where you are in so many ways. I am a housewife due to illness. I have a huge amount of ambition that has no where to go. The harder I tried to be the provider, the sicker I got. I had to make peace with the path life has chosen for me because I sure as hell did not pick it for myself. I found a way to become passionate about my fate through food. It gave the writer and photographer in me a place to focus and a subject to fall in love with.

    I hope you find a way to be happy.

  34. I don't really have any good advice as such but I just wanted to say I'm on the other end of this. My partner has actually just gone back to work but for the last year he's been an extra-mural student (no lectures). He hated his job so much and we suffered due to mutual grumpiness. So we agreed that he would study and take care of the housework – which I reeeally hate doing – this was worth the lost income to me! That and the fact he was happy again of course. He kept our joint atm card and I paid in the amount budgeted for rent & groceries etc. He too had a part time free lance job and I think this is part of the difference. He called himself a student, and his freelance. If you've got your volunteer & freelance stuff, which is mighty admirable and interesting, define yourself by that. Housework has to be done regardless, whether you share it or one does it all – so why define yourself by it when it's not 'all' you do.
    Ah that got long really fast. Anyway I just wanted to say how much I appreciated my partner from my end, and totally valued the contribution he was making to the team. It's the whole better or worse thing, and knowing he'd do the same. I never thought of him as an expense, but my partner – and I'm sure your partner sees you the same

  35. I think grass is greener sometimes. My husband and I both work and I currently make a bit more than him mostly because I'm a few years older and a little bit further in my career. He pays for our health insurance, which is a significant expense and for half of our utilities, but if we need to say anything or pay for any significant expenses that falls on me and sometimes the pressure of that is almost crushing. I sometimes fantasize about staying home because I often feel like working to the point of exhaustion and then trying to take care of our house (with significant help from my husband who does much of our cooking and half of our cleaning) leaves me feel like I am being pulled in two directions. I am also artistically inclined so I appreciate the creativity of cooking and housework and struggle to try to fit my artistic work into this mix. So in short I can't really understand what you are going through but can offer the thought that sometimes being the provider for your family also really sucks and feels constricting and like being trapped because someone else is really depending on you.

    • This is exactly me! I'm older than my husband and I make more money than him, but his job provides better insurance, and I really need that (we were spending over $400 a month on my medicines since I was uninsured until we got married last month). He works longer shifts than I do, but I also have an 8-hour job on Saturdays, so it feels like neither of us has the time or the energy to take care of our home and ourselves. I feel like I never have the energy to cook, or craft, or even clean up our house. He's always exhausted from his more physical job, so he doesn't want to do it either. Basically, we work, come home, lay around, and then pass out.

      We're both feeling unfulfilled, but he feels like he would be more fulfilled if he had a better job, because he really wants to provide for my happiness. Well, I want to provide for his! Also, since I have a degree, I have the higher earning potential right now. He's torn, because he wants to go back to school, but he wants to work so that I can stay home and pursue an artistic career. It's really a moot point, because we can't afford our bills if one of us quits working outside the home, anyway.

  36. I'm confused. Maybe I need to read all the comments. Are you a house wife, or are you unemployed and looking for work? Because the two things are different. House wives/husbands and homemakers are people who, through a family decision, have decided that assuming that role is what they want to do and/or is best for their family, and then they assume that role as opposed to a career outside the home. If you are actively looking to pursue a career outside the home, then what you are is someone looking for work, and doing what any normal person would do in the mean time, getting shit done, as you phrased it.
    I've been there. I was unemployed for three years after getting out of the Army. And while I was looking for work, I played the role of full time mommy and housekeeper, but I was unemployed, not a homemaker. I knew that homemaker was not my career. I was just cleaning the house and not sending my son to daycare because I wasn't working at the time and had nothing better to do and couldn't afford daycare.
    Everyone hates being unemployed! Your feelings are totally normal if that's what you are. The only people who dislike being house wives/husbands are those who have to be in the role for a reason such as they can't make more money than what daycare for their children would cost (and I'm not saying all stay at home moms/dads for that reason hate their jobs, it's just that those kinds of situations are the ones that might force a person who wants to work outside the home into homemaking when they don't want to be).
    So for me, I guess I see a big difference between actually being a homemaker (which is a job you assume), and just taking care of the house when you're between jobs. It sounds like you're doing the latter, but maybe I'm missing something. If you're doing the former, I hope I'm not the first person to tell you that you don't have to stay home. Both you and your husband are allowed to work outside the home. It's not like a house needs a baby sitter.
    I just bring up the difference because most homemakers I know would be a little offended at the suggestion that any period of not working outside the home is the equivalent to what they do. Homemaking is a career, and an undervalued one in our society. It is a career most people follow with intention, even when they are forced into it by financial circumstances or whatever. It is their full time job, their contribution to this earth while they walk upon it, it is not just something they do to keep busy while waiting for something better to come along. There is nothing wrong with keeping your house clean while waiting for something better to come along, but its not the same thing as homemaking.
    Again, being unemployed sucks. I'm totally with you on that. I'm not sure there's a way to make it better because its just a shitty situation. And I'm sure there's many a homemaker out there navigating the waters of being dependent on a spouse, so it's not like that isn't a real situation either. I'm just thinking that part of your unhappiness is not because you don't like being a homemaker, but actually because you don't like being unemployed, or just working freelance. Maybe I missed a detail, or you left something out, but that's what I'm seeing here.

    • I apologize that I've not read your entire comment as I have some freelance work I need to get to right now. However, I was really interested in your openings statements about your confusion with what role I have. I pose to you a very simple question….are the two roles of housewife vs. unemployed attorney looking for work mutually exclusive? I ask this especially because I have turned down a job offer because it wasn't right for me and my family and although I've still looking for a somewhat ideal job, being homemaker is what's best for my family in the mean time (or at least better than a miserable job).

      • Well, to me they're mutually exclusive. They might not be for you. For example, I'm a teacher, so I don't work in July and August. I'm home with the kids, I pick up more of the household work, etc, but I'm not a "homemaker" in the summer. I'm a teacher who's off on summer break. Same thing when I took a six-month maternity leave. I was a teacher on maternity leave, not a short-term housewife.

        I don't think that being unemployed means you have to jump at the first job that comes along. You still need to find a fit that works for your family. But, as Jessica put it "House wives/husbands and homemakers are people who, through a family decision, have decided that assuming that role is what they want to do and/or is best for their family, and then they assume that role as opposed to a career outside the home. If you are actively looking to pursue a career outside the home, then what you are is someone looking for work, and doing what any normal person would do in the mean time, getting shit done, as you phrased it."

        Part of my identity is what I do for a living. It's not the whole of my identity, but it is an important part. It sounds as though that might be true for you as well, at least if you consider your identity as someone financially independent. I'm suggesting that you might be happier if you don't ditch that identity entirely, but rather think of it as being on hiatus.

        • I appreciate where you're coming from. Unfortunately, for me, those two roles (housewife vs. "unemployment" hiatus) are not mutually exclusive.

