Awesome Dudette asks: “I’ve been married for over ten years and my husband and I have two, wonderful little boys. Our marriage is actually really good, except for one thing. Well, it’s not really my husband’s problem, but mine. He has a job and I stay at home and take care of the kids. I feel guilty when I spend money on anything that isn’t considered essential, like food and clothes for the kids. I bought myself a pair of new shoes the other day, and I felt like I’d done something terrible. We have enough money to pay the bills and for extras. I’m not being irresponsible or anything, and my husband even encourages me to splurge a little on myself. So, why can’t I get past this guilt? Why do I feel like I need my husband’s permission to spend money on the family and especially myself, and why isn’t it good enough for me, even when I get it? I don’t want to feel inferior to him, and he really doesn’t treat me that way, but I can’t help wishing that I had an equal income so that I could feel like I’m contributing just as much as he is. Can you please help?”
I’ve wanted to write this post for a while. It’s a question that comes up a lot, a set of beliefs that is so prevalent in women (some men, too, but most especially in women), and causes so much unnecessary grief, it’s almost ridiculous that we haven’t been able to let this one go. I’ve been waiting for the perfect metaphor to occur to me, one which would help illustrate the ridiculousness of this mindset and shift it, and just a few weeks ago, during a coaching session, I had my eureka moment. Not only did that particular client benefit immediately (the belief just shattered), but I knew right away that this little analogy was meant to be shared. And today, my pretties, is the day.
We’ve grown up in a world where the value of pretty much everything is determined by economy. How much money is it worth? How much money can this bring us in the future? How much does it cost? Even if we don’t consciously want to believe these thoughts, the truth is that much of our lives are still governed by these kinds of beliefs.
And so, when two people have children, even though most of us would agree that it would be beneficial and even preferable that at least one partner actually have time to spend with the little newbies, a lot of people can’t help but feel guilty for not contributing equally to the family financial pool. Staying home with the kids and taking care of the household isn’t seen as an equal contribution, ironically, by the partner who is NOT working. We should be doing more, bringing in some cash, being of more value.
The prejudice against the housewife
I realize that many men are now choosing to be a stay at home partner, as well, and this article is aimed at both sexes and all manner of partnerships. But I feel that before I go on with my arguments, I first need to address an issue here that regards mainly women. Men, bear with me for just a couple of paragraphs.
Snarky Rant Alert: I’m about to get up on my soap box. Prepare yourselves, you have been warned.
I cannot tell you how many awesome, amazing, intelligent, talented, gorgeous female souls I have spoken to that feel totally inadequate because they are “just a housewife”. First of all, if you have ever muttered the phrase “Just a housewife” in a derogatory context, you are no longer allowed to call yourself a feminist. That’s right, I said it. Feminism is about the right to choose to be whatever we women want to be, and in fact, the new feminism is about everyone getting to choose to be what they want to be (like if a man chooses to stay at home with the kids). It was never intended to take us from being bullied into staying home by men when we’d rather be working, to being bullied into having careers by women, when we’d rather be staying home. Going from one imprisoning set of choices to another is not progress!
True progress comes from opening up more choices and making all of those choices valid. And that means, if a little girl wants to grow up and be a doctor, a lawyer, an astrophysicist, a plumber, a teacher, a nurse or a mother and housewife, then she should get to do WHATEVER THE HELL SHE WANTS. That’s the whole point of feminism. Duh.
Oh, and if you are a housewife (or househusband) and someone asks you at a party what you do, I’d like to give you a little truth: When that person reacts to your answer with a condescending “Oh. Um, that’s nice”, what they really mean is “You lucky bitch.”
Remember: Only those who are unhappy and feel trapped by their own choices will ever feel the need to judge yours.
*Steps off soap box*
How much is being a mother worth?
Now that we have that bit out of the way, let me hit you with a slightly different perspective.
Let’s say you have a wife, a husband and two children. You can substitute any other configuration you like here (wife/wife, husband/husband, sixteen kids, three dogs, a flurry of gerbils, a Volkswagon of clowns, etc.), it really doesn’t matter. But for the sake of this analogy, we’re going to keep it simple.
The parents have decided that they’d like the wife to stay home with the children. They both consider this the ideal scenario and the husband’s income makes it possible. The wife stays home and takes care of the kids and house. And all is well with the world. Only… just like in Awesome Dudette’s question above, after a while, all does not seem well after all. She begins to feel guilty for not contributing financially. She wonders if she shouldn’t get a job, maybe just a part time one. She works out that the money she’d make with a part time job would be eaten up by daycare, so her financial contribution would be zero. And, she really doesn’t want to take on a job, she’d rather not miss out on the opportunity to spend time with her children. And yet, that nagging feeling that she should be doing something won’t leave.
After all, taking care of kids and a household, well, that’s just peripheral work, isn’t it? She should be able to do that on the side, shouldn’t she?
At this point, people will often try to feel better by breaking down how much it would cost if all the jobs the woman is doing were to be contracted out. They calculate a few thousand dollars (or whatever) for a cleaner/housekeeper, a cook, a nanny and, if they’re being particularly cynical about it, a prostitute (is IS a skill set, to be fair…). If you’re going to reduce everything down to its monetary value, might as well go all the way with it, no? But this argument has never really made anyone feel any better. No woman really wants her contribution in the home to be equated with that of a stranger coming into the house and performing tasks for money. In fact, doing so just makes us feel worse.
And that’s because it’s not about the freaking money, even if our guilt keeps insisting that it is.
The Family Business
Let’s pretend that the mother/father/2 kids unit is a business. And let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that money really is the most important thing in this equation. It’s the measure of all value, which means it’s the goal. Let’s call this business Family Smith.
First of all, Mr. and Mrs. Smith should never have had kids. That was a stupid move. Kids are not only non-income generating entities, they actually represent enormous expenditures. Long term projections indicate that, unless drastic changes are made, these little subsidiaries will continue to use up vast amounts of resources well into their twenties, and won’t ever really yield any significant return on investment. Money motivated business advice: Offload the little suckers as quickly as possible. If that’s not possible, maybe find a way to put them to work and offset some of their expenses. Child labor laws might interfere, so you’ll have to get creative, but you could always send them overseas. After all, big corporations are doing that with their factories, and they know a thing or two about squeezing money from a stone, so why can’t you?
