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I Love Being A Wife (Part II)


Some of you might remember the very first Reclaiming Wife post ever, when I quoted Cindy (who’s wedding I talked about here) as saying, “Meg, I love being a wife. So far in life, it’s been my most satisfying and challenging role. So here’s to the rest of yours and David’s life. Cheers.”

And then everyone screamed at me because I said I didn’t think she was talking about the minivan mass-media image of wife and people thought I hated everyone who had a minivan or whatever nonsense? (And she wasn’t really talking about that, by the way, as she’s a motorcycle girl. And I’m not a mini-van OR motorcycle girl, so that’s just that.) Well, Cindy wrote me this amazing email last week, that, at risk of getting slaughtered in the comments again (but we have reporting buttons now!) I had to share with you guys. Because she’s just so right on, and I love the way she explains how you can have a traditional role in your marriage and be doing it not because it is or isn’t traditional, but because it’s right for YOU. Kind of like our weddings, yes?

I Love Being A Wife (Part II) | A Practical Wedding

Hi Meg,

It’s Cindy, from the infamous, “I love being a wife” comment. Well, I’ve been married a year and a half now and have to admit, I still love being a wife. I never knew that I would be so well-suited for such a thing. I thought I would find it confining, trapping, and full of unhappiness but it has opened my heart to a whole new perspective I never thought imaginable because I chose to be a wife, and I have chosen to play the role in marriage that I do, which is actually quite traditional.

I’m not much for the 9 to 5. I’m not much for the rules and frustrations of the working world, and for the endless willingness to bend your will and sell your soul that comes with a paycheck. I simply don’t work like that. But I excel at counsel, compassion, cleanliness, and mowing the lawn. Since I met my husband, we fell into rather traditional roles. Not because we had to but because that is the people that we are and it works for us. Surprisingly, I found that it doesn’t make us old fashioned or conformists, it makes us simply who we are and, honestly, my wild heart could use a little taming …

My husband is very much a businessman, a small businessman who likes to get his hands dirty and be a part of the show. He believes that everything in life that people have they should, “Work for it and stop waiting for a god damn handout. Life isn’t going to happen for you.” I’ve never met a man so determined to make his own way in the world and while some of my friends shunned him for his fiscally-Republican ways,* I saw a man who who picked up garbage out in the woods, recycled more than any other person I’ve ever met, knew who he was and what he wanted out of life, and I wanted to BE A PART OF THAT LIFE.

The person I’ve become since I’ve met him is motivated and strong, able to negotiate, stand up for herself, and be whomever she wants to be. I am totally and completely free. He holds me back from nothing but encourages me to “go out there and live your life. Oh, you want to do that on a motorcycle? Okay, I’ll get one too and we can go live life together.”

He knows I’m flaky, anyone who knows me does. He accepts my random acts of impulsiveness and occasionally joins me in a harebrained idea. He never says no to adventure. He never backs down from my crazy ideas. He listens to my counsel in regard to issues with his business. He lives to see me happy, and that’s the best damn feeling on Earth being loved like that.

So I married him and five years into our relationship, and a year and a half into our marriage, I came to realize I’m so much more than a cooking, cleaning, gardening machine (things I would like to point out that I actually like doing because I do them ). Yes, I am a wife in a traditional sense as much as I am a wife in the sense that I am a partner to someone. I am a part of something so big it blows my mind every damn day.

But I’ll let my husband say it, because he said it best (editors note: this is from Cindy’s blog post, and you must go read the rest right now):

He said, “When I’m working these long hours, I think about you. I think a lot about you, actually, about what a good wife I have. I thought about how when I get home, you won’t nag me about anything, you’ll just start the shower and make me a sandwich or have a plan for us to go out and unwind somewhere together. You listen to me talk about what a clusterfuck everything was, or how great the LD was, or my stories about the crew, the crowd, the hi-jinks with the union. You don’t get mad when I work late. You don’t resent that I love what I do. I couldn’t have gone off on my own without you and I know that I can’t do this without you. You’re a bigger part of my business and my life than I realized. You’re not just a good wife, but you’re a good partner. I really love you.” I smiled and blushed, said, “I love you, too, Bug. Cheers.” and we clinked glasses because I didn’t know what else to say.

I’ll let this picture from our wedding day speak a thousand words about about us. I really like the way he kisses, me, just saying.

– Cindy

*I told to Cindy that for all my hard-core belief in the social contract, we had lots of super socially liberal but fiscally conservative small business owning friends (hi Kathy!) that I get on famously with. I love them, they are smart, they are wise, and they like to talk about being a business owner (score!) and they agree to do things like go to a hand gun range with me without any hand wringing at all. So knowing Cindy through the blog, I had a sneaking feeling I’d really love her husband. And then she tells me he owns a theatrical lighting business, and I start grinning. Because OF COURSE HE DOES.

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  • Nicole

    Lovely. Absolutely perfect. You really captured it.

  • Cat

    Exactly what I needed after a long, horrible, stress filled day. I just ran downstairs to give my wife a quick cuddle and remind myself that it’s all ok. Just beautiful.

  • caitlin

    This is what it’s all about, really, isn’t it? Learning to be not only a good wife, but a good partner. To me, the most beautiful part of this post is the unselfishness they both show in encouraging and supporting each other to do what they love. I’m definitely printing this to read over and over… what a beautiful love.

    • A-L

      Just hitting “exactly” isn’t enough for this comment. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say, and you hit it on the head. Thank you Caitlin for saying it for me, and thank you Cindy (and your husband!) for the beautiful message.

  • http://onecatperperson.blogspot.com Angie

    For such a long time I was very scared to say how excited I was to be a wife in fear that I would be shunned for wanting to be part Ina Garten, part career driven young woman, part ready to be a mom, maybe even a stay-at-home parent, part shower-starter/sandwich maker/non-nagging listening ear, part everything I feel a good partner should be. I heard and watched people treat “wife” like it was just another 4-letter, dirty word. But I got over it… I know wives who love being wives. I see their marriages and their ability to fall into and defy traditional roles, and I know them as individuals… it made me less scared of the word. Now I can’t stop saying it! :)

    I cannot wait to be a wife!!!! (Oh yes, and in it will happen in 60 days!)

  • Courtney

    That was a sweet post.

    I have to say that I would not be okay with my husband being away all the time. My fiance is a work-a-holic and we often talk about how he needs time away from work and have other parts of his life. I could never be happy with someone who was at work all the time especially when we have kids. Work is important, but family is the most important thing.

    • http://www.unrelatedsidenote.com Cindy

      He does work a lot of long hours, but not all of the time. He’s home quite a bit but when the show season gets busy, he finds himself a work more oft than not. Sometimes, I go with him on jobs, local ones or to festivals out of state and we ride our motorcycles together. There’s that adventure bit.

      Plus, we don’t have children, so the demand for him to be at home isn’t as great as it would be if we had them.

      But I totally understand. I do miss him terribly when he’s not around …

    • mollymouse

      I used to think that too, but for nearly our whole relationship (6+) years, my now-husband has had “going-away” jobs. He’s a forester and has worked several jobs that require that he be in remote locations for weeks at a time. Maybe it bothers me less, because that’s how our relationship started, but it’s been good for us. I’ve been able to grow up and become more responsible, because he’s not always around to pick up the pieces for me (ahem, make me eat veggies). I also know that, while he LOVES the adventure of seeing/doing new things, he is always thinking about home and he does what he does because he loves me and wants to provide for our families.

      Recently he got tired of “going-away” constantly and so we’re moving to a new state so he can have a job that lets him come home at night. (Actually, he moved 3 months ago and I’ve been in a weird sort of limbo) This will be the first permanent job of this type and I wonder what it’ll be like for us. He’s already mentioned that he’s looking for opportunities to go out on fires “just for a little bit”. Gotta love that sense of adventure!

      • amandover

        This is very interesting – to hear about partners being separated by work, and how that plays out. I’m an actor, and my FH, while very musical, prefers a steady job. I’m about to embark on a tour for the first time in our relationship, and I worry about what that’ll do to us. He’s worried we’ll end up being different people, and while we both have faith in our commitment to each other, I wonder if my going away is going to become a point of contention. We’ve talked it through with a therapist and everything, but we’re both worriers.
        So it’s nice to know that it actually creates happiness for some people.

        • ML

          I’m not engaged and nowhere close, but speaking as one half of a happy-and-healthy where he’s on the road a lot, I have to say the most important part of making it work is to be completely, 100% open and honest about what you’re both feeling and experiencing. In real time. My advice.. Miss him like crazy and think about home all the time? Tell him. It will make him feel like a stud. Feeling less connected now that your schedule means you’re less available? Talk about it, and work together to adjust. Developing feelings for a dude in your show? Don’t let that fester too long. He’s half of the relationship, too, and it’s only fair that you’re both in the loop when things get confusing. Even if it hurts.

          It’s not easy, but I promise you the constant choice to stick by each other when schedules are demanding and opportunities take you away from each other proximity-wise, all in the name of following your dreams? That’s a badass foundation to build a partnership on.

        • mollymouse

          While being apart created happiness in some ways for us, it definitely created unhappiness as well. Long distance is Hard. But ML is right on when she says you’ve got to communicate – often and deeply. That’s really what got us through. We were brutally honest (which was scary, but comforting) with our feelings and learned how to create a “safe place” when talking about things.

          Also, we always had a schedule. We knew before he left when we would see each other again (even if it was weeks away) and we knew that we’d speak on the phone every day (usually at the same time, for a specific length of time). I think having a plan takes a lot of the stress/uneasiness away.

          It sounds like you’re both fully aware of what can go wrong and are open to talking about it (with each other and 3rd parties), so you already seem to be on the right track! Good luck and stay strong – it’ll be rough, but it’ll likely also be worth it.

