February 7, 2013

The stay-at-home husband in a household with no kids.

Outrageous, pathetic, or totally sensible?
By contrast, I have self-identified as a homemaker first. Certainly, I see a need to channel my creative side into something at some point. But that feeling is pretty abstract. For the time being, I have my hands full getting better at meal-planning and mending: It actually feels the same to me as improving in my “profession.” But more than that, I find satisfaction twice over in making a good home — once for supporting my partner, and again for myself.
Are people allowed to live like this?

81 comments:

Meade said...

Think his wife realizes what an incredibly good deal she's getting?

Maguro said...

I knew the link was to Slate before I even clicked on it. It really is becoming (has become?) a parody of itself.

JAL said...

Why not? (Answer to the Professor's question.)

EMD said...

Do I care how other people live?

No, not really.

Ann Althouse said...

That guy mentions "mending" 3 times in the short article. Mending! Who mends? Clothing is so cheap nowadays. The old skill of patching stuff back together... so weird!

m stone said...

I have no problem with his lifestyle, although he sounds unfulfilled professionally, but from the account, he needs to manage his time better. With no kids and just cooking and "mending" responsibilities, he could be writing a novel or pursuing another avocation.

ByondPolitics said...

Who cares? He is the only person who can answer whether he's allowed to live this way. The rest of us don't need narcissistic preening over a common choice.

Bob Ellison said...

Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Also, pursuit of happiness.

Richard Dolan said...

"Are people allowed to live like this?"

Only in fly-over country, where the living is inexpensive. Would never work for your average neurotic NYer.

Meade said...

"Who mends?"

Al Gore.

chickelit said...

I predict he'll get bored--unless he wades into a blog and drowns.

edutcher said...

Makes perfect sense.

Wasn't Carly Fiorina's hubbo a stay-at-home while she was wrecking HP?

Ann Althouse said...

That guy mentions "mending" 3 times in the short article. Mending! Who mends? Clothing is so cheap nowadays. The old skill of patching stuff back together... so weird!

Cheap for some, not so cheap for others.

40 bucks for a good shirt or pair of pants. It adds up.

wyo sis said...

My retired husband stays at home and cooks and cleans. We do have an 18 year old daughter, but she's pretty independent.
I love it. It's like having a traditional wife. A person at home to do all the errands, coming home to a clean house, laundry done, cars kept up, yard work done. This hardly ever happened when we we were both working full time outside the home.
If both partners think this works, it works.

Inga said...

Live and let live. Could get boring for a younger person, though. I'd be bored to tears.

pm317 said...

I come home from work around 7 everyday and my wife.. er husband (really) has dinner ready every night -- he packs my lunches too. He makes twice the money I make. Oh, we are DINKs by choice. And he is a rare Indian specimen.

ampersand said...

In my day when a husband stayed home and the wife worked,he was generally referred to as that lazy bum.

Chef Mojo said...

After getting, and recovering from, cancer, I'm finding the househusband gig great. Can't drive right now due to chemo side effects. No kids, here. I'm a great cook. My wife juggles a number of jobs in different fields, and loves coming home to a cocktail, dinner and well cared for home.

Lem said...

...once for supporting my partner,

Its two guys.

nttiawwt

Lem said...

I mend my own business.

Inga said...

There's a saying," A good man is hard to get...."

edutcher said...

No, a hard man is good to find.

Renee said...

What no volunteering?

Renee said...

How hard is it to take care of a home with two adults? Assuming he aims straight into the toilet. It shouldn't be hard.

tiger said...

Not that I would do it but farking allah I'd certainly like the option to try.

(Sick of working)

Ann Althouse said...

"How hard is it to take care of a home with two adults?"

How good is the cooking? How beautiful is the garden? And what else is there to do, out in the world, for someone else, for money, that is worth more than what you can make, tax free, for your loved one(s)?

Ann Althouse said...

"What no volunteering?"

This too.

What is more important than what we do for love, once there is enough income. When did lif become mostly about having a job?

Erika said...

Hate to be a grump, but many of us don't have your disposable income, Althouse. Unless you're buying cheap t-shirts and house-brand jeans from Kohl's, clothing is very expensive.

kentuckyliz said...