Oh, and as long as we’re at it, both parents should get whatever jobs they can earn the most money at, no matter how soul destroying. Eighteen hour days are encouraged, holidays possible only as a bonus, and an early grave is not necessarily a deterrent, especially if it helps you save all that money you’d be spending in your non-income generating retirement years.
Love, affection, fun, happiness, joy, and any related activities should be seen as time wasters. After all, they don’t make any money do they, and while you’re hugging your kid goodnight, you could be making deals with Australia. If you work globally, you’ll never have to sleep!
Still think that money should be the goal of your family business?
Of course, I can hear you saying, you never thought it should be. Only, I beg to differ. If you are feeling guilty for not bringing in as much money as your partner, than a part of you has elevated money to one of the main goals of your “family business”. And it isn’t. It can’t be, or you wouldn’t have had kids or chosen to stay home. Those decisions don’t make any financial sense. So, the goal must be different, and the idea is to align all of your beliefs with that REAL goal. And when you do that, the guilt will go away.
Front office and Back office
Every business has different departments, which are all responsible for different areas of the operation. If the husband goes out and makes the money, then he’s responsible for “Income generation”, or “Funding”. The goal of the business, as we’ve just established, is not to make as much money as possible, so funding is just one element of several. Hubby Smith’s got that one covered.
Then, there’s the back office, or “Production and Operations”. Funding makes much of these operations possible, of course, but without the operations, there’s no reason for the funding. And, in fact, much of the operations are designed to make the income generating activities easier and more efficient. The two work together, in tandem, to produce the desired outcome.
And that outcome, ladies and gentlemen, is happiness. The goal of this little family business is to produce four happy people (some people lose sight of that and think it’s to produce two happy kids, often at the expense of the adults’ happiness. These people are wrong. You can’t produce happy kids by being unhappy. That’s like starving yourself in order to teach your kids good nutrition. It’s highly likely that they’ll just copy you and go hungry, too. And even if they do wander off and find food on their own, it’s not going to be because of you. It’ll be in spite of you. It’s just like that with happiness.)
All family business activities are geared towards making the family, as a whole, happy, healthy and full of joy. And any activities or beliefs that do not support that goal are going to feel uncomfortable. So, the husband feels guilty for not having enough time to play with his kids, because he understands that once the basic needs are met, kids value time with their parents more than money (unless they have been taught otherwise, which is not easy but doable). The wife feels guilty when she spends money on something for no other reason than that it will increase happiness for herself, because she erroneously thinks that her happiness isn’t important to the overall goal. It’s this erroneous belief that causes her guilt, not the spending of the money.
Get your priorities straight
When you realize that the goal of your family business is joy, and start to filter all activities and choices through that goal, those activities and choices take on a different light.
- When you buy groceries for the family, you are supporting the overall goal.
- When you prepare a nice home for your family, one where your kids feel safe and one to which your partner can look forward to coming home to after a long day at work, allowing him or her to relax and spend some time with the kids (instead of now having to clean the house and cook dinner and iron a shirt for the next day), you are contributing to the overall goal.
- When you play with your kids instead of doing the spring cleaning, you are not being lazy. You are contributing to the overall goal.
- When you take a hot bath to soothe your nerves and regain your patience, you are contributing to the overall goal.
- When you and your partner get a babysitter and take a night out for yourselves, so you can reconnect and have an adult conversation, and maybe even a bit of, dare I say it, romance, you are contributing to the overall goal.
- When you earn money, you are contributing to the overall goal.
- When you earn money in a way that makes you happy and fulfilled, you are contributing even more to the overall goal.
- When you spend money (no matter where it came from) on operating expenses, which is anything that contributes to the joy of the WHOLE FAMILY INCLUDING YOU, you are working towards the overall goal.
- When one of you does something, anything, that makes it easier for the other to do their family business job, you are contributing to the overall goal.
- Even your children are contributing to the overall goal, and not just with chores. Their laughter contributes, their natural tendency towards taking it easy, towards playing when there’s work to be done, towards not taking things so damn seriously, towards fart jokes, their imagination, their wonder, their ability to be in the moment and get you to be in the moment, too, all contribute mightily to the overall goal.
And if anything you are doing or thinking does not contribute to the overall goal, it will feel off. The biggest thing to remember is that your happiness is part of the overall goal and actually required to make the whole family business successful. Don’t starve yourself to teach your kids good nutrition.
- If your job is killing you, make a change. You’re not benefiting your kids or yourself just by making money. The money is a means to an end – to happiness. If your job is destroying your happiness, get a different one or make a change. And yes, you can.
- If staying home with the kids full time is slowly eating away at your soul, get a part time job, or even a full time job, even if it makes no financial sense. Find a compromise that makes you happy again. Less time with a happy parent is better than more time with a chronically unhappy one. And no, you can’t hide your feelings from your kids. They know.
- If keeping up the lifestyle you thought you should be able to maintain is making you feel like you’re running on a hamster wheel at gunpoint, consider downgrading. A smaller, happier home is much more conducive to joy than a bigger, unhappy one.
You’re in a Partnership
Your family business is a partnership. The stay at home parent is the director of Operations, and the working partner is the Sales Director. Sales can’t do its job without operations, and operations can’t do its job without sales. Feel free to come up with your own titles, but make sure they’re equal. Quit thinking of the income generating partner as the CEO, with the stay at home partner being his cleaning lady (with benefits). I’m only exaggerating slightly to make my point.
Of course, this whole argument can be applied to the single life and child-less relationships as well. What’s the REAL goal of your “business”? I’ll bet it’s not money. What happens when you look at your life from this new perspective? Do you want to change some of your choices? Do you feel better about the choices you’ve made? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Melody’s response to the anonymous post on Jan 31 2013 actually really helped answer this for me. I think I’m feeling guilty because I’m not clear what my contribution to the arrangement is and so I feel I’m not doing enough. But perhaps just having a conversation about it will help clear things up.
(Also wondering if it’s possible to remove my last name from my two comments before they’re posted?)
This is really helpful and I am still curious. My situation is completely different…but similar feeling. I have a dear friend who often chooses to fund our adventures together because she has expendable income and currently I do not. If she didn’t fund them, we wouldn’t go. I often try to do whatever she wants because she is paying for it, but most recently I made a couple decisions that feel like they served me more than her and I’ve been wracked with guilt over it.
