Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about married women who don't work?

Asked by JLeslie (60488points) November 7th, 2011

Women who are married and their husband brings in all the money. I do want to keep this question to “traditional” roles. This is not a question for stay at home husbands, although I guess we can include lesbian relationships.

Women who choose not to work, it is not a matter of not finding a job.

Does it matter if they have children or not?

Do you think their life is much easier with much less stress than their working peers? If you do think it is easier, do you look down on them for having an easier life?

Do you think they are missing out on feeling fulfilled?

Does it matter if they previously had a career? If they never did have a career do you think they have no clue what it is like to hold down a job?

Do you have less respect for them as people?

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47 Answers

Qingu's avatar

I consider household work to be “work.” I guess it depends on how much work they do at home.

I think the answers to these questions would depend a lot on the individual as well. I don’t necessarily hold them in less respect, certainly not if they are simply unable to find a job.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I may feel a bit of jealousy for someomne who is not in a position where they have to go to work everyday in order to get the bills paid but, ultimately, I can’t hold anything against them. If their husbands are ok with being the only one working towards paying the bills then it’s not my place to judge.

Ayesha's avatar

Why would I have less respect for them. One always has a choice. If the husband doesn’t have a problem, then who am I to have one.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I am always delighted for the person who is in a position to make a choice. Married, single, male, female, whatever; being fortunate enough to have options is a wonderful thing.

In other words, I have no disrespect for anyone in that circumstance.

Cruiser's avatar

I have no issue with that. I have more problems with the moms that do work and bitch that they have to and how their kids are out of control when it is their choice to live in a big home, 2 cars, all the latest gagets and take Disney vacations. You want all that then work for it and don’t bitch about it.

mattbrowne's avatar

If they don’t raise kids, I think they should also get involved with charitable work. Without kids a household is not a full-time job.

6rant6's avatar

I see it as very situational. If they are putting their time to good use (which eventually must mean contributing to others’ lives) AND they are not transferring some horrible burden to their spouse, then I have no criticism to offer.

Really, there are people of both sexes who work jobs, but do nothing for anyone else. For those people I have nothing but disdain.

wonderingwhy's avatar

That’s between them and their husband. If she is happier not working and they both accept the risks that can come with it, no big deal. I’m assuming it’s a choice not something she was forced into.

Does it matter if they have children or not?
Only in terms of being able to care for their children; if they can’t provide without welfare I take a pretty dim view of that and something needs adjusting (cutting back on the parents expenses, her getting a job).

Do you think their life is much easier with much less stress than their working peers?
That’s debatable and very much an individual point of view but in general, I’d say yes (of course having kids could change that significantly as could being involved in volunteer efforts).

If you do think it is easier, do you look down on them for having an easier life?
Not at all! I’d think an “easier” life is many peoples goal.

Do you think they are missing out on feeling fulfilled?
Probably not, if they’ve made the choice not to work one would assume they put some thought and consideration into it. So if they’re missing out it’s by choice.

Does it matter if they previously had a career?
Again, probably not.

If they never did have a career do you think they have no clue what it is like to hold down a job?
You don’t have to live the experience to get a feel for whether or not it interests you.

Do you have less respect for them as people?
Only if they whine about not being able to afford things they want, their income, or their SO’s effort (provided their having a job would change that position).

cazzie's avatar

First, I have to calm down. Then I’ll answer this question.

Aethelwine's avatar

Who wouldn’t be happy to not have to worry about doing housework, grocery shopping or cooking a home cooked meal after an 8–10 hour shift? Or not have to worry about missing work because your child is sick and you need to stay home with them because you have no other options?

My husband is happy he doesn’t need to worry about these things because I take care of everything for him and the family while he’s gone during the day. He gets to come home at lunch to a warm meal on a cold day (and sometimes have a quickie with me). ;) Once he’s home from work he gets to relax.

