Social Question

Pandora's avatar

Why do women who are married and being supported by their spouse have to describe what they do all day?

Asked by Pandora (27694points) March 29th, 2010

I’ve worked many years from 15 years of age and I’m now retired at 49. I’ve raised my children successfully and they are grown and self supporting. Now it seems everyone wants to know what I am doing.
When I was working people would ask me what do I do. Once answered they never asked me for details. Now that I stay at home and do as I please, people ask me for details as if they are supporting me and need me to justify what I do in a day. What the hell is with the freakin 20 questions?
Before my husband and I hardly had any time for each other and now we get to spend more time together.
Is it envy, or is it simply expected we all work till we die and never take time to enjoy life?

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56 Answers

squidcake's avatar

Mix of envy and them trying to feel superior to you.
Don’t listen to them.

trailsillustrated's avatar

I get asked this all the time and my answer is always the same. ” I kick it’. Some people get it and some don’t and if I have to explain I say I’m retired.

Pandora's avatar

@trailsillustrated LOL, I have to remember that one.

DarkScribe's avatar

Have fun – make up outrageous tales of a retired housewive’s life. Use the plots from “Desperate Housewives” then elaborate and exaggerate. They’ll soon stop asking, (or start asking for autographs).

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Unless it’s known you have children or eldierlies to care for then people feel entitled to ask your personal business, mostly out of curiosity and to have something to talk with you about. I didn’t work for two years and no one ever asked me in suspicious tones.

Pandora's avatar

@DarkScribe :)) I give that a shot. Hmmm.

bobloblaw's avatar

When you answer a question about what you do for a living (e.g. “I’m a lawyer”), there isn’t much vagueness. They know exactly what you do. I’m not sure how you’re answering that question now that you spend much of your time at home, but I would assume they’re simply curious. If you simply stating that you “stay home,” I’d say that is pretty vague. It’d be like me saying “I go to an office.” The obvious response would be “well, what do you do at your office?”

wilma's avatar

@Pandora I get this too.
Although I still have teenage kids at home, I am still made to feel like I have to explain what I do all day.I know I wouldn’t need to even if I didn’t have the kids.
I need a real good comeback.

dpworkin's avatar

I wonder why you give a shit.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Sheer envy and suspicious curiosity. I bet many more would give their right arm to be in your place. You should answer that you are out and about all day spending your husband’s hard-earned money! I really don’t understand why people feel entitled to any form of justification. Just enjoy yourself and enjoy the time you have to be creative and more relaxed. Let them keep on wondering!

Pandora's avatar

@bobloblaw I look at it this way. If anyone ever stayed home on the weekend they pretty much can figure it out. You cook, you clean, you may watch some tv, listen to some radio, go on the computer, read, go work out, go buy grocieries, learn something new, call some friends, go hangout with some friends, go work out, take the dog out for a walk, go shopping. I’m not going to go sky diving every other week, or play football. So what details do they need. What time I get up and what time do I eat and poop. Really. Its an obnoxious question. And if they can’t figure it what I do than they should worry about details they need to handle on a daily basis.

cheebdragon's avatar

Just tell them that you have sex all day, and they will never ask again….

Pandora's avatar

@wilma, Tell them you stay home to watch your sons bring home hot looking guy friends for you to look at. LOL. Never mind that may get you in touble so scratch that.
I’m going to take @DarkScribe suggestion and next time I’ll tell them I just wait for my husband to leave so I can make sure the pool boy is doing things correctly (although I have no pool) and then wait for the yoga instructor to show up and show me how to limber up.

Pandora's avatar

@pdworkin, Normally I do not care only I just came from visiting my family for a few days and visited a few friends I haven’t seen in a while and I got nothing but 20 questions. My husband has a very interesting job and yet no questions for him. NOOOOOOOO! It was all about what I’m not doing.

dpworkin's avatar

Someone has to keep the Cabana Boy busy.