I often feel guilty because I feel like I’m not contributing enough. I don’t want her to ever feel taken advantage of or taken for granted. And yet I know her job is stressful and she enjoys being able to de-stress together. If she is choosing this, and my presence is helping contribute to her happiness, then me being a happy participant in the arrangement should (in theory) help add to the overall happiness of the situation. That’s what I take away from the above post.
But at the same time, we aren’t a family raising kids together, we’re just two friends and she works a stressful job that she doesn’t love and I am not helping her be able to leave that job. So, in some ways it feels more like a business arrangement and then I feel guilty for not being more attentive to her needs and making sure she is happy/taken care of above doing what feels good for me (or contributing to the situation more financially).
The problem with this post is that there is no solution offered for women without children. It’s fine if they are looking after children, but if not, what are they doing?
What will they do if the breadwinner leaves?
Money IS needed. How do you eat? How do you pay rent? How do you go out? Buy clothes? Pay for electricity? Water? Transportation?
If you earn so much per year it is easy to pretend money isn’t a problem.
But you need it to live. Money is super important. The stress of not having it is phenonmenal.
People have jumped off cliffs from debt or died of being homeless.
Where is the solution for money without a job?
Welfare? Mooching off others?
That’s no solution, no matter how many kids you take care of.
Kids or no kids, if both partners are doing what they have agreed to do to create the life they want, then there’s no reason to feel guilty. So, if the woman is not working at an outside job, then she’s probably working in other ways, like cooking, cleaning, setting up social engagements, throwing parties (which are often networking events), making a beautiful home, looking after family and friend connections, etc. All those little things we can’t seem to get done when we have jobs.
If there is no agreement between two partners, then that’s a conversation that they need to have, and it’s an important one. Both partners need to agree on one goal and then figure out how they will move towards that. If a common goal can’t be found, then there’s a good chance that these two people aren’t really a match to each other and are only together out of fear.
Linked your blog and picture on mine! Love this post. http://www.togetherwalking.com/1/post/2013/01/modern-mother-conflicted-and-confused.html
Melody I love how you pointed out that children contribute to a household too!
Thanks Jennifer! 🙂
This post totally brings up the past for me! I hated being married and not ‘working,’ so much so that I didn’t do it. As you so clearly say, it’s about choices, and choosing what works best for yourself IS choosing what’s best for the family. Loving my job, I was a much better mom for not staying home feeling miserable.
Extrapolating toward money in general, this post is even more important. Thank you for the vivid reminder that money is never the end, only the means, and by no means the only means! Waiting for my novels to appear on Kindle, for the first time in my life, I’m thinking of money as fun – nothing more, just fun. Having lots of it will be fun, and it WON’T bring tons of associated problems – just fun.
This is a huge shift for me, and who knows if or when it would have happened without your personal awesomeness and awesome blog, Melody. Thank you bunches and bunches! Huge hug,
Hey Mary Carol!
You’re so welcome! Letting go of the focus on money is quite difficult, and the less we have, the harder it is. But I’ve found that the more I focus on feeling good, on feeling light and happy, the easier it is to just trust that it will be there, that I’ll have enough money for whatever I need and want. And I do.
I’m certain your Kindle books will just rock it!!
What is your view on money in regards to the husband being poor or strugglining?
Is that still right of the housewife not to work?
What about housewives with no kids?
What about people on welfare, do you think it’s gross when you see them buy fancy things on “taxspayer dollars/euros” ?
When is this not ok to just stay home?
I think each couple needs to make the decisions that are best for them. Often, it’s not an option for the woman to stay home. Sometimes it’s the man that stays home while the woman works. It has to make sense for them. But then, whatever they’ve decided, they should feel good about, and not guilty.
No, I don’t think it’s gross when people buy fancy things on Welfare. I don’t blame the people for the broken system. I put my focus on a vision of the future where welfare will not be needed, basically on what I want, instead of pushing against a situation that I don’t want.
It’s always ok to stay home as long as that’s what someone wants, chooses and has the ability to do. You’ll never hear me passing judgment and saying that a choice, in and of itself, is not ok. All choices are valid. But they don’t always fit with what we want. We have to make that determination for ourselves on a case by case basis.
“I don’t blame the people for the broken system. I put my focus on a vision of the future where welfare will not be needed.”
Couldn’t agree more. Why sling more at the people that society already ignored?
But I ask this, because it’s like one of those half-rhetorical questions that raise a good point, but unlike a rhetorical one, I actually wanted that answer. 🙂
This sounds like a good idea MC!
It’s all well and good to be a housewife, but if he cheats, becomes abusive or just doesn’t love you anymore…what will that woman do?
If he up and leaves she won’t have a job. It makes the housewife dependent on the husband.
After even a couple of years of not working the workforce will seem inpenetrable and daunting. Without kids that’s going to be even harder to explain.
Melody is right that it’s not all about money, but money is pride and independence. When you end up relying on someone else, you end up in a big rut.
Also if it’s HIS money, how do these women decreetly buy things such a tampons, make-up, bras, the pill, condoms, personal medications?
How do they ask him for cash every payday?
I can only speak for myself. A big factor for me was that I was raised to be an achiever, to get excellent grades, go to a top school and get a marketable degree, get a professional job, and work hard. Then at 25, I thought I could drop out and stay home for five years to get my daughter off to a ‘good start.’ Much as I wanted and loved my daughter, it was just too big an adjustment for me. I decided after a few months that I would only take one year ‘off,’ and having made the decision, I totally enjoyed the rest of that year with my baby.
Everybody’s different, and I think Melody’s point is that we each need to do what feels best, without judging ourselves or others. Canada’s laws allow an indigent mother with a baby to stay home for up to six years on welfare, without looking for a job. It’s controversial, and yes, some women become baby-machines, but I still think it’s a good idea to give women the viable option of raising their young children themselves, even if they don’t have much money. It wasn’t my choice, but I respect that it’s the preferred choice for some women.
To answer your last point, in a partnership there’s no asking for money. The monthly income is divided with advance planning to fill everyone’s needs. No reason a marriage can’t work the same way.
Thanks for bringing up some valid points.
Thanks for that.
It should be the case “in a partnership there is no asking for money” but I remember some women would ask their partner for a certain amount of money, or he just gave her a certain amount of money.
If she wanted things outside of groceries such as make-up, womens things etc she had to explain that she needed them. If that happened to me I’d feel humiluated.
