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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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331 Responses

  1. Ms. Kristen J.
    Ms. Kristen J. November 14, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

    I don’t agree with Prudie, but I’m not sure I agree with you on this one either. These people are in the unique position of not being driven by economic neccessity. So her job is not more important to their survival than his squash game (who plays squash anyway??). Under those bizarre and unrealistic facts, I can see looking at my spouse and saying…dude, you want to work go for it, but I’m not turning into Suzy Homemaker to facilitate your love of labor. I’ll be at the (insert leisure activity that rich people do).

    1. Meghan
      Meghan November 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

      That’s also when you hire a housekeeper and/or family personal assistant. If they hire out 40 hours/week of childcare with one parent not working, then it’s not unreasonable to hire out all the other mundane tasks too.

    2. EG
      EG November 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm |

      Yeah, I actually agree more with Prudie on this one. If they can afford it–and they clearly can–why is this a source of fighting? They already employ a nanny–why not a housekeeper?

      Moreover, I agree with Prudie that they have to sit down and figure out if their desires for life and their values are still compatible. I would be pissed if I’d gotten to a place where I didn’t have to work and somebody kept telling me that I was a bad role model for not doing something “productive” (of course, I agree with the husband that “hard work” is a necessity, not a virtue, and if my kid doesn’t have to work hard, I wouldn’t care if they did–I’d care that any kids of mine were kind and generous, but working just isn’t a value of mine). And it sounds like the wife isn’t happy with the husband’s general lack of labor (“bad role model”). This is a fundamental mismatch, and they do need to work it out.

      1. TimmyTwinkles
        TimmyTwinkles November 15, 2013 at 12:07 am |

        Definitely agree with EG in terms of work being a necessity and not a virtue! Hear hear!

    3. Hina
      Hina November 14, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

      I think, in this situation, a caring and considerate spouse would take on little more than 50% of the domestic work. If one spouse works 40 hours a week and the other one works 60, then the spouse working less should do a little more of the domestic work. This way they can have more quality couple time.

      This doesn’t change even if the spouse working 60 hours doesn’t necessarily have to but is doing it because ze is trying to get promoted or is working on a work assignment ze really loves. For me spending some of my free time cooking few extra meals and having to mow the lawn and do the laundry 3 out of 4 fridays a month, so my spouse can have some time to relax and we can have more time to spend with each other then it’s fine by me

      1. EG
        EG November 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

        But what if he really loves his squash game? How is that less worthwhile than a work assignment that she really loves?

        1. Hina
          Hina November 14, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

          I’m sure playing squash doesn’t take up the same amount of time his wife spends at work. She works full time, so that probably gives him a lot of time to lounge around even after he’s done with all that. Also her job (just like any job) is probably more stressful than his daily activities. So yes as a caring and considerate spouse he should do more of the domestic work. It will make his wife’s week less stressful, be better for her health and it will give them more family time.

        2. EG
          EG November 14, 2013 at 2:24 pm |

          But again, she doesn’t have to work. This is what she’s choosing to do with her time, just as he’s choosing to play squash and read books. Why should he have to give up that time? Why not just hire a housekeeper? They’re rich, after all.

        3. Ms. Kristen J.
          Ms. Kristen J. November 14, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

          On Saturdays, I like to chill out, read a book, lounge around the house, maybe take the dog for a stroll in the park. Calming activities.

          On Saturdays, Mr. Kristen likes to play competitive sports, and as a hyper-competitive person he finds this intensely stressful (but enjoyable).

          The fact that his preferred activities stress him out whereas my preferred activity is laziness does not mean I should do his chores. If his activity + his chores is too much for him to handle the answer is for him to adjust his activity not for me to do his chores.

        4. trees
          trees November 14, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

          But again, she doesn’t have to work. This is what she’s choosing to do with her time, just as he’s choosing to play squash and read books. Why should he have to give up that time? Why not just hire a housekeeper? They’re rich, after all.

          It’s his money. What happens when the relationship goes sour? He could probably find a way to screw her out of the money, and she’d be left broke and unemployed with a child to support.

        5. Hina
          Hina November 14, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

          He should do it because that’s what a caring spouse would do. It’s about him not being considerate. Doing few extra chores during his leisure time so his wife can have an easier week, better health and they can all have more family time together should be enough of an incentive.

          My boyfriend goes to law school in a different state and has class 5 days a week. Last time I visited him I got there on Thursday night and stayed at his apartment while he had to attend his Friday class. I could’ve just sat around the entire time but instead I cleaned up the living room and kitchen because I knew he would have to do it when he returns from class. Him no longer having to worry about cleaning the house after class and us getting more quality time together was my reward.

          Splitting things equally isn’t always fair. You also have to consider the circumstances.

        6. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

          The fact that his preferred activities stress him out whereas my preferred activity is laziness does not mean I should do his chores. If his activity + his chores is too much for him to handle the answer is for him to adjust his activity not for me to do his chores.

          This.

        7. Hina
          Hina November 14, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

          On Saturdays, I like to chill out, read a book, lounge around the house, maybe take the dog for a stroll in the park. Calming activities.

          On Saturdays, Mr. Kristen likes to play competitive sports, and as a hyper-competitive person he finds this intensely stressful (but enjoyable).

          The fact that his preferred activities stress him out whereas my preferred activity is laziness does not mean I should do his chores. If his activity + his chores is too much for him to handle the answer is for him to adjust his activity not for me to do his chores.

          Your situation is not the same as there’s. Playing sports is good for your health, you get exercise and your body releases endorphins. Even in this situation if they had practice and games on saturdays and he didn’t get home till late in the evening then it would be nice to not leave a stack of dirty dishes for him to come home to.

          I just see these things as what people do in a caring relationship. You do a little extra in one area of your relationship to make your partner’s life easier and your partner takes on more responsibility in another area to make your life a little easier.

        8. Ms. Kristen J.
          Ms. Kristen J. November 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          @Hina,

          It is analogous since both are voluntary activities. Yes, when he comes home it would be nice not to come home to a stack of dishes. Similarly, it would be nice if when I came home there wasn’t a stack of dishes. But alas, we both eat off of dishes, and I haven’t managed to train the dog to wash them.

          Of course all relationships have give and take moments very often I will pick up some of his chores if he looks tired and he’ll pick up some of mine. But the OP isn’t looking for a little extra help on bad days…she wants him to be responsible on a going forward basis for things that are currently her responsibility.

          Cleaning your partner’s apartment for one day is a nice favor. Him telling you that you need to be responsible for cleaning it going forward is not the same thing.

        9. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:42 am |

          What happens when the relationship goes sour? He could probably find a way to screw her out of the money, and she’d be left broke and unemployed with a child to support.

          Or he could hire a hit man to take her out. Or she could put poison in his morning coffee. Or she could be the daughter of a high-ranking member of an organized-crime family. Or he could actually be a sociopathic liar and have no money at all and be living off credit cards. Or she could be a pathological liar who has made this whole situation up in a bid for Prudie’s attention. Or she could be part of Doctors Without Borders. Or he could have patented the flu vaccine.

          Or we could just stick with what’s actually in the letter.

        10. trees
          trees November 16, 2013 at 10:49 am |

          @EG

          Wait, now I’m totally confused. I thought ldouglas said that this was yet another case of alien mind control. I fear this is all just too complicated for me to understand.

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm |

        Why does everyone keep insisting that her working is “voluntary,” and totally exactly like playing squash and hanging out? I feel like I stumbled into the Twilight Zone.

        Also, what Hina says about a loving, caring person resonates deeply with me. It matters how my spouse regards me and my work.

        1. Matt
          Matt November 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm |

          They are filthy fucking rich and he agreed to give her a ton of money so she isn’t financially dependent on him no matter what the future holds.

          Given that they have no economic pressures to deal with there is functionally zero difference between him playing squash and her doing her job which she enjoys doing, or if she doesn’t enjoy it, she is free to laze around and do nothing as he does, or go to school or get another job or w/e the hell else she wants.

          She doesn’t have to work but she can if she wants. That’s the god damn definition of voluntary.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 6:44 am |

          No, Matt. HE is “filthy fucking rich.” Have you never met a divorced woman who ended up poor?

          She should just live off his largesse? Really? And hooe he keeps the money available to her? He set up a “trust fund” for her, instead of just acting like the money belongs to both of them? He doles it out. She hopes he continues to do so.

          Not a good plan.

        3. jpe
          jpe November 16, 2013 at 4:51 pm |

          Hattie: the column explains that the husband has contributed to a trust for her benefit. eg, she doesn’t have to just rely on him. she’s independently wealthy herself.

        4. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 18, 2013 at 4:27 am |

          depends on how the trust is set up, jpe. If it takes effect after his death, she’s not independently wealthy right now. If it’s in effect now, why? Who administers it and distributes “her” money to her.

      3. TMK
        TMK November 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm |

        I think, in this situation, a caring and considerate spouse would take on little more than 50% of the domestic work. If one spouse works 40 hours a week and the other one works 60, then the spouse working less should do a little more of the domestic work. This way they can have more quality couple time.

        So you think she is inconsiderate and uncaring spouse?

        I mean, before, when he apparently worked long hours, they split the domestic work 50-50, too…

  2. Athenia
    Athenia November 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

    We have an excellent nanny 40 hours a week, and outside those hours my husband is an extremely involved father. We split the domestic duties roughly 50–50, as before,

    Sorry, you can’t split domestic duties when you have a full-time Nanny and a SAHF. Nope, nope, nope. You can split those domestic duties if your dude actually took care of your kid.

    Or better yet, nix the Nanny and hire a full time chef and cleaning service if neither of you want to clean or cook.

    1. Derp
      Derp November 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

      Exactly what I was thinking!

  3. ldouglas
    ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

    Sorry, I’m with Prudie. If you are working absolutely by choice with no economic necessity, then work is just another form of entertainment- which means her choice to work is equivalent to his choice to golf or play video games, which means splitting housework 50-50 is absolutely fair. If you don’t like it, quit your job.

    1. trees
      trees November 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

      If the wife quit her job, she and her son would be completely financially dependent on the husband’s wealth. Maybe she doesn’t want to give away that power.

      1. Willemina
        Willemina November 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm |

        Depends how big the trust fund is.

        1. trees
          trees November 14, 2013 at 3:05 pm |

          I know nothing about trust funds or rich-people-problems in general, but I would think that since the husband and his lawyers set up the trust fund, they could find a way to use it to control the wife and/or keep the money away from her.

        2. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

          I know nothing about trust funds or rich-people-problems in general, but I would think that since the husband and his lawyers set up the trust fund, they could find a way to use it to control the wife and/or keep the money away from her.

          I would guess (though obviously I don’t know,) that what she many by ‘trust fund’ was an amount put in trust for her and her son in the case of her husband’s death. There’s nothing in the letter that indicates she anything other than completely confident that the money will be there for her.

          Let’s not imagine problems in this relationship that aren’t there, and we can assume that they both trust each other and are perfectly aware and comfortable with their financial situation, as the letter doesn’t say otherwise. The letter writer is merely asking if her husband is setting a bad example for her son.