Pandora's avatar

@cheebdragon LMAO, I will add that to my list of things to say.:D

SeventhSense's avatar

Well there’s two versions. One is that you’ve been successful enough to get out of the rat race. The other is that, if you’ve defined yourself by your ability to make money and keep yourself in a particular lifestyle you may have to expand your idea of success.
Money as the defining meaning of life is a woefully inadequate basis of existence in my opinion. Not that I don’t think it’s great and would love to have the capacity to not have to do certain tasks for money but I think that if the discharge of debt was eliminated we could all get to our real life purpose.
The prospect of retirement is not in my belief system. Yes maybe you stop worrying about money, but then you find out what other meaningful work you can contribute to add value to society. And more so I would imagine when it afforded you the opportunities it has. You probably have much insight to offer others not as successful as you for example

escapedone7's avatar

You should come up with funny answers just to freak them out. Something like “I chase squirrels in the back yard”. Something like those lists of 100 silly things to do at wal mart only sillier. I dress up like Ginger Rogers and dance around the house. I talk to my pet turtle Mr. Bumpy. I put the cans in alphabetical order.

bobloblaw's avatar

@Pandora I can see your point. I usually see it as small talk and leave it at that. I don’t usually ask for a play-by-play recitation of a person’s day. I just go “How was your day?” or “What’ve you been up to today?” You could have answered with “I did absolutely nothing” and I would have left it at that. For me, it’s a space filler in conversation. Based on your reaction, it sounds like those who ask you have a more nefarious motive. If it bothers/annoys you, I’d recommend bringing it up to them directly.

gemiwing's avatar

I usually tell them in great detail what my day looks like. “Well, I wake up, have a cup of coffee and check my email. Then I gather the laundry while tidying up family flotsam. Then I start the laundry. Next I go do dishes while listening to the news. Next up is planning the menu after I’ve set the clothes to dry. I sprinkle baking soda on the rugs and let it sit while I do some freelance work online. Then I water the plants. Up next, ten minute break with some tea and possibly some toast. I dust the furniture and vacuum the living room. Then I go vacuum the kitchen floor and start the mop water. Then I mop the kitchen and set a fan on it to dry. Time for a light lunch around noon.”

Then if their eyes haven’t glazed over- tell them about your afternoon.

They only ask once.

wilma's avatar

@Pandora I will try that.

I suppose that there are a lot of people who love their jobs or who are bored when they are at home, so then they really don’t get that I have more than enough work and other obligations to keep me busy.
@dpworkin Cabana Boy, I like that.

@escapedone7 alphabetized cans!

Pandora's avatar

@escapedone7 I agree with wilma. Alphabetized cans was awesome. I can imagine the looks and the silence. LOL

Pandora's avatar

@gemiwing THANK YOU! It would serve them right. :))

tinyfaery's avatar

Geesh. I ask my friend what she does all day (her partner makes a lot of money and she does not need to work, so she doesn’t) and she has never reacted so negatively. In less that a minute she rattled off all this stuff and we went on with our day. I asked because I was interested. Turns out, she did do interesting things.

I ask my cousin what she does all day (she has 3 minor children) because I want to know what is going on her life. I would never ask a stranger what they did all day, whether they were in the labor force or not.

Such a negative reaction would make me think the person being so reactionary is ashamed or has something to hide, like I do all overly sensitive people.

Pandora's avatar

@dpworkin, Ahhh! Alas if only there was a cabana boy to look at. :((

SeventhSense's avatar

@Pandora
Is the purpose of work to only make money?

GingerMinx's avatar

People do not ask me that question anymore. I simply responded with “stuff”, or, I asked them a million silly and personal questions about their day.

Pandora's avatar

@tinyfaery, Its not that I’m ashamed. Hell I worked really hard most of my life. Even worked in stock rooms to the point that my back is not in the greatest shape. But I just don’t feel its something I should have to explain. I’m don’t need them to justify my life but like I said. When I was working and raising kids and a taking care of a home and husband, no one asked me what I did. There was a 5 second brief explaination and they moved on. But this was definetly different.

mrrich724's avatar

Same reason a man is persecuted if his wife is the provider probably.

tinyfaery's avatar

I still think you are overreacting. I cannot say as to the reason. I just said what my perception of such a reaction makes me think.