          • ML

            Ohh, Mollymouse.. a phone schedule!! We’ve never thought about that and the comfort and consistency of the idea makes my heart pitter patter.

  • http://roughit.wordpress.com Roughit

    thanks for sharing this. honestly, i always just *bask* in the days when i get to stay home and clean and garden and go through the bills. i love organizing *our life together* and being a part of the partnership that props it up and keeps it going. i love the “behind the scenes” work and i love the out in the open work and both are so, so important. i always said i’d make a good housewife – because i so enjoy so much of the “traditional” housewifey things.

    it’s powerful that we get to *make* this decision – that you’re not stuck in this role, but that you choose it and embrace it.

    • bex11

      For me you’re spot on Roughit.
      It is incredible that in principle we get to choose what role to play.

      Here’s my issue. I would honestly give anything to be in the *housewife* role most of the time & have my career role take a backseat, especially when we have kids in a few years. However, we’re a dual income couple & I will probably always need to maintain my career & income, even though my heart wants to be at home. We’re not to the point where a decision needs to be made – we’re both working on our educations/careers at the moment but it’s a bit frightening to go into a Marriage with the understanding that with this relationship you might not get to play the role you want. I guess that’s where you find the love for the role you *need* to play to make the relationship work. At least that’s where I’m finding peace.

      • http://www.icookwithwine.com Melinda

        Roughit – well said!

        Bex11 – I totally feel you. I went to business school (a damn good one too) and really thought I wanted to be a professional, madly career-focused woman for a long time – so much so that I invested a lot of time and money into that goal. But then I got into the real world and started doing it. And it’s not that I don’t like my job, I do, but I just don’t love it. What I have come to realize that I love is my the wife-y tasks as described above. Cooking is my passion, I actually enjoy cleaning and home repair, and overall, I just get such a good feeling from having fashioned a really lovely home. Additionally, my Type A personality that I thought (correctly) would also be a good fit for a professional career really does wonders for household bookkeeping and other organizational tasks.

        I started realizing this before I even met my now-fiance, when I really had to work to support myself and begin paying back those school loans. And now, I have a choice, which in a lot of ways is much scarier.

        Which brings me back to your worry and Cindy’s post. I too worry about surviving on less than two incomes, particularly given my fiance is in the not-so-prosperous journalism field. And we haven’t made any set-in-stone decisions yet, but I think if it’s something you really think that you might want to do (be a stay at home wife/mom), I think you should start talking about it now. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about my fiance from having these talks, including that it can be done. Now, I don’t know if it can be done if you want two luxury cars in the garage, fancy meals out every weekend and an annual trip to Paris, but it can be done. It’s all about figuring out what’s most important to you and your fiance – and I can’t stress enough that I’m really not judging, if you want a more comfortable life, by all means! But I’m slowly coming to the realization that I can do without a lot of things, if I get to be a good wife and mother. On the other hand, we’ve definitely included the options of part-time work or freelance consulting on my part to make ends meet, so it’s important to be flexible too. I guess my point is, if you want it, you can do it (you can do anything, really) and you shouldn’t feel trapped into one way of life by any of your prior investments, current situation or other people’s opinions. It can always be done, but I think it’s important to start this dialogue and share ideas with your life partner as soon as possible. Good luck!

        • bex11

          Thanks Melinda –
          I really appreciate the encouragement. My partner & I have talked many times about our goals and visions for our future. While he is supportive, he came from a household where both parents worked full time (I did not) and so has a different opinion on what is ‘normal’ (his words not mine). He has said repeatedly that while it might not seem possible now, we can make happen whatever work/home situation we determine we need. This is one reason why I know I will love being his wife. I guess it just helps voicing concerns to others, who thankfully seem to be saying the same thing. *sigh of relief.*

          • http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/ The gold digger

            Yes! It is possible. I get my jeans at Goodwill for $5/pair. We don’t have cable TV. We get our movies and books from the library. I cook rather than our going out.

            I will admit, though, that my husband is an engineer and does well and I came into the marriage at 44 with assets. Still, he is paying hefty alimony (I did not break up that marriage), so we are not rolling in cash.

    • Class of 1980

      When you look back on your life, you’ll never fret about whether you fit into any expected role or not. But you will fret not knowing who you really are and living the way you really wanted to. If you find yourself feeling jealous of any women friends who tend the home fires, definitely investigate those feelings.

      On the flip side, if you run a household and feel jealous of working women, investigate those feelings too.

      I relate very much to the author. I too was never cut out for the corporate world. I don’t have a happy corporate bone in my body. I’ve had those jobs and suffered right down to my soul every time, even when I had nice people to work for.

      I am lucky enough to be in business with a partner right now and have more flexibility than most people. But I hate to say how long it’s taken me to accept that I find structure to be a mental and physical straitjacket. At a young age, I always loved household type things, but other than an interest and talent for decorating, I’ve never allowed myself to enjoy that part of life . . . and I now see that it made me very frustrated.

      Pay attention to your feelings!

      Should I marry again, I’d probably still have an income from this business, but I’d cut back my work hours to part-time. The odd thing is that I find business decisions to be very interesting – it’s my favorite part of my job. Damn, I’d make a great businessman’s wife because I love business discussions and strategy. But I don’t thrive in the time constraints and deadlines of the business world. And I realized that if I were practically a full-time homemaker, it would be because it actually fit my personality and my interests.

      It’s not a mere role.

      I’d like time to run a really artistic house, paint, garden, cook, organize, read more books, and start a non-profit web site I have in mind that would help impact our world for the better. I need less structure; not more.

      Great post.

  • dev

    It sounds like Cindy and her husband are doing what feels right to them, and are enjoying life together. That’s awesome.

    It’s also nice to hear about the role of being a wife from a different perspective. I’ve been married for about four months now, and I’m still trying to figure out what being a wife means to me. I’m the primary bread-winner in a two-income family, just like I was before the wedding. In the last couple of years several of my old friends have become stay-at-home wives and mothers. This has been stuck in my head a lot lately, these friends making a choice I never would have anticipated. I think part of it is because in these economic times, being able to have someone stay at home…seems like such a luxury. I don’t mean to sound judgemental, and I know many of these couples cut back and make sacrifices to be able to do this. But beyond the economics, I think that the role of stay-at-home wife is so striking to me because it’s so unfamiliar. My mom worked, her friends worker, my grandmother was a pharmacist (not a common choice in her day). It was just expected that I would have a career, and maybe a family. I thought “traditional wives” only existed on “Leave it to Beaver.” So it’s interesting to see all these modern-day housewives seemingly popping up now that I’m in my early 30s.

    I love that APW gives us these glances into other peoples lives, and lets us talk about being wives, and bread-winners, and care-givers, and eveything else. Thanks, Meg and Cindy!

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      i think that the two-income house becomes more difficult than we realize. my familial history is much different than yours- as soon as kids were popped out, all of the women stayed home. so that’s what i’m used to.

      but being a (for now) one-income couple, i find it hard to imagine us both working. because while i’m at work, he’s at home tying up loose ends- paying bills, doing laundry, planning dinner. throw some kiddos into the mix, and well, it sounds like a horrible balancing act. to me, at least. too much to do and not enough time in the day.

      two incomes hasn’t become a downright necessity until more recent generations (an unfortunate outcome of inflation, yucky economy, and increasing greed and materialism) and it makes me wonder what effect this has on marriages.

      personally, i’m with cindy. i don’t find fulfillment in bringing home a paycheck. but i also have a few creative outlets that make money that i can do from home. i wonder if my perspective would be different if both my husband and i were gung-ho, love to work types.

      • http://ladybitsblog.blogspot.com Button Gwinnett

        Actually, single-income didn’t really appear until the post-WW II boom. Before that, women worked — either on farms or out of the home. Even during the 50’s, most women worked, even once married. Check out some original source material, because our common perception of it has been colored by leave it to beaver-type media.

        Real wages have been pretty stagnant in the last few years, making single-income families even more rare, but really, dual income is not new.

        Sorry to go all economista on you…. this is just a fallacy that is busted out so often, frequently to shame women into thinking they’re somehow letting down their grandmothers by working. Chances are, Grandma had a job.

        *1953 marriage textbook (which is shockingly modern!): http://www.archive.org/details/whenyoumarry00duvarich

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

          no, please set me straight! my sources are actually quite dubious (cough michael moore cough).

          and what i said wasn’t meant to shame ANYONE. josh and i are shooting to be a two-income household. (if he ever gets a fricking job interview), and from this perspective- with one-income for now- i have trouble picturing what two-income life will be. sounds stressful. but luckily, there will be more cash for tequila to balance things.

          • dev

            Yes, in my experience two-incomes is somewhat stressful. I wasn’t necessarily saying that two-incomes is better, or even what I’d prefer, but just that it’s my reality and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I don’t necessarily love to work. Some days I get satisfaction out of it, other days I drag myself there because we have a mortgage that needs to be paid. I think I am a little jealous of stay-at-home partners. I fantasize about how immaculate my house would be, and all the grand parties I’d have time to plan (but probably couldn’t afford). As it is, I work full-time, cook dinner, try to fit in household chores and time with my husband, and it feels like a lot to balance. I wonder how the women in my family did all that and raised well-balanced children on top of it all.

        • peanut

          this is true; my mother is the only stay-at-home-mom in our line of moms as far back as our memories go.

          I also have a theory that taking care of your own children is a fairly new and middle class/bourgeois concept from the mid-century; in the working classes, grandparents and other family members took care of the kids while the mothers worked, and in the upper class nannies looked after the kids while the mothers did whatever they did. My parents saw a one-working-parent as a luxury that they admit would not have been financially feasible if they were starting a family today. It infuriates me when women are given the guilt-trip for not “raising their own children”, as this is a fairly recent cultural phenomenon.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      i just reread and thought it sounded like im disagreeing with you- i’m not not not. some people like to work and some people don’t. i’m just wondering-aloud how the different marriages play out.

