If you’ve been a stay-at-home wife, or have been considering becoming one, then you’re probably well aware of the stigma our current society (quick note for any international readers, I’m based in the U.S. of A.) holds towards women working inside the home. My husband and I have decided to make the change in the next few months when we move stations, to where I’ll be a housewife, or possibly work outside the home part-time. We’ve had a lot of different reactions over the past few weeks, almost none of them positive.
My parents are worried I’ll be bored and unfulfilled. My friends think that I’ve been body-snatched or pressured into this decision. My in-laws are concerned that I’m going to act like their other daughter-in-law, and be the cliche wife who does nothing and expects to be pampered. Co-workers have said that I’ll decide to go back to work the first time I have to ask my husband to buy me something. I’ve even had a few people dance around the topic to try and ask me if I’m being abused, without putting it to those words. The whole, “blink twice if you need help” thing. Interestingly, more people are concerned that I’m taking advantage of my husband somehow, and they haven’t hesitated to tell him as much.
It’s discouraging, and offensive, that my husband and I have expressed nothing but excitement over this transition, and it’s been met with every negative response we can imagine. We understand that most, if not all, of these reactions have been well-meaning and shared with us out of a real sense of helpfulness, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s hurtful to hear such negative things from everyone we hold dear.
If you’re looking to make this transition as well, and to become a housewife, then I have some advice on how to handle these reactions. Obviously, not every situation will be the same, and hopefully you don’t have to deal with the negativity, but it’s a good idea to be prepared.
1.) Be Sure That You & Your Spouse Are on Board
If you have any doubts, or you think that your spouse has doubts about one of you becoming a house-spouse, then discuss it. Sometimes one spouse will say they agree, when they aren’t really okay with it, because they have concerns or doubts, but want to make their partner happy. If one of you is going to be staying home and working in the home, then make sure you talk about it openly with your partner and address any concerns that come up. If your spouse is harboring the same doubts that everyone else is bringing up, then there will be strife, and it’s best to address that as quickly as possible. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to your spouse about your worries.
2.) Establish Clear Expectations
I don’t just mean make it clear that whoever is staying home will be responsible for the majority of chores. It’s also important to establish budgets, what kind of spending money you’ll get, ect… My husband and I have decided that since he’ll be the sole earner for our home, whenever he goes to buy himself something extra or “just because” he needs to be ready to get something for me as well. If he needs new work shirts, that’s one thing, but if he sees a nice shirt he wants, then he’s agreed it’s only fair he let me find something new to buy at the same time, that way I don’t end up feeling like I never get new things, and he doesn’t neglect to take care of me. We’ve also agreed that one of my responsibilities will be to have dinner ready each day. What exactly your responsibilities look like will depend on your household needs, and how you and your spouse decide to divide up labor. Establish expectations that work for you and your family, and be willing to discuss and reevaluate those expectations as time goes on. My own regular schedule looks like this right now, but will probably change over time.
Having these expectations in place, as well as a clear understanding of what your responsibilities will be has been key for us in addressing a lot of the negativity we’ve encountered. Every “what will you do all day” has been easy to answer.
3.) Let People Know It’s None of Their Business
Now, I’m not advocating rudeness, but clear boundaries are important. In today’s social media age everyone thinks they have a right to know every detail of your life, and that’s just not the case. I know it can feel like you need to defend yourself and this decision, but sometimes the best answer is to just say “I’m sorry, but this doesn’t really concern you.” They don’t need to know why you’re deciding to work inside the home. They don’t need to know what your household budget will look like. They don’t need to know what your disposable income will be.
You can of course tell them anything you’re comfortable with, but don’t be afraid to set boundaries.
4.) Remember That This is Not an Unchangeable Decision
It can be really easy to dig your heels in once you start defending this decision, and decide that you can’t ever go back on it. You might feel like if you change your mind then it somehow means other people were right, or that you made a mistake. I want you to remember though, that this is not and does not have to be a permanent decision. If you give being a housewife a try and decide you hate it, there is nothing stopping you from going back to work outside of the home. If you find out that a single income isn’t enough to support your household and you need to go back to working outside the home, that doesn’t mean you failed.
You need to do what is best for you and your family, and that may mean trying different things. There’s no shame in that.
5.) Homemaking IS a Career
Homemaking is a career with just as much work, reward, and fulfillment as any other job. Like all jobs, it won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve decided to make it your career, don’t be afraid to let people know that. Gush about the work you do, let them know about ways you manage your home, just like they get excited over their work. Let them know about all the work that goes into it, and be proud of what you accomplish.
Don’t let other people reduce the significance of your work, regardless of what your career is.
A stay-at-home wife is a lot of things, there are a lot of different hats you have to wear when you decide to be a homemaker. It’s a challenging, rewarding career, and unfortunately, some people don’t see the value of it. Hopefully, your friends and family are supportive, or at the least accepting, but don’t let the nay-sayers get you down. If this is something you want to do, go for it.
And if you’re the friend or family of someone who’s becoming a housewife, but are unsure of how to be supportive, just think about the kind of questions and reactions you’d like to get if you made a career change. Avoid personal questions that could invade the privacy of your loved one, but express interest. You may not understand or agree with their decision, but it’s not your decision to make.