Tuesday, August 05, 2008

stay at home wives

My twitter girlfriends find the most interesting pieces and this one: No kids, no jobs for growing number of wives is VERY interesting.

Here's how the article goes:
"What do you do all day?" is a question Anne Marie Davis, 34, says she gets a lot.

Davis, who lives in Lewisville, Texas, isn't a mother, nor does she telecommute. She is a stay-at-home wife, which makes her something of a pioneer in the post-feminist world.

Ten years ago, she was an "overwhelmed" high school English teacher. "I didn't have time for my husband, " she says, "and I didn't have a life."

She presented the idea of staying home to her husband, a Web engineer. "I told him it was something I wanted to do, and he supported it. It was a great relief."

Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Happily Married Women," says stay-at-home wives constitute a growing niche. "In the past few years, many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home," he says. While his research is ongoing, he estimates that more than 10 percent of the 650 women he's interviewed who choose to stay home are childless.

Daniel Buccino, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine clinical social worker and psychotherapist, says stay-at-home wives are the latest "status symbols."

"It says, 'We make enough money that we both don't need to work outside the home,'" he says. "And especially with the recent economic pressures, a stay-at-home spouse is often an extreme and visible luxury."

June Cleaver, minus Beaver and Wally
Davis says her life isn't luxurious. "Tuesdays are my laundry day," she says. "I go grocery shopping on Wednesdays and clean house on Thursdays." Mondays and Fridays are reserved for appointments and other errands.

But her schedule also allows for charity work and leisure: reading, creative writing and exploring new hobbies, like sewing.

It's a lifestyle, Davis says, that has made her happier and brought her closer to her husband. "We're no longer stressed out," she says; because she takes care of the home, there are virtually no "honey-do" lists to hand over.

Stay-at-home guilt
"If you told me years ago that I was going to be a stay-at-home wife, I would have laughed at you," says Catherine Zoerb, 27. Yet after the Wichita, Kansas, resident finished graduate school in 2005, she found herself unemployed, childless -- and strangely happy. With her husband's support, Zoerb decided to just stay home.

"I was able to clip coupons, do all the chores and make nice dinners," she says. "I was much less stressed and tense."

But she was concerned, too -- about not using her master's degree in English and how future employers would view her work history. "I worried about gaps in my resume," she says. And there was something else: "I thought about the feminist movement -- all those women who worked so hard so that I could go out and have a good career, and I was kind of saying 'no thanks.'"

Recently, Zoerb took a temporary job at an engineering firm. It will boost her resume, and although the Zoerbs don't need the money, it will help pay down their mortgage. Still, she hopes to return to stay-at-home wifedom soon.

"I'd never say that a woman shouldn't work," she says. "But I don't see what good it would do to work in a job that I couldn't stand, and if I have the choice not to, why wouldn't I take that opportunity?"

Retro marriage, 21st century-style
"Everyone seems to be OK with women staying home when they have kids," says Davis, who currently doesn't plan to have children. "I've actually heard people say that women who don't work are a drain on society."

Don't be too quick to judge, says Haltzman. Women might give up a job to focus on an advanced degree, pursue artistic or creative goals, or deal with health issues.

Surprisingly, though, Haltzman says the biggest draw is homemaking itself. "Many women I talk to take care of the household seriously, and they want to focus on caring for the home, whether or not it involves children."

Sometimes a wife's desires don't align with her husband's. "I hear frustration from men whose wives choose not to work," Haltzman says, "but only if there are financial stresses. One of the realities is that few men appreciate the scope and difficulties of managing a household."

Kirk Zoerb is an exception: The 27-year-old engineer says he's happiest when his wife is jobless.
"When Catherine stays at home, I feel the house is more together because she has the time to do things like in-depth cleaning and can be more attentive to the garden," he says. "She also has more time to find good deals at secondhand stores, garage sales and at grocery stores." As a couple, he says, "we have more energy and are generally emotionally healthier."

Still, "I don't believe that the woman has to be the exclusive cook, cleaner or shopper, and I don't believe the man must be the breadwinner. I wouldn't mind staying at home while Catherine works!"

Your thoughts?

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6 comments:

Christy said...

I am so thankful for this post! As a young wife, I have found great solace and encouragement from your blog since I discovered it a few months ago. I felt (and stubbornly ignored) the Lord calling me to be a stay at home wife for about a year. Now, six months after submitting to His will, our marriage is stronger and I finally have peace with what I am doing. However, it is very hard to find other women in the same situation. Articles like these help me feel like I am not the only SAHW in the world!! Thank you Lylah for this blog and for being a mentor to young wives!

Meredith said...

I think I know who these 2 women are, and they are 2 of the hardest-working, budget-conscious, supportive wives I've seen.

Of course, I have kids--and it is a full time job giving them better care than they could receive at any preschool.

But from my early married days, I know that there is no way my husband could have earned his Ph.D. while working full-time, both of us renovating houses on the weekends--on one teacher's salary.

Savvy stay at home wives and moms bring more value to the table than the CNN article shows.

And who can put a price on wifely support? You do take a risk in leaving career experience behind, but I'm hoping that God will bless my marriage and take care of me if something tragic happens.

Lylah said...

Meredith, they totally do bring more value than what is given credit for and yet, I'm so excited that liberal media is publishing such a spiel.

Christy ~ thanks for your very sweet comments. I'm encouraged!

Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home said...

I think it's great when a wife who doesn't have children yet stays home!

We had our first child early (14 months after getting married), and I spent that short period of time working full time, as we worked hard to pay off our debt. It was the right thing to do, for us, but I would have really valued spending that time at home.

Learning to cook better, to keep my house clean, to care for my husband, to show hospitality in my home. Those things (if you weren't taught them as a girl) are more difficult to learn once you've got babies to be taken care of.

Lylah said...

steph...u r so right it can be more difficult after little munchkins join the fam IF the heart of the home aka mom/wife/woman - hasn't learned some basic skills from her mom. i can't wait to see you in september and SERVE YOU in our home! ahhh....

Dana said...

Great article. I chose to stay (and do some work) from home because family is #1 to me. I can't imagine the strain it would put on my family were I to work outside the home.