      • Rose

        To Dev – yesterday I had the strange experience of getting home from work at 4.30pm with the only thing on my agenda being make dinner and watch Grey’s Anatomy (house was clean and exercise for the day done). And honestly…I was bored out of my mind. It was really strange to realise that for me, two incomes doesn’t seem nearly as stressful as the idea of going mad from boredom if I stayed at home.

    • KristieB

      A lot of couples with children think that you “need” two incomes. The reality is that most often the second income is spent on the second person being able to work (depending on money made, of course). For example, I will use my situation (in Western Canada). I work as an admin assistant (not the breadwinner) and make approx. $2400/ month.
      Income – $2400/ month
      Daycare – $700/ month/ child
      Car payment (for second vehicle) – $300/ month
      Insurance – $200/ month
      Work clothes/ dry cleaning – $200/month
      Lunches out – $100
      I would be left with $200/ month just for working outside of the home if I had two kids. Our plan has always been that the one making less money would be a stay-at-home-parent until the kids were school-aged. Right now, that would be me. My plan is actually to become a student again when we have kids and focus on building my creative business (so I still make a little money).

      I agree with the comment about women/ stay-at-home-moms often worked. Where I’m from (a largely rural area), lots of women made an income, but not a lot worked outside of the home until my generation’s moms. My great-grandmother lived on a farm and was a seamstress. My own grandmother raised 7 kids and lived on a farm. My mother ran a family dayhome before we were school-aged.

      • Marisa-Andrea

        Ooh, so true in so many ways. We don’t have children yet, but it was amazing how much our expenses went down for the six months I wasn’t working. I was fully expecting us to implode financially during that time with the reduced income; we were absolutely astonished at how much money was simply spent “maintaining” my job. I also have a few friends who decided to stay home with their children because everything they earned was eaten up just the way you described.

  • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

    DEFINITELY.

    i love that you acknowledge that being a wife can be the best thing you’ve ever done- without it being your end-all, be-all accomplishment. tricky line to walk.

    and for the record, i don’t think i would enjoy wifedom if it included minivans.

    • meg

      Thanks Liz ;)

    • Sarah Beth

      Minivans are definitely NOT present in my ideal picture of married life. My fiance sent me this video yesterday, and was like “OH, HELL NO!”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql-N3F1FhW4&feature=player_embedded

      • meg

        Shudder. To me this speaks to this very American phenomenon – that when you become a parent that becomes your whole identity. Suddenly you’re relegated to the world of “family” restaurants, “family” music, “family” cars, talking about “family” things. We always talk about what a family friendly country we are, but really, families are supposed to just do family things, done. As opposed to other countries where if you want to go to a nice restaurant, whatever, take the baby. People will be thrilled, not horrified.

        This is small point of obsession for me. I don’t want to give up interesting restaurants, or living in the city, or culture or whatever when we have kids. I think there are more and more positive examples of people letting parenthood become part of them, but not all of who they are, but I think it really needs to continue to change.

        • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

          have a baby already so we can discuss this stuff too.

          because i’ve broken out of the “marriage holds you back from things” mindset just fine, but theres something LOOMING about motherhood. that suddenly i’ll wake up with nothing to wear but mom jeans and baby drool just because i pop out a kid. that having kids will be restricting.

          marriage turned out to be more freeing than restricting. i hope parenthood is.

          • http://staircasewitch.blogspot.com Staircase Witch

            I don’t have children, but I have to agree with this. I’ve never really understood how marriage could be restricting. My parents had much more traditional, restrictive expectations for me. If they’d had their way I would have been a teacher married to some conventional businessman who was a pillar of community and church and lived in a big ugly house in a subdivision with some fake Anglophile name and had three children in quick succession and played the organ on Sundays.

            But it wasn’t until I got married that I ever entertained the notion of going to graduate school or traveling all over the United States or the world, or training, as I am now, for a career into which a lot of women don’t generally go and which never crossed my mind when I was growing up. My mother has always suffered from depression, crippling shyness, and agoraphobia, and my husband was kind of horrified at what a barren childhood I had and has been trying to make up for it, not only by taking me thousands of miles away from home to live with him in a major city (an adventure in itself), but also by taking me to all the places he thought I should have gotten to go–the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, Europe, San Francisco–and having all the experiences he thought I should have–road trips, camping and hiking, horseback riding, etc. His family out West, particularly, his grandparents, kind of adopted me, and all the women in that family are very strong and independent. And now, because the field I want to get into is so close to his, he’s over the moon. I can talk shop with him, and we’re closer than ever.

            It has occurred to me a lot that my freedom probably would have been somewhat limited by having children–for one thing, the courses I’m taking now are pretty intensive and there are a lot of late nights–not very compatible with the demands of small ones. But I think people make a mistake when they assume that having children means dropping everything and becoming Super Parent. I think they’d survive a more casual, less child-centric upbringing in which their parents didn’t completely submerge their identities in parenthood. I’m guessing they would probably thrive, even flourish. This singleminded, helicoptering business–that seems to be something new.

          • Sevillalost

            What follows is one woman’s perspective. YMMV.

            It is, Liz. Or at least parenthood was incredibly freeing for me. It’s kind of like how Meg talks about nurturing her “baby family” with her husband. For me, my “baby family” started when I found out I was pregnant. My daughter didn’t become my whole world, but she certainly took her place at the center of it. We were always a team, even when she was too little to contribute much more than unconditional love and unreasonable cuteness. Sadly, her dad wouldn’t contribute to the team effort, and that’s the reason he’s no longer part of our family. Harsh, perhaps, but it was the right thing to do for her and for me. Because protecting my baby and my baby family is the most important thing in my world.

            But it is not, I repeat, NOT the only thing in my world. I was a single parent, almost from the beginning, so I didn’t have the opportunity to lose my adult identity. I had to use that sh*t to earn a living for both of us! So I did, and as a result, I continued to grow and develop into my adult identity…which happened to have a new center as someone’s Mommy.

            My point is that just as being a wife doesn’t have to mean subordinating your identity to your husband’s, neither does being a mom have to mean subordinating your identity to that of your children. However, in my experience, both cases call for a reorientation of that identity to include said new husband or said new child/children. And, at least in my view, that reoriented identity ended up being better than what I went in with. Because I was part of a team, a family.

        • Sarah Beth

          And it is this “child-as-whole world” mindset that turns me off to parenthood, especially stay-at-home parenthood . I’m not saying you should be an emotionally distant parent, but you shouldn’t lose your identity, either. Sure, my mom was at home when I was an infant. But by the time I was old enough to go to school, she worked the night shift and slept all day. My dad also worked full-time. And I was very much a homebody and very close to my parents. Still, there wasn’t any of this constant infatuation: “OMG! My kid walked today!” “OMG! My kid drooled today!” “OMG! My kid wore pink today!” “OMG! My kid is the cutest kid ever in history of THE WORLD!” etc. They didn’t shape their social life around “kid-friendly” stuff. I went where they went, I
          knew how I was expected to behave. If they wanted a truly kid free evening, they left me with my grandparents.
          And of course it’s your prerogative (even responsibility) to love your child unconditionally. But parents should also realize that no stranger/neighbor/co-worker/friend feels the same about your kid. And I think you’re just as responsible to maintain your identity as an adult, and an individual. For the sake of your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, but even more so for your spouse/partner/co-parent who probably fell in love with you sans kids.

          And, of course, my experiences growing up with parents like mine shaped how I feel about kids and parenthood. But, I have to say that the idea of “parent” becoming your whole identity seems very undesirable.

        • Michele

          Funny story: A few years ago, my husband and I decided to buy a car. After lots and lots of looking, we decided to buy a Nissan Pathfinder from a private seller. She was the original owner and when I asked her why she was selling it she said “Well, I just had a baby, so I need something bigger.”

          Cue a WTF look from my husband, and a side-eye from me. Just how much space does a baby take up that a Nissan Pathfinder isn’t big enough?

        • Englyn

          Yes. I’m so looking forward to A Practical Family!!! Start it already! (the blog, not the family – that’s in your own time, of course.) One of the things that made me so sure I’d never have kids is the fear of losing my identity like so many other mothers I’ve seen. It’s just starting to get through my skull that it doesn’t have to be like that. And I’d love to see more discussion on the subject!

          • meg

            Don’t think I don’t own a URL, but I’m hardly an authority figure to talk about it till I’m doing it. Though part of me wants to fold the motherhood discussion into Reclaiming Wife just to make the damn point ;)

    • lolo7835

      I inherited my parents minivan when I went to college. To date, it is still the most awesome automobile I’ve ever owned. One only DD needed for 8 people (who all had seatbelts), the ability to move my entire dorm around and not rent a truck, I even sprung for a sound system. Ah Bertha….how I miss you. My little accord just doesn’t even compare to you.

      So I’m just saying-it’s not the minivan, it’s the driver. Same goes for most cars.

  • http://bluesuedeidos.wordpress.com Beth

    YES! Love this! This is why we get married.

  • Pingback: I Tend to Start Shit « Unrelated Side Note

  • Michele

    Great post – so much here resonated with me this morning.

    Our first anniversary is this Sunday and I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about our first year of marriage, and how much I love being a wife. Not just A wife in general, but HIS wife in particular. As a reformed commitmentphobe who really, truly, genuinely doubted that marriage was for her once upon a time, it boggles my mind how seamlessly I’ve transitioned into a role I never thought I wanted, and GOOD I am as a partner to my husband (and he to me).

