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Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By YumYumDoughnutPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:45 AM . . . . . .

What do you guys think about women who stay at home, but are childless? Their chosen career is a homemaker. We aren't talking about a stay at home mom, but women who are childless by choice who chose to be a homemaker.
Is it a status symbol that a husband makes enough money that a woman has the luxury of not having to work?


I know this is probably going to be quite controversial, which is why it is posted in debates.

91 Replies to Stay at home wives. New status symbol?

re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By hummingbird
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:07 AM
It's really not a new thing, it's a very old thing, as old as the hills! Some people like to provide and some people like to be provided for. If it works for them I can't see the problem myself.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:17 AM
My opinion is quite negative, so I'll tone it down for the sake of not being offensive.

I will preface this by saying that I don't particularly care what others do. I don't lay awake at night thinking about this, but since I was specifically asked, I'm thinking about it now.

I will also add that while having a wide selection of choices in life is due to feminism, that doesn't inherently make any choice a feminist action.

I have a hard enough time being vocally supportive of stay at home mothers. I understand the benefits, I understand why so many women want to do it. However, I have never seen a positive example of a long-term SAHM in real life. Obviously, they're out there. In my family/friend circle however, it's led to a loss of self, disconnect with their spouse, and a sense of disappointment that none of them live up to the 1950's ideal that they originally cited as their motivation for staying home. One of my friends credits the job she got after several months of staying home as the reason she beat PPD. I think that people need something for themselves, and with the unrealistic expectations on modern SAHMs, that can be very difficult.

The long and short of that is that SAHMs seem to have it rough, but ultimately, they have a reason for being home. They're raising kids, and dealing with the respective fall-out from that (messes, feeding, laundry, etc). I have to admit, when I see someone with no kids who doesn't work, I wonder if they suffer from depression or have some other reason to not work. In cases where women from well-off families marry a rich guy and then decide not to work, I get judgy and wonder if they just want to remain perpetually 18, with someone taking care of them. It doesn't seem like the makings of a healthy relationship between equals. What are they doing with their lives? What gives them a sense of fulfillment?

I should add, I don't consider women with disabilities, women in their 40's/50's with grown children or women who decide to retire early (late 40's/early 50's) to be stay at home wives. Their circumstances are different.

To further admit my bias, however, I come from a long line of working women and staying home, kids or not, will never even be remotely an option for me. I can't wrap my head around the idea of wanting nothing more in life than for someone to take care of me and pay for my manicures.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By Wicked_Elphabamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:19 AM
To each their own. Who cares?
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:19 AM
I would personally have a very hard time staying home and not working. I would probably end up devoting my time and effort to one cause or another to keep myself busy.

My mom in law is an empty nester, and so I suppose she's technically a stay-at-home wife. However, she is also a docent for a local museum, is getting a masters in pastoral theology, teaches art on and off, and spends a LOT of time helping me out with the kiddos.

Just because you don't have a "real" job doesn't necessarily mean you're freeloading, and if someone can stay home and it's a reasonable decision that she and her husband made together I can't see how it's an issue at all.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By MarlaSingermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:28 AM
I don't think it's a status symbol unless you make it one. I don't care what anyone's financial arrangement with their spouse is, but if someone was carrying on endlessly about how great it was that their spouse made SO MUCH MONEY that they didn't need to work, I would find that obnoxious.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:33 AM
If you are privileged enough to be able to choose your circumstances then by all means choose away and live the life you want to live. I'm all for thumbing your nose at judgmental people who no business being judgmental. Whose life is it? Oh yeah, YOURS.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By MuffinHeadmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:43 AM
I would be bored out of my MIND being a stay at home wife.

That being said. I would LOVE to make dance my only job. It just pays my bills and nothing more than that.

So I would really enjoy being able to be home during the day-- really take the time and plan my classes and just teach. So, it'd be almost like being a stay at home wife, only less boring.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By PinUpGirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:43 AM
Where I come from we call them "kept women" or "trophy wives".

Personally, I'd go bonkers if I didn't have to work. Even if it was just a part time job, I would still have to do something. I completely don't understand women who are happy to fritter about doing nothing in particular. It would be fun for about a week, bu then I'd have to get back to doing something productive and feeling like I'm contributing to the household.

If they're happy and their financial circumstances allow for it, go nuts.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By SaraTheGrouchmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:47 AM
I know plenty of them. It happens. Nobody within the community really thinks twice about it. To each their own.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By slice
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 11:57 AM
hummingbird wrote:

It's really not a new thing, it's a very old thing, as old as the hills! Some people like to provide and some people like to be provided for. If it works for them I can't see the problem myself.