I had conversations with these people, and it just doesn’t make sense. How can he not know that if he wants her to look good, then make-up is part of the budget, and there are private things she should have to account for every dollar.
What if she got athletes foot or boils (just dumb example)? How can you treat these things discreetly?
It wasn’t possible.
I remmeber my neighbour growing up was a housewife. She had access to the account, so she was one of the lucky ones that don’t have this humiluation placed on them.
My own mother said in her housewife days she was one of the “ask for money” crew.
That was sad to know. Doesn’t sound like fun.
I think, like everything, this is a matter of perspective. There is nothing intrinsically humiliating about asking for money for tampons (no more so than money for food or water). I can understand why some people would feel uncomfortable asking for money to take care of themselves, but as Melody pointed out, there is nothing ‘true’ about that view and you can just as easily take another.
But that’s the point. Why can’t that person take care of themselves? Why do they need to rely on a man to pay their way?
How will she remain mysterious and desirable if he knows about every little thing she spends from leg wax, tampons, or other personal items?
What if there is a sudden attack of gastro? How can they be discreet and sexy?
I don’t think partners need to know every little detail about what each other uses in the bathroom or medical cabinet, but if you ask for money, or have to account of every expense because you are not financially independent, then there will no choice but to be like a child that asks for pocket money.
People should have the pride to not have to rely on another person for their living expenses, and pay their own way in life.
About effing time this was posted! 😀
You’re welcome. 😆
It’s not just stay at home spouses. I have worked and contributed more than half to our income throughout our marriage, yet still felt that hesitation or doubt, or lack of self worth, when going out to purchase the necessities and non-necessities for myself. And as awesome Duddette said, my husband was always encouraging me to go buy stuff, so he had nothing to do with it. And we had enough money when we were both working, so money wasn’t the issue either.
Which has helped me finally realize it was my self worth that was the biggest issue. No matter how much money we had, I often felt unworthy when it came to buying for myself. And no, I didn’t go without, or never buy anything for myself. I just always felt that sense of guilt, so I just waited, and waited, and waited, then finally gave in and went out and bought things I wanted and needed! 🙂 It was like well, I’ve abstained, so now I can finally go buy stuff, because I have gone without for such a long time. But the guilt still remained.
I think my husband is even the one who pointed this out to me! He wondered why I would wait so long, why not just go out and buy what I want and or need when I want it? And I couldn’t give him a good answer. But now I understand so much more and I have no doubt that this belief is what kept me working at a job I hated for so long. If I wasn’t working, how much ‘less’ would I feel?
But what makes this great is how we are starting to see it, understand it, and work towards changing it. That desire to find happiness is starting to assert itself in so many people, instead of hanging around in the background grumbling under it’s breath. And it’s so awesome how you always show us that our beliefs about ourselves are the key. And you just make it so obvious and clear!! May the wave of change take us all under. Let it roll LOA!!!!
As always, thank you, thank you, thank you Melody!!!
You’re so welcome Nay! And thanks so much for adding your perspective here.
You’re so right. It is about self-worth. It’s funny how abstaining for a while made you feel like it was ok to get it. Like waiting was somehow paying your dues. We compensate for these weird beliefs in the funniest ways. 😀
For me, keeping in mind what my real priorities are, has been the biggest help. So, when I want to buy something, I don’t just ask myself if I need it, but mostly if I want it. Will it bring me joy? Will I use it? Will it make me happy? And it I can answer those questions with a yes, I spend the money. Sometimes it’s things that are totally frivolous, but they just make me happy. And sometimes I can spend a couple of euro and feel giddy joy for weeks or months (it’s not always high priced items…). It’s a way of looking at things that takes all the guilt out of treating myself. In fact, I should train myself to feel guilty if I don’t treat myself. Ha!
I had this guilt with fake begging. I would be on the way to buy something from a coffee shop that costs around $4-$6 dollars, like a fancy chocolate cream latte or fresh juice drink, but can’t buy it while fake beggars are there.
I don’t have much money myself, so I was really looking forward to that, then someone asks for a dollar for a smoke or something, and I don’t want to give it to them, because they aren’t homeless, (real beggars are a different story) they just faking, at most they would be as poor as me.
So I miss out, and walk past. I did deserve it, because I on;y have enough for the bus, but sometimes I walk so I can get the drink.
Thanks, Melody, for this post. I’m a single woman, but your solution really resonates with me too. I tend to think that my life should be about money so I can save up and eventually have the money to “deserve” time to myself. A saner part of me fights that and I end up always staying in the same place. This post really put it in perspective for me. Exactly what I needed to read. Thanks!
A lot of people feel that way. It’s hard not to make it about the money. We get sent that message over and over again. But we can choose to prioritize something else. We don’t have to wait to have that realization when we’re 80 and all worn out from having an unhappy (but profitable) life. When you talk to happy people, it’s NEVER about the money. And people that make it all about the money, well, they’re generally not happy and wondering what the hell went wrong…
The way I’ve been doing it, I don’t end up with the money or being happy. Something’s wrong with this picture.
Thank you for answering this question. It is difficult, and takes time to transition, going from a dual income family to staying at home. The most difficult career I’ve had to date is my most recent – Stay-at-Home Wife. There aren’t any deadlines or supervisors making sure my work gets done. There isn’t a time clock to punch defining the work hours and there isn’t a schedule for work days.
I have a fun blog that is not currently bringing in any income. So, how do I justify spending time on it rather than on the house? This is something I’m coming to terms with and have realized that in time, the site may make money but in the meantime it brings me and others joy.
I wish all of you the best and remember that you are worth being happy. Have a joyous year!
Thanks for sharing your own experience. I think stay at home moms really need to be given permission to do things just because they feel good. It can’t always come down to how much money something might bring in, or how useful it is to someone else. “Because it’s fun” or “because I love it”, are good enough justifications!!
I was agreeing they need to be valued and spend things on themselves. But it is poor future planning as you say not many relationships last forever.