I would never think less of a person because they decided their family is their top priority, especially if the family is happy with their decision about how to take care of each other.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I can’t speak for married women with no children, as I have never actually been in that position. I got pregnant with our first daughter on our wedding day, so I’ve quite literally been a mother since the day I got married.

I personally choose to stay home because I don’t want my children in daycare after school. I want to be here when they get home from school, so I can ask them about their day and help them with homework myself. I want to have the time to take them to after-school activities. I don’t want to be rush rush rush all the time, feed them dinner after 7 and not get them into bed until after 9.

I will add, though, now that my youngest is in school, I am looking for a part time job which offers the right hours and I can still be home before the school bus gets here. Although we’ve been fortunate enough to still pay the bills with only one income, money has been extremely tight, and now that I have free hours during the day, it would not take any time away from my children to work a few hours a day so that we can have a little extra income.

I feel bad for moms who are forced to work, in order for their family to survive, but I despise people who look down on mothers who make the “choice” to stay home with the children and just assume that they do it out of laziness. I do work. I’m a chef, a chauffeur, a maid, a butler, a laundress, a tutor, an interior decorator, a gopher, a personal shopper, a life coach, a nanny, a part-time nurse, AND a wife and mother. The only difference is, I don’t earn a monetary wage for my many jobs.

And every time I’ve thought about how tight money is and how hard it is sometimes, I remember to ask myself: “What’s more important? A little extra money, or the well-being of my family?”

rojo's avatar

If it is what makes them happy and the family can handle it, I am happy for them.

GracieT's avatar

I have a separate source of income, so money is not the issue. I can’t stand not having a purpose to get out of bed in the morning- I volunteered at the RedCross because I needed something to do, they needed someone with time to spare, it was a win-win. My husband, on the other hand, was trying to start a business (not trying to hard- he would sit at home all day on the computer looking at political sites. NOT working on anything.). I had a problem because he wasn’t doing anything. Not because of the money, but because he wasn’t doing anything.

WestRiverrat's avatar

That is totally up to the family. I know a couple where the wife works and the man stays home. As long as all the adult members of the family have no probem with who works and who doesn’t, it is none of my business how they conduct their business.

Considering that child care costs usually eat up most if not all of the second income around here, I am surprised there are not more one income families.

GracieT's avatar

Edit: if he had tried keeping up with the house, even a little, I would have been ok. Laughed some- him home, me not . But he wasn’t doing anything. He wasn’t really trying, not really.

tinyfaery's avatar

Nice question on my first day back to a 40hr a week job. It was so nice and peaceful not having to work. I did most of the cleaning, household duties and animal care, but my wife is the cook. I envy people who get to stay home all day. I don’t mind housework (and I love gardening). If we had kids it would be different, because there is no way in hell I could stay at home with kids all day long. That sounds like a nightmare. But once the kids are in school I say it’s smooth sailing. I would much rather not have to work.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t generally see anything wrong with it. I don’t look down on them, unless there’s a specific reason to. I do think some are lucky, yes. But if they feel like they’re missing out on life, I feel bad for them.

smilingheart1's avatar

@JLeslie, you and I must have been on the same wave length this morning. I was thinking about this as I got ready for work. In virtually all of the Christian families I know of the wife does not work out of the home or else only a few hours a week. This, I believe, is to support the concentrated presence to the families.

I chose not to work and stayed at home until my children were 5 and 6. When my husband’s health took him out of the workforce, we were forced to reverse roles. I was the full time worker thereafter, but he was an excellent Mr. Mom.

I think homemaking is one of the most valuable vocations anyone could hold. If we all stopped and thought about it right now, what would make you feel the warmest, the coziest? Sitting around the kitchen table with comfort food served up by a really warm, loving, parent who just wanted to encourage you. Even if you are 75 years of age, I feel that would be the case, and even if you had or did not have a warm hearted caregiver when you were a child. We all crave this.