    An old friend from my college days moved to town recently, and he keeps making comments about how bizarre it is to see me “settled down,” and how he can’t believe I got married and bought a house and BECAME A WIFE (and not just in the legal sense), and to be honest…I sometimes get my back up about it. I understand where he’s coming from, in the regard that the context in which he knows me is really quite different from the context of my life now (and 10 years old for that matter), but on the same token, that’s exactly what I find so off-putting: He put me in a box a decade ago, and so far, hasn’t been able to take me out of it. I also suspect that he thinks I snapped my fingers and “changed” overnight, when in reality, it’s been a part of a years-long growth process. But because he didn’t witness it, he doesn’t understand it. In fact, I’m not sure he even BELIEVES it.

    The reason I’m saying all this is that it’s made me realize that not only do many people have pre-conceived notions about what it means to be a wife, many also have pre-conceived notions about what kind of person will make a “good” wife. And if I’m being honest – I certainly did. In the most general sense, I’m not a particularly sensitive or sentimental person; I’m not what you would call “a nurturer”; and I don’t excel at anticipating and meeting other peoples’ needs. But within my marriage, I AM and DO all of those things, and it all comes so much more naturally than I ever expected it would.

    I understand now what people mean when they say that their partner makes them a better person. And not only that, I think my husband makes me a better wife than I would be to anyone else.

    • Trisha

      I feel the same way. I’ve been marriage-shy for as long as I can remember and don’t necessarily fit the traditional idea of a wife should be. I can’t cook, and I’m much more logical and analytical then nurturing. My husband is not anymore domestic than I am, so it often results in hilarity. (And the more than occasional surprise take-out night.

      I’m finding the same thing, that I love being not just being a wife, but being his wife. I’m learning a lot of surprising and amazing things about myself because of his role in my life, and mine in his. becoming a wife has added so much to me as a person, without taking anything away.

    • Bee

      “I think he makes me a better wife than I would be to any other person” I love that. I love this whole post. In a weird way it makes me feel like women have been able to come so far that we really can spend our lives in whatever way makes us as individuals feel fulfilled, rather than just doing what is or is not “conventional”. Of course, this isn’t necessarily the mainstream crowd, but it’s so great that this place exists! :)

  • Samantha

    Ah. This was simply lovely.

  • http://www.wedding-for-two.com Ellie (EDB)

    Great post, but more importantly, HER HAIR IS AWESOME. Okay, so maybe that’s not the more important part, but there is seriously a shortage of cute short hairdos on the internet. Love it!

    Okay, to the more/less important things. I think it’s kinda refreshing that she is willing to admit that she is not cut out for the 9-5, just like I admit I am not cut out for not working 9-5 (I love structure and being able to leave my work at work).

    Although maybe, maybe, we could say “homemaker” or “helpmeet” or “partner in awesomeness” or something rather than saying “traditional wife role”? Because I feel like we’re talking about two things – wife as a job, and wife as a…something else. And I think what we should redefine is wife-as-a-job and what we should reclaim is the wife-as-something-else.

    • Marina

      I really really really want to separate out wife-as-a-job and wife-as-a-something-else-to-reclaim thing… because my husband is the wife in our relationship. He enjoys cooking and cleaning and redecorating and nesting. He starts the tea kettle going when he sees my car pull into the parking lot. He listens to me gripe or crow about work, and is my best support for keeping my life balanced.

      I think regardless of who’s working and who’s not, it frequently makes sense to have one person in a relationship focused on work/money/outside the home stuff, and one person focused on life balance/nurturing/all the day to day home stuff that has to get done and makes life so much better. We are planning to be a two-income family, but what’s looking most likely is that he’ll limit his hours and be the one focusing on home stuff. Because he likes that more, and he’s better at it.

      But I don’t want that to mean I’m not the wife. I like being a wife. I like saying it. I like that he’s my husband. I want to reclaim “wife” as something I can be as the outside-focusing partner, because I’m really not sure what “wife” means in that context.

      • meg

        For sure. As I commented elsewhere, this idea of wife being a job makes me CA-razy. Like “he’s the wife in our relationship.” EXCUSE ME? Yeah, no.

        Makes me so crazy that I bought a url and started a little website about it, clearly ;)

        • http://socybride.wordpress.com Tamara

          As a sociologist, I would say, relax. We over here think of wife as a role you hold, or choose, OR are assigned (hopefully not without your permission), not DIRECTLY a job description. For what it’s worth. Sometimes we soc. folk are really able to be helpful!

      • http://breadandcheeseplease.blogspot.com Charise

        I was having similar thoughts about the two different “wife” roles we are talking about. Cooking, cleaning, listening – these are just as likely to be the husband’s (or BOTH partners!) “job”.

        I do not love my job, but I like it. I like the ability to travel/eat at nice restaurants/etc. that comes with two incomes. I like the 9-5 (or in my case, 7:30-3:30) structure.

        I never thought I’d be a stay at home person, but I am really starting to struggle with the whole thing – once kids come in the picture, I think I’d go crazy not having a professional life and having my control-freak, ultra stubborn and independent self financially dependent on my partner, but also go crazy having someone else be responsible for the kids all day.

        I guess what I want is what Meg says later in the comments – the flexibility to work from home, or take a few years off and jump right back in. Finding you own good work/life balance is all part of the reclaiming wife and building the best baby family for you, right?

        • meg

          Yay for us 7:30 to 3:30-ers. Best schedule in the world, by my reckoning (then again, I face another days work when I get home. Still. Going.)

    • http://www.unrelatedsidenote.com Cindy

      Thanks for the hair compliment! It was totally an on-the-fly style. We never rehearsed it because I wasn’t planning to wear a veil until right before the wedding. Surprise! but I trusted my stylist entirely and she did an awesome job!

  • mollymouse

    I had a really hard time for the first few months of married life because I am not good at being a wife. My job is insanely demanding most days (I teach Kindergarten and LOVE it!), so when I get home I’m physically tired and don’t want to make even a little decision. So I never thought about what to make for dinner, I constantly forgot to do/put away laundry, and I loathed doing dishes. I’d cry on a consistent basis that I didn’t do the things a “good wife” does or that I did them poorly – even though nothing had changed except for the fact that I was a wife now.

    Finally, my husband sat me down and told me that I was being ridiculous. He knew I didn’t enjoy those housekeeping jobs and was tired from work, and all he wanted is that I try to share the responsibilities of keeping a home. He also suggested that, if I really *want* to do those things, we can make an improvement plan for myself. (He’s so practical – he’d love it here!)

    So we started a dinner chart for myself (I have “days”), made up mnemonic devices to remember things like laundry, banking, and watering the plants, and don’t freak out/hate on myself when dinner is late. Although, like Liz, I wonder how the balancing act will change when kids come along.

    • meg

      You know, that’s part of reclaiming wife to me. It makes me INSANE that we all still define wife as “the one who nurtures and cooks,” ie, two income couples say, “We need a wife.” F*ck THAT!

      A wife can be one who nurtures and cooks. Or it can be one who pays the bills. Or it can be anything we want it to be. At the moment as a wife I do some nurturing, lots of scheming, lots of bill paying, and almost no cooking. And I love it.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        meg, have you ever read judy brady’s “I Want a Wife”? i don’t know why i only thought of it today.

      • mollymouse

        That’s it exactly Meg and why I love this site so much! Because I didn’t even *know* I felt like that until I was in the situation. It took me weeks to figure out why I was crying because I forgot to vacuum. The idea of wife being defined as “a women who tends to household duties and does them well” was so ingrained in me that I didn’t even know it was there. It only came out when I had a label put on me and the danger lies in that label (of wife) and it’s social definition making me feel bad about being myself.

        Happily, I’m over here on APW now learning that I define myself and I can be a wife and still suck at domestic duties. As long as I’m contributing to my baby family (even if sometimes it’s a pathetic attempt at making dinner) and meeting my partner’s needs I’m doing just FINE.

      • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

        ie, two income couples say, “We need a wife.”

        No, you need a housekeeper.
        Big difference. :)

        • meg

          A-f*cking-men.

  • http://3b7p.blogspot.com Alexson

    Cindy, you rock. Well said!

  • Rose

    Love this post! I feel the same as Cindy – I love being my husband’s wife. I feel free to dream big dreams and do big things, things I probably would never have done on my own. Marriage is the most amazing life experience!

  • KristieB

    Meg, you’ve started a revolution. You know that, right?

    How amazing is it to talk about how we feel in our roles? How amazing is it to find support in something “impersonal” like the internet?

    I’ve been a “wife” for one month yesterday. I’m still trying to define myself as wife, as someone who also thought it would be restricting (and has found the opposite). My D told me last week that he loves knowing he’s a husband and my heart skipped. This whole thing is really fun.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      i’ve noticed that josh has started defining wife for me.

      when we first got married, we would sometimes look at each other in wonder and say, “we’re MARRIED, ya know.” because we still couldn’t grasp it.

      now, similarly, sometimes i’ll be doing something that josh appreciates (mixing a gin and tonic), or something fun and exciting (wandering brooklyn to find a place to eat), or something mundane and usual (watching hours of crime tv), and josh will grab my arm and say, “hey… youre my WIFE now!” as if to say, “THIS. what you’re doing right now, is being a ‘wife’.”

      • meg

        Grin.

      • Amanda

        Ooohhh, I totally love this comment!

      • Melissa

        SOOO ADORABLE!

      • http://onecatperperson.blogspot.com Angie

        way cute!

  • http://pocketlizard.wordpress.com/ Elissa

    This topic really resonated with me. I never, ever thought I’d be a housewife, but lately I feel myself more drawn to that sort of role. I’m starting to get more and more interested in old-fashioned ‘housewifely’ skills, I want to sew and make jam and grow veggies and manage the budget and darn my partner’s old and fraying hankies. It’s been hard for me, but also good, to look more at the effort and skills that a ‘housewife’ can bring to a household and accept their value. I’ve always had trouble with the apparent inequality of not bringing in any money – I’m only just starting to really understand the value of the other skills that I have, that I’m developing, in terms of quality of life.