This stay-at-home-Mom appreciates you all.
another thing I want to add..parents also really influence how you think about money and work when you grow up and go on your own… even my grandma for instance, every time i talk to her, asks me “are you working? when are you going to find a job and start earning for retirement?” no matter how i explain, and how many times, that at this point in my life kids and family are more important than holding a full time job, and when I did have the job it was the most two miserable years of my life (could not be a good mom and wife), she does NOT understand. same for my mom – though she stopped asking me how my part time business is going, she still does ask my kids how is mommy? is she working?”) i mean, talk about control!
and i think the reason I do not have a close relationship with my mom now is because she was always working when i was growing up. at one time, before i was 12, she was a teacher. i still remember her marking homework/tests all the time. and it seemed i was always in her way since she was so busy with work. even when she had summer holidays, she would send off our kids to her mom for 3 months. I am so trying to be not like her, and my kids just adore me and tell me all the time i am the best mom in the world (and no, I do not spoil them (sometimes), i am just more loving and present than my mom ever was.
We definitely get many of these kinds of beliefs from our family. That’s why they don’t make sense. We never consciously chose to believe that we have to do it all, be at home and work full time. But it’s a clash of old worlds beliefs and new beliefs, and when we don’t take the time to sort out what we want to believe, we can come up with some twisty ideas.
I’m sorry about your mom. Working moms can be very present and loving. It’s the quality that counts (of course, quality quantity is ideal…). It’s so great that you’re prioritizing what you really want and not bowing to your family’s misguided pressure. 🙂
happy mom = happy kids.
I understand this, and stopped talking to some people to avoid this kind of harassment.
It’s quite stressful having to explain your personal choices and financial situation to nosy family members.
Sadly this means I avoid them in fear they will harass about my standard of jobs.
However I understand why they do this, because if your man leaves, has an affair, stops loving you etc you will be stranded with no money and forced to rely on him until you get your own job good enough to pay for all your own things.
It also reminds me of children getting pocket money, because the wife has to ask for cash, unless she is lucky enough to have direct access into his account. At the end of the day the money isn’t yours, and he isn’t obliged to help you out if things go south.
I know this won’t make sense while you are contented and happy together, but I think that’s what those people are concerned about.
This is really awesome, my mother has told me she felt a lot like this so it will definitely be nice to share it with her. Thank you for writing this, Melody 🙂
I feel in a similar-but-not position though; I’m 20 and living at home with my parents, in a full time job that I really dislike, don’t really know what career path I’d ever like to take and would be more than happy being a housewife and mother, I’d really love to start a family, but obviously I am young, I am single with no dependents and my parents would be majorly pissed if I didn’t have a job to go to and money to earn, whereas I would have no qualms about telling my boss to shove it tomorrow xD!
I just don’t know what I should visualise first; should it be ‘that perfect job’ that I don’t really care about having? That nice home of my own? A loving and hardworking partner with kids in mind? (That last one sounds very nice to me though lol)
Visualize whatever feels best to you. You don’t have to define everything right now, just move towards better feelings and figure out more details along the way. So, if being married with kids in a supportive and loving relationship feels best to you, then focus on that. If other things come in, like having adventures, trying out different jobs (that might not suck) and the like, which will help you figure out more of what you want, then do that. Experiment a bit! Get out there and have experiences! That will make it easier to figure out what you want. But always, always focus on what feels best to you.
Beautiful post, Melody. Just what I needed today. Actually yesterday I was feeling guilty that my business not taking off yet…(I am staying home with kids and trying to work part time on my own). But then I just threw in a towel and said…whatever, fine, the family and I will be ok anyways, even if I don’t earn a few hunderd a month like i want too! My husband has a great job, we have a home (which I helped saved for while working full time out of home a few years ago), and good quality food that I make myself 3 times a day, everyone is healthy…And then today i got this post, which made even a bigger shift in my perspective! I am now choosing to do my business for my personal pleasure and if money comes with it, it will be great, but I won’t focus solely on the money like you wrote…
You’re so very welcome FS. Way to focus on the positives. If you relax about it, I’m certain that the money will flow more easily. Where there are good feelings, more good feeling stuff has to come. 🙂
As usual, I’m going to digress a bit about money…
On the 21st December, for the first time, somebody stole my walet that had some cash from sales I made during my moving out. And had all my documents. I felt powerless and devastated. Then I hear something: “Money is the energy of fear”. I was in a place far from my parent’s home (where I’m staying until I move to Italy) when the owner gave me lunch (it’s part of her business) for free. Then I saw myself saying that money could also be the energy of gratitute and I wish my wallet hadn’t been stoled at her place so that she wouldn’t have to feel compeled to spoil me with food, and her independecy costs money and my general fear about money and admiration and gratitute were feelings that were mixed together :S
I think that even for the more “spiritual” people, money triggers some fears. We are very conditioned by the belief that we need money. It’s a very strong network of beliefs and colective manifestations and limitations, but step by step we are getting there. Not only as a reaction to the economic crisis, we are hearing more about people that are office clerks/farmers, designers/fisherman 🙂 Also, in Lisbon a spontaneous network of babysitters has come together, such as small companies of cleaning ladies (this particular company I remember is from 4 ladies who are immigrants! Hooray for the independence of bosses and the bold step!! :D)… I think another sign of development about our relationship with money is starting to dignify and validade the art of some professions that don’t necessarily need a university diploma, and consider them essential.
You’re so right. Everyone has money issues, even and often especially the spiritual folks. So many spiritual practitioners, for example, still don’t feel entitled make a living at their craft…
And yes, I also adore how the economy is changing, people are once again opening up independent businesses and jobs that were previously considered low cost are now being valued differently (hire a few really bad cleaning ladies and you’ll gladly pay handsomely for a good one. Suddenly it’s not such an unimportant job anymore…)
we need more of those
Hell Mel where were you 29 years ago when I got married and needed your advice? Had my wife been able to look at it your way things for us may have been totally different.
Awsome Dudette please pay attention to what Melody has said because if you don’t get this feeling you have sorted out it will eat you up and consume you – you obviously don’t see the big picture of what you are achieving by being at home with your children and being just “the Housewife” because it is without doubt the most important contribution you can make not just to your Family but to society as a whole and there is no amount of money that can compensate you for what you are doing.
Money will not , never has and will never be able to buy joy and Happiness , many people think it does until the happiness of that thing they just bought that they thought was going to make them happy wears off , usually in a few days and then they go looking for something else to buy that they think will make them happy this time only to get the same result – joy and happiness is something you already possess in abundance but you have to look for it in the last place most people ever think to look – within.
When you are home with your boys you never have to wonder where they are or what they are up to , they may never tell you how much it means to them that you are there for them , to make sure they are fed , washed , clothed , have their school lunches etc etc but they feel your love.