I have the highest respect for women, mothers and whether they are at home full time or part time or are co-sharing the home life responsibilities with their spouse the nurturing of children is life’s most worthy vocation. You get love in you when you are a little child and nothing can knock it out of you.

Having the focus and energy to deposit great gobs of love in your child when the child is yet very young will serve them a generous helping of inner resources to cope with whatever life dishes up. Without this love, one can spend the rest of one’s days seeking to be loved rather than secure and giving it out.

As a person who has been in the work force for many years, I will wager that unless you are Jane Goodall working with her monkeys in the forest, you have had every bit as much stress as you have received fullfillment from careering.

I am fond of Cat Stevens’ “Cats in the Cradle” song. So often it bears out.

cazzie's avatar

It absolutely depends on the personal situation. There is NO WAY I could would a regular job and retain my health and sanity.

In past relationships, I always worked. Now, with living in a different country and having a husband that travels (and then some other issues on top of that.), I’m responsible for ALL domestic duties, including home maintenance, (dig any drainage ditches lately?) as well as being home when his autistic son come home from school (and in the early days, fetching him from school/walking him to school and looking after him weeks at a time on my own.) as well as my own son now for the last 7 years.

I take on freelance work when I can fit it in. I try to make some money from a hobby I love so I can help with bills now and then.

I would LOVE to have my career back, but my first call is my family.

(Oh, and now it looks like I may be caring more often for my wheel bound mother in law and completely senile father in law because they are refusing to give up their home, so.. Don’t know how I’m going to fit in a 8 hour train ride every month.)

Married women work. It’s just not paid work.

marinelife's avatar

To me, it depends on if there are children to be cared for.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Wow, this is refreshing! Except for a couple of posters who predicate their “respect” on how the not working people spend their time, the answers on this Q really don’t reflect the real world attitude, in my experience. Good on you, Jellies, for not having negative judgements in general to make!

rojo's avatar

I would have been happy if my wife had wanted to stay home with the kids and maybe they would be different people than they are now (not better, just different) but she was not the stay-at-home type. She had plenty of friends who were but she wanted the adult interaction. She still managed to keep a good home and provide a good homelife while working outside the home 40 hrs a week. Does she have any regrets, yes. Would she have done it differently if she could, probably, Would she have stayed home full time, no.

wilma's avatar

I agree @JilltheTooth not really what I see in real life, but very nice.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@wilma : I know, right? Unfortunately there is often the assumption that if one doesn’t work, and isn’t raising children, then “keeping house” should be the majority of their activity, an attitude I find…er…well…silly.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I think it’s great when a woman is still willing to stay home and do the house work. Perhaps there should even be a government program to give women who stay at home a couple little extras to say thanks.

I look at life as a single male, and it’s really not nice. You have to wake up, alone and cold, then get all your stuff ready and go to work, you spend several hours there before coming home, maybe with an hour or two overtime under your belt, and now you have to go shopping, come back, and cook dinner, all the time worrying that you dont forget to wash your clothes and clean your house. By the time you are actually finished with your obligations, you are lucky if you have an hour to your self before it’s time to sleep/work/repeat. Weekends are not much better, they are just catch up days to finish all the stuff you did not get time to do during the week.

From my personal perspective, you just can’t beat coming home from work and finding a proper meal, lovingly prepared and waiting for you on the table. (that you actually enjoyed eating cause you did not have to run around all day for it) You clothes are clean, the house is clean, and you have enough money left in your pocket to share on fun things.

Furthermore, it’s not just how convenient it is from the man, lets not forget that if the woman also worked, someone is still going to have to go shopping, cook dinner, clean everything, and all the rest. Sure, if you both work you will have much more money, but you will both be stuck in a very busy life.

Finally, I just think it’s priceless if a woman is willing to do this for you. Not just because of how convenient it is in a practical sense, but for the boost your male ego gets. It really is hard to beat the feeling of being the man of the house. Call me primitive if you like, but we are more or less hard wired by evolution to want to be “traditionally manly” so to speak. Also, from what I hear and see, there is no shortage of women who like to have a man take care of them.