          I am not aggressively seeking a job outside the home. I only apply for jobs that are my ideal (i.e. in the public interest legal organization that I volunteer with). My career decision are also on hold because I keep getting called in for interviews with the organization but am not hired. Alternatively, if this last interview does not pan out, I plan to go full-speed with opening up my own practice. However, in the mean time, there's a lot of factors (career and non-career related) that are on hold. My husband and I are also having our wedding this summer (we didnt get to have one when we originally married due to time and money of law school). So we mutuall

          • sorry the comment editor flipped out on me. so here's the comment in its entirety. Whoops!

            I appreciate where you're coming from. Unfortunately, for me, those two roles (housewife vs. "unemployment" hiatus) are not mutually exclusive.
            I am not aggressively seeking a job outside the home. I only apply for jobs that are my ideal (i.e. in the public interest legal organization that I volunteer with). My career decision are also on hold because I keep getting called in for interviews with the organization but am not hired. Alternatively, if this last interview does not pan out, I plan to go full-speed with opening up my own practice (which is only 2nd to working with this particular organization). However, in the mean time, there's a lot of factors (career and non-career related) that are on hold. My husband and I are also having our wedding this summer (we didnt get to have one when we originally married due to time and money of law school). So we mutually decided that I would be part-time housewife and part-time wedding planner while more casually applying for jobs.
            Our home is also in need of major renovations (dangerous electrical, hole in our dining room, flooding basement) which means my to-do list also includes part-time home-improvement contractor.
            Because I am still waiting on the result from my last interview, everything is up in the air and at the drop of a hat (or rather in a couple of weeks), I could have a full-time job. That is also the reason I cannot aggresively seek more freelance work.
            Your and Jessica's comments have just sparked a better understanding of why being financial dependent is so difficult for me. I'm living like a gypsy (mentally/careerwise not physically) which is difficult for me because I NEED routine. It is the "not knowing" how long I will be financially dependent that makes it frustrating to process.
            How do free-spirited spontaneous people handle the unknown? (rhetorical question here) Aaaah!

  37. It might help to try to differentiate a bit between monetary income on the one hand and the general success of the joint venture that is your marriage / life on the other. Your living situation requires a certain amount of money but also other input of time and effort to make it work. If you and your husband are a team then it doesn't really matter who exactly does which bit, only that you both invest effort and both have what you need. To me, an analogy to your feelings about 'being a housewife' could be a goalie who feels bad that he never scores: but the striker is free to go and score because you are in the goal, the game can only be won if you are both doing your bit.
    Furthermore, you probably are making a considerable financial contribution: I bet if he was single he would spend far more on eating out and pre-made meals, laundry, and so on. He would also perhaps have to forgo having pets entirely, as they would have too little human company. Again, if you view your shared lifestyle as a team endeavor, you will find it could not work without you doing your part.
    Another thing which might help your feelings a bit could be for you to do some very part time work, ie just a few hours a week, the proceeds of which could form a special fund for a treat which you usually cannot afford or do not allow yourselves. I am thinking of work such as babysitting, dog walking, or the like, which might allow you to go out to dinner or to the theatre or, over time, on holiday – and would in that way be a tangible contribution that would have a measurable effect, even though it wouldn't be large enough to be regular additional income.
    Also, when I was a housewife I used to call myself a 'lady of leisure' – the expression allowed me to view it as having fun 😉

    • "A lady of leisure"….sounds fancy! Haha.

      I really liked your goalie analogy. Although I think your reference alludes to soccer (football) due to the striker component, I love hockey and the same concept applies.

  38. My dude felt really uncomfortable being financially dependent on me when we tried letting him be a full-time student. He felt the guilt you feel except more since he actually WAS an expense (art supplies, studio rent, tuition, text books, etc). I was cool with it, mostly (I totally admit to some frustration that I was the sole financial support AND doing most of the housework), but he was not.

    For his sanity, he chose to pick up some part-time jobs so he was contributing financially to his own expenses. While the money is helpful, it's more about his mental situation of succeeding at what he wants to do and having skills to fall back on.

    On my side, I feel guilty splurging on things just for me since all my income is technically considered joint territory. So maybe some budget discussion would be useful for you and your husband. Not just in terms of money for you, but overall how you divide up your joint earnings. So maybe you two should both have discretionary funds. You each get the same amount for spending money and it's automatically withdrawn at the beginning of the month and you separately put it in your wallets if you prefer to use cash. Don't want to spend it? Great. You can get a cute piggy bank. Case closed. Find other ways to consider task balance so you both feel you are contributing in meaningful ways to the extent that you can. Maybe he can't do as much housework and maybe he brings in more money, but what else does he do for your relationship and your home? What do you do (financial smarts totally count, by the way!)? Keep in mind emotional stuff as well as all the things that keep a house/vehicle functioning.

  39. Holy crap! You're me this time last year! I had graduated from law school in spring 2011 and struggled to find a job after the bar. Having been financially independent from age 18, being dependent on my husband was horrible. My husband was super supportive and appreciative. I love doing kitchen and crafty things. I still hated it. What got me through it was focusing on what I was doing for my career prospects. I kept a spreadsheet of the jobs I'd applied to, people I'd contacted etc. which helped me keep perspective.

    I'm starting to feel a similar way working at a job that is not what they promised, is not fulfilling and doesn't pay well while my husband is making more than twice what I am and gets headhunted on a regular basis. He says I can quit any time I want and we'll be ok which makes me feel better and worse at the same time.

    If you want to talk/vent, you can reach me at c l o g g i e g i r l @ g m a i l

    • I'm so glad someone can sympathize with the post-bar lull of unemployent. It stinks!
      I turned down a job because I was concerned about being miserable. I knew it wasn't the right fit and my husband was very supportive of my decision to forego that opportunity. Of course, he loved it because it meant I could take on more concretely the job of a housewife and only casually look for a job. He gave me the luxury (not sure if thats the appropriate word) of waiting on the ideal job and not jumping just so I could work/make an income. I realize, in that sense, that I'm very lucky to have a great partner who wants me to be happy in my career. I took advantage of that but unfortunately, it is at the cost of financial independence (so I understand your "feel better and worse at the same time" sentiment). Making the choice to be (or to return to being) unemployed, so as to wait on a job with a better quality of life, is not easy but is doable. If you ever do it, I would definitely recommend sitting and very conretely setting priorities and financial planning (how you will have access to money, who will balance budget, etc.) as I think it would help mitigate the emotional situation I have found myself in.

  40. I'm going to echo the previous comments that suggest that merging your finances might help you to feel less like a line item on your husband's expenses.

    This blog post and the comments on it were really interesting for thinking about how couples manage their finances http://manvsdebt.com/couples-and-money/

    His second core reason for having joint finances really chimed with me: Income – no matter where it comes from – is "ours".