I was gonna say^

It's a luxury and a status symbol that's as old as time. Even in the 19th century, from where people tend to derive a lot of their domestic homemaker fantasies, having a wife who didn't need to contribute financially to the family was a luxury limited to certain social and economic classes of people. Even so-called "housewives" did some kind of work, whether they did laundry for a wealthy family, sold their baked goods, did farmwork, or taught school a handful of months a year. Being able to stay at home and truly not work and not contribute in child rearing has always been a marker of status.

Anyway, mini history lesson aside, I'm with Dancing_EMT. Who cares?

(And just because some women don't technically have careers doesn't mean they're frittering away their time all day. Imagine having unlimited time to pursue a craft that you've always wanted to? I'd love to be able to use the day to focus on my writing, master my instrument, or study neuroscience, or something.)
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By PHD_againmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:03 PM
If a couple has enough money to live comfortably on a single income and the non-working spouse has enough other things going on to keep themselves from going stir crazy, why shouldn't they stay home?
Sure, both spouses could go to work everyday and they could amass more wealth and more stuff, which in itself could be seen as a status symbol (my unnecessarily big car is bigger than yours) or one spouse could stay home, they could live a comfortable life and someone else, maybe someone who really needs it, could have the job previously occupied by the now non-working spouse.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol? (karma: 4)
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:04 PM
I'd like to know why a life is considered only to have value (or the best value) if it is generating dollars?
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol? (karma: 3)
By Krystalmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:29 PM
I might be one of the only childless, stay-at-home wives on DDN. Sooo maybe I can shed some light on this?

I haven't worked for more than a couple months at a time since January 2012. When my husband goes on month or so long trips, I usually go home and work at my old job to pass the time. Since Jan '12 I've worked there on and off for a total of six months. But I haven't actually went to work since April 2013.

My husband just doesn't want me to work. He loves being able to provide everything for us. In the beginning (like when we first moved to his duty assignment and he told me I didn't have to work anymore) I had a REALLY hard time accepting that. I felt like I needed to. I'm his wife, I should bring home money too. But he doesn't see it as necessary anymore. I think part of it is because we're no longer barely scraping by financially, we have some extra money now. Also both of us are VERY old fashioned; he thinks men should be the breadwinners and the wives should stay home and take care of the house, kids, etc. Don't get me wrong, we don't think badly of other people who choose to work/not work, this is just what works for us.

I got bored a lot in the beginning. I cleaned the house in the morning, made lunch for myself, did laundry, got dinner ready. We only had one car then too (sold mine before the move) so I literally was trapped inside all day. However since then, I've taken it upon myself to be in charge of running every square foot of this house. My husband is gone more often than he's home so it makes sense. I have a car now so I'm able to go wherever I want basically whenever I want. It helped ease the boredom in the beginning, that's for sure!

We don't have kids either. However when he comes home next year we are planning for a baby Anderson ;)

My daily schedule is usually something like this (whether my husband is home or not):

Wake up around 8.
Coffee/breakfast/feed the dogs/take them outside
Housework (laundry, go over bathrooms, dishes)
Lunchtime at 12ish. I might go out with a friend or make something at home.
Come home, usually around 2-3ish and do some more housework/bill paying/budgeting/packing care packages/making phone calls.
Dinner time (when my husband is home I try to have it ready when he walks through the door.
I usually take the dogs to the dog park again after dinner.
Gym time 5-730ish. I have a class Tues/Thurs/Sat, and every other day I'm doing heavy weight training and/or cardio.
I usually am able to relax around 8-9pm.

I like being a stay at home wife a lot more now than I did in the beginning. I absolutely do not see it as a status symbol. If a couple is happy with the system they have worked out, then that's AWESOME! We're very happy and my husband really does enjoy knowing it's HIS money that has bought us our new house, our new cars, his money that feeds us, his money that pays bills.

I still however feel incredibly judged by people when they find out I don't work and I don't have kids. I hope I'll get over that. It just seems that "my husband doesn't want me to work" isn't a valid excuse for them. They think I sit on my butt all day in pajamas, eat cupcakes, watch Army Wives, and take selfies. Uhhh no. Not at ALL how my day goes!