        3. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

          Let’s not imagine problems in this relationship that aren’t there, and we can assume that they both trust each other and are perfectly aware and comfortable with their financial situation, as the letter doesn’t say otherwise.

          I’m not making up imaginary problems. I read the letter, you read the letter. I have made assumptions based on my experience. You, like others here, are a different person and are working with a different set of assumptions based on your own life experience. You, nor I, could possible know what problems there are and I see absolutely no reason to “assume that they both trust each other and are perfectly aware and comfortable with their financial situation”. Y’all are also making assumptions, and I’d just wish you would stop pretending otherwise. You ain’t doing the one true logical reading and those who disagree ain’t projecting our shit.

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:49 pm |

        trees, i hear you. Absolutely!

      3. EG
        EG November 14, 2013 at 10:57 pm |

        So she could demand a sum of money of her own, to keep in her own account.

        Either way, they could get a housekeeper. There’s no need for him to interrupt his rest and recreation in order to wash dishes, or whatever.

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 6:45 am |

          “demand”? Ha. Not a successful strategy.

        2. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:38 am |

          How do you know? Why do you keep writing as though you have some knowledge of these people beyond what’s in the letter?

        3. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm |

          I have knowledge of extremely rich dudes and how they dole out their money.

        4. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 17, 2013 at 5:41 pm |

          I have knowledge of extremely rich dudes and how they dole out their money.

          Because all people with lots of money are exactly the same.

        5. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 18, 2013 at 4:29 am |

          No, wealthy men are totally fair with their money and treat their wives like equal partners. Which is why women get poorer and men get richer after a divorce.

          Also, there is no patriarchy.

    2. Athenia
      Athenia November 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

      Trust fund is such a vague term. Who knows where that money is or what it’s coming from. His stocks could implode one day and then they’ll be SOL.

      1. EG
        EG November 14, 2013 at 11:08 pm |

        Surely she would have mentioned that.

        1. trees
          trees November 14, 2013 at 11:14 pm |

          Surely she would have mentioned that.

          How would she necessarily know?

        2. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:33 am |

          Why wouldn’t she?

          You’re infantilizing her by making up concerns she doesn’t have, and then saying that if she knew better, she would.

          She isn’t worried about that. If she were, if these concerns were relevant, she would have mentioned them.

  4. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin November 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

    Many wealthy people have been some of the most high-achieving, best leaders of all time. I think about Franklin Roosevelt, who was a child of privilege and could have never worked a day in his life if he wanted. But he had a severe disability, which allowed him to relate to other suffering people, often in poverty. And there are many many others.

    A woman I nearly married had a similar circumstance in her own life. She’d been raised middle class, but then in her early teens both sets of grandparents died within weeks of each other. Her parents were both only children, and they inherited several million dollars.

    My ex has always known that she never has to work very hard. Eventually, when her parents kick the bucket, she stands to inherit several million dollars. She’s lived a peripatetic existence, hopping from job to job, not committing to any substantial work. The remaining portion of her life will be smooth sailing, but it remains to be seen whether she will handle the money from the estate responsibly.

  5. EG
    EG November 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

    If the wife is unhappy that she is still doing 50% of the housework, then the solution is simple: hire a housekeeper to take care of her half of the housework.

    But it sounds like what she’s really upset about is that her husband feels no need to do anything “productive.” And that’s pretty much her problem. They have a fundamental difference about the importance and meaning of work. But he doesn’t have any obligation to convert to her way of thinking; there’s nothing particularly superior about it.

    1. Hina
      Hina November 14, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

      I think her frustration comes from her husband not being considerate enough to pick up a few extra things around the house or prepare dinner on weekdays. She’s not asking him to do all of the domestic work, just a little more than half and that seems fair considering he has a lot more leisure time. It’s very selfish of a person with so much leisure time to expect their spouse do 50% of the chores after they come home from a “hard day at work.” Maybe if her husband spent his day volunteering as a teacher or coached a little league or did something that took up around 8 hours of his day and left him with little time to relax or lounge around then this arrangement would be fair. I don’t blame the wife at all, her husband is being inconsiderate!

      1. ldouglas
        ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

        She’s not asking him to do all of the domestic work, just a little more than half and that seems fair considering he has a lot more leisure time

        They have equal leisure time. She chooses to use hers at a 9-5, he uses his at golf.

        1. Hina
          Hina November 14, 2013 at 3:50 pm |

          Except he has more time to relax. Marriage isn’t just a contractual relationship, it’s two people who care about each other and love each other. A caring and loving spouse would want to make their partner’s day less stressful. I don’t see anything terrible or unfair about a person doing few extra chores so his wife doesn’t have to when she gets home from a long day at work, and doing so can make her week less stressful, most likely be significantly beneficial for her health and give them more time to spend together as a family

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

          The fact that her choice of recreational activity takes place in an office doesn’t make it more stressful, or really privilege it in any way, over his choice of recreational activity. You’re still following this model where work > other stuff for some reason, where in this case work = the other stuff.

          doing so can make her week less stressful, most likely be significantly beneficial for her health and give them more time to spend together as a family

          All these things would be much simpler for her to achieve than for him, by the simple expedient of not working so much.

        3. Hina
          Hina November 14, 2013 at 5:22 pm |

          Dividing things equally doesn’t always mean fair. You have to consider the circumstances of the situation too.

          I’m not saying work > other stuff. I’m just saying when one person’s daily activities take up a good portion of their day, leaving the person with little free time to relax it’s fair for that person to do less house work after returning home from a hard day at work than the person who spends more time at home, has more time to relax and doesn’t spend hours of his day doing a mentally strenuous job.

          It’s not fair to say, she should quit her job. Many people enjoy what they do and get great satisfaction from their job. That doesn’t mean everyday at work is like playing in the park for them. Most days can be very stressful and tiring but their work makes them feel good about themselves. I myself don’t really need to worry about working hard because I know my parents can support me for the rest of my life but I wont feel good about myself unless I accomplish the goals I have set for myself. This woman’s husband has already done that for himself and he should be more supportive of his wife instead of treating her dreams as an unnecessary hobby.

        4. EG
          EG November 14, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

          You’re projecting. Nothing in her letter mentions her “dreams.” She doesn’t say anything about loving her job. She just keeps coming back to the supposed value of work and how he doesn’t do any.

          Reading and relaxing can indeed take up one’s entire day. My father retired three years ago and spent the two of those years reading and drinking wine with lunch. He said they were the best years of his life.

          If it’s not necessary for him to pick up the slack, why should he? Hire a housekeeper.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 14, 2013 at 9:06 pm |

          “I’m just saying when one person’s daily activities take up a good portion of their day, leaving the person with little free time to relax it’s fair for that person to do less house work after returning home from a hard day at work than the person who spends more time at home, has more time to relax and doesn’t spend hours of his day doing a mentally strenuous job.”

          Yeah, no.

          This sounds way too close to the “SAHMs don’t really work like their WOH spouses, and thus should do most to all of the house and child care related work” line of non-logic. My sneaking suspicion is that this is really what the letter in question is truly about. Because it seeks to turn the SAHM paradigm on its ear by having the supposedly lazy, unambitious spouse be a man instead of a woman for once.

          Because of course we would not afford the level of respect given to a SAHM as we would a SAHD. Because reverse sexism, or some such bullshit. /Sarcasm

        6. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:51 pm |

          Lolagirl, i disagree, because the dad is not doing the things a SAHP does all day. He’s playing. And “I’m rich, so you should wuit your job” is a dangerous propositiom, IMO

        7. trees
          trees November 14, 2013 at 11:02 pm |

          Lolagirl, i disagree, because the dad is not doing the things a SAHP does all day. He’s playing. And “I’m rich, so you should wuit your job” is a dangerous propositiom, IMO

          Word. He’s no SAHP.

        8. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 15, 2013 at 9:01 am |

          I hear you both on this particular person not being a SAHD, what I was addressing was the way that logic in general is used to downplay and disrespect the work done by actual SAHPs.

          Because let’s not pretend that the dominant narrative is that SAHPs don’t really work, that they don’t do anything physically taxing or “mentally strenuous” and that their WOH counterparts are the ones actually carrying all the weight. This country may pay lip service to the glories of being a SAHM, but when it comes down to it there is little respect or recognition afforded to the real work done by those SAHMs.

          I’m actually disinclined to criticize the husband in this scenario anyway. The letter writer indicates that he does carry 50% of his house and parenting weight when his letter writer wife is home. That he could afford to, in effect, subcontract out parenting duties during the day to a nanny does not necessarily equate to he should’ve doing more around the house because his wife has a paying job.

          And I go back to other point I made above. I think the whole scenario is a made-up one, intended to stir the pot of SAHMs don’t really work Mommy Wars soup.

        9. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

          “made up” or not, lolagirl, I don’t think this is SAHP “concern trolling,” else why have the full time nanny in the mix?

    2. ldouglas
      ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 2:44 pm |

      The only part I depart from you- I think, I’m still figuring this one out for myself- is re: the importance of teaching a kid a work ethic even if they’re rich. I guess I see having a strong work ethic as applying to significantly more than just making money– there are a lot of things worth doing that require being able to push yourself, and I know a lot of kids that grew up never having to work hard who- while fine financially- are pretty miserable because they don’t seem to be able to buckle down and go after the things that would make them happier.

      But I also agree with the father that there are ways to learn a work ethic that don’t involve going to a 9-5; I mean, learning to play an instrument, or a new language, or start a business, or volunteering somewhere challenging, or even getting really good at golf, all require work. I just think it’s important for kids to learn to work at something.

      I’m just thinking ‘out loud,’ though- I could be way off.

      1. Ally S
        Ally S November 14, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

        But I also agree with the father that there are ways to learn a work ethic that don’t involve going to a 9-5; I mean, learning to play an instrument, or a new language, or start a business, or volunteering somewhere challenging, or even getting really good at golf, all require work. I just think it’s important for kids to learn to work at something.

        I agree. In fact, when I was taught to learn a good work ethic through academic achievement*, it had some major repercussions. When I was homeschooled, my dad forced me to learn almost all of advanced algebra when I was 14, and while I did learn to do math well, I did all of that work at the cost of an actual social life. My dad explicitly told me that I shouldn’t make friends or have any kind of social life because those were nothing but “distractions.” That resulted in me Worst of all, the focus on academic success ended up making me base my self-worth on nothing but academic success. And at 16, that proved to be awful for my self-esteem; I tried doing the SAT two times, and my total score (out of 2400) never got higher than 1780. It was a huge blow to my self-esteem because at that time I was trying hard to get into a university like MIT or UC Berkeley. It was like the purpose of my life was to get into school.

        After the second test result, I tried to study for the SAT again. I eventually gave up because I decided to go to community college instead, but I was making really good progress; I ended up get up to 1900 on my practice exams pretty quickly. The reason: I stopped caring about merely getting a good “work ethic” through academic achievement and started caring about just being able to buckle down and get things done. That also prevented me from basing my self-esteem on academic success because I no longer saw academic success as an end in itself.

        *I mention this because it’s roughly analogous to going to a 9-5, although I’m certainly not trying to completely equate the two.