They both had crazy demanding jobs/pursuits before , so stepping back the stress sounds good and healthy.

Maybe living a balanced life would be a good idea.

pm317 said...

Slate! ugh..It is some lefty dude, patting himself all over his back -- oh look how noble I am .. the usual stuff..let him make twice as much money as his wife and still come home to cook a nice dinner for his wife every night, then we will talk.

pm317 said...

That guy mentions "mending" 3 times in the short article.

Exactly.. some lefty nincompoop who I bet voted for Obama.

Right is right! said...

How can the wife stand to have sex with this pathetic little man?

Revenant said...

If he and his wife are both fine with it then I don't see what's wrong with it.

Personally, I'd go nuts if I wasn't out in the world doing something unrelated to housekeeping.

CatherineM said...

Wyo Sis - He's retired. If my husband was retired and picking up the slack, OK. If we are both 40, WORK. Do something.

Let's face it, if women were "homemaking" with no kids and they are of working age, people have a problem with it. I would. Let us work on that nest egg together. Unless you are super wealthy and you don't want conflicting work schedules....but then you wouldn't need a home maker because you have hired help.

I also agree on the volunteering. My lottery fantasy is always to volunteer for my interests that aren't jobs that pay the bills and IRA account.

CatherineM said...

...and mending. In, "Cold Mountain," I always remember the line, "I can needlepoint, but I can't darn." I can make useless things, but I am not practical.

How practical or talented is he at anything?

I hope for her sake he's good in bed.

Henry said...

Andy Capp is writing for Slate now?

MayBee said...

I don't get why or when working outside the home became the only acceptable way to live, if one can afford not to.

It seems very "comrade-"ish to be. Very communist. Every man must produce for the State.

MayBee said...

Revenant:

Personally, I'd go nuts if I wasn't out in the world doing something unrelated to housekeeping.

2/7/13, 10:36 PM
----------------

There are a million things to do besides housekeeping. But, there's nothing more inherently boring about housekeeping than many other careers. Bookkeeping, teaching, retail, working in a restaurant-- they aren't more stimulating than keeping a home.

Dante said...

Why should these people be given a tax break. Makes zero sense to me. The country should create those rules that reward those who raise children.

Not people who feel they deserve some kind of special treatment because some guy wants to be a nancy maid.

Craig said...

When do we start reading Tender Is The Night? It's so much better than Gatsby.

tim in vermont said...

So writing for Slate just happened?

Marshal said...

Are people allowed to live like this?

Allowed?

He can do what he wants, but the risk is they divorce and he has to find a job. If so he'll have a tough time finding something since his time at home isn't advancing his experience and among the inexperienced employers will choose those whose eduation is more recent.

Write back in 30 years and tell us how it worked out.

tim maguire said...

A house maintained by one person full time makes for the best home and at a time when that one person is a more and more often a man, anything that helps remove the stigma is a good thing. For that reason, i applaud the article.

But if they have no kids and still he's waiting till later to explore his creative side, then he should drop that pose--there will never be a better time. If not now, then never.

campy said...

"Are people allowed to live like this?"

I thought Barack Obama required everyone to work.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Are people allowed to live like this?

These decisions should be left to the Department of Lifestyle Permitting.

If he has made proper application, and a Permit has been issued, then he should be allowed.

Renee said...

How good is the cooking?

One could feed the poor/homeless/elderly/sick.

How beautiful is the garden?

Community Gardens/Parks.

echo said...

This guy must have a huge cock.

southcentralpa said...

The way you've been flogging the Amazon lately, I'm surprised no mention that Amazon offers Cheryl Mendelson's Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House.

And to answer your question, despite the best efforts of the usual suspects Yes They Can live that way if they want to.

(And I don't recall that he mentions it, but in many cases, the expense of work clothes, a second car, the gas, etc., etc., a surprising number of couples would come out ahead not having both working outside the house, but that's a whole 'nother discussion...)

Patrick said...