    When I got married I could predict that there would be times over our future lives when one of us was earning less than the other, between studying, illness, unemployment and hopefully one day starting a family. I didn't want the one who was earning less at that point in time to feel in debt to the other and I didn't want either of us to not pursue our dreams just because it would make our salaries unequal. If one of us is lucky enough to earn a lot doing something we enjoy, that should be an opportunity for the other to have the freedom to pursue less financially remunerative activities, not a obligation for the other to try to play catch up.

  41. i understand how someone can feel this way b/c i am both a housewife and disabled. so, i can't even get all that much done. so, i get how it can be easy to feel like a burden.

    however, i do enjoy my life like this. one thing that i find helps is crazy money. maybe i would sell a few things on etsy. i'd grab a few things at the thrift store & resell them or sell off a piece of my art. & that was my crazy money. i didn't have to justify it. now, once we moved countries where that wasn't a legal option, i struggled with how to deal with it. i had money guilt (from childhood). he wouldn't care if i bought a $1 lip balm, but i would agonize over it b/c i didn't earn it. the one thing that fixed it will sound nuts, but on the months we were within budget, i got a small stipend. this wasn't payment or allowance or anything, but i came to accept that b/c i had serious money guilt, it was the only way i could ever emotionally allow myself to splurge on anything.

    & i assure you, you are adding value. my husband says that it is a huge stress relief to him that he doesn't have to do the things i take care of, cleaning, cooking, groceries, etc. even if you can't quantify it, you ARE adding value by making your homelife less stressfull.

    • another thing is to focus on the freedom & independence you actually DO HAVE. i think it could be argued that you have more. you make your own schedule. you can do your job how & when you want it. money does not = independence

      is there the occasion where i miss the ritual of work? yeah. but there are far more times when i see my husband up before sunrise & i am so thankful that my alarm clock is the sun streaming in through my garden window. i can go into my kitchen & have a coffee without bumping into the office gossip, unless you count my cat. i can wear whatever i want. etc. see if you can argue a case for why your job is actually pretty stinking great.

      • "see if you can argue a case for why your job is actually pretty stinking great."

        I like this idea (for myself)! And it could be a great thought experiment for this lawyer. Not to dismiss the feelings she has, but just dwell a bit on the up side. See how convincing she can be. 🙂

        • Lol…whats funny is I read that same sentence and though "I'm a lawyer, I can totally make that argument." I've made the arguments to myself but the financial dependency is definitely the hardest thing to embrace.

  42. I'm having this same struggle right now. My husband has a well-paying job that supported him as a bachelor very nicely. When he moved in with me and my two daughters and we became a family, suddenly his nice job started to look very, very average and in this day and age, average doesn't pay the bills anymore. I am a student, waitress, and mom to three, one of them so new I'm still on maternity leave. Seeing the way he was able to live before, never really having to worry about bills or spoiling himself once in a while, and the way he lives now, working 50 hour weeks to cover our basics, makes me feel like he downgraded to be with me. I would love to be able to stay home and raise our new son but I can't wait to go back to work so I have money in my own pocket again and don't have to feel like such a burden. He has begged me to let him put my name on his checking account, but I am unable to do so because I still have debts from my divorce that could impact the money he puts into the account if my name were on it. I refuse to make him pay for my ex's debts that I chose to cover in exchange for a quick divorce. As a few other posters have said, I have a hard time accepting/asking for money from anyone, even my husband. I feel like, he's the one working and earning the money, and what am I doing? I keep the house clean, make the meals, make sure the kids are clean, healthy and in one piece at the end of the day, but I'm not bringing in money to help pay for all the things I keep up. At this point, I feel like I'm earning my keep and it's not my place to ask him for money. So I stretch our groceries as far as I can before coming to him and saying we need more, and why? Because for some reason I'm ashamed that I need money for a can of green beans? I realize how silly it seems but I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. I guess I don't really have an answer for your question, except take help when it's offered, and keep in mind that your situation is temporary. If you were sitting at home doing nothing without plans to do something, sometime, to better your situation, THEN you'd have a problem. Right now, just try to appreciate that your husband is the kind of man who can and will work that much harder to be able to give you the time to better your life. This is what saves me. My ex was not the kind of man to do that, and though he would restrict me to the point where I was not ALLOWED to work too often, he would berate me for not working enough and not bringing in as much as he did, which wasn't much! My husband is the type of man who would take two or three extra jobs just to finance a trip to the moon if I told him I wanted to go. If yours is like that, offset your perceived guilt with showing appreciation. It makes you both feel better. 🙂

    • Shannon, your perspective has probably been the most helpful.The reason I say this is because your comment made me think that possibly my guilt makes my husband feel bad. I definitely don't want to do that to him.
      I think the reason I've struggled alot with financial dependency is because I am the one who typically sacrifices in a relationship (not with my husband but in others). I like to be the one who can help pay for something, who treats someone out to eat to show my appreciation, to do something that wasn't already a chore or routine. When reframing it, I realize that a lot of what I do, wouldn't necessarily be my chore or routine because, if I was working, I wouldn't have time to do it.
      I am very fortunate (like you in the case of your current husband) to have a man who loves me and who is a good person. Because I was lucky to have an awesome father (good example of what a husband should be) and to have a husband who also fits that bill, I've taken for granted that such support and love is not a given for everyone (although I wish it were). I've learned to expect love and support from the men in my life as I should – I deserve it. But playing up my guilt about the money only down plays the support I deserve and the willingness of my husband to fulfill that.
      Best of luck to you and Thank you for your insight!

      • Thank you! It's funny, until I wrote it and you understood what I was saying, it hadn't really sunk in for me. You just made this situation so much more livable for me. 🙂

  43. I can tell the difference between my generation and most of the women commenting here. I've been married 34 years, and grew up in the era when women were mostly still expected to get married and raise a family. It was becoming more common for women to have a career, or be a "supermom" and do both! Marriage and finances have always been a parrtnership for us. There have been times we both worked, and many times when it was on or the other of us working or staying home. Taking care of the house, shopping, car care, etc., has been the job of whoever was staying home at the time. It was a job just as much as working outside of the home at a regular job was, sometimes more so! If you consider your marriage a partnership that's the way it should be. Keeping a certain amount of money separate for both of you to be used for whatever you want is a sensible way to manage financial freedom.

  44. Wow. Glad I found this. Everyone I know thinks I'm crazy. I have a really good job and make a pretty high income. My fiancee works in another country and is quite wealthy from his successful career. Problem is – he does so well and is so passionate about his career which means I would be moving to be with him in his country. So even if I get a visa to work I don't know if or when I would find anything.

    He is very happy to let me be a "housewife" but I am scared to death of depending on him for money and I don't want to ever feel like I have te earn my keep. He knows I am not domestic andthat I hate to cook and clean, so he doesn't expect me to be like that. But I'm still afraid if I don't become a housewife he might start to get annoyed.

    To him me not working is no big deal and even a good thing because the other spouses stay at home as people in his work travel a lot. They like having their partners at home full-time so there isn't a struggle with conflicting work schedules and therefore a strain on their relationships. It also makes them feel secure and grounded to have their partner always home to support them. And it's hard for a spouse to work with the lifestyle because if you have a normal job then you can't take off with your spouse when they have their 3 month vacation every year. It's almost too hard NOT to be a housewife.