No , Awsome Dudette you need to take your mind of Money and focus on the really important issue at hand which is raising the future generation and as far as feeling guilty because you have a little splurge on yourself now and again – well why not you’ve earned it haven’t you.
Well said John!
Amen! Thank you John! I wouldn’t trade being at home for anything!! Money is tight, but I’d rather have an outdated car and be here for my kids than otherwise! 🙂 I really value it and fortunately so does my husband, and of course my kids! 🙂
Beautifully said John. Thanks for adding your perspective and advice to Awesome Dudette.
I know that many women don’t have the choice to stay home, but when they do, the idea that they should feel anything but lucky and elated is beyond me. I would’ve loved to have a stay at home mom when I was growing up. I hope every female reader I have reads your comment. 🙂
What will the wife do in the following situations?:
-The husband becomes controlling or abusive (where is her escape money? Is she to go beg in womens shelters etc, or have the finanicial means to get her own little apartment?
-The husband stops loving her and the marriage/partnership ends?
-He has an affair?
-He just gets sick/tired of her and sick of the bills/cost of two people?
-The husband gets sick and is suddenly unable to work?
-She wants to buy him a gift?
-He doesn’t give her access to the account, seeing it is HIS money?–How does she buy personal items with dignity?
Money is not the value of a person, and I agree with your sentiments, but I also feel the woman should make some money, even part time so that in the end of the relationship or sudden unfortune, she is not left like a little stranded puppy, getting a handout from hubby like a small child asking for pocket money.
Worse if if they are not married, but together for years, there will be no spouse payments or legal agreements to help her once the man is gone.
Dear Anonymous – Thank you for your comment
It would have been nice to actually have a name with which to reply too instead of someone named Anonymous but then that’s your choice and I respect your choice.
Okay firstly let’s make this clear, in my reply above I was only addressing Awsome Dudette as she was the one who asked the question so I had assumed(silly me – you know what they say about people who assume) that she was the one who wanted advice concerning her situation and as her situation is nothing like that which you have stated in your reply then there was little point in me replying and covering all the points you have mentioned in yours’ – can you see my point ??
Firstly let me say this and remember this is from my perspective and my opinion and it may not be the same as yours’ or anyone else’s – when two(2) people get married they are doing so of their own free will and love for each other and as such unite together as one(1) couple , now my view is that as such everything they brought into or aquired after the marriage becomes theirs jointly not mine or yours’ but theirs , they both have rights to everything they have as a couple because they have chosen to unite as one(1) unit – I get really pissed off when 2 people still want to claim possession of the things they brought into a marriage or aquired after it as if they were still single , if they still wanted to stay single why did they get married in the first place (and don’t get me started on those bloody prenup aggreements that the Americans seem so fond of – I have nothing against Americans , my sister in law and brother in law are both and they are great people as are all the others I know but some of the ideas that seem to initiate from the U.S have me scratching my head saying WTF)
Okay before I get back to your comments realise this – nobody in the your World is as important as you are and you have to get that firmly imprinted in your internal beliefs , now that doesn’t mean you walk around with a big head , acting arrogant , self centred , bitchy , putting others down etc etc but in your own beliefs you have to remember who you are , you are a unique one of a kind individual – sure there are many like you but you are unique in yourself – if you doubt it and want proof think how many others have your fingerprints or your DNA – know one has which makes you unique.
Now , your comments ……..
“The husband becomes controlling or abusive” – LEAVE he doesn’t deserve to have you.
“where is her escape money? Is she to go beg in womens shelters etc, or have the finanicial means to get her own little apartment?” – Stop focusing of the negative , may women have left bad relationships and ended up better off , talk to women who have done it and learn from their experience.
“The husband stops loving her and the marriage/partnership ends?” – So what if it’s the other way round and the wife stops loving him? Remember what Forrest Gump said “shit happens” but did he give up? no way he kept on running.
“He has an affair?” – why would he have an affair if everything at home is making him happy and content? – what would cause him to have an affair in the first place? People (Men or Women don’t just have affairs for the sake of it , something causes them to look elsewhere for that which they seek)
“He just gets sick/tired of her and sick of the bills/cost of two people?” – that works both ways , what if she gets sick and tired of him and his constant complaining about paying bills?
“The husband gets sick and is suddenly unable to work?” – that’s called life , everyone goes thru it and everyone survives – most people have a bit of a backup for such things unless it’s life threatening then that’s another story.
“She wants to buy him a gift?” – if he’s that tight with money then he dosen’t deserve the gift – draw him a picture of the gift you would have bought him if he had allowed you to have the money in the first place to buy it.
I think I’ll end it here as this is getting to long , just out of curiosity though, your comments sound to me like you are talking from personal experience – correct?? if so then you really need to pose these questions to Melody and let her take the bull by the horns(gonads) and explain it in her own sweet words exactly what she would do if she were in your shoes , she loves to help those in these sort of circumstances but be prepared for the flack that will fly.
Take care Anonymous
Regards ……… John
Thank you John, I enjoyed your kind reply. Be prepared for some opinions and also some compliments. Please don’t think I’m being rude if you don’t agree, because I like what I see of you here.
If you need a name, call me Sally, or Nancy or Princess Consuela Bananahammock.. 😉 This is the internet. People use avatars and handles all the time. No one is really called Princess Consuela Bananahammock or John Q Public.
Or Sally, Nancy, or whatever name. Or Fs, H, B or any of the other people here with some name.
I liked your reply, I’ll go into details later about what I really liked. 🙂
Secondly: No personal experience.
Just dealt with life like anyone else with a brain in their skull…as you say “shit happens”
So they are the worst case scenarios and sadly they can and do happen. When they do, women that don’t work are put into helpless positions.
I have been involved with social work, so you do see the best and worst of people. I have also lived in multicultural areas where women come from countries or cultures where they are not seen as equal, do not work, and when the shit hits the fan—they end up stranded and in dire straights because they don’t have a dollar to their name.
They end up in womens shelters…so yes they do leave…but if they had a job, an apartment would be better than having to go around begging for help.
What those women need is pride, and work is a good builder of pride.
Work is about taking personal responsibility and not being reliant on another for your needs.
In the case the wife stops loving the husband, if he’s the one with the job…life is sweeter for him. He already has the financial ability to up and leave.
The breadwinner is always at the advantage, as you don’t generally find a job and save money in 30 seconds.