Whew! Don't judge me, guys! I read back over this and it makes my husband seem super controlling and me super spoiled. He's really not controlling at all. He's just stubborn, set in his ways, and wants to do everything he can for us. He's awesome.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol? (karma: 2)
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 01:10 PM
^If you don't have to work to keep your household running, why would you ever feel like you have to explain that?

I think we all forget that working is something we do in order to afford to live, not something we generally want to MAKE our lives into.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol? (karma: 1)
By Tansey
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 01:51 PM
Edited by Tansey (209516) on 2013-11-26 13:54:05
Some of the posts here are pretty judgy. If a couple decides that one of them can or should stay home, and they can manage on one spouse's income, it's nobody's business but their own. I've got a friend who hasn't worked in decades. She came from money, and married a man who became very successful. Since they didn't need a second income, she chose to stay home and do all the things that make their lives run smoothly. She was widowed in her 30s but still chose not to work. She didn't need the money, and why take a job that someone else might really need? I assure you she leads an interesting life, filled with friends, a 2nd husband, travel and volunteering. I also have a family member who is part of a childless married couple. She was a college professor for years, but they didn't need money and she "retired" in her 40s. She volunteers one day each week. She also bought herself a horse and spends a lot of time working on her riding skills. These are both things she didn't have time for when she worked. She's able to get done during the week all the chores and errands the rest of us spend our weekends doing, so then she and her husband can enjoy all his time off. If a couple is financially able, what difference could it possibly make to the rest of us if one of them stays home?
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By Krystalmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 02:03 PM
^If you don't have to work to keep your household running, why would you ever feel like you have to explain that?

I feel that way too. I/we don't owe anyone an explanation. I just feel like I have to be all, "No, no I'm not a total moocher, I do my part too," and blah blah blah. It's just in today's society you don't see many "housewives" anymore. Everyone (it seems) is in college/graduated, pursuing an actual career. I feel like those people look down on me because I haven't been to college, have no intentions of going, and actually find joy in being home serving my husband and keeping everything orderly.

It's just tough. And military wives (especially) generally have a bad reputation for being tag-chasing, freeloading, baby-breeding, couch-potatoes anyway. I just don't want to be labeled as that because I'm not any of those. :/
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 02:59 PM
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2013-11-26 15:00:30
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2013-11-26 15:02:02
Edited by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2013-11-26 15:03:17
I just wrote this gigantic post and then lost it. Whoops. I'll try to hit the highlights:

1. The language of "status symbol" may be making people upset because of its negative connotations, because it sounds showoffy or braggy--but putting that aside, it's something that not all, or even many, families can afford to do. It's like a buying a fancy new car instead of a serviceable used one; there's nothing WRONG with it, per se, but it's something not everybody can afford

2. Middle class women staying at home is a relatively new concept (mostly postwar--so we're talking the last 60 years of human history) and still, as then, skews overwhelmingly white, so I would be hesitant to frame this as a "typical" experience across all demographics

3. Speaking completely for myself, as a person who comes from a long line of women who worked outside the home and get antsy when they start to feel idle, not having a job would drive me bonkers

4. On the flip side, I would love to be able to work on my writing career without the pressure of a full time job, but with my husband's chosen career, I don't think this is ever going to be a possibility and wouldn't consider that being a "stay at home wife" (when/if we have kids, as I'm in the career with the the greatest income and potential for growth, my husband would stay home, but I'm in an egalitarian marriage and don't believe in prescribed gender roles; being a complementarian would quite literally bankrupt us, haha)

5. The friends that I know who self-identify as "stay at home wives" (married women without kids) still do things like custom portrait painting (bringing income to the home) or caring for elderly relatives (eliminating a family's need to hire an expensive carer), so it's not like they're sitting around eating bonbons all day or dusting the furniture six times daily

I hope that makes sense, lol.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By reel_faerie85member has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 04:33 PM
I'm currently working but have previously been a SAHW. I think its quite common in the military - probably due to moving a lot & the tight knit old fashioned communities.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Personally I would like to find a nice balance, maybe work 16 hours only.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol? (karma: 1)
By kandykanePremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:19 PM
Edited by kandykane (157761) on 2013-11-26 22:23:32
No, not a new concept at all. I know a lot of people who look down on me because I am not employed. It never fails, meeting new people they invariably ask "what do you do?" There is a truck commercial, this one.... . . .

