This is a second part of the blog series Housewife. In my previous blog, [Housewife: A Case for the Title], I made a case for the housewife and included the benefits and disadvantages of being one. As stated in that blog, being a housewife is a choice just like any other career. But the career of a housewife falls under the nonprofit sector; whereas most careers are for-profit. The main difference being that the nonprofit careers come with salaries and some perks and benefits that are short compared to the private sector’s. However, being a housewife has neither salary nor perks.
Read along as I make another case for ladies/women who desire to be housewives advising them to critically scrutinize some side-issues before making the decision. Did I hear you mutter ”what’s she talking about now; she’s contradicting herself?!” No, I’m not. I just want to offer a deeper and often overlooked challenge of being a housewife. So, let’s talk about the other side of being a housewife.
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A familiar scenario
John and Jane were happily married and looked like every inch of an ideal power couple which they were. John had a great job as an engineer in one of the top engineering companies in the City. They went on various vacations and short trips and all seemed well. They live in a nice home on the outskirts of Chicago. They have nice cars too; John drives a BMW 5i and Jane an Acura SUV. Within five years, they have had two kids. After the birth of the second child, it was harder for Jane to return to her job as a banker. They both decided that Jane stay home to care for their children. Jane agreed and began her career as a housewife. Within a few years of that decision, the impact of Jane’s salary was obvious and felt very hard. Jane couldn’t have new clothes, shoes, visit the salon, nail shop, or the massage/spa; all of which were regulars when she worked. Now with two kids, all funds and attention were focused on the children’s planning and saving for college. Meanwhile, John could purchase a shirt/pant or two occasionally to maintain his professional look. The vacations were relegated to the neighboring parks and their parents. It didn’t take long for Jane to start resenting the decision to be a housewife.
Get it in writing
The mistake she, and other women, make is that they ignored the blindsides. They also agreed to the career choice of a housewife without a written contract or agreement. A mutual oral agreement is great as long as everyone is good, happy with one another, and/or life, and everything is going great. An oral agreement can however be denied, misunderstood, and orally revoked by either or both parties. What then is her recourse?
In the above instance, Jane’s banker career was temporarily terminated. Should she return to the banking industry, her skills could be deemed obsolete and she would in essence have to start afresh depending on how long she was absent from the industry or she may have to switch careers.
Falling out of love?
Another often overlooked issue, but extremely important, of being a housewife is that of falling out of love, which is sometimes inevitable else there would be no divorce rates at all. Falling out of love often leads to divorce. I don’t pray that anyone’s marriage end in divorce but the cold truth is that every marriage has a 50% probability of ending that way irrespective of the length of the marriage. We hear and see this all the time and everywhere; particularly in Hollywood!
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I digress to congratulate couples whose marriages have stood the test of time and are still flaming the love fire several years after tying the knot. Kudos to you. We acknowledge that you had to put some work into sustaining your marriage. This will be a blog for another day.
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Consider a financial footing
In our instance, should the marriage lead to a divorce, Jane will have no financial footing to pursue her side of the legality as she has no she-money. Yes, she might borrow from her parents and/or friends except, of course, she lives in a community property state that could award her half of the joint property and assets in a court judgment. The community award however will be after the divorce process. But she might be cash-strapped during the whole process.
A few bad men however have also been known to hide money and properties in a divorce. Without her own money, the woman has no way of investigating the act(s) should she unfortunately be in such a situation.
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My advice to women is to ensure that the decision to be a housewife is
- Mutually agreed
- Communicated; not orally but written
- If possible with terms and conditions; for example, the woman takes a me-time/day for herself to rest and rejuvenate. On such times/days, the man/husband takes over the duties/chores and not leave them till the woman returns; and most importantly,
- That the woman has her funds either by working from home for a few hours or some funds be allocated to her from the joint account.
The fourth point above is from a realistic and practical point of view rather than from a women’s liberation standpoint. Every woman needs her-own money for simply feminine things; for example, buying sanitary items, attending events like birthday parties, or fixing her hair, and pampering herself. Kate Bahn, an economist, agrees as she found out when she took a year off, not for housekeeping, but to complete her dissertation quicker. Read her story here: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/aug/19/women-finance-housewife-control-money
Ladies, next time the decision “to be or not to be a housewife” comes up, Think-Talk is expecting that you will thoroughly consider every aspect of the non-profit career before saying Yes. It’s called loving smart 🙂