In the case your hypothetical wife was the one working and you stay at home…she stops loving you and just up and leaves…well…how the heck are you going to pay your bills now?
What are you going to do while they go with the money they earned, from working, while you stay at home being “domestic”?
While you find a job, you will be in a tough situation, but they will already have a job.
As you can see, by reversing the genders, how the breadwinner is still at advantage.
Also there is the assumption that people that live together or are together for a long time are married.
If they are not married it is worse. They don’t work, have nothing to show for it they aren’t even technically a housewife or househusband.
You are Australian so you know even the PM isn’t married. Although in her case she’d be just fine!
No begging for her!
Now what you say about having an affair is a bad excuse. Sometimes people have affairs because of being unhappy, but if that’s the problem they need courage to just end the relationship with some dignity and not sneak around and try to have a cake and eat it too.
Cheating is a sign of bad character and low regard for the intelligence of others sneaking around and thinking they are too dumb to notice. It’s in the category of sneaking, so it’s similar to someone that steals from others around them with a smile.
It’s just poor morals and no backbone.
It’s also not the responsibility of your partner to keep you happy, that is your responsibility.
If you aren’t happy, then it’s up to you to take that responsibility, not cop out in affairs that will hurt your spouse/lover/partner and create turmoil in someone elses’ life. Deal with your own problems and raise your own vibration in a way that doesn’t involve hurting another person.
Affair is the cowards option.
Again no personal experience except the observation of the heartbreak it causes others and the type of weak person that generally does that type of thing. It’s pointing the finger at other people to boost ego and fill emptiness in ones’ heart in stead of creating a happy life, without asking others to fill that void.
You see a few types of cheaters. There are those I might have some sympathy for:
a) The type in arranged marriage or forced situation where they don’t really love their spouse and are forced to be with someone they don’t love. An affair is a taste of true love and freedom.
b) Someone sticking around for the children, but there isn’t really a relationship anymore..in this case they still need honesty and open communication, because it’s just wrong to share a bed with someone and then sneak out at night with another.
c) People that agreed to polyamory or some kind of harem situation, well good luck with that, as long as you know what you’re in for. In the case of polyamory, there’s no cheating if all parties are aware and agree.
Polyamory is a good option for people where one is not enough. It’s a way to get with as many as you like without hurting the monogamous.
Otherwise there really is no excuse except lame ones.
There are the worst kind of cheaters that are abusing at the same time as cheating to boost their ego, and feel more attractive at the expense of demeaning the partner self-esteem.
An affair often boosts the self-esteem of cheater while placing doubts and horrid feelings in heart of the cheated on.
It’s really not the selfless way to make oneself feel good.
It’s certainly not something to be proud of or point the finger at the other person saying “you drove me to cheat, you didn’t make me happy..”
Because of being an adult, we can’t just blame others for our own mistakes.
^ Where I say “you” I mean “one” as I know nothing about you and don’t think you are like that.
However that is my opinion and value system.
Ok so the above may have challenged your perspective, so here are some compliments:
“my view is that as such everything they brought into or aquired after the marriage becomes theirs jointly not mine or yours’ but theirs , they both have rights to everything they have as a couple because they have chosen to unite as one(1) unit – I get really pissed off when 2 people still want to claim possession of the things they brought into a marriage or aquired after it as if they were still single , if they still wanted to stay single why did they get married in the first place?”
A very good point! Do you still feel the same way if they are not married but live together for a long time?
“He just gets sick/tired of her and sick of the bills/cost of two people?” – that works both ways , what if she gets sick and tired of him and his constant complaining about paying bills?
–Ah ha! Didn’t think of that one!
Sadly though she can’t do anything about his complaining unless she wants to help pay those bills….
Can you imagine what the result would be with a complainer like that?
“all these bills, all these expenses, when do you help, money is tight, I am stressed, work is hard, where is your contribution to expenses?” says mean complaining breadwinner.
Moocher/non-worker: “Stop complaining about money, stop yelling at me, stop telling me about all the bills, I am tired of it!”
“YOU ARE TIRED…WHY don’t you get off your butt and get a job? Do you just want me to stop paying for things? See how you like it then!”
I’m not the best dialog writer, but that’s generally how it goes. You know how people are when defensive. I’ve heard the scenario many times over. It’s generally some variation of that.
“The husband gets sick and is suddenly unable to work?” – that’s called life , everyone goes thru it and everyone survives – most people have a bit of a backup for such things unless it’s life threatening then that’s another story.
That’s a big assumption that everyone will have the cash for times of sickness. It’s ideal but not always the way.
That’s why there are home forclosures, and people in debt, and people in dire straights.
That’s also how most homeless become homeless, because they worked so hard just to make ends meet.
If everyone had that safety net and life was always dandy, there wouldn’t be welfare and social workers.
One of my friends has a mortgage, and he works so hard to keep up. He doesn’t have anything if he got ill, it’s just enough to buy food.
He’s not an idiot, he’s just a human that is in that situation. Interest rates and all that jazz.
“She wants to buy him a gift?” – if he’s that tight with money then he dosen’t deserve the gift – draw him a picture of the gift you would have bought him if he had allowed you to have the money in the first place to buy it.
-fantastic! I’ll have to remember that one and pass it on! Excellent.
You really do have a lovely view, and I’m sure your partner would be safe in your hands.
If she married you. 🙂 Not sure if you apply this to partners as you said “married” so maybe you’d still want your stuff back in that case.
Princess Consuela Bananahammock – love it , love it , love it – from now on I will address you as Princess Consuela (not sure about the Bananahammock bit though)
Firstly , it was a fantastic reply and I totally understand where you are coming from and fully respect your views , I would love to respond but I’m not going to , not because I don’t want to or anything trivial like that , it’s just that if I respond then you respond then I respond we would end up responding to each other till the cows come home.(Aussie slang meaning we could go on and on forever and I don’t think either of us truly want that)
I will say that I couldn’t honestly fault any of your points and if there were some that I disagreed with (can’t remember any but just in case there were) then my view is that it’s your opinion and as such you are fully entitled to have it , I am not the type of person who has to or indeed wants to sway everyone to my opinion and if they don’t I’ll pick up my bat & ball and go home sulking about it , we are all individuals and as such are fully entitled to our own opinions – I tried to explain this point to my son in law recently when I stated that in my opinion Rugby Union was better than Rugby League from a spectator point of view but would he understand that we are allowed to have our own opinions , no he got upset that my view was different to his and sulked about it for a while – actually his attitude about it made me wonder if my Daughter had made the right choice but as my Daughter is an adult and I love her deeply I cannot and will not interfere in her choices no matter what my opinions are , we she asks for my opinion on something the first thing I say to her is “now remember it’s only my opinion and it’s not carved in stone , opinions I will give , choices you will make”
Anyway I’ll end it here for now but would throughly enjoy chatting with you on another blog post , I love all people but especially those who have an open mind about things and don’t get all upset when someone else has a different opinion to theirs.