And with different images in my head, but no less busy, that's what I always think. This last week, with everybody at home it involved cleaning, laundry, cooking, dishes, more laundry, taking my dad to a doctor appointment, an appointment with my husband at our financial advisor's office, going to a program at the elementary school for my nephew, more laundry, going to my grand daughter's basketball tournament and bringing her here for a visit, my daughter and I doing all the grocery shopping for the week and the Thanksgiving holiday, going to get our hair cut and colored, putting up the Christmas tree and lights on the house (it had to get done early this year) getting the oil changed in two of the cars, buying tires for one, paying bills, more laundry, going to my baby niece's first birthday party, going to a dedication at the museum where my son works, another doctor appointment, plus driving over 500 miles to get to all the various activities. Tomorrow will be a cooking and baking day, Thursday the holiday, Friday I am taking my granddaughter home, then Saturday I will be going to another birthday 150 miles away, and next week I'll be going to the Ozarks to for another family event and to visit friends.

Now, I ask, WHEN, exactly do I have time for a job?? My question to working moms has always been "how do you find time and energy to work and do everything else we have to do?"

When the kids were little, their dad worked out of state and was often gone for weeks or even months at a time. In fact he still does. I did not want my kids in day care. When they were school age, I volunteered at the school and half a dozen other organizations in town and I felt strongly that as the sole parent in town I was on call 24/7. I never missed an event or had to tell my kid "I can't" because I was working. Rarely have I been a lady of leisure or had the time to be bored.

Our finances may have been more secure if I had worked, but maybe not. Women around here don't get paid that well unless they are in a high powered, well educated job and most of those commute over an hour one way into the city. A minimum wage job did not and still does not make good financial sense. I never had to pay for a regular babysitter or daycare. In fact, my working mom friends usually called me when they needed extra help. :/ Everybody calls me when they need help, even now.

re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:35 PM
First of all I would like to offer up my mom as a positive example as a stay at home mom. She was an accountant and worked for exactly one week after she returned from maternity leave with me. She then continued to stay at home to raise myself and my four siblings. She loved caring for us (still does obviously!) and her time at home with us eventually led her to seek a career in a more nurturing role than her previous occupation, where she is much happier and she absolutely loves what she does now. Had she not stayed home with us, she probably would have continued in a stable accounting job that made her miserable.

Kekoa, I would also like to point out that in today's era, some women do not realistically have the CHOICE to work outside the home. Daycare costs at a reputable location are OBSCENE. In the area where I go to school, not only is daycare expensive, it is also competitive. It is advised to call ASAP after getting a positive pregnancy test to reserve your spot (seriously..the daycare providers are like the third person to find out after the mom and dad..). My mom loved staying home with us and enjoyed many hobbies for herself (fitness) and getting together with other moms, but I honestly don't think my family could have afforded childcare for all of us. I personally know of many examples where one parent stays home with the child because daycare costs more than that parent would make.

As to the original question, whatever floats people's boats. I could never do it, nor be a stay at home mom because my career is a passion of mine. I feel called to a career, but I know many people feel called to be a stay at home mom, or even stay at home wife. As far as it being a status symbol, I wouldn't go that far, but I do think it is sort of a luxury.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol? (karma: 2)
By lux
On Wed Nov 27, 2013 02:58 AM
Edited by lux (197070) on 2013-11-27 03:26:07 Sahh many feels.
The first thing I want to say up front is that I really wish I'd gotten my post in before Krystal's, because from what I've seen of her on DDN she's a total sweetheart and the LAST thing I want to do is sound like I'm having a go at her lifestyle, which in this context it might sound like I am in some parts of this post. I completely understand that every situation is different- my post is based on my own experiences and inexplicable feelings.

I actually have some very strong, very negative feelings on this topic, which from a logical standpoint I realise is completely crazy, considering that what other women do with their lives is absolutely none of my business. So thank you, YumYum, for starting this thread- it's given me a really great opportunity for me to consider why I have such a strong opinion!

My "issue" with the notion of childless women choosing to stay at home is two-fold.

Firstly, I look at this from the perspective of how I would feel if my hypothetical daughter told me she was going to stay home and keep house, despite being childless. I would be extremely worried. What would my daughter do if her husband left her, or if she wanted to leave her husband? What if her husband was suddenly unable to work?

If, for whatever reason, my hypothetical daughter had to re-enter the workforce, what on earth would she do? It's difficult enough for a woman who has taken time out of the workforce to raise children, but most workplaces (I hope!) would understand this. But a gaping whole in your CV because you were keeping house for your husband? MUCH less sympathetic. Bottom line, I feel like choosing not to work is hedging a significant bet that you'll never have to, and regardless of how optimistic you are about the future, this is a big gamble.