    In terms of money, he would just give me a credit card so I can buy whatever I wanted but I don't want to feel watched. I know that he's not like that and would probably never look at the details but I still don't like it. And I don't want to worry that if he doesn't like something I buy then he can object on the grounds that he paid for it.

    It all makes me feel anxious. My friends think I'm crazy because he has money and they think it would be awesome to not have to work, worry about money, or have to be domestic but a princess gig makes me feel very nervous and vulnerable in my realtionship and in life! It's so unnatural to be dependent on another being unless you're a child.

  45. AS a follow-up to this article, I've begun reading "Possum Living" by Dolly Freed. For valentine's Day, my husband bought me a slew of books related to back-to-basics and DIY areas I'm interested including how to make gluten-free bread (I'm trying to live with a gluten-free diet). Possum Living was one of those books and is about living outside the money economy without a job and with very little money. I've only started reading it but I'm hoping that it will help me with my perspective on things. I think the reason I've struggled with this and why I wrote that article was because I've always defined my productivity by the money economy (time is money,etc.). Considering I do not want to be that kind of person, I hope one day soon I can get past that.
    Thank you to everyone who has commented. It has been very helpful to see I'm not alone, get some insight from how other people deal, and get some tips on financial structure so that my husband and I can really work this out. Thanks again!

  46. I feel dependent too, but in a strangely different way. I work full time, 40 hours a week, but make not even 1/3 what my fiance makes. So I do have my own money that I can spend, but I don't contribute hardly anything to the household monetarily. He pays the mortgage, all of the bills, and often when we go out to eat. My measly contribution is groceries, since I do most of the shopping.

    I'm still not comfortable with this, and try to be a super-wife(-to-be) on top of that, by doing most of the cooking and cleaning, gardening, and even wedding planning. I feel like I have to make up for freeloading on everything else, and can stress myself out doing so.

    And since I make next-to-nothing, sometimes I wonder if I should just quit and become a housewife(-to-be), since then I could pursue other interests and maybe do better at providing a clean home to a well-fed husband(-to-be). But I worry that I would run into similar issues as you describe, namely getting money to spend. I already feel enough guilt about money, I don't want to give myself more to stress about.

    • I've only gotten through the first few chapters but I recommend you read "Possum Living" by Dolly Freed – in particular, Chapter 4 (We Rassle with Our Consciences). Its an enlightening look about the money economy and laziness (promotes a sort of casual laziness).

      One of the author's references in the chapter I specified regards "Protestant Work Ethic" and I totally understand that reference because I am product of the "Immigrant Work Ethic." We feel like we have to work all the time, work hard, and work to constantly advance our position (i.e. status) and our pockets (i.e money/salary/savings/bank accounts/etc.).

      Although I don't know what you or your husband-to-be do for a living, we live in a society that places extremely UNEQUAL emphasis on different industries, in terms of social importance and in appropriate pay. There is also still a large salary gap within the same industries that put women on lower paying-scales in comparison to their male counterparts.

      You have to remember that there are so many other factors along with industry and gender-based salary gaps that also affect the disparity in your income. That is not a reflection of your worth or your contribution to your household or to greater society.

      Whatever you decide to do, I hope its works out for the best and makes you happy!

      • My husband has the "immigrant work ethic" as well. He's the son of Mexican immigrants and he (like his dad) feels like he has to be working all the time. He said that he wouldn't like to stay at home because he'd go crazy, but at the same time, he hates his job. He feels bad about himself because he didn't finish college and he works as a janitor. It's a good job though, with good benefits. His benefits way outdo mine. I'm from a totally different background, so I've been having trouble understanding his need to work all the time and advance up the ladder. I think he's doing great, but he thinks he's failed his parents, because he's not doing something better and more prestigious than what they're doing.

        You're right that people place unequal emphasis on different industries. He's ashamed of his job. I keep telling him that I worked as a janitor in college, but it was a way crappier and worse-paid position than his. He's doing really well, but he can't shake his own self-judgement.

  47. I googled "how to enjoy being a housewife" and this article came up. Thank you! I am not alone! My husband got a great job opportunity in another state and I have been here for a year and still haven't found a job! I have Rheumatoid Arthritis so I can no longer work full time but it has been hard to find even part time employment. I have always worked and it is hard not to go to work every day. We live in the country now and although I would love it if I had a job I find it hard since I don't have one. I feel that all I do is clean the house, feed the animal, and run boring errands. What sucks is I have never wanted to be a housewife. I grew up with a mother that had a Masters degree and out-earned my father. She didn't really do much cooking and cleaning so I didn't really see anyone enjoying this. My husband was brought up completely different with a mother that stayed at home and LOVED to cook and clean and all that stuff.

  48. I am feeling the same as most here. I gave up my career and now I am in another country with my fiance while he persues his career. I am still working on courses in hopes for a career change once we go home. I have never not worked nor had an identity and now my new identity is a housewife. My kids are grown and this is the time for me and my career and family and I am in another country bored and depending on my fiance for financial support. He knows its hard for me and trys to support me, but I can't explain to him that I have lost my identity of who I was and I really miss it. I miss me. So yes, there are so many that would love the opportunity to be in another country, working on education while your significant other is working…..but really its not me. So I understand what so many are going through whether you have kids at home or not. I miss interaction with people that you get when you are in a office or working in your career. That is the most amount of hours in the day…..and frankly spending them alone can get trying at times.
    Thanks for listening all, and hope things get better for you in your path to figure out the word housewife as I am still working one it. 🙂
    Take Care

  49. Ohhh my gosh, I feel like you're talking to me!

    Eight months ago, I had a career that I had worked my butt off at university for. I was an accountant and part way through my exams to be a CPA. I got married quickly as my husband, who is in the military, received orders overseas.

    Now, fast forward 8 months, and I'm living in a European country that I don't speak the native tongue of and the only place I can work is on base. There's limited jobs available, except minimum wage jobs. I feel like a complete utter failure. I worked so hard and lived on my own with my own identity and now I'm completely reliant on my husband (whom I love dearly). It's just hard not feeling fulfilled.

    Some days I just break down in tears thinking how much I must have disappointed people, but mostly, how much I've disappointed myself. We are stuck here for four years. I'm going to apply for a minimum wage job soon just to stop me from going insane. The worst part is, I can't talk to people about this. My mum & dad sympathise, but they're 30 hours away by plane. The military spouses wouldn't understand as most of them didn't have an actual career before marrying their husbands, I know I'd just get shot down if I complained at all about the lifestyle.

    Either way, I'm so glad other people feel this way.