      2. EG
        EG November 14, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

        I don’t object to teaching children how to work hard; I object to teaching them that working hard is some kind of virtue or ethic. Almost everybody will have to work hard at something in zir life–work, school, relationships, health, a hobby. But I don’t hold with this idea that hard work in and of itself is somehow a good thing. What you can achieve with hard work can be good–or bad, of course. But I don’t like the idea that the working hard is worthwhile for its own sake.

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

          I agree completely. I don’t think hard work is a value. I do think it’s a skill, and one (most) people have to learn.

    3. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 6:48 am |

      EG, a man who sets aside a “trust fund” for his wife is not a dude who believes his wife should have free and open access to “his” money, for hiring a housekeeper.

      1. EG
        EG November 15, 2013 at 9:14 am |

        How do you know? She doesn’t say anything of the sort. She doesn’t complain about not having access to the money, or say that she can’t hire a housekeeper to do the chores, or say that she’s worried about financial independence. That’s all coming from you.

      2. Miriam
        Miriam November 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

        I think there are a lot of assumptions being made about this couple’s finances. Here are my counter assumptions:

        This couple has a joint bank account and jointly owned financial investment assets. The majority of the money present in this account comes from the husband’s previous work, but some of it comes from the wife’s work. The husband also has considerable assets in his own name. He has set up a trust fund for his son and his wife with considerable assets so that regardless of what happens to the jointly owned assets and his individual assets because of death, divorce, or separation, his wife can feel secure that she is financially independent in her own right. He has no problem with his wife using their joint assets to hire her own lawyer to review the language of the trust fund. The wife has her own individual assets that include a well-funded 401(k).

      3. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 2:44 pm |

        No, it’s coming from real experience in the real world.

        Also, if he has trusts set up for her and the children, he is doling out the money. He doesn’t just give her free and open access to “his” money. He is infantilizing her while pretending everything between them is equal.

        1. Miriam
          Miriam November 15, 2013 at 3:52 pm |

          I obviously think you’re making some way off base assumptions, but let’s grant them for a moment. He’s a financially controlling jerk. In that case, the housework is a moot point because she should divorce him since he’s a jerk.

          However, in terms of the housework, even if he were controlling all of the wealth accumulated from his old job, that STILL wouldn’t prevent her from hiring a housekeeper to come in once a week. She has her own income. Her husband doesn’t control her income, and we know that they don’t need it to pay bills. So in terms of the “how the housework gets done” question, it doesn’t even matter whether he’s financially controlling or not because she could STILL pay for a housekeeper to do her share.

          Instead, she’s trying to control his time.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm |

          No, she’s asking him to help her. Is this “controlling” his time?

          Also. “trust” funds are ironically named. Why the need for a trust fund, if he’s not controlling her access to his money?

        3. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 17, 2013 at 5:43 pm |

          Also, if he has trusts set up for her and the children, he is doling out the money. He doesn’t just give her free and open access to “his” money. He is infantilizing her while pretending everything between them is equal.

          You don’t understand what a trust fund is. Stop you pointless wanking, do some research, and come back pseudo-educated. Deal?

        4. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 18, 2013 at 4:31 am |

          idouglas, you’re a sexist mansplaining condescending jerk. I know how trust funds work. I am an accountant. So, fuck off. Thank you.

  6. Mike the Mad Biologist
    Mike the Mad Biologist November 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm |

    What if the situation were reversed? If the wife had made a ton of money, retired, hired a nanny, and then demanded that her husband split the housework 50-50 while he continued to work, I’m going to guess that some people would think about this situation differently.

    That said, they could hire someone to do the housework, though if they couldn’t afford two servants (that is what they are by the way), if I were in his position, I would rather pay someone to do the domestic chores, and do more child care.

  7. Tony
    Tony November 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

    Rich people’s problems.

    All I could really think about while reading this was “wow, I wish I was in the husband’s financial position.” However, if the husband is like most people he’ll eventually want for some directed hobby that gives meaning and purpose to his life. A life of leisure sounds great, but I’m sure it gets old, too. Most casual leisure activities (like playing squash, going to the beach, reading, etc.) are not really designed to fill a human being’s life. They’re designed to fill the spaces in our lives. Go to a movie theater a 2 pm on Tuesday afternoon and it won’t feel the same– not nearly as sweet.

    1. Willemina
      Willemina November 15, 2013 at 1:10 am |

      A small rabbit farm, a rattery, and a sailboat….sorry, daydreaming.

    2. Kerandria
      Kerandria November 18, 2013 at 1:55 am |

      Oh, the dreams..

  8. birdie
    birdie November 14, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

    Oh FFS. It doesn’t take that much time to do the housework if you have a f$^#@& nanny. If he is not doing all of it, there is something wrong with both of them.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 3:28 pm |

      If he is not doing all of it, there is something wrong with both of them.

      Nannies take care of kids. The world of housework is much bigger. And I really don’t see why her unnecessary job is more important than his unnecessary golf.

      1. ashurredly
        ashurredly November 14, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

        Maybe her work involves actually doing something good instead of reveling in wealth and privilege? At which point, the husband should be doing something to help her out.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 14, 2013 at 5:34 pm |

        And I really don’t see why her unnecessary job is more important than his unnecessary golf.

        I don’t know about you, but I’ve discovered very few non-directly-golf-related jobs that will appreciate a resume where all you can list under “activities in the last 10 years” is “sixteen margaritas a week in between a leisurely tee-off”.

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 6:36 pm |

          I don’t know about you, but I’ve discovered very few non-directly-golf-related jobs that will appreciate a resume where all you can list under “activities in the last 10 years” is “sixteen margaritas a week in between a leisurely tee-off”.

          …and? If she wants to build a resume, cool. If her husband wants to play golf, cool. She’s not supporting him, they’re both economically extremely well-off, and so I don’t see any scenario in which her decision to work obligates him to do her share of the housework.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

          In your world, I suppose divorce doesn’t happen, and women have no reason at all to not want to be stuck with a resume ten years out of date in an unfriendly and sexist workforce.

          Nice world you have there.

        3. Ens
          Ens November 14, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

          That’s what the Trust Fund’s for, isn’t it? There was a specific paragraph about that. If there’s something wrong with the Trust Fund, which we admittedly have no details about, then we should just fix that. It addresses the root issue that you’re talking about.

          Reading the letter, that doesn’t seem to be her concern, it’s a (legitimate) concern being projected upon her. She basically doesn’t approve of what he does with his time, thinking it’s not equal to what she does with her time, so she wants to address the imbalance by having him take up more than 50% of the chores. And I think it’s perfectly legitimate to ask “what makes your work more important than his reading and squash game”? If they needed the money, that would be one valid answer. If she needs the resume security in case he flakes out, that’s another, but they have an alternate solution there. If her work saves a zillion people from starvation while his is only self-enrichment, then there’s a valid answer there which might lead to a fundamental values conflict between them.

      3. EG
        EG November 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

        Maybe her work involves actually doing something good instead of reveling in wealth and privilege?

        Sure. And maybe she’s a lawyer for a bank that forecloses on homeowner’s mortgages. Maybe she’s one of the brilliant minds that underwrote the economy’s crash. Maybe her job involves making the world a worse place. In which case he shouldn’t help at all, really.

      4. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm |

        idouglas, you keep insisting her job is unnecessary. For whom is it unnecessary? For her husband? For you? Clearly, it’s as necessary to her as his playtime is to him.

        Talk about projecting.

        1. Matt
          Matt November 14, 2013 at 11:23 pm |

          Yes, as necessary for her as his playtime is for him. Not MORE necessary. AS necessary.

          In which case its perfectly reasonable to split their housework 50/50.

          Which the wife thinks is unfair. Does it hurt to hold such a contradiction in your head?

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 6:50 am |

          Matt, jobs are “necessary” to live. Sad, true fact. squash games are not. You think her job is unnecessary because her husband is rich. You have written her out of existence.

        3. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 2:30 am |

          Matt, jobs are “necessary” to live. Sad, true fact.

          Not for her, it’s not.

          Furthermore, she doesn’t actually care about the housework; she just is pissed her husband doesn’t care as much about having an unnecessary job as she does. Else she’d hire a housekeeper.

        4. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:20 pm |

          It’s necessary cor her financial survival, idouglas. or do you think multi-millionaire husbands always do righht by their (first) wives, and treat them as equal partners in matters of finance?

        5. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

          Not when they have trusts set up for them.

          And not based on the information in the letter.

    2. Tori
      Tori November 14, 2013 at 11:39 pm |

      It doesn’t take that much time to do the housework if you have a f$^#@& nanny.

      Will you teach me your secrets, please? Because I have no kids — rendering the need for a nanny nonexistent — and my housework takes a shitload of time.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl November 15, 2013 at 9:37 am |

        Yeah, I have a shitload of kids, and a house as well. I do not have enough hours in the day to get all the things done that need doing. Apparently I need a nanny, and all my problems would be solved?

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

          How many kids do you have? I’m kinda jealous. I only have two.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 17, 2013 at 1:38 pm |

          Four kids: 8 year old twins, a 3 and a half year old, and a 2 year old.

        3. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 18, 2013 at 4:32 am |

          OMIGOD you have TODDLERS! How I miss that. I adore my teens, but I swoon for the littlekins.

  9. Miriam
    Miriam November 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm |

    The issue in the marriage doesn’t seem to be domestic labor–they could easily afford to hire more help if that were the issue, and the wife’s letter barely even mentions housework. Her issue is that the husband isn’t working in any way that she can recognize and it’s pissing her off. This is a greater values mismatch than whose turn it is to wash dishes.

    If I were Prudie, I think what I would have told her is to give things some more time. Her husband is only a year and a half into an early retirement, after what sounds like a very stressful and commercially successful twenties. He sounds like he got very burnt out. With a baby-now-toddler to care for on weeknights and weekends, he probably doesn’t feel like his life is very empty or work free. When the child is older and the husband’s had more time to recover, he’ll probably feel aimless and want to find either a second career or a strong hobby to pursue. Or maybe he won’t.

    However, IMHO, her resentment is her own doing. Her husband isn’t forcing her to work; he’s even gone so far as to set up a trust fund for her so that she can be financially independent of him. She’s choosing to do that because she values working for whatever reason (because she doesn’t trust his trust fund; she likes her job; she likes working in a 9-5). That’s a fine, legitimate choice, but it is her choice and her values.

  10. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue November 14, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

    First of all, whatever your husband did for a living, he must have been pretty good at it if he can finance the next 50 years of high-end hanging out without ever having to earn another cent.

    In addition to everything else, this is super gross. I really thought we had gotten beyond the “how much money you make directly correlates with how hard you work” mentality.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

      In addition to everything else, this is super gross. I really thought we had gotten beyond the “how much money you make directly correlates with how hard you work” mentality.

      Not how hard you work, no, but usually you have to be pretty good at something to earn millions in only a couple years, yes. Not sure how that could possibly be objectionable.