Secondly, I feel the reasoning that "my husband wants to provide for me" can be very problematic. I feel that, in some relationship dynamics, this can be code for "my husband wants me to be completely reliant on him". I'm certainly not saying this is always the case, but none the less, the idea of a man telling me he doesn't WANT me to work gives me the heebie jeebies.

Finally, I'm not ashamed to admit that there's a notion of "unfairness" to SAH wifedom- it seems unfair that I have to work AND do everything a SAH wife does just to survive, whilst other women get to sleep in, spend hours at the gym and see their friends every day. Sure they keep house, but heck, so do I! What do I have to do to hang out at home all day?!

I guess I'd compare it to the way I feel about people who get jobs because they know someone, rather than because they're the best at what they do- I have less respect for those who didn't earn what they have. I know this is probably unreasonable, and like Kekoa I'd NEVER bring it up unsolicited.

One big thing that grates on me is SAH wives who claim that they're just as busy as their working counterparts. I work from 8:30 until at least 5 (usually later), and often end up working from home after that. My daily commute is a 3 hour round trip. Yet I manage to do laundry, cook dinner, clean the house and pay the bills too, along with working out and seeing my friends. Keeping house for two people just isn't the same as working a full time job.

That said, I should admit that at least some of my distaste is probably jealousy-fueled. I would LOVE to have more than 50 minutes at a time free to spend at the gym, 4-5 times per week, but due to how hectic my job is of late, I'm lucky if I make it there once. I'm constantly anxious about the fact that my house isn't clean enough, my cooking isn't varied enough, I'm far less fit and thin than I'd like to be, I don't see many of my good friends nearly often enough... all this because my job keeps me out of the house for 11 hours a day MINIMUM, so when I say I don't have the time, I really, truly mean it. And I promise you, this is in NO way a humblebrag... it freakin' sucks.

To be honest, I guess there is also a big part of me that sees it as a waste of talent. If I didn't HAVE to work, it's conceivable that I wouldn't. But if I'm intelligent and talented and capable, and I'm lucky enough that I don't have to pour my time into work, I like to think that I'd dedicate a solid chunk of it to a worthwhile charity or cause.

Comment #10156884 deleted
Edited by lux (197070) on 2013-11-27 03:24:32
Removed by hummingbird (128773) on 2013-11-27 22:03:18 This is not the post you're looking for. Move along please :)

re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Nov 27, 2013 08:38 AM
Edited by d4j (104724) on 2013-11-27 08:44:16
A SAHW should have all the necessary things in place: Life insurance, disability insurance, etc. A SAHW should already have or be in the process of getting some kind of skill in the event that it is needed. She should be legally married, with all the protections that come with that in the event of divorce. Don't be 'one man away from the street'. Having said that, I want to once again address the idea of value assigned to a life. I really hate that some people judge others as a waste of space because they aren't 'contributing' in the same way that they are.

I compare my mom with my stepmom. My mom has always worked, my stepmom never has. They are both equally valued, loved members of our family and no one looks upon one as better than the other.

I have friends where the woman is a SAHGF. They are not married but have been in the relationship for over twenty years. I don't know how they have worked out things so that she is protected, but regardless, I have to say that I have always envied her ability to choose her life. I like working and am stimulated by my work, but she is just always so RELAXED and organized and on top of things. I would love that. I don't think that she does anything other than take yoga and travel and that might piss some of you off, but I would never look down on her for not doing something more 'important', that is so not anyone's place She is lucky to have the choice, she makes her BF very happy, they are a happy couple and enjoy their life. Good for them. To me, the most desirable thing in life is the ability to choose the life you want.
re: Stay at home wives. New status symbol?
By slice
On Wed Nov 27, 2013 08:51 AM
I thought about this some more and while like I said, having unlimited amounts of time to work on a non-revenue producing craft would be just wonderful, I'm just not sure if I could actually bring myself to be in a stay at home wife situation.

I am an incredibly competitive person. Going into the field I'm going into I've pretty much had to resign myself to the fact that I'm going to making less money than my husband (at least I better) and peer friend group for the rest of my life. Which for me is tough to chew on since I've always been the industrious one. And most people do equate money-making with success.

So just going through that is going to be a big enough challenge in the upcoming years and I can't imagine volunteering to not bring in any money to the household at all. I'd feel like a phony and very vulnerable. Now, if I became a bestselling author thanks to having tons of time to write, well, then it might be worth it.... Hmm.....
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