  50. Hi Rosi Posi,

    It is a very humbling job to be a housewife and homemaker. The only reason I genuinely grew to love and enjoy my role as a housewife is because I have submitted myself to God's will. His will being…for me to be a wife and mother. At first, I was very unhappy with being at home. I was also very uneasy with being dependent financially on my husband, but as I learned more about my role and became good at managing the home, it was clear to me that my small and mundane (repetitive) contributions in the home were of great service to my family. When you serve people, you love them. Not love in a sense of only emotion, but love in a sense of sacrificing (or what the Greeks call "agape"), the giving of your self to others. I have learned that being dependent IS VERY OKAY. When we become old and fragile, we need to be dependent on other people again, just like when we were young children. But this dependency is what keeps the marriage strong – one needs the other and vice versa. In a modern world like ours today with so much stress on independency, I think many marriages fail because two people in a marriage, who are supposed to be "one in flesh" are independent of each other.

    Nowadays, I cannot stop thanking God for bringing my life to the home where I am most needed – by my husband and my two young children. If I didn't have children, like you, I would probably be doing lots of volunteer work at our church nearby. You mentioned doing volunteer work – yes, it can be satisfying, but if you did the work in vain (to feel good about yourself), the work will feel empty. Doing the work for others will make the deed worthwhile. Try doing a good deed for someone else without telling him or her or anyone else. This will truly make you happy. This is the kind of work a housewife does…she does the things that go unnoticed, but the fruits that come from it are abundant and you will know this in time. Being a housewife definitely takes a lot of self-sacrificing, but the good feeling I get from not thinking about myself or what I want, is more than I could ever ask for in return!

    May God bless you and I hope that you will find the truth in living and becoming a happier housewife.

    love, Lourdes 🙂

  51. I totally get it. I went from working a normal job that I was miserable at to quitting and working at my art career from a home studio, during that transition we bought a house and I lept into DIY home renovations for several months and pretty much moved us into the new home with minimal aid since my fiancé was working full time. Now that the renovations are over and I'm working solely from my studio and things are slow, and we are broke, I panic daily about "earning my keep." As a kid my dad worked really long hours and whenever he would come home at night he would be agitated if he saw us relaxing, even if it was a 9pm and the day was over, in his head if he saw us sitting, we had accomplished nothing all day. I still find myself mentally calculating all things I did that day to justify whether or not my day was properly productive. I know I need to separate old triggers from my current situation, but I struggle daily with feeling that I never accomplish enough. I'm only a few months in and hopefully I can work out the kinks.

  52. Didn't read all the replies, so sorry if this has been said. You have all the time and access to internet. Why don't you start a small e-commerce business. Take a few weeks to read up and study this. Then start something small and manageable. Even if its fleece blankets and baskets for pets. Then change your name from housewife to entrepreneur. Write a few e-books and self publish them. Next, offer your services to walk neighbors dogs perhaps. To make this feeling a reality, buy a book in which you write all your ideas and buy a crash box. Do yoga everyday. Set up a space in your house you call your 'office'. Anything you can imagine, you can achieve.

  53. So I have noticed, when i look up things on the internet to help me, I find more posts from men to men and although it does give me insight, i find comfort in this. a real life relationship written by a woman about her displeasures as a wife. what wife has NO displeasures? what husband doesnt feel the need to help with these?

    My conclusion is that we all just try. but try only for ourselves and see what happens.

    As I stumbled onto this conclusion I found myself wanting more out of ME not him.

    so now I am Excersising, making connections to old friends and trying to fallow my dreams which I havent believed in since high school.

    We will all figure this out. Just be strong and take control of your own lives.

  54. I could just envy you for the kind of bond you have with your husband regarding this issue. I am as well dependent to my husband and we have a great lifestyle but I feel the same struggle – so I decided to work 3 times a week to have my own money that I can use for my personal expenses and mostly to fund a business at home. Unlike you, my husband is laughing at what I am earning and for what I am trying to accomplish… He tells me I didn't have to work but he kind of controls me financially, he would kick me out of the house because I did not squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom – things like that and I never once raised my voice to him nor said hurtful things… Well he's been paying 100% of our expenses even the car I drive, he also paid for my education years ago.. I manage and pay the bills and everything with our joint accounts but that's just what I do. Now, I have enough savings to start up my business but he wants to keep the money for our vacation instead ( I promised him to pay for our plane ticket only.) I owe him everything so I am really feeling so helpless right now. But I feel like I need to push this business to feel like I am worth even just a little but it's impossible without his approval.

  55. I'm going through a similar issue with my husband. I have 0 children, 2 dogs and 2 cats who I love like children. About a year and a half ago, I quit my corporate job to stay home and take care of the books for his 2 businesses. Having money to pay my bills was never going to be an issue, however, asking for money to do 'my' things is very challenging for me. Asking for money to get my hair cut or go out to the occasional dinner with friends makes me feel guilty and makes me question what I bring to the table. I pay all the bills but he holds the cards. Anytime I need money for groceries or gas, he takes me to the ATM or gets money out of the safe and gives it to me. It's a huge struggle for me because I quit my job to make our lives better but I don't feel equal enough to ask for things that I deserve every once in a while because he is the one that goes to work everyday. I'm not a materialistic person, so I don't have a lot of fancy things but I want to feel like I don't have to ask for money for 'my' things. Am I being selfish?

    I couldn't agree more about the 'asking your parents for money' when I ask him for money.

    Thanks for writing this article and comments! It has helped me realize others are struggling with the same feelings I have.

  56. I feel the same way, I am in a homosexual relationship and at the moment I am unemployed and totally financially dependant on my boyfriend, I have no family to support me and can't get unemployment benefits because I am in a relationship and he earns too much. I HATE asking for money from him so I basically stay home all day everyday and keep the house clean and cook the meals and look for jobs. As I am over 40, I am having a lot of trouble finding a job too, I can't drive and we can't afford for me to retrain (I used to work in retail and now all those jobs are going to under 25s), I feel worthless and depressed and suicidal. I feel trapped and alone and don't see a future.If my partner left me, I would be homeless and living on the street.

  57. This post really spoke to me. THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS!

    I am in the SAME position. I graduated from law school over a year ago and a I am still in the process of finding full-time employment. My husband has been the sole provider for our family since graduation (my family consists of myself, him, and our adopted shelter cat who occasionally adds some happiness to our daily routine when she's not tearing the house apart).

    My husband has been incredibly supportive over the last year as we had several changes that impacted my employability and set my career "timeline" back a few months (we moved across country and then I had to wait to take the bar exam for the new state – and I'm still waiting for those daunting results). During this whole process, he has continually reiterated that he appreciates what I do at home and how much it helps him, even if I am not earning. However, I know my lack of income is a stressor for him since we have a very limited income. My husband is a medical student who is already extremely overworked. I hate that I can't provide for him and ease some of the stress he's enduring by at least paying our bills. Not to mention, you can only wash so many dishes or do the laundry so often before you go insane!

    I have volunteered and gotten involved in organizations to fill my time and give me a sense of purpose until I can actually pursue my career. Everyone says this is just "temporary" and that I should enjoy being a "housewife" for a bit. It's hard to enjoy it when I know what comes with that title: financial dependence, putting your life on hold until you are earning/inability to fully pursue your goals, and feeling guilty when you want to spend even the smallest amount of money (…just the other day, I bought a $7 shirt – with my husband's "ok" – and instantly regretted it! Pathetic.).

