I think it has to do with power. My husband is the main breadwinner in our household, the last 4+ years I have not earned any money. I think I am not kept, because we started out with both of us working, and roles have changed on and off throughout the relationship. However, I will say at this point I feel like it would be better if I earned some money. The first few years I stopped working I didn’t feel that way. The burden has been on him so long to support the family, it almost feels like my previous earnings count for nothing, even though our savings was built up with my income. Although, now it continues to build with his.
If someone never earns an income I think it puts them at a big disadvantage. A person needs to know they can be independent, and know the feeling of showing up for a job and earning a dollar in my opinion. It makes that person a better spouse I think. They have a better understanding of what their working spouse goes through on a daily basis if they have that experience. It also is important to know if the breadwinner ever turns into a fuckhead the nonworking SO can leave with less anxiety. It is scary no matter what to leave a relationship, especially one where a person has become financially dependent. Being financially dependent can be a very precarious situation.
First of all, being “kept” assumes no marriage between the couple, although there may be a marriage with one of them and another person. Second, it implies financing of one person by the other. If the couple is married, it’s agreed they will jointly decide how their finances will work. If you want to work and your kids don’t need you at home all the time, work. Talk it out with your husband. It’s a joint responsibility and the decision is also a joint one.
I was once asked if I wanted to be kept. He used that word. I was offended but curious. I asked what he meant. He said that he would work and he would spend money on me I would get my nails and hair done every week I would live with him he would buy me clothes. I ended up laughing at him before he finished explaining it to me. But I assume I would be sacrificing myself or parts of myself to conform to who he wanted me to be and what he felt he needed. I felt like I was saying he would be making me up into his image of attractive and that by not working I would be depending on him. He would dominate me and if I wanted to leave him I would have to get started from ground zero. I was relieved he put it in such clear terms to me. It was much easier to dodge that bullet.
Although we had known each other for a year I felt like he didn’t know who I was. Therefore I just like a warm body or possession.
I guess that’s what it boils down to. If you are dependent on them and if you feel used or alienated from them not just after a fight or a bad day when you may be overly sensitive to them. If you feel their needs always come first. That might be a good indication.
@Sunny2 ‘First of all, being “kept” assumes no marriage between the couple,’ I disagree.
As @JLeslie mentions “it has to do with power”. If the breadwinning and/or other aspects in a marriage are greatly lopsided, then one of the couple is kept.
‘If the couple is married, it’s agreed they will jointly decide how their finances will work.’ That’s an ideal, but certainly often not the case, especially when one of them dominates the decision-making with the de-facto power of the pocketbook.
There is also an aspect of being kept that is the submission to the other, being passive and in a real sense unresponsible about a lot of day to day responsibilities (it’s not irresponsible because both parties are okay with it).