Facade's avatar

As long as the household is financially stable, and everyone is OK with the arrangements, I don’t care who’s working and who isn’t.

nikipedia's avatar

I think it’s fine, although I’m surprised that people would make that choice in the long term. I feel like I would run out of things to do and get bored. Maybe not, though. Retirement seems to suit a lot of people, even lifelong hard workers, and that’s pretty much the same thing.

I do find it vaguely irritating when stay-at-home anythings feel like they deserve some kind of special recognition for doing the same things the rest of us do in addition to having a job.

ucme's avatar

I think, oh look, there’s a woman who has the freedom to choose & the right to do so.

janbb's avatar

Wouldn’t it be great if all women and men had the right to find their own work-life balance?

Sunny2's avatar

I’m old-fashioned enough to think it’s preferable for moms to stay home until the babies are old enough to go to school (at least nursery school). Letting someone else have control during those first years means losing a lot of your personal influence on the child. On the other hand, some people need to work and I understand that. We all survive, either way.

CWOTUS's avatar

Who cares? Seriously, who cares how other people live their non-criminal lives?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Women who choose not to work, it is not a matter of not finding a job.
Most I’ve known haven’t stayed at home because they can’t find work. It’s been about increasing the couple’s perceived “quality time” together, especially if they have kids. The ones I’ve know have had husbands making more than the women.

Does it matter if they have children or not?
Most of the time, yes. Of the people I’ve known to live like this, most are homeschooling alongside public or private school time. For them, if they can afford it then they are giving their kids as much as they can, spending as much time with their kids as they can.

Do you think their life is much easier with much less stress than their working peers?
Yes, as far as finances go. They’re able to better schedule and afford family vacations as well as meet the regular stuff that comes up with kids’ expenses- school stuff and otherwise.

If you do think it is easier, do you look down on them for having an easier life?
No way do I look down on them! The people I know like this work hard, the ones with the outside jobs and the ones inside the home. I envy them the involvement they can afford together but that’s about it.

Do you think they are missing out on feeling fulfilled?
No.

Does it matter if they previously had a career?
I don’t know any of the couples where one never had a job.

Do you have less respect for them as people?
No. I’ve spent a few years off being an at-home partner before and I was never bored. I felt as if I worked harder at home than at my previous jobs. I can only imagine trying to look after kids on top of all that!

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks everyone for all the answers. It does seem a few people think people should be productive by whatever they view as productive. Having a child to raise qualifies for most, but if no child, then these women should be doing something. But, overwhelmingly jellies seem fine to let people make decisions for themselves and not judge.

I thought I would answer the questions myself as part of the Q:

Does it matter if they have children or not? In a way it matters I guess, in that women with no children, barring any unusual life circumstance, have many less responsibilities, less obligations, and if they do not work they have much more free time for themselves. But, I have absolutely no problem with women not working as long as they can afford their lives in a responsible financial manner.

Do you think their life is much easier with much less stress than their working peers? If you do think it is easier, do you look down on them for having an easier life? I think if they chose to not work, it was not a forced position by a spouse, then hell yes they have less stress. I have worked very hard in my lifetime, and now I have not had a job for the last 2 years. I took over all the housework since I am not working, and it still does not anywhere compare to the stress and obligation of a full time job. I wake up pretty much whenever I want, I make my schedule to my liking, and basically answer to no one, with a minor exception of doing errands for my husband at times to his needs, but really I still usually have a lot of control over my day, and a lot of free time. Do I look down on them? Not at all. I think if people can simplify their lives go for it.

Do you think they are missing out on feeling fulfilled? I do think everyone should experience work (and for this question I am going to exclude working in the home as work) if for nothing but to understand what it is like to have to go to work every day, and the pleasure of earning a pay check. However, I don’t think people need to have a job to feel fulfilled, the individual is the only person who knows how they feel. If they are happy I certainly would not judge.