Ahh, thanks for that Andy Capp cartoon, Henry. I loved that strip. My favorite of all time is one with Andy laying on the couch, with the TV in the background, tuned into an exercise show. The leader is saying "1-2-3, 1-2-3, 1-2-3." Then the leader says, "Now everybody, the other side!" In the last panel, We see that Andy has turned over on the couch.

I read that daily when I delivered papers, although it may have been in reruns by then.

Paco Wové said...

"in many cases, ... a surprising number of couples would come out ahead not having both working outside the house"

I often get the feeling that Americans value WORK as the sine qua non of personal virtue. If you don't WORK what effing good are you?

Jason said...

Nothing wrong with it at all. People can do what they want, as far as I'm concerned, and every marriage has a logic to it that is not necessarily discernible from the outside.

I fear his wife will soon develop in interest in someone she perceives as more alpha. Which I suspect could be almost anyone.

Icepick said...

Mending! Who mends? Clothing is so cheap nowadays.

Poor people. There are a lot of us about these days.

southcentralpa said...

Paco Wove -- are volunteer firefighters, e.g., slug-a-beds? Work does not derive its value solely from monetary renumeration.

Paco Wové said...

S.C.Pa. — I did not intend my description to be considered an endorsement.

John said...

James Lileks?

John Henry

John said...

James Lileks?

John Henry

Anglelyne said...

Renee: How good is the cooking?

One could feed the poor/homeless/elderly/sick.

How beautiful is the garden?

Community Gardens/Parks.


Sheesh, the animus some people here are showing against people caring about the quality of their private lives is disturbing. Comrades, we must stamp out this bourgeois selfishness!

I have a neighbor down the street who lovingly and time-consumingly produces a vast, magnificent bulb garden in his yard every year. When he could be planting and tending cabbages and turnips in the community garden instead!

Anglelyne said...

Ditto the comments about mending. Clothing is not cheap for people of low or middling income. And lots of people of adequate income care about (and take pleasure in) the quality of their clothing, spend more on it, and therefore repair and restore rather than toss and replace.

Anglelyne said...

CatherineM: Let's face it, if women were "homemaking" with no kids and they are of working age, people have a problem with it. I would.

Yeah, we noticed, Mrs. Kravitz.

Let us work on that nest egg together.

So quit with the curtain-twitching and get back to it, why don't you?

Some Seppo said...

"Mending" may include far more items than just textiles. I'm also a house husband and owning a 50-year old home provides plenty of opportunity for that activity.

Unknown said...

People can live anyway they choose. What is this ""Are people allowed to live like this?" nonsense?

Renee said...

Angleyne,

He wrote an article on the subject, he wants public acceptance.

I understand the economics of having one person in the home working, I just think one's talents should be used for the greater good whenever possible.

campy said...

I just think one's talents should be used for the greater good whenever possible.

Why did you waste time writing this comment? Why didn't you use that time to advance the greater good?

Larry J said...

I know stay-at-home housewives with no kids. Why is it something that must be "allowed" if a man does it? Whatever a couple decides that works for them is their own business.

MayBee said...

If everyone took care of their own home life,there would be a lot less need in the commons. Charity begins at home.

Rabel said...

I go with pathetic. The wife should have plenty of time to do the mending and cooking and cleaning after she gets home from work.

MayBee said...

I love Rabel.

ushutup said...

Maybe he just discovered Internet porn and feels the need to justify -ahem- stating at home.

Seriously, keeping a house very clean and stocked is a couple of hours a day: what you do and do not do in your own house is your own. Publicly justifying ones existence seems to imply that its an existence that ones natural tendency is trying to move away from.

Either way, not for us to judge, but we'll do it anyway. Just like the guy saying that wearing women's knickers are comfortable, you are still a clown and will be ridiculed.

Anthony said...

I've been in a similar position for the past 3-4 years, with an employed Spousal Unit and me living the hope 'n change dream -- i.e., largely un-/underemployed -- and have existed as a 'house spouse' for the most part. We have an older (1954) house that's needed work so in that time I've done various more or less major projects myself, including painting it, tiling the kitchen floor and shower, etc. I've also worked on several non-paying projects, mostly writing and research type stuff. I can't imagine filling an entire day without kids just keeping the place clean and maintained for only two people. Then again, I don't keep the place totally spotless either.

shirley elizabeth said...