      1. Tony
        Tony November 14, 2013 at 10:08 pm |

        Well, don’t you have to be in the right field, as well? I work in programming. You don’t hear about a lot of programmers who stayed in programming becoming multi millionaires by their early 30s. I believe it was one study that said sole proprietors are most likely to get rich.

        The most visible and dramatic examples being the kids who started Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Zynga and so on- the technology start ups. They’re in the news a lot. I’ve noticed they pretty much are all young white men- with one or two Asian men occasionally. Not many traditionally underrepresented minorities. Not many women. And not many non Americans. (There’s no European equivalent of Google or Facebook of comparable size). I don’t want to take anuthing away from these guys because I know for every success story that comes to our attention there are manifold who failed in obscurity. It’s not just hard work or skill- it’s courage, it’s total immersion, and it’s perseverance. But also luck. Uktimately we ‘re largely all shaped by structural factors extrinsic to ourselves.

        Another category of get ruch youngers is people who work in finance. Investment bankers, hedge fund managers, and others like them. Another heavily male dominated field. The point is that the premise of this story reflects factors that ought to be critiqued.

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

          Excellent points, Tony. As a freelance accountant/bookkeeper, I work hella hard for my clients, but I won’t retire wealthy from it!

      2. TimmyTwinkles
        TimmyTwinkles November 15, 2013 at 12:04 am |

        Are you sure you’re not a corporate shill? I mean, for a liberal you have a shit-ton of touching faith in corporations and the free market.

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

          Which blog used to have as its motto: “Because the invisible hand is giving you the finger”?

          I loved that.

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm |

          Learn basic inductive logic, please.The argument “you have to be pretty good at something to make millions in only a couple years” is not the same as “if you’re pretty good at something, you will make millions in a couple years.”

          Of course there are tons of factors beyond your control that affect whether you get rich. Of course working hard is no guarantee. But usually you can’t be totally talentless and make incredible sums of money.

          And from that, you get “yay corporate oligarchy?” Christ, stupid people.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm |

          But usually you can’t be totally talentless and make incredible sums of money.

          E.L. James.

          Arnold Schwarzenegger.

          I’ll wait.

        4. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 15, 2013 at 5:37 pm |

          E.L. James is a terrible writer who was incredibly good at tapping into a particular key market for her books.

          Don’t you dare sully the Terminator movies.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 5:46 pm |

          I think the plagiarism and wank means that franchise comes pre-sullied, personally. And I’m not even a fan of Ellison.

        6. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 15, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

          Wank?

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm |

          Harlan Ellison sued Cameron for plagiarism, won, and then Cameron refused to credit him on the DVDs/videos anyway, afaicr. Cheap shithead that he is.

        8. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 15, 2013 at 6:44 pm |

          Harlan claimed the film was based on his ‘Soldier,’ and the film company voluntarily gave him an undisclosed amount of money and an acknowledgment credit in later prints of the film. Cameron disagreed with the decision because he thought the claim of plagiarism was false. As far as I can tell.

          Also, having seen both, I really don’t get it. I mean, yes, they both have time-traveling soldiers, and that’s just about where the similarities end.

        9. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm |

          Also- isn’t that the same Ellison who has sued like 400 different authors for ‘stealing’ his ideas?

        10. Donna L
          Donna L November 15, 2013 at 7:11 pm |

          Exactly. Ellison — who’s accused everyone and their mother of plagiarism, when he isn’t busy assaulting people at cons — didn’t win the lawsuit. They gave him something in settlement and gave him a credit (over Cameron’s objection), which I can assure you doesn’t mean anyone was admitting liability. A second person using the idea of time-traveling soldiers — even if he did get the idea from an Outer Limits episode — doesn’t equal plagiarism. And I don’t think The Road plagiarized A Boy and his Dog, either.

        11. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles November 16, 2013 at 1:39 am |

          Me know logic. But since i was snarky first i dont begrudge you getting snarky right back.

        12. Willemina
          Willemina November 16, 2013 at 1:53 am |

          Arnold was rich before he ever broke in to Hollywood, so try another?

        13. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:23 pm |

          Learn basic inductive logic, please.

          You’re kind of a condescending jackass with this.

        14. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm |

          You’re kind of a condescending jackass with this.

          Good. That’s the appropriate response to something like

          Are you sure you’re not a corporate shill?

        15. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles November 17, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

          Thanks tinfoil hattie but let her have her fun.

  11. Ashley
    Ashley November 14, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

    I wouldn’t be having that. I can completely understand him wanting to take a break from work, and that’s all well and good, but a child is his responsibility too, as well as housework. If I were her, I’d either quit my job and take him up on his offer of his fund to support the family, then prioritize making any responsibilities left 50/50, or I’d get rid of the nanny and force him to take her place. Or I’d leave. He may have worked hard and earned his money, and he should have the joy of having a break and enjoying more leisurely activities, but he’s really abusing it by refusing to lift a finger. Hell no.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 6:33 pm |

      If I were her, I’d either quit my job and take him up on his offer of his fund to support the family, then prioritize making any responsibilities left 50/50, or I’d get rid of the nanny and force him to take her place. Or I’d leave.

      Only options 1 and 3 are things people are actually able to do, short of being controlling/abusive. You don’t get to make unilateral decisions about what other people do with their time.

      He may have worked hard and earned his money, and he should have the joy of having a break and enjoying more leisurely activities, but he’s really abusing it by refusing to lift a finger. Hell no.

      Uh, they’re currently splitting all the work 50/50. She wants him to do more, because she chooses to have a job.

  12. Ashley
    Ashley November 14, 2013 at 6:35 pm |

    Ok so I take that back, I wouldn’t force him to be the nanny but it sounds like they have a difference in values, and they need to talk it out, make a plan, and stick with it. I can understand her resentment. Yes, it is her doing to choose to go to work, but I’m assuming she just doesn’t want to be a lazy, rich family hiring help with whatever just so they can sit around doing nothing. It sounds like she value hard work, no matter much money they have, and she hopes he has the same mentality, but she’s finding out that he doesn’t.

  13. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable November 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

    I tend to agree with ldouglas throughout, but I would love to know if they were evenly splitting the housework when he was working those long, stressful hours. Also, I think I’ve seen studies that say dudes in heterosexual relationships tend to overestimate their household contributions.

    All that in mind, I’m happy saying there are too many details missing to offer concrete advice were I asked (other than “holy eff, communicate.”)

    1. Ens
      Ens November 14, 2013 at 8:24 pm |

      We split the domestic duties roughly 50–50, as before, but now I am the only one working […]

      I take that to mean that she believes that they were evenly splitting it even when he had the long, stressful hours.

      I do agree though, we’re just missing too many details. There’s some suggestion in these posts that he has unilateral control of the wealth and the trust fund is actually untrustworthy and he is therefore forcing the entire situation, and I go…maybe? But I didn’t see that in the letter at all?

      1. PrettyAmiable
        PrettyAmiable November 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm |

        Oh, you and your reading comprehension, haha. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  14. Karak
    Karak November 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm |

    I can’t get over my feelings of ickiness over an adult that has no job, farms out most of his kid’s waking hours to other people, and won’t clean more than half of his own house on principle, just so he can, like, chillax. Even though it’s clearly making his life-partner furious.

    Her life is as completely chained to his decisions–he decides how serious her job is, how much housework she has to do, the value and priority of everything in their marriage is arbitrated by him because he’s extremely wealthy. It’s unsurprising she finds this unilateral control stifling.

    They need to have a serious talk about their future, lives, and values. This isn’t about dishes, it’s a fundamental disagreement on how life should be lived. On a personal level, I agree more with her values, but they’re not objectively better than his–just incompatible.

    1. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:55 pm |

      THIS. Thank you!!!

    2. Miranda
      Miranda November 15, 2013 at 12:26 am |

      Yeah, me too. I don’t really get all the people who think she’s a controlling nag, but whatever. I’d have divorced the guy by this point.

    3. EG
      EG November 15, 2013 at 12:33 am |

      Her life is as completely chained to his decisions–he decides how serious her job is, how much housework she has to do, the value and priority of everything in their marriage is arbitrated by him because he’s extremely wealthy.

      Where are you getting this from?

      She decides how serious her job is to her. She decides how much house work she has to do–she can either drop her contribution to match his or hire a housekeeper because they have shit-tons of money. Nothing else about their marriage is mentioned regarding value and priority. She’s pissed because he won’t accede to her values. He’s not trying to get her to give up her job and live a life of leisure; she’s upset because he won’t be “productive” like her.

      Where are you seeing his control? All he is controlling is how he spends his own time and how much housework he does (half). How she spends her time is up to her.

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 6:53 am |

        You and me both, karak.

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 6:55 am |

          Oops – posted in wrong place.

          EG. “They” are not rich. HE is. HE controls the money and the access to it. Besides, he doesn’t even seem to think that taking care of his kid is as important as his fun times. So if this is true, I would find him to be a selfish, controlling jerk.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L November 15, 2013 at 7:28 am |

          “They” are not rich. HE is. HE controls the money and the access to it.

          No. That would be true if he hadn’t set up a trust fund. The whole point of setting up a trust for someone (if it’s irrevocable, and one has to assume that the letter writer is knowledgeable enough to know if that weren’t the case) is that the grantor no longer has control.

          All the assumptions people are making that he can somehow just take away the trust, that it’s inadequate, that it consists of volatile stock holdings, etc., are just that — assumptions with no basis other than an apparent belief that the letter writer is so naive that she’s just taking her husband’s word about the trust fund, doesn’t know the details, and has no money of her own saved up.

          That’s not to say I’m suggesting that she should just quit. But I am suggesting that there’s no real basis for assuming that her husband controls the money and the access to it.

          Aside from the trust fund, of course, we really don’t know what the legal situation is in terms of her equitable distribution or community property rights, depending on where they live, should the marriage end. The fact that his wealth may be largely in his name means very little if it was accumulated during the marriage. Yes, women often get financially screwed in a divorce. It’s less likely to happen, however, when there’s substantial wealth involved, and the wife can afford a decent lawyer (or the court orders the husband to pay her fees, as often happens).

        3. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 7:46 am |

          All the assumptions people are making that he can somehow just take away the trust, that it’s inadequate, that it consists of volatile stock holdings, etc., are just that — assumptions with no basis other than an apparent belief that the letter writer is so naive that she’s just taking her husband’s word about the trust fund, doesn’t know the details, and has no money of her own saved up.

          You assume her financial secure, I assume otherwise.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L November 15, 2013 at 7:58 am |

          Then I guess we’ll have to leave it up to her as to whether she believes herself to be financially secure (she never says she doesn’t) and whether, if she does, she has a reasonable basis for that belief or is simply, and naively, taking her husband’s word for it (Which I readily concede is never a wise thing to do, no matter how much you think you can trust your spouse. After my divorce was final, I found out that my ex had more than $100,000 sitting in a separate bank account I knew nothing about — a great deal of money for us, given that after paying legal fees we each ended up with about $35,000 from our joint account, which was everything we had except for our house, which wasn’t sold for many years, by which time the housing market had, of course, collapsed.)