    All I can say at this point is that I am excited to finally start my career and am excited for the possibilities that lie ahead of us when I do start. Until then, I keep trying to remind myself that this situation will only make me and my relationship with my husband stronger. I also make sure that my husband knows I am appreciative of all that he does for me, and I work as hard as I can to mitigate some of the financial burdens we have.

    GOOD LUCK to everyone else dealing with a similar situation!!! Try to stay positive and take it one day at a time!

  58. Same thing here. I got married and moved to my husband's home country where he has a job and an apartment, because it just made financial sense. At first it was very hard to get used to the idea of our money. We live in Spain, pretty hard to get a job here. So I've sorta gotten used to it, althought I feel like ane xpense as well and have a hard time spending any money on me. I barely live my house by myself or buy clothes. I do understand I need to snap out of it and just relax. My husband has made it clear he doesn't expect me to contribute financially to the household and couldn't care less if I get a job or not. But it makes me feel so insecure to not have a fallback plan, it scares the shit out of me to think If we were to break up I'd have to fly back to America with 0 dollars no car or job.
    It's tough as a 27 year old raised to not be that girl, fed cautionary tales on how it happenned to so many women.
    I do have the best husband ever and We love each other so much, truth is I need to chill out,

  59. Hello, I'm 30 years old and struggling with self-identity, low self-worth, and low self-esteem. I came across this article when I searched the internet about how to take my life back with no car, no job, no money, not a student, etc. After reading all your comments, I'm blown away! I felt like I was alone, no one to turn to. Although I'm not a Latina myself (100% white girl) I feel a personal connection with all of you! I come from a long line of "home-makers," and now that I'm unemployed myself, I'm beginning to understand the struggle.

    I'm currently living with my boyfriend, who is 100% Latino. I'm originally from California, and that's where we met. After 5 months of being together/living together, my boyfriend lost his job in Cali and had to move out-of-state because he couldn't find work. I decided to move out-of-state to be with him, start fresh. There'll be plenty of job opportunities. Also, I had nowhere else to go: my parents' house is full with my 2 brothers; my sister's place is a 1 bedroom and is subject to random inspections at anytime, and no other relatives to turn to.

    The struggle I'm having is 1. No support system. All of my family and friends are back home in Cali. ALL of my boyfriend's family live here in Arizona (he has a huge family, lots of aunts/uncles/cousins) but it's different. 2. Unemployed. It started off as temporary. Soon after I moved out-of-state with my boyfriend I took some time off before applying for jobs. And then my health started to go down hill, and with no health insurance. So it took alot of time to get that back on track. . So its been 3 years, still no job. But now, I have 50% hearing loss and need a hearing aid, with no insurance. I'm scared I might not be able to work again because it's been so long. And now I can't hear. I haven't received an interview in over a year. Mostly just get emails saying "thanks for your application but we have considered other people for the position" 3. No kids, just a 2-year-old toy poodle to keep me company. So I'm stuck at home, twiddling my thumbs, figuring out what to do with my time. How to get out there and make friends… My boyfriend works 9-10 hour days 5 days a week, with mandatory overtime one weekend a month, roughly (it goes by rotation so sometimes it's mor weekends.) It's hard. 4. I have no car. I was recently involved in a car accident. My boyfriend doesn't want me to take the bus because there's a lot of crazies.

    I just feel so lost and confused. I don't know who I am anymore, and what my purpose is on this earth. I'm rarely happy, very depressed. I feel bad for my boyfriend because I feel like such a burden. And with my unhappiness, it's another thing for him to worry about.

    When I moved from Cali, I didn't know how to do a lot, as far as household stuff goes. I had to learn how to go grocery shopping, and what a budget means. I had to learn to cook, etc. Basically I'm getting a taste of what it's like to be a house wife.

    It was fun in the beginning. For me, it's always exciting learning new things… Until I started to see it might be more permanent. Now, I HATE BEING A HOMEMAKER. The other thing is, I'm not married so I've been questioning alot what I'm doing: Am I doing too much for my boyfriend? Is this because I'm unemployed, or is this what's gonna be expected of me regardless of being married or not, or both? Is this the best it's ever gonna get? A. When/how do I find time for me, when I'm on someone else's budget? B. Or is not appropriate to even think of myself?

    I feel like all of my time and energy needs to be concentrated on my boyfriend because he does so much for me. He doesn't help me around the house, because he says its my job and I don't help him with his. Even though it's a struggle every day to even get out of bed because of my health. I feel pain, and fatigue a lot. I put on a happy face most of the time, but I feel that's hurting me in the end because my boyfriend and his family think I'm fine. He/they doesn't see me struggling. And when he does, he tell me to forget about it because I still have responsibilities.

    He compares me to his mom alot. She has never worked a day in her life and doesn't speak any english. She's been a housewife since 19 years old. He says she's sick too but she still keeps a nice house, performs her responsibilities, etc. Its hard. I'm 100% dependent in my boyfriend and don't know what to do. I don't know who I am anymore.

    My boyfriend is a good man, a good provider… But sometimes I feel he's not that supportive of me, he could be better. Any suggestions? I'm open to anything at this point.

    • Hi Holly, Its been a while since I've read comments to this article. I'm sorry to hear of your struggles with your personal identity and with your health. I've struggled with both of those things. I don't have any specific suggestions- I don't even know if you still need them. But what has helped for me was trying to regain my confidence and remind myself that I should be my own priority. While my husband makes me a priority and he is one of my priorities, I also have to put myself first (not all the time but definitely sometimes). Its a balance. Sometimes my husband needs a bit more out of me (like he's having a rough day and he's tired because he's had a lot of overtime), We have two kids now (most of the time they are both mine and my husband's first priority), sometimes its my dog (if she's sick and requires a vet trip or if she's needy and requires extra loving, which happens when she shares a house with two human babies that soak up everyone's attention). But some days, I put myself first ( I'll let myself catch an extra bit of sleep by letting chores wait until the next day OR I'll go for walk outside) and most importantly, the few time I put myself first, I don't feel bad. Not feeling bad about putting yourself first is hard to learn mentally. Its taken time and the aftermath of some arguments with people I love to learn that I need to stand up for what I need out of life. I don't know if any of this helps but at the very least I'll send some positive vibes your way.