On the few days my husband has stayed home while I went into the office or on a trip or just out running errands, I've come home to a much lovelier home than he gets to come home to most days.

Amartel said...

The stay-at-home mom has a job. The stay-at-home husband has a pastime.

Which of course is allowed.

Crunchy Frog said...

Hey now, be nice to the guy.

Getting your pandaren monk to level 90 is a full time job.

Methadras said...

There is zero wrong with this in my opinion. It's necessity born out of circumstances. When I was single, I took care of everything for myself. This is no different, other than you have a partner who makes the money and not you, but you contribute in a different way.

Methadras said...

Ann Althouse said...

That guy mentions "mending" 3 times in the short article. Mending! Who mends? Clothing is so cheap nowadays. The old skill of patching stuff back together... so weird!


What? By the time I was 10, I could cook, clean, sew, live on my own, balance a checkbook, iron, vacuum, and the list goes on. Mending was fun and I still do it if I need to. Clothing is cheap, but why throw away or ignore a piece of clothing that can be fixed by mending it instead of buying something else?

SOJO said...

Wait, weren't just berating a female attorney a few weeks back to find a wife or stop whining that it was a career advantage to have someone supporting you behind-the-scenes?

So I support this, but it will be weird and isolating for him most likely until/if they have kids. My (female) attorney friend went no kids, no job and it changed the power balance in the relationship quite a bit. He definitely wanted her at home because it gave him a leg up on her dominant personality if he controlled the finances. I'm not implying anything sinister with that comment.

On my twitter feed, there was an article by a woman who must have had a very high-powered job. When she quit to go into business for herself (personal dream), they had to downsize to a home ONE QUARTER the size of their old one. Basically, the Harvard woman learned that relative poverty forces close quarters which can be difficult, but highly creative.

The thing about being a housewife/husband with no kids, is that you have the time to be creative, but are generally isolated and so don't end up being all that creative... just kind of spacey and vaguely aesthetic, if you see what I mean. Just my observation.

SOJO said...

But what do we think of a 'bad' househusband? Like a bad housewife?

In other words, let's say with his wife's support, he stays at home playing Xbox, drinking milkshakes, watching porn and smoking weed - not keeping up the home.

Does our judgment start creeping in at that point? IOW, is that just an unemployed guy masquerading as a homemaker or is that the male equivalent of a woman who has a housekeeper and shops all day? Is he just being very well kept? What if they are not all that well off?

Anglelyne said...

I understand the economics of having one person in the home working, [...]

Economics? I think that's the whole point here - that everything is not reducible to "economics".

I just think one's talents should be used for the greater good whenever possible.

Why? Who defines the "greater good"? Professional bean-counters of GDP and productivity? I would argue that having a serene, stable, and yes, sensually pleasurable retreat for household members (even if it's only working spouse +1) to come home to, after a long day in the wage mines, contributes immeasurably to the "greater good". Private life effin' matters.

rcommal said...

So long as a family unit is an economically self-supporting family unit, who cares about the configuration therein?

I don't.

Why does anyone care about that? Why, in particular, would any conservative or libertarian?

It's to wonder.

rcommal said...

I keep thinking, in terms of this thread, that a whole lot more "mind your own business" is the precise thing needed. It is surprising to me that this is so here, given everything.

***

Anglelyne is the hands-down winner of this thread--not just in the common sense, not just in the calling-out sense, and not just in the WTF? sense. Anglelyne is also the hands-down winner in the comic, humorous, sarcastic and satirical senses, and here's the best example:

Yeah, we noticed, Mrs. Kravitz

[snip]

So quit with the curtain-twitching and get back to it, why don't you?

***

Dang! This one belongs in the pantheon of excellent-sense amongst Althousiana, IMO.

Martinkh said...

He is not a man, by any measure of manhood, and if we wonder why our birthrate is falling, we have the economy, high home prices, and women who encourage men to be wimps like this.

RAH said...

He is a house husband of an apartment. That is less work than a home , maintenance and yard.

Meade said...

Buy Me a Rose