        5. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 8:15 am |

          After my divorce was final, I found out that my ex had more than $100,000 sitting in a separate bank account I knew nothing about — a great deal of money for us, given that after paying legal fees we each ended up with about $35,000 from our joint account, which was everything we had except for our house, which wasn’t sold for many years, by which time the housing market had, of course, collapsed.)

          I have a friend who managed to hide the ownership of house from her soon to be ex-husband.

        6. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles November 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

          Donna L makes very valid points about the trust situation. Generally, the trust is under the oversight of a trustee(s), i.e. someone other than the person who set it up. If anyone is controlling how the money is distributed to the beneficiaries (the wife and their child), it would be the trustee, not the husband.

        7. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 2:48 pm |

          A trust fund set up by one partner in a relationship between two adults does not strike me as “equal.” It strikes me as infantilizing. Is HIS money also in a trust? Or does he just dole it out to his wife and kids? That is not equal footing, in my view.

        8. Willemina
          Willemina November 15, 2013 at 3:12 pm |

          Because using a legal instrument to secure funds against future bankruptcy, financial downturn, or other catastrophe must have nefarious motive. I bet the trustees all have goatees and white persian cats they stroke while sipping brandy made from the tears of orphans. His personal stock portfolio is probably chock full of investment in oil companies, arms manufacturers, and people that spray chemicals in bunny’s eyes.

          Anyway, if she’s not financially secure and needs to work how does that change anything she wrote about? Should household labor be split unequally due to the employment circumstances? How about money itself? Since she’s working and we’re assuming he’s so controlling with the money she doesn’t have to pay in to their joint account any more right?

        9. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

          A trust fund set up by one partner in a relationship between two adults does not strike me as “equal.” It strikes me as infantilizing. Is HIS money also in a trust? Or does he just dole it out to his wife and kids? That is not equal footing, in my view.

          Wow, you really don’t get what the point of a trust is, do you?

        10. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

          Because using a legal instrument to secure funds against future bankruptcy, financial downturn, or other catastrophe must have nefarious motive. I bet the trustees all have goatees and white persian cats they stroke while sipping brandy made from the tears of orphans. His personal stock portfolio is probably chock full of investment in oil companies, arms manufacturers, and people that spray chemicals in bunny’s eyes.

          Right, ’cause that’s what it means to be distrustful and questioning of their financial bliss. Rolling my eyes…

        11. Willemina
          Willemina November 16, 2013 at 1:36 am |

          When there’s nothing whatsoever in her letter to suggest duplicity or malice? Rolling back…

        12. trees
          trees November 16, 2013 at 6:50 pm |

          When there’s nothing whatsoever in her letter to suggest duplicity or malice? Rolling back…

          Yup, I believe in villainous caricatures and alien-mind control too. This is obviously true because this is exactly what I said.

        13. trees
          trees November 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

          I forgot to mention, the moon is made of green cheese.

        14. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm |

          Wow, you really don’t get what the point of a trust is, do you?

          Wow, you’re a mansplaining asshole, aren’t you?

          If the trust fund for her is set up for after he dies, that’s just good estate planning, mostly for tax purposes.

          But ahe isn’t clear about what kind of trust it is. And when he leaves her for someone younger who isn’t such a screaming harpy bitch for asking him to do more around the house between squash games, she might be kinda glad she hung onto that job.

      2. Athenia
        Athenia November 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

        I have a relative whose husband set up a trust fund for her. While I don’t know the particulars of it, I do know the husband loves to control people via “his” money. He thinks he can just throw money at a problem so he doesn’t have to “communicate.”

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm |

          Yup. Someone I know married a very wealthy man, and found out that he set up his estate so that HIS family would control his widow’s inheritance should he predecease her. Since he was thirty years older, that was pretty likely. So he was willing to marry someone that much younger, but not willing to treat her as an adult – even after it could not possibly matter to him what she did with her life.

    4. Miriam
      Miriam November 15, 2013 at 1:36 am |

      If her life were chained to his decisions, she would be living the life of leisure with him. She’s completely making her own choices per the letter. She’s the one who’s trying to control him by wanting him to work in some ways according to her value system!

      1. karak
        karak November 15, 2013 at 2:29 am |

        I’m just gonna say it: this guy disgusts me. It would disgust me if he was a woman, too, so it’s not a sexist thing.

        You’re an adult. Be a contributing member of society. Take care of your kid, clean your home, support your wife’s ambitions (because I’m sure she supported his) and be something besides a lump.

        Like, seriously. What is he doing. What is he doing that he cannot have his son there. For 40 hours a week. Not half the week, so Daddy can have a mental health/freedom day,or so Mom and Dad can have Adult Time but the whole week.

        His full-time job, his number one priority, is him doing whatever the fuck he wants. Because he’s rich and he can do whatever the fuck he wants, and she can either get on board or step off. That’s it.

        Bleh.

        1. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 8:48 am |

          Right, you don’t like the way he’s living his life. You don’t like his values. But he’s not actually hurting anybody. We don’t know anything about what she’s doing. We don’t know if she’s a contributing member of society or a useless leech (plenty of paid jobs are bullshit) or actively harmful. She’s not doing any more with the kid than he is.

          All we know about her values is that she values labor. I don’t see what’s so great about that.

        2. Miriam
          Miriam November 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm |

          When I was unemployed, I did not pull my child out of her full-time daycare because I didn’t have to financially and I didn’t want to. I love my child, and I love the time I do spend with my child. But I do not want to be and have never wanted to be a full-time caretaker for a young child. I find it exhausting and frankly boring. Being a SAHP requires a particular set of skills and interests that I think many of us don’t have. I am shocked and horrified to see the judging on a feminist board of a parent choosing not to be the full-time caretake for a his toddler.

          In this day and age, and with the amount of parenting blogs out there, it shouldn’t be a novel concept that many SAHPs aren’t happy being SAHPs, but are doing it because they believe that the best outcome for children is to have a stay at home parent rather than a nanny or go to daycare. I do not believe this, nor does the letter writer’s husband (nor does the letter writer appear to), so I see no reason to be miserable when I don’t have to.

          (it should go without saying but never seems to that the qualifier “many” is explicitly acknowledging that there are SAHPs who adore it. Indeed, I have one friend who adored it so much that she now runs an in-home daycare and gets to be both a SAHP and a working mother with her own income).

        3. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles November 15, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

          Wait a second, you seriously believe that a SAHP is not a better outcome for a child than a nanny or daycare?

        4. Donna L
          Donna L November 15, 2013 at 2:43 pm |

          It depends on the SAHP, the nanny, and the daycare facility. You can’t necessarily generalize. I don’t think a caretaker who dislikes what they’re doing is likely to lead to a great result for the child regardless of the label the caretaker happens to have.

        5. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles November 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

          Yeah, point taken. I did over-generalize there.

        6. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 2:53 pm |

          All we know about her values is that she values labor. I don’t see what’s so great about that.

          What I “know” (which is exactly as much as any of us “knows,” which is to say: Nothing) is that she apparently values her work, her contribution to whatever her career is, and her autonomy. She is not necessarily relying on his beneficence when it comes to her life.

        7. Miriam
          Miriam November 15, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

          Not sure if this will nest correctly so this is a response to TommyTwinkles, who asks (apparently incredulously):

          Wait a second, you seriously believe that a SAHP is not a better outcome for a child than a nanny or daycare?

          Yes, that would be why I left my child in daycare when I had the option of being a SAHM. More accurately, I believe a SAHP is a better outcome when it’s better and not a better outcome when it’s not.

          Presumably, you’ve spent time with babies and toddlers. Think of how demanding it is for an adult to have to only communicate at baby/toddler level and to have to constantly watch over the child for safety concerns. It’s really, really hard work that can also feel repetitive and boring. I think I’m a pretty awesome mother with my child, but I’m able to be awesome because I am NOT a stay at home parent. I can be very fresh and focused and dance, play puzzles, hoop, tell silly stories, watch My Little Ponies, sing the alphabet song, count to 40, etc. But I was a stay-at-home parent initially, and I was a HORRIBLE mother. I was bored, resentful, and exhausted.

          Meanwhile, I have a friend with a child around the same age as mine, who is a GREAT SAHM. My friend loves every minute of caretaking and is invigorated by having so much time with her child–so much so that my friend started an in-home daycare for toddlers. I have other friends who tried being SAHMs and hated it.

          Meanwhile, nannies and daycare owners/workers are generally people who have self-selected for working with their particular age group. Many of them have training in early child development and a lot of experience/expertise in what techniques work with babies and toddlers. My child’s daycare has done fabulous work with teaching sharing, turn taking, and general politeness, and my husband and I have learned a lot from our daycare staff. When the relationship works right, it’s a win for everyone, including the child.

          The US has poor regulations and support for childcare, so people can’t always afford to shop around. They have to take whatever they can afford or that’s on the way to work. In those cases, the child would probably be better off with a SAHP. But I’d also argue in those situations both parent and child would be better off in a country with subsidized daycare and better salaries for daycare workers as well as more respect for daycare work as a skilled profession.

        8. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles November 16, 2013 at 1:34 am |

          Response to Miriam: That makes sense. I hadn’t thought about it quite like that; your points are well-taken.

        9. EG
          EG November 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

          she apparently values her work, her contribution to whatever her career is, and her autonomy.

          Yeah, she values those things so very much that she never mentions “whatever her career is” or her “autonomy.” She does wax eloquent, however, about the value of working.

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

        @miriam. I want to make you Queen of Child Care – SAHP or otherwise!!!

  15. thefish
    thefish November 14, 2013 at 10:28 pm |

    I kind of agree with Prudie. When you don’t need to work, work is sort of your hobby. Yeah, work can benefit people, but if this was about doing good you think she would be concerned about helping other people.

    This sounds like a serious values difference. And I agree with the husband. Her form of recreation is work. His is squash.

    1. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:58 pm |

      So work and leisure are exactly the same thing? Her work is recreation? How do you know? Doesn’t she want him to do more so she can have some leisure, too?

      Her work is necessary for HER. She is a separate person from her husband. He doesn’t get to assign value to her work using extremely rare situation.

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 14, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

        Sorry – using HIS extremely rare situation.

      2. thefish
        thefish November 14, 2013 at 11:19 pm |

        She doesn’t need it to be financially secure. Yeah, I get that it is important to her. But why would it be privileged above his Squash? Payment is what separates work, a job, from leisure. But she isn’t getting a noticeable payment if he is as wealthy as this letter makes it seem.

        So yeah, its basically a hobby for her. I understand that it is important and valuable to her, but the guys chillaxing is important to him. Why is “work” more important than chillaxing?

        1. Willemina
          Willemina November 15, 2013 at 2:02 am |

          We don’t know how much she’s making. With the flippancy of her offhand reference to the nanny I’m imagining six figure power couple. He hit the “enough money to last forever” point way ahead of schedule but she’s got a death grip on the corporate ladder. Leisure activities are “dicking around” and it’s likely no amount of money will ever be enough.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 6:56 am |

          It isn’t HER money. it’s HIS, and he’s clear about that.

          And her work is important to HER. She exists. Her needs and desires MATTER.

