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?
Comments on I dislike being a housewife: My struggle with being financially dependent on my spouse
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
Thank you! And I’ve read Radical Homemakers, it’s one of my all-time favorite books. I will check those others out. =)
Try these two blogs, to start off:
And this post on Offbeat Home about agnostic feminist housekeeping blogs:
Oh my gosh, you rock! Thank you.
i think it can be absolutely feminist to embrace being feminine. if that means you crave that roll, embrace it.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Yes, yes to both of you wise women!! Exactly.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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 🙂