    Our messy and often derogatory concept of ‘wife’ had caught me – even though, as a feminist and an anthropologist, I should know better than to join in the devaluing of ‘women’s work’ – I still did, and I devalued the women who did it too. That makes me feel a bit ashamed of myself… At least I’m starting to understand the error of my ways – not just theoretically, but viscerally…

    I don’t want to have a full time job, but a couple of days a week of something interesting, to get me out of the house (important for my mental health), and a focus on my home, partner and (later) family – that sounds like a good way to live.

  • Emily

    Cindy, so beautifully written and precisely observed. I love that women are using their ability to choose in order to choose a life that makes them truly happy. But I also worry, because of my family history and because I’m a worrier, what happens to a “traditional wife (for lack of a better term)” when she gets divorced, or god forbid, is widowed? Will she be able to find work that is at least palatable and that she can use to support herself? I would never want to be dependent on an ex-husband.

    • Emily

      And of course, I’m not asking this in a rhetorical or challenging way – I’m asking what you and others who’ve chosen this path what you think about when you think about those possible events.

      • Lauren H.

        I think that this question… oh, how do I say it? Women who are stay-at-home wives and mothers still have things to offer. They can still provide for themselves if they need to. People do it all the time– and have, always, even when women had almost no rights. A hundred, two hundred years ago, if a woman’s husband died and she still had children to take care of, she would offer her “housewifely” services to the community. She would make her home into an inn for travelers passing through, become a seamstress, sell food she made. It made life harder, but not impossible. I think the problem now is that those skills that people develop in being a stay-at-home partner are so devalued by our society, and women who stay home fall into the trap of feeling like they must depend on their husbands to survive. And if you don’t think you can support yourself, you won’t be able to.

        This is a part of reclaiming wife that doesn’t get talked about much. Things that get done around the home can, with some ingenuity, be turned into profitable ventures. There’s no need to think that just because you are a stay-at-home wife, you can’t support yourself if need be. I’m a planner– I know exactly what’s happening when and how I will handle every foreseeable situation, all the time. I also want to be a stay-at-home mom. If/when that happens for me, I know I’ll probably subconciously explore every possibility, every what-if, and have an idea of what things I do around the house and in my social life could be turned into ways to support myself.

        Another note is that while I plan to stay home when and if I’m able, I don’t think of staying home as just cleaning up after people and cooking for my family and making sure errands are run. I do that now, with a full time job. I think of how much time I’ll have to do things like write (USING my Creative Writing degree!), do freelance editing, learn new skills like guitar and knitting. So much of being a stay-at-home wife for me would mean doing things I love that I simply don’t have time to do now. I think that maintaining that sense of self, rather than letting being a wife be the only role you play, does a lot for a person’s confidence. If you let being a wife be the only thing that defines you, you will have a much harder time being something else if that role ever ceases to exist. If you let it be a facet of who you are, you can use it to make yourself more versatile if you need to be.

        • Michele

          I do think it is *FASCINATING* that SO MANY women – given the choice – would prefer to be stay at home wives/mothers than to be “career” gals.

          Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that just isn’t talked about a whole lot, and when it is, it’s usually because one woman confessed to feeling that way, and in doing so gives others the courage to say “ME TOO!”

          I love that APW empowers women to say “ME TOO!”

          • meg

            Well, I think this discussion is drawing out people who do want to stay at home (and to be clear, Cindy sort of stays ‘close’ to home, she does work). So, I wouldn’t take this to mean that a huge percentage of APW readership wants to stay home, but that is who is talking today.

            I think what is more universal is that women want a better work/life balance (at least than we’ve been given in the US). Lots of us would like to be able to work, and still have flexibility to care for our kids. And lots of people feel like since they’ll never get the flexibility they need at work, than eff it, they’ll just stay home – even if staying at home isn’t what they really want. I have no interest in staying home in the traditional sense. But I do hope to WORK from home. My kids will probably be in daycare a good chunk of the time, but working for yourself gives you flexibility and options that the current American working world doesn’t typically provide. And THAT needs to change. Big time.

          • Elizabeth

            Hey, this is (sorta) relevant:

            Have ya’ll seen the piece on paternity leave in Sweden in last week’s NY Times and the change it’s had on parenthood and gender in society at large?

            http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/world/europe/10iht-sweden.html

          • http://happysighs.blogspot.com Liz

            ha. well. i would rather be a stay-at-home anything if it meant not coming to a cubicle everyday.

            but if i could do things i love, i don’t know that staying home all day would be preferred. unless, of course, i was at home doing things i love.

          • meg

            Exactly. I think in cubical-land we’re all like, “I WOULD LIKE TO STAY AT HOME PLEASE,” but I worry that if we don’t parse that, “Hum, I hate cubical-land, but I do want to do something outside the house (or whatever)” we’ll end up staying home and resenting it. Which is not good for anyone. Or maybe we DO want to stay home, but I think we need to think through all the different options.

          • Abby

            Just to throw in another angle, I wanted to note that I work in a cubicle–like, most days I sti in a cubicle for 10 hours in a row–and I love my work and find it totally meaningful and it turns my crank and all that jazz. I know that a cube life isn’t for everyone (my guy included) but when people talk about how absolutely terrible an “office job” can be, that doesn’t always feel quite right.

          • Melissa

            Yeah, totally depends on the job. If you don’t spend your day in a Dilbert strip or in the movie Office Space, that’s a good start.

    • KD

      ahhhh! Every single time I think about being a stay-at-home mom (or wife) in the future, I have this exact thought, Emily!

      One of my friend’s moms was a devoted mom, stayed at home with them – then her kids were in college and her husband left her and she had “nothing” (according to her). She had no marketable skills to earn enough money to take care of herself, her kids weren’t close anymore, and she was barely staying afloat with some help from her parents (who were retired). Stuff like this – in addition to remembering my mom’s struggles being a single mom with 2 kids after her and my dad split, make me think.

      I am a worry-wart too. I always like to hope for the best, but plan for the worst. So I of course worry that if I ever give up my job for more than a year or so I would lose my ability to be self-sufficient. Right now I’m kind of settled on the always maintain a part time career compromise, and I’m lucky that my field is conducive to that possibility. So that may actually be a good solution?

      What are you thinking, Emily? Do you think you could ever give up the security of knowing you could support yourself in the event of something unfortunate?

      • Emily

        KD, Thanks for your thoughtful reply. My mom was a “career” woman and so were most of the women I knew growing up, so that form of achievement was what I always wanted for myself. As I’ve grown older, I definitely still want a career that moves forward and challenges me, but I hope that I can find balance in the way you were talking about with occasional part-time work or extended maternity leave.

        I wonder if it also is a lack of belief in my abilities that makes me feel this way. I don’t know if I would do well marketing my skills as a freelance gardener or, more to my liking, a freelance writer. No, if I got divorced I would be much happier having a job to fall back on, and that might just be my disposition.

      • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kim

        How timely — I just finished reading The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued. While I didn’t really like the book, I will say that it did talk about this very topic: the mother who takes time out from her career to raise children full-time and the effects of that choice in terms of the rest of her career, her finances and worth, as well as post-marriage (in terms of divorce). It’s not ALL about that, it also touches on how other countries do much better in maintaining a work-home life balance for both mothers and fathers (Sweden is mentioned more than once) and how we can begin to look at the value of motherhood in other ways than just “she’s doing what she’s ‘supposed’ to be doing; she should be happy” or “raising kids isn’t real work, so it’s not worth anything concrete.”

        Again, not a ringing endorsement, but thought it was relevant.

  • http://lilapuppy.blogspot.com Meghan

    I love this conversation. I love being a wife too. It really can be pretty amazing and empowering, especially if being a wife lets us continue to grow into ourselves.

  • http://missfancypantsthebride.blogspot.com/ miss fancy pants

    *Swoon*. I love this post so much. For the past few years, I’ve been grappling with the new feminist that I discovered within myself and how to balance that with my desire to be a stay-at-home mom. I don’t want to take his name for fear of losing my identity, but I want to stay at home and raise our unborn children while he works (or does whatever he wants, for that matter). It’s been particularly difficult for me to deal with my “traditional” desire to stay at home because I don’t feel as though I should be boxed into that idea simply because I’m a female. For me, it’s not because I’m a woman that I feel I should stay home, it’s because I’m me. It just works for me. If I thought my purpose on this earth was to build a successful business, that’s what I would do. As it is, I feel as though my purpose in life is to love my future husband and raise children. I want to be a wife and a mom more than anything in the world. It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to want to do something that will cause us to fall into the traditional roles of the past. If it works for us, it can’t be wrong.

  • Karen

    The thing about gender stereotypes is, they exist for a reason. As a group, there are differences between men and women. That’s as a group, meaning an individual man may love cleaning and cooking and a woman may be a workaholic. I do more household tasks because I have a higher standard of cleanliness, I don’t mind doing it as much, and I get more satisfaction of having done it. When we first started living together, I thought it was really important that we both do an exactly equal share. But then I realized, why should I force my FH to do an equal share of household tasks, if it’s more important to me and I enjoy it more? So I came to terms with the fact that yes, I am a woman, and yes, I do have a few stereotypical feminine traits, and yes, I am still an independent strong woman.

    • meg

      Ok – I’m really uncomfortable with this. I don’t think women are better nurturers and cleaners and men are better money makers. I think women grow baby humans and (used to always) feed them, so for a long time they had to be closer to home. But that’s not a stereotype, that’s biology.