        3. Willemina
          Willemina November 15, 2013 at 11:57 am |

          She’s clear about that. It’s his success and his wealth by her wording. Again by her own words he’s not devaluing her work, she’s the one pushing for an uneven split of household duties, she’s the one upset by his lack of drive and life of leisure. Whatever boost she gets from working isn’t enough to overcome the resentment she has.

        4. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:10 am |

          It isn’t HER money. it’s HIS, and he’s clear about that.

          Evidence? Because what we’ve got is her description of the money, not his.

          And her work is important to HER. She exists. Her needs and desires MATTER.

          Really? What does she do? Why is it important to her?

          Does she touch on these very important needs and desires in her letter at all? No, she doesn’t. What she dwells upon at length is how important to her it is that he works. Her needs and desires matter, but her needs and desires for other people do not matter more than their own.

        5. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 18, 2013 at 4:36 am |

          Jeez, it’s not “other people,” it’s her freaking HUSBAND, who apparently believes he can just buy his way out pf helping her when she asks.

        6. Este
          Este November 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm |

          Oh, so because he’s her husband he ceases to be his own person, and she gets to dictate his time? Nope, sorry, not buying that.

          And yes, he does get to buy his way out of mundane tasks he doesn’t like, if he can afford to and it’s not harming anyone. If that offends his wife’s puritanical work ethos, too bad for her.

  16. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 14, 2013 at 11:02 pm |

    So if he’s soooooo rich and his pastimes are like sooooooo important, why can’t he hire a housekeeper along with a nanny? And while he’s at it, how about a professional ass-wiper and toenail-filer? Sounds like he needs those done for him, too.

    1. EG
      EG November 14, 2013 at 11:11 pm |

      Well, it seems like she’s the one who should hire a housekeeper–she’s the one feels she’s doing more than she ought.

      Personally, I wouldn’t want a nanny. But I hate domestic labor. Hate it. If I could afford to hire someone to do it for me, I sure as hell would. I don’t think it betrays a lack of moral character.

      1. Matt
        Matt November 14, 2013 at 11:50 pm |

        Considering he agreed to give her a crap load of money, I doubt he is going to object to hiring a housekeeper. I don’t understand how any one can read what she wrote, and since she wrote it its likely to be biased to her side, and believe that he is the one with the problem. They split the housework 50/50, they both have the option to work or not, they could easily hire a TEAM of housekeepers/cleaners and such, why is it okay for her to force him to work if he doesn’t have to?

        1. karak
          karak November 15, 2013 at 12:10 am |

          Okay, I’m gonna say it: when we’re talking about how unjust it is to force a grown fucking adult to care for child, look after his home, and his wife is brutally forcing him because she wants him to be supportive of her life-goals to actually do something for her…we’ve reached some kind of alarming critical mass of WTF-ery.

          Be a fucking adult and do slightly more of the chores and make your fucking wife happy. Three hours out of your week–three hours that you have a lot of time to use because you have a nanny, for chrissake–isn’t a blood sacrifice. It’s not unreasonable, it’s not ridiculous, it’s not unfair. And it represents a massive disrespect that she asks him for one thing to make her life easier–one tiny sacrifice of his immeasurable free time–and he refuses.

          And the commentariat’s response is “WELL SHE SHOULD QUIT HER JOB THEN.” Just… headdesk.

          If he were my husband he’d be served with papers so fast his head would spin. Then he could clean the whole fucking house by himself.

        2. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 12:23 am |

          Be a fucking adult and do slightly more of the chores and make your fucking wife happy.

          Why? Why not hire a housekeeper?

          The commentariat’s response is not “quit your job.” It’s “since you’re so fucking wealthy that you don’t have to work, you don’t get extra virtue-points for working.” Why should he do more chores because she prefers working to playing squash and reading?

        3. Ms. Kristen J.
          Ms. Kristen J. November 15, 2013 at 12:25 am |

          @Karak,

          Why is her life goal more valid than his?

        4. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 12:25 am |

          Note that we don’t even know what she does. She could have the cushiest, most bullshit job ever imagined. She could “work” in her parent’s company. All we know about her daytime activities is that someone is willing to write her a check for them.

          We know what he does. Playing squash and reading books are harmless activities and reasonably worthwhile. The same cannot be said with any certainty regarding what she does. So why should I give a shit about it?

        5. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 12:29 am |

          And it represents a massive disrespect that she asks him for one thing to make her life easier–one tiny sacrifice of his immeasurable free time–and he refuses.

          The thing is, she has immeasurable free time, too. She just prefers to spend it working for pay. That is literally all we know about her life choices. And nothing about “working for pay” suggests to me that it’s necessarily or even probably any more worthwhile than his life choices.

        6. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 12:35 am |

          LOLing over here at the women with doctorates wondering why any woman would possibly want to work and maintain an employment profile if married to a rich man. I sure as fuck wouldn’t feel financially secure in that arrangement, but maybe I’m too uneducated to have reached the refined ethereal realm where a career and playing squash for funsies are identically important in the world, and where a stay-at-home dude with a nanny somehow feels entitled to whinge about being asked to do the grocery run three weeks a month instead of two.

        7. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 12:37 am |

          I mean, to put this in perspective: if you, EG, were married to a guy who stayed at home and had a nanny to watch the baby every hour you were at work, and you were still a doctoral student, would your PhD be exactly as valuable as his weekly tennis game with Brad and Wilson?

        8. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 7:00 am |

          karak amd macavity, thank you!

          Isn’t this the same commentariat that generally frowns upon SAHMs who live off their husbands? If this letter were from a woman who was frantic because her ex reneged on a promise to keep her financially secure and hid all his wealth in offshore accounts, wouldn’t we be reading a lot of “This is why women should earn their own living” comments?

        9. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 7:12 am |

          Ain’t this some shit.

        10. trees
          trees November 15, 2013 at 7:21 am |

          LOLing over here at the women with doctorates wondering why any woman would possibly want to work and maintain an employment profile if married to a rich man. I sure as fuck wouldn’t feel financially secure in that arrangement, but maybe I’m too uneducated to have reached the refined ethereal realm where a career and playing squash for funsies are identically important in the world, and where a stay-at-home dude with a nanny somehow feels entitled to whinge about being asked to do the grocery run three weeks a month instead of two.

          This is so bizarre. She is earning her own money to care for herself and her son. What happens if they divorce and discovers this trust fund wasn’t so ironclad after all. What if the father then decides that he’d rather spend his wealth on recreation, and not on buying food and clothing for their son. He has the money, he has the lawyers, he has a lot of control.

        11. Donna L
          Donna L November 15, 2013 at 7:31 am |

          Isn’t this the same commentariat that generally frowns upon SAHMs who live off their husbands?

          Not really. There are a whole lot of people here — including me, and including EG — who regularly push back against criticism of SAHMs.

        12. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 8:55 am |

          If this letter were from a woman who was frantic because her ex reneged on a promise to keep her financially secure and hid all his wealth in offshore accounts, wouldn’t we be reading a lot of “This is why women should earn their own living” comments?

          Of course. At that point work will become an important feminist act to acquire independence from Teh Menz and Really Be A Woman Human, and a symbol of our burgeoning desire to be self-actualized and powerful. Unless the husband’s rich, in which case she’s just a vapid ass who contributes nothing of value ever.

          Really fucking curious if people would be reacting this way if the genders were reversed. Suspect not, extremely strongly.

        13. Willemina
          Willemina November 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm |

          Really fucking curious if people would be reacting this way if the genders were reversed. Suspect not, extremely strongly.

          Dear Prudie,

          My wife made her money very early and decided she was done with work. She’s been retired now in her early 30s for less than 18 months and she leaves our baby son in the care of a nanny for 40h a week while she swans around shopping, going to spas, and getting vapors. I work man work out of the home and while we’re still splitting domestic duties 60/40 (remember straight dude overestimation) I think she should do more house stuff. When I come home from a hard day at work I don’t want to see her relaxing and have to do the dishes. I worked! It just drives me crazy that she’s spending her time during the day as she sees fit and our son will grow up to be some MRA-douche thinking women are all infantalized hothouse orchids. She said if the situation is making me so upset I should just quit, she’s made enough for the both of us and there are trusts in mine and my sons name to guard against any future problems. I don’t really have a question, but what should I do?

          He would bounce the fuck off a brick wall face first.

        14. Ms. Kristen J.
          Ms. Kristen J. November 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

          @Willemina,

          Yes. This. Exactly.

        15. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:03 am |

          If this letter were from a woman who was frantic because her ex reneged on a promise to keep her financially secure and hid all his wealth in offshore accounts, wouldn’t we be reading a lot of “This is why women should earn their own living” comments?

          If this letter were a completely different letter about a completely different situation…yes, we’d be reading completely different comments.

          What a good, relevant point.

          LOLing over here at the women with doctorates wondering why any woman would possibly want to work and maintain an employment profile if married to a rich man. I sure as fuck wouldn’t feel financially secure in that arrangement

          Neither would I, but this has nothing to do with what she actually says. Nothing. She says nothing like this. Nothing. It has nothing to do with the letter as actually written. Nothing.

          She is earning her own money to care for herself and her son. What happens if they divorce and discovers this trust fund wasn’t so ironclad after all. What if the father then decides that he’d rather spend his wealth on recreation, and not on buying food and clothing for their son. He has the money, he has the lawyers, he has a lot of control.

          Again, this is you. This is not anywhere in the letter. The money could be in joint accounts. She could have half of it in a private account. She says nothing about being concerned about herself and her son’s well-being. This is sheer projection.

        16. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:06 am |

          Isn’t this the same commentariat that generally frowns upon SAHMs who live off their husbands?

          Not me. I’ve never said anything of the kind. I have pointed out that it’s a financially vulnerable position, but since the letter-writer doesn’t seem to worry about that for one minute, and is instead worried about her husband not being a good role model, that’s the actual issue I’ve been addressing, despite the great lure of making shit up.

        17. trees
          trees November 16, 2013 at 10:20 am |

          Again, this is you. This is not anywhere in the letter. The money could be in joint accounts. She could have half of it in a private account. She says nothing about being concerned about herself and her son’s well-being. This is sheer projection.

          You assume her a reliable narrator, while I question her telling. You project your trust, I project my distrust.

          We both have very little information with which to work, and your interpretation is no more True than mine. I am specifically responding to the assertion that “she should just quit her job” if she ain’t down the the status quo. I’m expressing why I think this a chilling proposition.

        18. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 10:25 am |

          You assume her a reliable narrator, while I question her telling. You project your trust, I project my distrust.

          This is a kinda hilarious argument for any response to any text, ever.

          I think the real issue is the aliens mind-controlling her husband, in an attempt to weaken our economy before the inevitable invasion.

        19. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 16, 2013 at 10:36 am |

          I’m not down with telling this woman to quit her job either. If she wants to continue working for whatever reasons then good for her, she should continue working as much and as long and in whatever capacity she wants.

          But her shaming and judging on her husband for being retired and turning that around into chronic resentment of his retirement is wrong. If she wants him to respect her working and her continued desire to continue working, however, she needs to respect his decision to retire and to be retired. Once again, the letter writer had expressed absolutely zero reservations about his ability to afford his retirement. Nor has she expressed any concerns about his becoming a financial drain on her at any future point because of his retirement.