  60. hi,

    I read most of the comments and I thought too I was alone. I'm sad to see a lot of women feeling this way, it's not doing any good for anyone. I'm also struggling everyday to learn to love homemaking and housewiving, as I call it. I'm 26, we are a couple of 100% latinos living in the USA, no support system whatsoever, he works full time and comes home and works some more, I can't work in the USA with my kind of visa. I liked the comment where someone said to look for personal growth instead of academic achievement though I just registered for College…. there is so much in my head right now and I just want to tell everyone that you're not alone. My hatred more than to housework relies on being a woman, I hate that I want to be an awesome housewife. I'd rather have me doing adventurous lifestyles and professional paths but I can't because my nature says different, I also was the black sheep but now I understand the tia abuelas and my mom, there's just too much love sometimes housework is the best way to express it to your family, providing a loving nest. I'm angry at the fact that my education and society sort of told me or got me thinking at least that I'd be happy away from family life, that housework and being a hosuewife was no way to live and that I was destined to greater things. That is what makes me angry, I wonder how different my life would have been not growing up disdaining the lifestyle I have today. It makes me mad that on top of housework and being kind I have to wax my eyebrows, shave my legs and keep my weight. I feel the way you feel but there are days like today where I have understood I have a role and so does he, we help each other and that is how it works for us. Whenever I hate the idea of housework I start thinking of my husband doing it and then I panic completely because our home would be chaos that way. We're pretty lucky ladies, let's embrace it. And if you feel down, read all of these comments and you won't be able to tell me you haven't figured it out. Love is all you need in your heart to understand it's all about making it functional and everything can worked out with conversation . Love y'all.

  61. Thanks for sharing this! I loved what you wrote and I can relate on many levels. There seems to be a unwritten and rarely discussed (yet very real) divide amongst mothers over the past few decades. For a while there it seemed as though there were many independent and well educated women who were making the choice to stay at home and expressed their happiness with that. As the economy began to worsen, and I'm not sure if there is a correlation, but there have been more and more women who are going back to work again and being "superwoman," like in the 80's (remember the "bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan" commercial?). There are more fathers staying at home too, things are being switched up. My point? I've heard so many comments on TV and in movies about how moms that choose to stay at home are more independent and not as driven. I'm finding that I have to defend my "stay-at-home" position too and even *white lied* one time to someone, saying that I was late for something because I had to WORK. It made me feel better to say that. Yikes! So two points, one, why do women keep doing this to themselves??? We need to stick together!! The other is, unless one experiences *exactly* what another person experiences, one simply cannot judge (so yeah, I would totally not judge you for saying you dislike being a housewife and financially dependent on your hubby). My husband and I made the choice for me to stay home after we got married (we already had my 1 year old nephew to raise by the way) and in the beginning I enjoyed being at home after working since the time I was 16. But not too long into being pregnant with a toddler, then being pregnant with a 5 year old and a toddler with a husband who was never home, I realized I was NOT the kind of mom who could do that. I needed SPACE. With no kids. No husband. I needed to be around other people and needed to be accomplishing something that didn't have to do with laundry and dishes and cooking. Every day. Suddenly I found myself depressed and unhappy with my life, but I'll admit much of that had to do with the fact that I was alone with the kids into the evening every single night and all weekend, and that may be rare for a lot of stay-at-home moms. But I think another reason I got depressed was because when I married I was a very independent feminist and when we had kids it seemed so *right* to just be with them, and to not go back to work right away. And here's the but….but, I just couldn't deal with the idea of my husband being the one earning the money and being able to choose when he comes home etc. I felt I lost too much freedom. It drove me crazy and I needed that independence. The sad part of the story is that I stayed with him for years and years, telling him how much I needed to work and he just didn't see how important it was to me. I was caught in between incredibly strong feelings of needing to just run away from it all (yes! please don't judge) and being the most awesome mom in the world to them (there are three!) and just giving them my whole life. THEY ARE MY JOB and I did the best darn job in the world because that was my job and I've never been paid a dime. We women work so HARD and it can be very frustrating when we're matched with someone who not only doesn't support your desire to work and get paid but also not support the fact that kids really need a lot from their parents, especially in the in the beginning. We sadly divorced and the inevitable happened which was not only am I still taking care of my kids 24/7 (he moved to another county and left us) but I'm also going to, very soon, be also working to support the 4 of us and that is one thing I did not ever take for granted when we were together, knowing that we were financially supported. The husband and wife / working not working thing is such a complex issue and people feel different about each situation so I don't think we should ever judge, so I love your story and I love that you shared it.

    • Thank you for your kind words and sharing your story! No judgment here. I definitely agree that it would be great if we could all be more supportive and encouraging of others and the life choices they make. Everyone's situation is different and we must make decisions based on what we feel (individually or as a family) is in our best interest. Our situation has since changed. I eventually got pregnant and was a stay-at-home mom with my first ( I felt less like a burden because we were contributing to our daughter's well-being in different ways). Then I found out I was pregnant with baby # 2 (they are 14 months apart) when I was interviewing for jobs. I was lucky that I got a job with the federal government so I had a job to return to after maternity leave. It was stressful being pregnant again thinking that I would not be able to have my space away from the kids or the opportunity to utilize all of my schooling and licensing. I am fortunate that my husband encouraged me to work and that my mom moved up to take care of my kids. It also made me realize that while it helps to have a spouse to listen to our desire to work/get out of the house/have some freedom, another huge obstacle is the cost of child care. If we didn't have my mom, I'm not sure I could afford to work (which is what is messed up). It makes me sad (and frustrated) to think that a person would not be able to work because its cheaper to stay at home taking care of your own children, then to earn an income that should ideally be enough for childcare and other necessities. That definitely adds to complexity and often times the necessity of being a stay-at-home parent.
      Sending positive vibes to your and kids!

  62. I totally feel the same way at the moment, we moved to a new state last October for my wife work. I got temp work when I first got here and now it dried up. Doing some freelance work and have savings but do not think I am pulling my weight. I have been a so-called "Housewife" for six months to my beautiful new wife (we got married two weeks ago) just would like my own job and money and don't like being dependant. so totally get it

    • I am on the same situation Nic. I just lost my job a few weeks ago and i am focusing on working as a freelancer. My husband is kind of demanding that i become more housewify since i am at home right now. I fear that he will have this same behaviour even if i get a sucessfull career as a freelancer. Just because i am "at home" .

  63. I also have to put it out there. I am recently unemployeed and me and my husband just bought a house. It is all full of boxes and so on. things need to be fix, naturally. But since i lost my job i am also focusing on finding a new one. I had a similar situation that i have quit a job two years ago and i realized how my husband kind of starts to demand that i behave like a housewife, since i wasnt getting any income. He knows i am not good at doing this kind of stuff but i know for sure i do it more than he does. He then says that he doesnt do that kind of stuff like helping to cleaning the house because he war the only one getting the money, basically. I know it is only naturally that since i am more time being in the house to do some stuff, and i know how hard must be for him to support us meanwhile, but i really bothers me. I dont know if i am crazy and i shouldnt be thinking like that, that i should behave like a housewife meanwhile i dont have a job, but i dont wanna be a housewife. I am trying really hard to get a job right now. But i think it is so low of him to throw it in my face that since he is the one paying now that i should be the nice little wife at home, and also look for a job, because he expects me to do both, of course.
    I have a big issue with that. My mother is a housewife and she didnt go to University. I love her so much but i always hated this type of old fashion husband and wife kind of relationship. The husband goes to work and brings the money, while the good wife stays at home cooking and cleaning. But i know how my parents works, my dad doesnt do much and my mom cleans and so on, but she likes it. And she is obssessed with cleaning. I am not. I hate doing the dishes, doing the laundry, vacuuming the house. My goal in life is to work and get money so i pay someone to do that. And my husband knows the person he married, but still seems like a pattern has formed and now being the second time i am without a job he is again demanding me to be the housewife. I know there is a logic to it somehow, but i would really doubt it that is he was in my positiong, if that would have happened.
    I feel bad thou, he is a loving husband besides that sort of thing. He is 4 years older than me and even while i am working he makes more money than i do, and still he some times let me know about how i should do more stuff because he is responsable for that.