Pandora's avatar

@SeventhSense I don’t think its so much about money or they would’ve asked my husband more about his job, but I got the sense that if I wasn’t working than I became useless in society. Before anyone asked. I also have done volunteer work off and on since I was 13 and again, even when I spoke of volunteer work no one wanted to hear about it.
To many its as if that isn’t work either.

SeventhSense's avatar

I kind of glossed over being supported by the spouse part and so some of my answer above doesn’t quite make sense. I suppose I’ve always been with independent women and I appreciate a partner who has goals. I think everyone needs to feel that they have something meaningful to contribute.
Jack said it better
Just kidding. :)

mrrich724's avatar

I would also like to add that I wouldn’t have a problem with my wife not working. But I would like to know what she does all day if she didn’t. I wouldn’t want to put in 40+ hours a week just for her to sleep in and watch TV all day her whole life.

Marriage should be teamwork, not codependence.

Pandora's avatar

@tinyfaery I just don’t get it. When my mother was younger and working she was kind of the odd ball. Working meant back then that somehow you failed as a wife and mother. If something went wrong at home is because you werent’ home. Mothers who stayed home where considered good wives and mothers or a good simply a good wife if she had no children. Now if you choose to stay home some people see you as a bum. You couldn’t possibly be a good mother and wife, or a good wife if you stay home. I can see that being true if your in financial straights and your family needs you to work to help with the finances but if you don’t need too, than why do “some” people see it as a bad thing. And yes, several times I was told that I was too young not to be working.

Pandora's avatar

@mrrich724 I understand your point. I would feel the same way and so would my husband if I sat around eating bon bons and watching tv all day. He actually likes me staying home because at the end of his day, he doesn’t have to worry about things getting done at home or even having to do anything. I agree that marriage isn’t a free ride. I’ve worked for everything as long as I remember. I was taught from an early age that I had to clean up after myself and take care of things, nothing in life is free.

escapedone7's avatar

You don’t have to explain yourself to people. It’s not like they are the police of your life. They probably hope to hear something exciting like “lifestyles of the rich and famous.” Just give the short answer. “I do whatever I want. Isn’t that awesome?” Grin and watch them turn green.

Pandora's avatar

@escapedone7 Great idea. I should carry my sd card with my vacation photos and make them watch them. That should keep them from ever asking again. I’ve go a ton of photos and it seems no one ever wants to look at the. Ah, I’ll make it into a movie of my life.LOL

SeventhSense's avatar

OK….I cited Jack Nicholson… a classic like Carnal Knowledge it must be recognized :).

Pandora's avatar

@SeventhSense Sorry, just crickets. Never saw it. :(

mrrich724's avatar

@Pandora, yes it would be nice if her being home all day meant that I didn’t have to worry about anything being clean and dinner being ready. But I wouldn’t even take it that far. I would just like to know that she did something.

Even if she just went to the gym for an hour, hung out with friends, or did crafts all day (she likes crafting stuff). It doesn’t necessarily have to be something for me, just as long as it’s productive.

SeventhSense's avatar

Well we know you’re not watching movies…

escapedone7's avatar

@seventhsense I have no respect for a man that can’t find something better to do with a gorgeous busty redhead laying in his bed than scream at her about housework.

@mrrich While shes certainly answers to her husband, frankly she shouldn’t have to subject herself to an interrogation about it by outsiders including you and I.

SeventhSense's avatar

@escapedone7
Ann was getting hotter with every scream. Jack’s the master.

Fernspider's avatar

One possibility too is that people who are working are spending all day at work, confined to their place of work or under control of an employer so they don’t have the freedom to do anything other than what has been asked of them.

When someone asks what someone else does and someone says (as mentioned previously) “I am a lawyer” often this will lead into questions related to working as a lawyer or how they got into the profession or how long they have practised law for etc etc.