Does it matter if they previously had a career? If they never did have a career do you think they have no clue what it is like to hold down a job? I guess I kind of just answered that in the previous question.

Do you have less respect for them as people? Absolutely not. It has nothing to do with respect, but I do feel my husband respects me a little less now that it has been a while since I have worked. I think he married a career woman, and that is what he prefers. I do feel some pressure to do something. He also has voiced feeling pressure being the sole breadwinner, but financially we are not strapped at all, and I really don’t think he would do anything different work wise if I was working, because my jobs don’t bring in that much money, although, I guess he would have much more freedom to try a new career or something new if I was. But, he never did that before when I was working. I tell him if he was ever serious, I would go back to work to support his desire to change careers.

TheIntern55's avatar

Well, having grown up in a house where both of my parents have been working since I was 6 weeks old, I guess it doesn’t matter. I was in a daycare that a nice old woman ran out of her house. Once I started going to school full time, I had my brothers to come home to and they watched me when they could and there wasn’t football. By the time my brothers moved out, I was participating in sports, drama, and all those fun things that come with middle school. I didn’t need them anymore.
But I had older brothers who could watch me and my parents both needed work to support us and send my brother through college. This isn’t an option or a need for others. Besides, just beacause they stay home now doesn’t mean they can’t have carreers later.

YARNLADY's avatar

Whoa! A life of complete leisure? No laundry, no housecleaning, no meal preparing?

I don’t think anyone should take a paid employment unless they need the money. There are too many people looking for work today who need to support a family for that.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY I didn’t mean complete leisure in the question. But, we should include it I guess. I actually sort of half joke that I have not pursued a job, because someone else really needs it for the income.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I originally quit working for health reasons, and then it shifted into a combination of not being able to find work and a shift in circumstances that made it necessary for me to be home more often.
I love not working outside of the home. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, aside from feelings of being overwhelmed and sick with stress. Managing the housekeeping, cooking, shopping, caring for two kids, pets, and a full time job made me feel like I was losing my mind. Of course, plenty of people do it on a daily basis… and I definitely give them loads of credit, but I just can’t hack it like that. I’m too mentally fragile for that kind of chronic stress. So, I definitely don’t feel like other women in my position are missing out… because it doesn’t feel like that to me. I hate having a job. Maybe that’s not the greatest thing to admit, but I hate it. It makes me miserable.
Financially, we’re poor. Really poor. However, we do not and have never received financial assistance (not that I judge people who do), but we have learned to get by with a lot less than many people would even consider. And I don’t feel unhappy as a result, if anything, I feel happier than I did when we had more money.
I just read an article last week that showed that latest studies have named us as the poorest city in the US, with 49% of us below the poverty level. Maybe there is strength in numbers, I don’t know, but I feel like the cost of living here is a huge factor in my being able to not work without assistance. Finding a job is practically impossible, but I also feel like we couldn’t possibly survive anywhere else in this country on our current income.
I know women who stay home without children and women who stay home with children, and I know other women like myself who stay home with children that they do not have a traditional full-time parenting relationship with. None of the women that come to mind strike me as lazy, unfulfilled, unmotivated, and I definitely have a lot of respect for each of them.
I remember when I first quit working, my 85 year old grandmother’s face lit up. She told me that she was really happy for me. That my home and my family would reap the benefits of this…. and so far, she has been right.

wundayatta's avatar

It all depends on what she’s doing. If she sits around all day, eating bon bons, drinking martinis and watching soap operas, then I’m not going to respect her. If she brings up children and volunteers for the food bank and is in a reading group and does other intellectually stimulating things, then she earns my respect.