          Marriage can’t really work without mutual respect

        20. trees
          trees November 16, 2013 at 10:43 am |

          This is a kinda hilarious argument for any response to any text, ever.

          I think the real issue is the aliens mind-controlling her husband, in an attempt to weaken our economy before the inevitable invasion.

          For real!?! And here I am blaming Obamacare and the gov’ment. Thanks for the enlightenment.

        21. trees
          trees November 16, 2013 at 10:46 am |

          @Lolagirl

          But her shaming and judging on her husband for being retired and turning that around into chronic resentment of his retirement is wrong.

          We are not in disagreement. My contribution to this discussion is solely focused on folks saying “she should just quit her job”.

        22. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:47 am |

          You assume her a reliable narrator, while I question her telling. You project your trust, I project my distrust.

          In that case, what about the treasure trove of money her rich uncle left her that she has hidden from her husband and hasn’t even written about?

          Or what about the fact that actually she’s a single mom working two jobs in order to make ends meet and has made this whole situation up in order to get Prudie’s attention?

          Or the fact that actually she’s been kidnapped by the SLA and is writing this letter in code to her family to beg for rescue?

          If you want to blow through the only actual evidence we have–the letter–then why should we take any single thing it says as meaningful? Why should we bother to discuss it at all.

          I am specifically responding to the assertion that “she should just quit her job” if she ain’t down the the status quo.

          Please find that proposition. What has been pointed out is that her working is a choice–she could quit and stay home with no financial hardship. And therefore, she has no moral high ground to be judging from, and should just hire a fucking housekeeper and stop judging her husband’s lack of work ethic already.

        23. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 10:49 am |

          I mean, if you want to play the unreliable narrator game, go ahead, but a wholesale “maybe the narrator is lying or stupid” approach doesn’t really get you anywhere unless you have some evidence in the actual writing that the narrator’s interpretation of events is off. And I’m not seeing it.

          Maybe the letter-writer is unreliable. Maybe the moon is made of green cheese. But in the absence of evidence, why would you assume either?

        24. trees
          trees November 16, 2013 at 10:57 am |

          Please find that proposition.

          Here ya’ go:

          ldouglas
          November 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink | Reply
          Sorry, I’m with Prudie. If you are working absolutely by choice with no economic necessity, then work is just another form of entertainment- which means her choice to work is equivalent to his choice to golf or play video games, which means splitting housework 50-50 is absolutely fair. If you don’t like it, quit your job.

          trees
          trees
          November 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply
          If the wife quit her job, she and her son would be completely financially dependent on the husband’s wealth. Maybe she doesn’t want to give away that power.

          This was my initial response.

          And therefore, she has no moral high ground to be judging from

          I’ve said nothing about moral high ground.

        25. EG
          EG November 17, 2013 at 8:04 pm |

          I read that as a “like it or lump it” tagline, not a serious suggestion.

        26. trees
          trees November 20, 2013 at 4:03 pm |

          I read that as a “like it or lump it” tagline, not a serious suggestion.

          Through out this conversation, her work is assumed to be a matter of pure choice. That is an interpretation, not the objective truth.

          Similarly, you didn’t make much of this “quit your job” business, while I thought it a worthy point of discussion. Instead of a discussion, this point was ignored (which is fine) and I was then called stupid and a kook for attempting to raise the issue.

        27. EG
          EG November 20, 2013 at 4:44 pm |

          I was then called stupid and a kook for attempting to raise the issue.

          Not by me, though. I have called you neither stupid nor a kook.

        28. trees
          trees November 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm |

          Not by me, though. I have called you neither stupid nor a kook.

          …for real? you mean because you didn’t actually use those two words?

    2. Miriam
      Miriam November 15, 2013 at 1:49 am |

      There is no reason to believe that he couldn’t and wouldn’t. Given that all of the bills are comfortably paid for, there’s also no reason why the wife can’t go ahead and just do that if she’s so unhappy about the housework. It’s a pretty obvious solution for people of their income levels. Most of her letter isn’t even about housework–it’s that she’s unhappy that he’s setting a bad example for their 18 month old by not working to her satisfaction. She says “He has not found anything to do in that time! ” “But I also think it sets a bad example for our son to see a father who doesn’t have some productive purpose in life.”

      That’s not about grocery runs.

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 7:04 am |

        People often use the “women should ‘work’ because it provides a good role model for their children!” argument in this space. Dads aren’t similarly obligated?

        Seriously, has nobody here ever known a wealthy man who controls the household purse-strings, leaving his wife entirely at the mercy of hi s largesse? I actually used to know a woman married to a multi-millionaire who would wish aloud that she’d win the lottery so she could spend freely. She did not have a paying job, either. But had a housekeeper and a nanny.

        1. Safiya Outlines
          Safiya Outlines November 15, 2013 at 8:48 am |
        2. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 9:02 am |

          But that has nothing to do with what she wrote. She doesn’t say anything about him holding the pursestrings and controlling things. She complains about his lack of a work ethic.

        3. Miriam
          Miriam November 15, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

          First, I don’t believe anyone is obligated to work to be a role model for children. I do believe that women working IS a good role model for children, but that has to do with the particular other messages society sends women about where their value is located and what their options are. And I would possibly qualify it as women working in a job that they feel is valuable and personally rewarding is a good role model, but I’d have to think about (and probably research) that qualification more.

          Second, even if we as the Feministe commentariat unanimously agreed that parents should work to provide good role models, that still wouldn’t change that the letter writer’s actually husband does not believe this. So the situation is still a values clash in which one spouse is trying to impose values about how to spend time upon the other. I can’t believe anyone here really thinks that’s okay.

  17. Combray
    Combray November 15, 2013 at 1:06 am |

    If I had achieved the kind of financial security where I (and my hypothetical spouse) could afford to quit work, but he wanted me to play 50s suburban housewife for him anyway, so he could spend 9-5 at the office and come home to a clean house, I’d be pretty appalled. If hiring a housekeeper isn’t an option for her, then this isn’t about the housework. It’s about controlling his time. It sounds like it’s not good enough that the work get’s done, unless it’s done by him.

    1. Este
      Este November 19, 2013 at 10:25 pm |

      Yes, THIS, absolutely. Her controlling behavior is unacceptable. Note that commenters here aren’t actually saying the wife should quit her job. No, we’re saying that she doesn’t get to demand that her husband personally do housework instead of hiring someone. Her working doesn’t give her some moral high ground that entitles her to control his time, ffs.

      1. trees
        trees November 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm |

        Note that commenters here aren’t actually saying the wife should quit her job.

        This is the comment that prompted my entry into this conversation:

        ldouglas November 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm |

        “If you don’t like it, quit your job.”

  18. Willemina
    Willemina November 15, 2013 at 1:51 am |

    From this

    It’s making me crazy with resentment, especially when I come home from a hard day at work.

    and this

    But I also think it sets a bad example for our son to see a father who doesn’t have some productive purpose in life.

    They have totally differing values. She values work as an end, and feels that her son’s father is the only viable role model of that. She’s jealous of the leisure he takes advantage of while she is unable to let go of the need to put herself through the daily grind in order to live up to the expectations of her value system. She points out the housework in a single sentence while she hammers home the point about productivity and ethic in several different spots. The guy just isn’t busy enough and it’s killing her.

    While we’re making all sorts of assumptions and pushing false consciousness all over the writer there is nothing to indicate they don’t have considerable joint assets, that the trust(s) established for her and her son are set up without a seekrit hidden agenda, and that she understands the financials of the whole shebang. He’s not telling her not to work because he can take care of them because he is man, he’s saying it because she said it’s making her pissed off.

    He sounds annoying as hell with his “Marxist prattle,” but she’s just as bad with her shades-of-essentialism alpha philosophy.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L November 15, 2013 at 7:36 am |

      she’s just as bad with her shades-of-essentialism alpha philosophy.

      Agreed. I’ve been working hard (albeit reluctantly) for more than 30 years now, and nothing would make me happier than to be able to lie in a hammock for the rest of my life reading and drinking ginger ale. And if there were a child to take care of as well — or a grandchild, I should be so lucky — that would be even better. I place no special value on work for work’s sake.

  19. SheWalksandTalks.com
    SheWalksandTalks.com November 15, 2013 at 8:25 am |

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to marry a man and have him turn into a such a selfish purposeless boy.

    They should talk about what they both want out of life and if he wants to be among the idle unproductive rich and she doesn’t, now is the time to split the assets – before he spends them all on himself and a mistress or three.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L November 15, 2013 at 8:53 am |

      So working — even when you don’t have to — is an essential element of being a “man” as opposed to a “boy”?

      It seems to me that some people on this thread have internalized Genesis a bit too much.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 9:03 am |

        Do tell.

      2. Tyris
        Tyris November 15, 2013 at 4:47 pm |

        We’ve internalised Genesis quite thoroughly – it’s a proper land of confusion in here.

    2. EG
      EG November 15, 2013 at 9:04 am |

      What’s he doing that’s so selfish? He’s not hurting anybody.

      What’s she doing that’s not so selfish? She’s trying to make him live according to her values. That sounds pretty selfish to me.

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

        He’s not taking some of his valuable squash-playing time to throw laundry in or run errands or mop the kitchen floor or EVEN HIRE A HOUSEKEEPER.

        That’s selfish, in my book. And not in a good way.

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 2:25 am |

          He’s not taking some of his valuable squash-playing time to throw laundry in or run errands or mop the kitchen floor or EVEN HIRE A HOUSEKEEPER.

          She could hire a housekeeper. She explicitly said she doesn’t see that as an option, because she doesn’t care about the actual housework; she’s just pissed he doesn’t value having a pointless job the way she does.

        2. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 9:55 am |

          Of course he is. She says they split the chores 50/50. He’s just not taking some of his squash-playing, book-reading time to do her chores. How is that selfish?

        3. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:34 pm |

          Are you sure SHE can afford to pay a housekeeper, idouglas? You are projecting like hell, here, while accusing other commenters of stupidity, ignorance, etc.

          His money is not HER money.

    3. TMK
      TMK November 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm |

      I can’t imagine what it would be like to marry a man and have him turn into a such a selfish purposeless boy.

      Oh fuck you and such blatant gender policing. So being a good man depends on the amount of money one gets back home? What is this, the fifties?

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

        No, but his refusal to help her is kinda immature.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm |

          It’s like the “I’m not touching you!” game, except with chores: technically he’s doing half of the chores, and so he’s totally being fair forever and ever and she can’t complain, just like how one’s younger sibling isn’t technically in your space, they’re just really really close. In short both the child and the man-child are “technically” in the right, but in every other way both are being assholes.

  20. Chava
    Chava November 15, 2013 at 9:00 am |

    You know, I make less money than my husband. My work is not objectively needed for us to survive. But I never thought I would see the feministe commentariat arguing that women in my position should stay home and raise the kids and clean the house ourselves, or quit complaining that our male partners don’t spend enough time with our children, ffs. And YES to all the people who have commented that his money may not be her money in a divorce, and she might want her own financial security.