      I do not like cleaning or cooking. David does. I do really like making money. David just wants to do something that makes him happy. So right there, that blows the stereotypes out of the water. We don’t need to lean on stereotypes being true to claim our own truth. We can just say, “Damn it, I like cleaning.”

      • ANDREA

        indeed! I think we often muddle these ideas up — stereotypes, evolutionary biology, and chosen roles. And people make the arguments both ways: “I like cooking, and it fits with feminine stereotypes, so it makes sense.” OR “I hate cooking, and that goes against feminine stereotypes, so that makes it okay.” Neither is a real argument for anything. Do what you choose, and do it because you choose it.

      • Karen

        I think you misunderstood me, because I agree with everything you wrote. I meant that I stopped fighting things I liked to do because I felt they were too stereotypical. I have accepted now that there are some things I like to do that are usually seen as stereotypical feminine things, and I think it’s a shame that women these days have to be ashamed of liking to cook/clean/stay home. For myself, it was much easier for me to accept that I love my job and would never be a stay-at-home mom, than it was for me to accept that I enjoy cooking and cleaning. it took me a long time to be able to say “Damn it, I like cleaning”!

        • Marisa-Andrea

          Karen, I feel you. There IS an undercurrent in feminism that does make women feel guilty for making what are thought of as stereotypical feminine choices. In some ways, feminism sometimes makes you feel like you HAVE to be against the stereotype and if you’re not, you’re not a feminist. I feel that too whenever I have a conversation with someone about how I’ve been too tired to cook dinner for the last 3 weeks and they respond with something like “Girl, you better feed your man.” Or when I talk about when me and Chris have children, there is an assumption that I’ll be waking up at 4:30 to get our baby to daycare as opposed to my husband. Those stereotypes are subtlely reinforced in these kinds of conservations and does sometiems give me a moment’s pause where I will think “wait, but I’m a feminist. But I like cooking.” It’s a tension there for me sometimes and I still struggle with it. On the whole, I just limit my conversations (because it does irk me) and am ok with just being ME — the whole loves to cook, reads and writes romance novels, likes to sew, hates to clean, building my own law firm ME that I am. :-)

    • Marina

      I think where this gets tricky is trying to decide whether gender differences are based on biology or culture. Are women, as a group, more likely to have a higher standard of cleanliness because they’re women, or because women in our culture are expected and taught to have a higher standard of cleanliness?

      So I totally agree with your point that tasks shouldn’t be divided based on some outside sense of fairness (whether that’s “everything divided right down the middle” or based on gender) but should be divided based on preferences and talent.

      • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

        …not just because of task divisions, but also because of self-worth and identity issues.

        am i a crappier wife because i suck at washing dishes? am i less of a woman because sometimes i leave the bedroom messier than josh does?

        THAT, to me, is the issue. we risk harming one another’s self perceptions when we assume “all women” are one way and “all men” are another.

        • caitlin

          Liz, thanks for this comment. It hits home. (as pretty much all of your comments do!)

        • http://staircasewitch.blogspot.com Staircase Witch

          My mother was one of those women who was awful at everything at which a housewife was supposed to be good–cooking, cleaning, ironing, sewing–and yet she was insistent that this was a woman’s job. Not that my father, when he was at home, ever showed any such domestic tendencies. She was particularly adamant that a woman should be responsible for ironing her husband’s clothes. (He later left her for a younger trophy wife–gratitude, gratitude!)

          I *am* good at these things, and I find them relaxing, especially cooking and cleaning, but my husband makes a point of buying wrinkle-free Oxfords and khakis so I don’t have to iron them. He thinks it’s a failing if a man can’t cook or sew a button on a shirt or do his own laundry–he did these things when he lived alone, after all. And he loves to vacuum. (The most effective way to get a male engineer/scientist to do household chores is to acquire super-duper, powerful, programmable gadgets for him to mess around with.)

          It’s a terrible idea to insist that one gender is simply better at certain things than the other. It inflicts bad parenting and atrocious cooking on the world while depriving it of all sorts of untapped talents. Also, men who can cook are very sexy.

          • meg

            Ha! Indeed. Very well said.

          • Lauren H.

            I ahd to hit exactly, because Zack does the vaccuuming around our place too! It’s my least favorite thing– I’d rather just pick up the big stuff. But he LOVES running that loud, heat-producing, energy-sucking machine! Awesome. Sometimes it’s the simpleszt ways we balance one another out that make me happiest.

      • kat

        What’s biologically female about cleaning?

        The whole “women clean” thing just goes back to the idea that the home is the wife’s territory and the public sphere is the husband’s.

        To be honest, what Cindy wrote made me squirm. It just smacks so much of the Victorian “angel in the house” idea: the husband goes out and toils in the tiring, dirty public sphere and comes home to a sanctuary the wife makes for him.

        HOWEVER, in real life, I have no problem comforting my bf when he comes home from a bad day, making him dinner when he’s late, or trying hard to have the house clean for him. I darn his socks and iron his clothes. He does the same thing for me when I’ve been working late.

        The point is that we should all live as our personalities dictate (as far as who cleans, who cooks, who brings home the bacon). Which is exactly what Cindy is doing and why she and her husband seem to have a very happy life.

    • http://irisira.wordpress.com irisira

      meaning an individual man may love cleaning and cooking and a woman may be a workaholic
      Ha, that’s mine and my FH’s relationship. :)
      But, then again, that’s why we work for one another. We fit each other’s molds, not necessarily the typical ones.

  • http://www.icookwithwine.com Melinda

    I *love* this post! Cindy, thank you so much for sharing. It’s definitely another heart-warming example of an APW couple doing what is best for them and being proud of it (as you should), in spite of everyone else’s opinions. And finding your true calling, whether it be stay-at-home wife, primary breadwinner, or something else entirely (because this blog, in particular, highlights the fact that no one really fits into any set mold), is something to be celebrated. Finally, I love how incredibly supportive of each other Cindy and her husband are – that is so indicative of what I want in my marriage and I’m nearly 100% sure that’s how it is going to be (thus the whole marrying him thing). I think this post has definitely inspired another little bit of my still-to-be-finalized self-written vows. Bravo!

  • Kashia

    This post is so timely for me as I have been thinking a lot about what being a wife means as the Boy and I begin to plan our wedding and our marriage. I find myself (like others in the comments) drawn towards the role of a more “traditional” wife, whether stay at home or not (I love to bake, sew, knit, I’m the organizer and like to have a clean home and make sure that he has lunch for the next day because I know he’ll forget to take a break to buy lunch otherwise, etc.). The problem is that I am halfway finished a masters degree and I feel that I would be wasting it if I don’t work (for a while at least) and I know that my family would agree, but I’ve worked the 9 to 5 and it doesn’t really appeal to me. So thank you Cindy for presenting an alternative view to the one that I hear so often. It has given me a lot to think about and to talk to the Boy about…

    • http://socybride.wordpress.com Tamara

      I hear ya, sister. Try being the first and only daughter of a black woman with addiction in her history and an Ed.D., currently in a Ph.D. program. No pressure there!
      I don’t feel like I have ever had a choice. I’ve ALWAYS been pushed harder, faster, stronger, even when it didn’t fit for me, and ridiculed for wanting house and home. It’s landed me in a ton of debt because I was trying to act “normal” (aka, keeping up with the Joneses). But that’s what my family of birth had available to offer. Does that change some things? Probably. Am I that different than many people who just want a freaking option in how to live life? No. And FH is a gentle, sensitive soul who may or may not find his dream job. In Black Women’s World (the discourse), that’s a “down low” brotha who will leave you (for a white girl, no less) and is mooching off of you. But I don’t feel it. I have a gentleman (and yes, he’s white, and that adds some complexity from a cultural standpoint), but the two of us are ok. I didn’t realize that until I let people terrorize me into panic, and I punished him. We eat, we have enough clothes, and we’re working “us” out. This is why we are engaged. To work it out between us, not our families.
      /*rant

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    I love that you connected “wife” with “partner.” We’re partners in this. We’re in it together. My life is now tied to his and his to mine. And we don’t ever have to do anything alone again. He does go to his work by himself and I go off and do my thing by myself. We aren’t next to each other all day long. But he’s there in my mind and in my heart.

    And he lets me play in the garden too because I love it.

  • http://islandwed.blogspot.com Chloe (Island Wed)

    This post was wonderful and also has gotten me to think about what I want my “wife” role to be like in our marriage. I love caring for my partner and am happy to dote on him when I feel in the mood, but there are days when I get extremely frustrated and go from zero to hero because I feel like he isn’t contributing as much as I have.

    We’re working together to support each other during stressful times, but in my mind we still have a long way to go before the dishes are done every night or our house looks relatively visitor-ready. I’m okay with that, and it’s one of the things I look forward to developing in our marriage. My current idea of being a wife is being the one to support her partner, and expect the same in return. I love being a homemaker at times, but know that being a full time homemaker wouldn’t be the right fit for me and still feel good with the label as “wife”.

    I guess I just want to say thank you for making me think, like so many other APW posts have.

  • peanut

    That was a wonderfully written post. Although being a housewife is not for me, I recognize that there are women who choose to be one, and it doesn’t necessarily disagree with being a feminist.

    I do think that it is important that everybody, including housewives, have something that they do that is primarily for THEM, and don’t spend their entire lives doing things solely for other people, for the sake of their mental health.

  • Allie

    Hmmm… This is a tough one for me. I’m thrilled that these two found roles that work for them. If they’re happy, then there ain’t no one who should judge them.

    The problem for me (personally, I’m not saying this should neccesarily be anyone else’s problem) is that this doesn’t seem much like it’s about RECLAIMING the word wife. Instead, it strikes me as a celebration of very traditional gender roles in which an individuals assigned role is based solely on their gender, and that the woman’s role is neccessarily subservient to her husband’s.