spykenij's avatar

I think most housewives are working extremely hard. It is a full-time job to cook, clean, do laundry, fold it, put it away, organize, shop… They have much more to deal with and often times are extremely alienated from the “work force”, whether they had jobs in the past or not. If they have kids, it’s much more on them than working a 9–5. Their job never ends nor gets caught up. How fulfilling do you think that is? I have a friend who has 3 boys, all under 7 yrs old. Her husband works in their basement on his favorite hobby – computer hardware. She is locked up at home all day or into her daily to do list, though she does get out to the grocery store (usually with 2–3 of the kids – delightful, eh?)... She did work part-time on top of that with no help whatsoever from her husband. He can’t even change the kids into freh clothes when she can come visit for a day or two (I live about 2 hours south of her and I’ve known her since 6th grade). She is under so much stress that for the 1st time in her life (last week or so), she had an anxiety attack, didn’t know what it was and had to go to the ER. I blame this on the ass she married because he is useless. The only thing he does besides work is sleep, sleep on the couch when he gets up and goes downstairs, smokes weed, spanks his monkey, helps his best friend work on his car (even though his wife and children have no safe, reliable vehicle because he won’t fix it) and watches porn on the computer. He barely even has time for her and the kids don’t know him at all. Now, I have gone to couples therapy, so I know a relationship should not be anything other than 100% – 100%. Not even 50% – 50%. He has taken his kid’s birthday money to buy weed and they’ve been without food for a day because he can’t figure out how to balance a bank account or control his pot consumption. It’s really sad. I had to have her come to my place when she 1st got pregnant, so she could eat well and I have picked her up and taken her back home with groceries more than a few times. I wish he would see all that she has done for him. I know she has her faults, but who doesn’t? Hell, he has more than a fair share. I think highly of her, tried to support him, but he isn’t worth supporting when he does some really screwed up stuff to her and his own kids. I think way less of him because he only has one thing to his credit whereas she has many. She has proven that she can hold down a job, but even if she hadn’t, she works 500 times more than him, non-stop with VERY FEW breaks. He leaves the house regularly, but she can’t do her thing except for every couple months.

martianspringtime's avatar

I don’t think any differently about them. That kind of thing is between the couple. Maybe she’d rather stay at home, or maybe he would. I have no opinion whatsoever on it. Different things work for different people.

fizzbanger's avatar

In a lot of cases, child care costs more than a second income could bring in.

Every situation is different. A woman can be really involved with her community, projects, home repairs, etc, without actually having a paycheck.

Personally, I would feel very uncomfortable not working. I like making money and it makes me feel justified in making financial decisions. I would feel guilty buying myself nice things with money I did not earn on my own.

I try not to judge others’ situations, but I get slightly irritated when mothers complain about the monotony of housewivery like they’re some kind of martyr to be sympathized with because they have to take care of their children.

JLeslie's avatar

@spykenij I disagree housework for a woman with no children is a full time job. With children different story of course. This woman you are talking aboutbwith the loser husband. She doesn’t sound so swift either, she had three kids with him. Assuming he did not recently become so worthless, what the hell is she doing? She is responsible for her situation also.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@fizzbanger I only complain about the laundry. I frikkin hate laundry! :P

fizzbanger's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Understandable! At least you’re not like “I hate my life, I don’t deserve to have to do laundry, grumbegrumblegrumble!”

spykenij's avatar

Jleslie – She was with him throughout her teens, but her birth control stopped working and she got pregnant 3 times. He got a vasectomy because different birth control didn’t work for her and she took it on time, every day. She is pro-choice, but pro-life for herself, so she didn’t abort any of them. This guy used to have my respect until this crap started. I know she too is responsible for where she is in life, but with kids thrown into the mix, she wants them to have their father in their lives, but he just won’t participate. I do have to say he does go with the 2 older kids to boyscouts, now that they’re old enough. She was working, but he made her quit when work and won’t let her go back to school. Now that she’s got kids, she doesn’t know how to make it on her own and her parents are assholes.

perspicacious's avatar

I don’t think anything about them as long as she doesn’t expect taxpayers to fund her and her children’s lives.

cazzie's avatar

@spykenij I married that guy too, but he has a job outside the home and leaves for weeks on end.

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