  64. Rosi, thanks for sharing such an intimate feeling. I feel the same. I have been reading offbeat home for years now, but reading your article was like reading about me, that I just singed in.  I was raised and currently live in a Latin-American country, raised to be an educated working woman, but life had others plans for me.  It was hard to assimilate things were different to all I was taught and dreamed.  A month before our wedding six years ago, I quit my stressing demanding unfulfilling job; I tough I would find a better one, but it was real difficult to do so. After a year, I got real depressed and with no job I refused to do the house shores, I refused to be a housewife. My husband had been the most understanding loving partner who brings money home. I hated to feel useless. But then, I understood this was a lesson the life wanted to teach me. I needed to let go my ego. I needed to learn my house and home is as important as a job. I do something very useless for us. As years passed, husband and I learned we feel better when we work as a team, we learned to support each other on hard times, we learned to save, we learned to enjoy little pleasures with little money, we learned to drive our only car. Also, was difficult for him to learn to give me the money he earned and it was difficult for me to learn to receive it. During this time, I got two temporary jobs, and because we had learned to live on my husband income I was able to save all the money for those two jobs and decided to use it to remodel our 40 years old bathroom. Every time I feel I throw my career in the toilet, I go to our brand-new bathroom and let myself smile looking at what I did. If I could do this with so little, I know I can to do big things for me and my husband.
    Also, I am teaching other people about different ways to see life and money. In this always changing money world, you need to learn and learn again. What are you learning of this experience?

  65. This really hits home a little bit. I've recently taken the roll of a housewife, or well. House girlfriend. I moved in with my long distance boyfriend last July, and haven't really been able to get a job aside from one seasonal position because they were desperate.

    Any who, because my other works so hard to provide for me and my cat, I have taken to doing all the chores. And honestly, it bothers me that I can't help pay for anything. Before I moved I had a job, albeit it was fast food, but it was still some sort of income to help out. So this is really hard on me. And I feel terrible because I have so many selfish thoughts because I'm kind of a spender and want to do things socially. For me being a housewife is rather lonely here due to the fact that I don't have any friends still and I'm not really close with his family. So all I do is clean and when there's nothing more to clean I have to figure out how to fill the void until my other comes home. >.< I'm feeling like my words are all over. Kind of hard to express what I feel. I feel really similar to what you do. My mother could never provide for herself or she tries to take care of others and I've seen my granddad's family on his side always take him for granted and ask him for money, hell my uncle and his wife live with his mom because he doesn't feel like paying for an apartment. Growing up with this I never wanted to financially depend on anyone and it hurts that I am. I don't feel like I deserve to live here and do nothing to help out with bills. Especially since my boyfriend's ex refused to get a Job, and just lazed about the house. I don't wanna be or do that. I feel as if cleaning isn't enough. Cooking isn't enough. I feel like I'm just a maid who is paid with a roof over my head and food. Maybe I'm selfish for wanting more.

  66. I feel I am experiencing a lot of what you all are thinking about. I had identities as nurse, teacher, chef. Now, I feel sometimes as unappreciated as ever, it seems. However, I know that I'm important and can stick up for myself. Being a wife and mom has been sometimes like a punishing gauntlet (hope that isn't too dramatic) but if we remember times we were rewarded and recognized, it helps. I also focus on ways I can be thankful (and reasons)…ways to push on and have hope. I am in a home ec. club, so that gives me a chance to socialize…also thinking of ways that life is better (up times) or predictable. ..helps us to deal. Very Best. Thanks for the comments…we housewives/husbands (I have studied) still make up a good sized fraction of the workforce (a quarter to a third)…because somebody needs to care for kids, homes, clothes, pets, meals…it is purposeful work, and yes, worthy of some kind of pay allowance, whether it's monetary or resource or both.

  67. I'm a stay-at-home husband who spent my adult life as a financially independent, career-minded person, up until 2006 when I moved in with my partner (now husband). As a musician, I knew (and he knew) I had to start my career over, auditioning for different musical opportunities all over again and it would take time; he had no problem supporting me. In 2008, though, I was diagnosed with end-stage AIDS (having no idea when I got it or who from) which turned my life upside down for a decade, through a rare form of meningitis, fluid on the brain, necrotizing pancreatitis, dual kidney failure, ending with Stage 4 lymphoma – I somehow survived all of this, and am left a dependent.

    My husband has done all he can to make me "OK" with this, but I am not. I am a horrible cook and I'm not as tidy as he is. Basically, I provide nothing for him other than an expense. Because my health always seems to be on the edge of frail, I can't work much to help.

    The first few years of this problem centered on the fact that I became financially dependent. Though this didn't go away, my health problems became the new source of this guilt. My husband has nearly lost me so many times in the past ten years, going through several month-long stretches not knowing if I were going to live through the night.

    In all this, he still seems to be OK, which makes me MORE distraught because I don't feel I deserve to be treated like such a prince. I wonder, what could he possibly get out of this relationship now?

    I hate this guilt/PTSD whatever it is, and am going to seek some counseling; I'll be glad to share whatever info I get. I'm so glad to know that there are others who are dealing with this guilt – whatever it is – too.

    • Scott – thank you for sharing your experience. I feel you on the guilt of being financially dependent. I hear you and while I've not personally experienced your health scares, I've experienced health concerns which added physical and emotional dependence at least temporarily to the ways I was reliant on my spouse. Thus, I feel you on how that can further exacerbate the feelings of guilt.

      I think the problem that many of us in this thread face, and you seem to fit the bill along with us, is that we do not always see our own value. Our value is not measured by how much we make or how well we keep a home. While a person may have strengths, like a good income or great cooking, that are attractive to our spouses, they have chosen to love us (hopefully unconditionally). It sounds as though your husband (and I am lucky to say the same of my own spouse) sees value in our companionship, and when health scares arise, they see value in our simply being alive, in our surviving.

      You said "I somehow survived all of this, and am left a dependent." As I read of your experience, I thought "You survived all of this, and became a survivor." I agree that counseling is probably a good idea (it has definitely helped me). I also think we "guilty" ones only see our shortcomings and (through counseling and other resources) need to change our perspective. I don't have many answers as I still feel the guilt. However, the guilt isn't as strong any more because life (and marriage) is dynamic – things have changed and I've learned to let go of much guilt because other things required my attention. I also found it helpful to think about the shoe being on the other foot. If your husband had been the one with serious health complications, how would you feel about him during near-death struggles and after he became a survivor?

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