Take care Princess Consuela until next time.
Regards ….. John
No, this isn’t a break up letter. 🙂
“I love all people but especially those who have an open mind about things and don’t get all upset when someone else has a different opinion to theirs.”
Ditto. 🙂 There’s nothing worse than that, because then you feel you can’t be honest or speak frankly, just in case it comes across as an attack and everyone decides to get upset.
I appreciate you reading my reply, as it was so long, but I wanted to answer each topic properly, and in one go.
You can never truly tell on the internet; but if you are as nice natured as you are here, in the real world, I am certain you will never be without love, and without a friend.
Thank you. Crows coming home sounds better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick. 🙂
Awesome post, Melody! Our lives are not about money unless we choose to make them, and as you have so brilliantly pointed out, we tend to thwart ourselve in living out that choice.
Another way to think about this is that our lives are gifted to us. So are our passions and talents. We are the only species who thinks it has to “earn a living” on this planet. WTH is up with that? Did we have to pay for our being born? Did we have to pay for the love and nourishment that we received as infants and young children? What is the best way to honor those gifts?
To me, the way to honor these gifts is to recognize them and give freely of their fruits. Make your life about using your gifts to fulfill the needs of others and encouraging others to seek out and give of their own gifts. When we open up to giving and receiving, our lives become richer by far, interms of happiness, fulfillment, and community connectedness.
You’re so right. We’re the only species that makes it about money and asks every human to justify their value directly through contribution, but doesn’t value all contribution equally. It’s a bit messed up. But hey, what would I rant about if we didn’t have messed up beliefs, eh? 😀
What an amazing response, as always. There’s another way of looking at this, too. I’m sure men in the modern era don’t mind spending for “non-essential” things, but if you’re looking to contribute more than what you’re already doing (which is a LOT), then the internet (among other things) is at your service. There are people *coughMelodycoughclearsthroat* who start blogs and write fantastic pieces and contribute to a healthy society, while following their dreams and also making a career for themselves.
You could find your passion and write about something you’re good at. Or you could start a small, home-based business and use the internet to do all your “groundwork”. True story, I used to earn $300/month back when I was in college using nothing but my pro-wrestling blog, Google Adsense, passion, and some spare time. It’s not much, but it helped me buy my Playstation and some other expenses and I didn’t even have to trouble my parents. (This isn’t an ad! Notice I don’t have any links to my non-existent website or whatever)
Also, it’ll make you feel less guilty. Your husband will be proud as heck. You’ll be proud as heck. And it’s something that is boss-less. You don’t have to do it when you don’t want to. It’s not a golden ticket, but with some time and effort, you could be running a small home-based business AND look after the household. It’s just one of the many ways to build a more dynamic family with a little extra income to boot. 🙂
Hope that helped!
That’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing it. The problem is that many women do contribute financially, but still feel guilty. It’s like they just can’t do enough. So, it’s the mindset that needs to change, not the actual income. But, I believe it’s less of an issue with newer generations.
Just read: Dear LOA: I feel Guilty Because My Partner Makes The Money http://is.gd/aXAN7n (via @deliberateblog) and I also worked full time once the kid was in school. My husband’s regular rant ( over 27 years) has been, “why do men get saddled with all the bills? Why can’t you contribute MORE? Well, because I had a kid in our marriage, and I did do the cleaning, cooking, limousine driving from one sport to the next, and attended the meetings at school etc etc. I actually BELIEVE that working job #1 come home and start job#2 and take care of children is valuable. It’s not because I’m a feminist, ( though I am a foaming at the mouth feminist). It’s because that home stuff is what I do best. He makes money. Plenty of money. But my purchases, my gas for my car, credit card debts, car repairs, bras & underwear, were to be paid from what I earned. -decorative household crap, the vet bill for the dog, and BTW I was assigned to pay the utilities to pay! From where? My income. And it is STILL not enough. He wants more equality in contributions from me; get another job, get a better paying job, whatever . Well the child is a man in his own home, I’ll be 62 this year and my spouse and I are still fighting about this same issue. In fact, while living ( as roommates) its been pretty financially secure. I filed for divorce last May. I may never make or bank the 6-figure income he does, but I’ll be happier, working at the best job in my career, I’ll have 50% of the assets including his 401k, and if I want to stay In my Jammie’s and watch TV all Saturday, well screw him. You can’t make THAT much money and still expect more HELP financially from his wife of 27 years ( and 8 years older) and be surprised when divorce papers are served! And BTW, he will make in excess of $140,000 this year while I worked part-time and made $7000. Try and buy bras today with less than $7000 in income. I also help my son pay down the college loans I had to co-sign because his father remarked that I “will be committing financial suicide” if I did! I did sign. He did not and all 3 of us are doing what we can to help out. I just want to be happy even if I have to live in a cardboard box. I’m not now. But damn it, I will be when I get my decree! Thanks for letting me rant. It was very cathartic.
Marianne, I got pretty fired up when I read your post. Sounds to me like you paid your dues and then some, and hubby never quite saw or appreciated that. Some will just never understand because their perspective is skewed. I applaud that you are taking steps to seek your own happiness because you realize how valuable you truly are — in so many more ways that matter more than financially. I’m rooting for you and I wish you all the best. I believe that the best is yet to come for you.
No. Hey you should include pads and tampons in there too. And condoms. And also you should be a sex slave and massage his feet and love it!
What was he thinking?
I was being sarcastic when I went on that rant about money being the most important goal, but it seems like your ex really does see the world that way. Good for you for firing his ass. 🙂
Really good, Mel! I posted your quote on LinkedIn and it got some “Likes” already.
So, so true! People should look in the mirror, not around them and point fingers which create misery.
Thanks Kat! It seems people really liked this quote on Twitter, too. 🙂