    The part about him being out in the world and her being more inward/home/family focused doesn’t bother me a bit. That seems more an extension of their natural personalities. What bothers me is that she falls more into a ‘support’ role, where his needs and wants would come before hers. While his comments about her are sweet (especially the thing about being his partner), the bit about “when I come home, you don’t nag me,” makes me squirm a bit. It implies (to me, and maybe I’m reading it wrong) that expressing her thoughts if they happen to be different than his would be ‘nagging.’

    All this is to say, it’s not the approach I want to take in my marriage. But maybe that’s just because my personality is different from Cindy’s in the first place. I do hope that if her values change (one day, she decides she wants a job outside the home, or pursue a higher degree, or anything else that takes her out of the ‘supporting’ role) that her husband will continue to be just as appreciative and supporive.

    • Allie

      Sorry, I reread my comment after I posted and realized I wanted to clarify. I realized on rereading the psot that his needs aren’t coming before hers. For now. The thing that I’d worry about (and this isn’t for me to worry about really, because it’s not my marriage) is that if she her desires changed (like what I wrote about wanting to go back to work), would he still consider her his “partner,’ or would the whole dynamic of the relationship be thrown off?

      Does that make sense?

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      i didn’t find cindy’s role to be subservient to her husband’s. they’re both doing what they love to do- neither is setting their own desires (in a major or unreciprocated way, i mean) for the other.

      this phrase is what leads me to disagree:

      “The person I’ve become since I’ve met him is motivated and strong, able to negotiate, stand up for herself, and be whomever she wants to be. I am totally and completely free. He holds me back from nothing but encourages me to “go out there and live your life. Oh, you want to do that on a motorcycle? Okay, I’ll get one too and we can go live life together.”

      the assumption that you cannot aspire to your own goals or pursue your own aspirations while being a “stay at home” whatever is JUST as detrimental as the assumption that all wives must stay at home and focus on housework. reading cindy’s story, i felt that she was doing what she loved to do while her husband did what he wanted to do- and they both felt supported by one another.

      and that’s what marriage is, right? supporting each other as partners- the best ones allow us to pursue our passions while doing so.

    • http://happysighs.blogspot.com liz

      bahaha, allie. we posted at the same time.

  • Allie

    Liz, I appreciate your comment.

    And based on the motorcycle comment, it certainly sounds like a great partnership. My worry remains though: What happens the day when her needs (whatever they may be) somehow ‘detract’ from her role as wife? What if, for example, she decides that she wants to be… I don’t know… a dolphin trainer. So she goes back to school to get her masters in marine biology. And suddenly she’s not there as much to support him and the dynamics of their relationship would change. If a relationship is too strongly built around traditional roles, then a change like that could be problematic.

    Of course, this is all in the hypothetical, and it feels odd to be discussing someone else’s marriage (although she did put it out there on a feminist blog…) This is not meant to be attacking or judge-y at all, just curious about how this will work longer term.

    • http://socybride.wordpress.com Tamara

      Just my .02, learned when I was 19 and my friend who had married “too early” lost her husband suddenly to a brain tumor:

      Living for tomorrow robs today of it’s strength.

      If her needs change, and if their love and commitment are there, they’ll work it out. We cannot guard against change. Not all change equals dire conflict. It may mean an adjustment period, but does not insure doom…
      (just realized I’m giving myself useful advice. Going to shut up now and think about MY life…).

    • meg

      Well. No. I don’t think so. What Cindy is saying (which is something I really agree with) is that a relationship is good that allows us to be our best selves and really go for our dreams. AKA, motorcycle? Get a motorcycle? Dolphin training? Do dolphin training. Not that her husband is saying, “Stay in the home, woman,” that he’s saying, “I want you to be the best self that you can be, whatever that looks like.”

      I think that we miss the point when we say Cindy is celebrating traditional roles, because she’s really not. They worked to find roles that worked for them, and they happened to fall along somewhat traditional lines. (Somewhat. Cindy does work, for the record.) Fine, that’s great. That’s finding what works for you, even when your Doc Martian wearing motorcycle riding self is surprised by that. I mean, if the husband was staying home and Cindy was running the business, you’d be cheering. But it just so happens that their personalities didn’t fall that way, and that’s great.

      • http://www.unrelatedsidenote.com Cindy

        He’s totally supportive in all kinds of ways, and I’ve found a good balance in being able to manage our domestic affairs and have a little something for myself on the side. I am a certified fitness instruction and I teach several classes a week. I absolutely love it! I hope to start working on my personal trainer certification this fall (if the money is there, we’re saving).

        It’s the little something I do for myself that fulfills me and allows me to give back to others. I love performing and teaching, coaching, motivating, really getting outside of myself and giving to others and fitness instruction suits me to a T!

        But no matter what, if there’s something in life I want to explore, I explore it, as long as it’s healthy and not self-destructive. I take my time with it, come at it slowly, just sort of let it happen organically. I’m very fortunate to have Matt by my side. With him, anything is possible.

  • http://twentyfirstcenturynomad.blogspot.com Kortney

    I don’t know if we’re very traditional at home or not. I cook; he cleans. He brings home most of the money; I work part-time (visa situation). I do the shopping; he does all the admin stuff. I do the ironing; he makes the bed. Some of the things we do fall into “traditional roles” but not all of it. We just really aim to compliment each other by making up where the other lacks–isn’t that what all couples who really, truly love each other do? Because honestly, I could never ask Jeremy to do something he really loathed and he feels the same way.

    Which is why I love what Cindy wrote. She does what she loves doing not because it’s expected of her but because it makes her feel good and because it works for them. Is there any better way to do it? No. We all fall into our own little routines and roles eventually and whether it follows gender lines or not doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you don’t feel trapped in something you loath. Cindy doesn’t loath what she does–she loves it! And that’s all that any of us can expect or hope for in marriage. :)

    • kat

      I agree completely with what you’re saying about growing to complement the other, making up for what each other lacks. My partner & I work really well this way too. BUT you can’t just go off of doing what you and your partner *like* to do. There might be some weirdos who honestly like scrubbing the toilet or the shower (I honestly like washing dishes and clothes, so – you know – it could happen), but what if neither you nor your partner like to clean/pay bills/take the car to the mechanic/mow the lawn/go to the in-laws? Making a real, practical life together as partners WILL mean doing things you loathe sometimes.

      • Sevillalost

        Exactly. And also, I’m that weirdo. I love cleaning bathrooms, but I hate doing laundry. *shrug* ;)

      • Eliza

        This is true – for us this works out as the person who loathes it most doesn’t have to do it! I mean, I’m not sure anyone really likes scrubbing toilets or cleaning mould (euugghhhh!) But you balance it out – or we do – by figuring out which annoying, gross tasks you like least, and which your partner likes least. This means I don’t have to do vacuuming, but I usually do wind up cleaning the toilet. I despise vacuuming, so this works out well for me!

        • http://twentyfirstcenturynomad.blogspot.com Kortney

          Yes! There are things we both don’t like doing (like hanging up wet laundry on the line) but it’s usually either the one who’s not busy, the one who minds the least, or both of us who do it. Just like Fair Trade Products like coffee or chocolate, we have a Fair Trade Partnership. We’re not marrying into a set of roles and rules, we’re marrying into a partnership where we work together on things we like doing and the things we don’t like doing–laundry and mold included! :)

          • Eliza

            Ahhh exactly!! Fair Trade Partnership! I love that. And it totally balances out – you wind up doing even the stuff you like least and have agreed the other person will do sometimes, because it’s convenient or you want to help the other person out, or for a million other reasons – because you’re working for the same goal, as partners, in the end.

  • Melissa

    “I’m not much for the 9 to 5. I’m not much for the rules and frustrations of the working world, and for the endless willingness to bend your will and sell your soul that comes with a paycheck. I simply don’t work like that. But I excel at counsel, compassion, cleanliness, and mowing the lawn.”

    Except for the lawn mowing, I could have written this paragraph. I really want to be a stay-at-home wife and mother, or perhaps a work-from-home or a part-time-work-outside-of-home one. I know that I won’t be a healthy, mentally sane person in give or take five years if I continue with the 9 to 5. My fiance, on the other hand, loves his job. He gets to do RESEARCH and SCIENCE and is happy, happy. So, let him bring home the bacon and I’ll cook it. I need some breathing room to figure out what it is on this earth that I can devote myself to, because dreary days in corporate America have stunted my mental acuity and I cannot remember. I used to be a somewhat creative individual with the ability to follow circuitous logic for surprising and different results. Now, I am a sad, sad linear corporate pawn. This does not bode well for being the best person, spouse, wife and mother that I could be. So, yes, I want to be a stay-at-home mom, but I want to turn the stereotypical picture of that on its head.

    • http://scientistcarrie.bloodspot.com Carrie

      I always fantasize about stay at home wifedom when I am burned out and exhausted, because I envision peaceful, quiet, low-stress days. Cooking and cleaning are meditative for me, if I can do them without time pressure. Gardening definitely is meditative. And practical, tangible work like that is healing for me when my mind is exhausted.

      But I also crave work of the mind to do — problem-solving, writing, creating, all things that the outside world will pay me to do. So what I really want is an intellectually engaging job that doesn’t stress me out and burn me out. Being a SAHW as my full time job would not make me happy. I would get bored and resentful.

      What I really need is time off, but gender roles affect how I think of that. A married woman not working outside the home is a SAHW or housewife, while a married man is just not working.

      Being so burned out at your job that you can’t even figure out what you are excited about doing isn’t the same thing as necessarily wanting to stay at home. Needing to take time off isn’t the same thing as becoming a SAHW.

  • Christina

    Great post. And, I think that a Reclaiming Husband post is needed to go along with Reclaiming Wife.