When someone says I don’t work, I am retired or raise my children etc, the natural progression of interest and conversation is to say “Oh wow, what do you do with all of those hours?” because it is open. There are no proconceived ideas about what this entails.

When I think of the said profession someone provides me, I think about them at this profession for 8 hours a day and imagine them in court or sitting behind a desk. This leaves no room in my perception to query what they do because I have a vague idea already.

Whereas when someone has immense amounts of freedom, they could do anything and that is interesting. It makes me go “Ooo, what do you get up to” because I can’t imagine what they do.

I have had periods of being without work and I found it difficult to fill the time. When people asked me what I got up to, I would sometimes say “I get bored” lol.

mrrich724's avatar

@escapedone7

I’m thinking from a husbands point of view. I don’t care what she does, I’m just saying what I think is reasonable for her to expect from her s/o.

But a good answer to anyone else? F/O!!!

That, or just tell them. They could just be curious b/c they can’t identify with it so they wonder what someone in that circumstance does. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for someone to ask you, unless they are doing it condescendingly.

So I wouldn’t even call it envy (unless you KNOW it is), but I’d guess it’s just curiosity . . .

Pandora's avatar

@mrrich724 Yeah, my husband worries I will get bored and go back to work. He does like that he doesn’t have to do anything but I do it for myself as well so we have time to go out or just do things at home together. Primarily he doesn’t want me to work because we always would have such a hard time scheduling time home together when I did work or we both would be so tired after working and coming home to do chores and we didn’t have time to share together. And vacation times were a nightmare. We could never schedule two weeks off together at the same time. When I was working the longest vacation we ever scheduled together was 5 days.

mrrich724's avatar

@Pandora
I feel you on that one. After me and my girl get done with work and all the household stuff, we pretty much just lay around together, LOL

I feel guilty b/c I feel like we devote so much time to other people and then at the end of the day are too beat to give the same attention to eachother, when in reality, who deserves to get it more than eachother? :/

Pandora's avatar

@Rachienz Good point. However my sense of fun isn’t everyones sense of fun. Like, I like learning new stuff. I recently am learning about sewing. And I love to read about news, or new medical discoveries. I’m otherwise pretty uneventful and I think that may be what bothers me some. I find these things fasinating and many people do not. So I rather not say what I do.

Fernspider's avatar

@Pandora – That’s fair enough. I used to feel similarly when I was home. Some mornings I would sleep until 11am, play on the internet in my pajamas with a cup of coffee. Buy a newspaper and watch Oprah and Dr. Phill all afternoon.

I found it enjoyable. It was my day and I could do with it what I wanted.

When others asked me how my day was and then what I did, I felt somewhat embarrassed that I had realistically been unproductive or could at least be preceived this way. It also came across as boring and felt like I had no interesting response to their question resulting in me prefering the question wasn’t asked.

Eventually I would just say “Same old, just cleaning and relaxing. Took my dog for a walk which was nice. What did you get up to?”

Only reveal what you feel comfortable or care to. When we ask others what they get up to in the weekend, they are selective too. :)

Pandora's avatar

Well thank you all for your answers. If any one has anything else to say I will read it tomorrow. I’m off to bed. Wish you all a good night. :D

YARNLADY's avatar

I love talking to friends and family about what I do all day. It really makes me feel important.

Blackberry's avatar

The answers are already here, but I just wanted to give you a GA lol.

Seek's avatar

Good Question, @Pandora

I am a stay at home mom, who used to do the office thing… and I can say I love my new job, but I do get the “so what do you do?”

I say, “I’m a dog trainer, a preschool teacher, an occupational therapist, a personal shopper, an accountant, a seamstress, a digital artist, a photographer, a tour guide, a housekeeper, and a caterer.”

YARNLADY's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Oh, not me – I get back at them by saying “I sleep till noon, and then do what ever I want, when ever I want – when I’m not sitting around the pool doing absolutely nothing.

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