    I married a man who came from a verry broken home. Growing up he didn’t have a single example of a “healthy adult partnership” to speak of. In fact, he watched the married couples in his family lie, steal and cheat on each other. This didn’t scare him off from marriage. In fact he was determined to break the mold. The man’s ability to rise above his circumstances can bring me to tears most days.

    So, it was surprising to me, the number of men (a lot of them married) in his life that gave him such grief in the months/weeks leading up to our wedding. Almost as if being a husband is some how settling or even selling out. ?? I don’t get it. Has anyone else heard this from their fiance/husband?

    • meg

      Guest post? From him? I’m pro a reclaiming husband post, I just can’t write it.

  • Eliza

    I really love this, all of it, and particularly the comments and the conversation that’s emerged. Cindy, thank you for prompting this!

    There is lots of nuance here (“lots of nuance”, is that a contradiction in terms?) but what strikes me is that we’re all trying to find our way between what I’d call “traditional expectations” (a simplification but you know what I mean) of the role of wife, and our contemporary, more egalatarian concept/role of partnership. And one can fit into the other – in both directions. The decisions you make about the balance are totally individual and unique, like relationships are unique, and we’re all just feeling our way. (This is the blessing and curse, the double edged feminista sword of the 21st century, to me – we get to choose, and in choosing, our choice is questionable, judgeable. Or at least, more so than it was before. But on the other hand, we have the freedom of choosing!)

    I don’t know what this balancing act is going to look like, for me – and I REALLY like not knowing. I have a domestic bent – I love to cook, like some cleaning, and adore children. But I also love my career, and I worked my butt off to get to where I am in it, and have the future opportunities with it that I currently have. All of those statements also hold true for my fiance. How we’re going to balance the two between us? I’m looking forward to finding out.

    (Note: I’m not going into marriage blind here on the domestic/work balance! We have talked about it! But I’m aware that these things always adjust as you go along, and I’m prepared for things to change once we’re actually IN it, you know?)

  • http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/ The gold digger

    I love this. I was laid off from my corporate job right before I met my husband. We talked about my getting another job after we married, but he works long hours (60-70/week) and travels about 50% of the time. I didn’t want another big money job because we never would have seen each other. Something for low pay makes no sense because of the tax situation. I’d rather not work or just volunteer than net $8 or $10/hour. (That said, a high-paying, part-time job would be really nice just because I would like some intellectual stimulation.)

    My job is to take care of him. His job is to take care of me. I clean the house, cook the meals, do the laundry, take care of the yard, etc, etc – all the things I did when I had a job only now I don’t have to go to work for 55 hours. The rest of the time is mine to goof off either with him or my friends or to volunteer. I AM SO LUCKY.

  • Hannah

    Cindy’s post is absolute brilliance.

    My husband and I have many traditional tendencies, not because he has the XY chromosome pair and I have the XX, but because it works for us and makes us happy and healthy. We are partners and equals. We support each others and are flexible with each others’ changing/growing needs. While I currently do not have a paying job, that does not mean I don’t work. In fact, I work very hard, but at home. It saddens me that “work”, not tied to a paycheck, is undervalued and invisible.

  • Arachna

    I love that their relationship works so well for them. And I can even imagine the ways that my relationship might be similar in years ahead. What bothers me/concerns me is the inherent inequality. Not in the sense that one contributes more or less! And not in any abstract partnerships need to be 50/50 way! But the black and white fact that if he is supporting her that means he can do what he is doing without her but she cannot do what she does without him. She depends on him to do what she does. Running a household well is hard and complicated and a huge boon to someone who is working but feeding yourself and keeping your house from attracting roaches – not that hard. It’s going to be a totally different level if someone who is working 70 hr weeks doesn’t have someone at home but they will still manage while someone can not manage to stay home without someone else contributing money. That doesn’t mean this kind of arrangement can’t work or shouldn’t, by no means. But I do want to discuss the issue of this inequality. It bothers me that he is enabling her to do what she wants while she is enabling him to live the same life but easier.

    What happens if both people hate the 9 to 5? I think a lot more than 50% of the population would prefer not to work in corporate America. What are the implications of this? I don’t know. But I’d like to talk about it.

    Now, I know from the comments that Cindy actually works part time so this might not apply much to her particular situation. And duh, I don’t much about her actual real life relationship so nothing I say probably applies to her. So my comment is really about relationships with one homemaker and not Cindy’s relationship and the issues that come up with that even when the two people are supportive of each other.

    • meg

      I think we get into REALLY dicey waters when we start measuring our contributions to our relationships based on what we earn. REALLY dicey. That’s when money starts equaling power. There are lots of ways for a couple to protect themselves with one person working. Basically, if you can afford to have one person working by choice? You can afford to cover your collective asses through savings/ life insurance/ any number of other things. I know bunches of couples, gay and straight (including my own relationship, including my parents relationship during most of my childhood) where one person is the primary breadwinner (for a million different reasons), and A) it works and B) asses are covered. It’s not about both people hating 9-5. If you have that, it’s a whole other puzzle. What it IS about is finding what works for US as a couple. Period.

      • Vanessa

        “But I do want to discuss the issue of this inequality. It bothers me that he is enabling her to do what she wants while she is enabling him to live the same life but easier.”

        I agree with Meg that thinking about roles this way can lead to money being equated with power, which is really dangerous (and maybe a big part of what made it necessary to reclaim the word wife in the first place). Our mothers/grandmothers saw that money equaled power in male/female relationships and wanted to get out into the workplace as a way of taking some of that power for themselves. And they made enormous headway, and we are beyond lucky to be born when we were.

        BUT, it seems like what we are trying to do here and in our lives is not to continue to claim power in the same way our mothers did but to altogether break away from the narrative that says that money equals power — to remove (to whatever extent this is possible) those kind of power struggles from our marriages. (Keep them in the workplace by all means, effing .70 on the dollar) Saying that a working husband is enabling his stay-at-home wife to do what she wants, that he could get along without her but not she without him, seems to me to be buying into that same power structure — privileging his money-making position.

        It’s hard – I have that same gut reaction (that I assume you are having) of this fear that the woman is setting herself up for financial devastation in the event the unthinkable happens — that she’s got to protect herself! But I think that comes from that same dichotomous thinking in which the partner-making-money is seen as the truly important one in the relationship. And this seems somewhat contrary to “partnership” to me.

        I’m not sure what the answer is to this, except, as always, talk about it and think about it and work out for yourself what works. As disclosure, I left my job as a lawyer just before my fiancee and I got engaged, and I’ve been acting as a (really bad) housewife (seriously, I’d fire myself, but I’m learning!) while I spend time figuring out what I want to do.

        It was way harder for me to think of the money my fiancee makes at his job as our money and to consider my contributions to our relationship important than it was for him. It’s starting to sink in slowly, though, that you can’t measure contributions to relationships in that way. How we support ourselves, keep our house clean, etc, are questions that are separate in a way from how we think about equality in our partnership. In a way, unfortunately, that is hard to articulate because it is still emerging (and because it may always ????? change).

        Part of it is that we make decisions together (financial and otherwise), and we think about possible future outcomes of our relationship together, and we are committed to together ensuring that each of us is in a position to start an individual life again should something terrible happen. Another part of it is that we talk together about what we can do to make our lives fulfilling as a We and as two I’s, whether he wants to continue at this job, whether I want to work as a lawyer or a teacher or not at all, whether we want to travel more, whatever.

        I’m starting to ramble so I’m going to stop. I don’t know if I’ve said anything that hasn’t already been said before, but I’m so happy this conversation is happening and that I get to be a small part of this building process. It’s just so damn exciting!

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  • http://www.unrelatedsidenote.com Cindy

    After re-reading this post and all of the comments, I should have stated that I do work. I didn’t realize it would read like I don’t; however, if I came home one day and told my husband I quit my job, he’d just say, “Alright, you wanna go out and get drinks to celebrate?”

    Matt and I do make a lot of (what some would call) sacrifices as we do attempt to live off of one salary as best we can. We live in a modest home (that we are selling to buy a better modest home so I can have a vegetable garden). We don’t have cable television. We eat in a lot. We don’t take extravagant vacations. We don’t own a lot of clothes or shoes or accessories. Our furniture doubles as scratching posts for our three cats. Our cars and motorcycle, while nice, are all used–bought and paid for. Etc, etc, etc …

    Matt is always encouraging me to move forward with things I love. I suppose him doing that with his business makes him be a lot more understanding in that regard. I’ve been teaching Spin classes for months now and am working on a group exercise and personal trainer certification and hope someday to make that be what I do when I’m not busy cooking and gardening and cleaning and making our house a home. It doesn’t have to pay me a lot, but I want to love it, you know?

    I think more than anything else in this world, people should find a partner that accepts, appreciates, and individuality. I never thought being married would make me feel so free in every aspect in life. I mean, hey, anyone who is willing to listen to me sing made-up “Babby Got Back” lyrics to the cat while I’m making coffee in the morning has to be the one for me, right?

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  • Nikidy

    i know i’m totally late to the party on this post, but i have to say i love it, as i have lots of homeward-feeling desires, and ideally will go down to part-time/creative work instead of retail or office work (IDEALLY-ideally i’ll just potter along doing anthropological research by myself, though if i have to go full time, i want to lecture. which there are no jobs in hahahaha).
    One trend i’ve noticed with the comments, however, is the conflation of stay-at-home wife and stay-at-home *mother*. One thing i’ve been struggling with is the perception people would have of me, if i get to be a stay at home wife – without kids. (no plans to, ever. it is just not in either his or my life plans.)
    I logically know that being a SAHW is possible without kids, but the constant conflation of staying home and having kids is indicative of the perceptions of others in general, which makes me kind of sad/annoyed. Surely i’m allowed to reclaim wife, and reclaim the position of stay-at-home wife, without reproducing?