    It would bug me if I had a child with this man and he could spend all of his time with the child and chose to fuck around all day instead. Not because I value labor, but because if you are staying home anyway, and you don’t want to be seeing your child at least half of the day? I don’t want to be married to you.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 9:04 am |

      It would bug me if I had a child with this man and he could spend all of his time with the child and chose to fuck around all day instead.

      Shh no you can’t criticise the desire of a MAN to have his important squash game for forty hours a week! That’s not what feminism is about?

    2. EG
      EG November 15, 2013 at 9:06 am |

      OK, but the letter-writer doesn’t mention any of that. She doesn’t say that she’s upset that he doesn’t want to spend time with the kid. She doesn’t say that she’s worried about not having her own money in the event of divorce. None of that is in her letter.

      1. Chava
        Chava November 15, 2013 at 9:11 am |

        I suppose not, eg, but were I in her situation, that is how I would feel. There’s so little text, I think that kind of reading is all we can reliably do.

        1. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 9:18 am |

          Sure, I don’t think I would want to be married to him, either. And I sure wouldn’t want to be married to her. But that’s a different question, as is the question of whether or not she wants to be married to him.

          I think that particularly when there’s so little text, it’s important to stick with what we know, what’s actually there, and not project our own stuff on to it.

        2. Chava
          Chava November 15, 2013 at 9:23 am |

          I think we’re coming at analyzing the letter from different angles. You want to talk about whether her grievances are justified in the specific context she gives; other people seem to want to talk about whether the husband’s behavior merits any disapproval at all, regardless of her point of view. Those are two very different kinds of readings, but neither are wrong. Sure, if I were grading the comments like I grade papers, I would be writing “stick to the text !” an awful lot—but that’s assuming the assignment was to parse out whether the wife’s grievance is justified.

        3. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 9:52 am |

          I think that’s a good analysis of the disconnection and confusion I’m feeling about many of the comments, chava. Thanks!

    3. Chava
      Chava November 15, 2013 at 9:10 am |

      Just to be clear– I would be equally irritated at both of them if they both chose to stay at home and have full-time childcare. Not the childcare where you are still around and it’s an extra set of hands–I get wanting that if you don’t have living grandparents or sane ones–but where you’re gone all day and don’t see the kid. (Fwiw, I have a nanny, and while I love what I do, yeah, I miss being able to see him all day.

      1. Ledasmom
        Ledasmom November 16, 2013 at 11:48 am |

        Just because two people had a kid doesn’t mean they’re good at raising one. In that case, the full-time childcare is a very sensible decision.
        Note: I’m definitely not saying that’s true of this couple, but there’s a pretty strong cultural message that parenthood is something you pick up as you go along. In reality, the fact that one’s gametes produced viable offspring says nothing about one’s competency after the child’s born.

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:38 pm |

        where you’re gone all day and don’t see the kid.

        Here’s the part where I get to hypocritically argue both sides with equal vehemence, LOL: so it’s okay not to see your kid all day, every day, if you’re working, but not if you’re out gallivanting?

    4. Miriam
      Miriam November 15, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

      I actually think the commentariat is generally arguing that if housework is the real issue, the couple should just hire a housekeeper. I haven’t seen anyone seriously argue that she should quit. Rather, people are pointing out that she CAN quit and as a result, her working is the very definition of a choice. Therefore, her husband is not obligated to do extra domestic labor to support her choice anymore than she is obligated to do less out of the home work to support his desire to hang out in early retirement.

      Since they’re not taking that extremely obvious and clearly for them quite affordable option, we’re also pointing out that housework is not the actual issue (supported by the minimal mention of it in the letter writer’s actual letter).

  21. EG
    EG November 15, 2013 at 9:12 am |

    You know, people keep bringing up perfectly legitimate concerns: divorce, financial abuse, her ambitions and dreams.

    Except the letter-writer doesn’t mention any of those. She doesn’t seem at all concerned about them. She never mentions being worried about her financial independence in case of divorce. She says nothing to indicate that her husband uses his wealth to be controlling and abusive. Far from waxing eloquent about her amibitions and dreams, she’s so unconcerned that she doesn’t mention what she does for pay that’s supposed to be so much better than reading and playing squash.

    So why project those concerns onto her? She doesn’t seem to have them.

    Nothing she says indicates to me that she’s less of a leech on society, or less harmful, than he is. All she says is that somebody cuts her a check for what she does all day. Well, so what?

    What she does say is about her support of work as an ethic and a value and her self-righteous frustration that her husband doesn’t share that. Well, that’s very annoying for her, no doubt, but it doesn’t make her point of view inherently more superior.

    1. Chava
      Chava November 15, 2013 at 9:18 am |

      Mmm, honestly I think I would find both of them to be somewhat irritating people. But yeah, he seems pretty irritating as we’ll, even going strictly from her description. The fact that we find his behavior ridiculous for different reasons than she appears to doesn’t alter that.

      1. EG
        EG November 15, 2013 at 9:51 am |

        Hey Chava–I just realized that you’re commenting again! Yay! I’m glad. I’ve missed you around here.

        1. Chava
          Chava November 15, 2013 at 10:02 am |

          Job applications are in as of yesterday, and may the good lord smile on us all ;-)

        2. EG
          EG November 15, 2013 at 10:04 am |

          Fingers crossed for you! You deserve all the good fortune!

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 11:02 am |

        Chava – that comment’s spot-on. And glad to see you commenting again, too!

      3. Ally S
        Ally S November 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

        Welcome back, Chava! ^_^ I don’t know if you remember me, but I used to be mxe354/Aaliyah.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 10:58 am |

      Still waiting for an answer to my question:

      if you, EG, were married to a guy who stayed at home and had a nanny to watch the baby every hour you were at work, and you were still a doctoral student, would your PhD be exactly as valuable as his weekly tennis game with Brad and Wilson?

      I mean, you don’t NEED to get a PhD in order to pursue education; you don’t NEED a PhD in order to do anything but get a job. Every other benefit could be acquired by doing the work without taking the degree. So, is your PhD as valuable as the squash game with Brad and Wilson?

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve November 15, 2013 at 11:49 pm |

        I mean, you don’t NEED to get a PhD in order to pursue education; you don’t NEED a PhD in order to do anything but get a job. Every other benefit could be acquired by doing the work without taking the degree. So, is your PhD as valuable as the squash game with Brad and Wilson?

        EG’s PhD is of equal value to me as her boy toy’s squash game. If her partner had a PhD and an MD would that reflect negatively on the fact that she took a year off between college and grad school? Who can make these value judgements.

        Besides, we are talking about role models for a child, and quite frankly, there have been many squash games that bring forward examples of sterling character and there have been plenty of graduate degrees that were thoroughly wasted.

      2. EG
        EG November 16, 2013 at 9:35 am |

        I’m terribly sorry, mac, that I didn’t see that question before and spent yesterday running around doing stuff instead of sitting at my computer attending to your concerns.

        However, I got a PhD because I loved it. I still love it. My values are such that I care deeply about intellectual curiosity and passion. If I were married to a dude who cared deeply about playing squash and reading Marxist books (which sounds a bit like I married my father, which would be creepy), and we were independently wealthy, then I wouldn’t really have a problem with that. Except for the part where I married someone very similar to my father.

        Personally, I wouldn’t want to be married to somebody who didn’t care about doing something–though I would count reading books as something. But that doesn’t make my personal preferences and desires inherently better than anybody else’s. So sure, existentially, if we didn’t have to work, I wouldn’t get to swank around acting as though my getting a PhD is so much More Important than whatever he was doing. But I also wouldn’t have to stay married to somebody whose values were so poorly matched with mine.

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 17, 2013 at 1:38 pm |

          I’m terribly sorry, mac, that I didn’t see that question before and spent yesterday running around doing stuff instead of sitting at my computer attending to your concerns.

          Yes, mac, don’t you know that EG is terribly busy with her squash game and drinking important smart people stuff? :p

        2. EG
          EG November 17, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

          Actually, on that particular day, it was drinking and celebrating, and I do rate that as far more important than this discussion thread.

    3. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl November 15, 2013 at 11:18 am |

      I’m sorry to keep beating this drum, but all of the things EG outlined above just brings me back to my theory that this letter is really about a fake scenario intended to get readers to end up agreeing that being a SAHM is a not good, very bad thing.

      Because it is true that the letter writer says nothing about being concerned about her financial security, or that her husband is abusively holding the purse strings, or that she is concerned about getting screwed in a divorce. She doesn’t even question their having a nanny in to care for the baby during the day. Her primary objection is to his not doing anything all day long and not being a good role model for hard work (despite apparently having worked sufficiently and amassed enough cash already to go into early retirement?), and not taking on more than 50% of the home/kids stuff when she is home.

      The standard criticism of SAHMs is that they don’t really work or do anything of value all day long. That they are not acting as good role models to their children themselves by not working in a paid job. By turning this scenario around and making it about a supposedly lazy man not working and being a bad role model of laziness for his kids, it fits pretty neatly into a logical framework based on the assumption that paid working is the only way to be a productive member of society as well as a good model of industriousness and work ethic to the kids.

      1. (BFing) Sarah
        (BFing) Sarah November 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm |

        @Lolagirl, FWIW, I got the same sense from the letter…a kind of vague sense that it was made up to test the Mommy Wars waters with a man at home instead. I know quite a few women who do not work outside of the home and have nannies and/or have their kids in daycare/preschool 3-5 days a week and I hear a lot about how they “shouldn’t be doing that” because then “what are they really doing?” And, I admit, I do sometimes wonder…but if that is their agreement with their partner and if they can afford to do it…that’s their thing. It does feel like the letter was deliberately written to see whether people would feel the same about a man doing it.

        I feel much the same way as karak about the letter (even if I do think it is made up), but then I do kind of feel like hard work is a virtue I support and I wouldn’t have much in common with someone who wanted a life of leisure. I do think it is a shared values thing and I believe that is the issue the (potentially fictitious) couple needs to discuss, not housework. Then again, people tend to view people of color that live a life of leisure in a different light than they do white people…so that might color my views on the matter.

    4. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

      Well, since we’re all reading between the very few lines and adding our own projections to these strangers’ situation, I will add that sometimes, abused people are not actually aware that what they’re experiencing is abuse, and maybe she’s trying to articulate that “something” feels wrong about this, but she’s not sure what.

      Or, she’s a curmudgeon who hates fun and hates people who have fun, and can’t shed her parsimonious work ethic.

      We can make up anything! It is kinda fun.

      1. EG
        EG November 16, 2013 at 9:52 am |

        Except one of those readings has textual support, and the other doesn’t. She doesn’t describe anything abusive. She doesn’t describe a nebulous feeling of wrongness. She describes an unhappiness with this guy not subscribing to her view of work. So, you know, it’s less about making shit up and more about…reading.

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm |

        No, it’s all about making up shit about … stuff some stranger wrote to another stranger that a bunch of other strangers are commenting on.

        Seriously. You think reading her letter over and over gives anyone facts about some stranger’s life?

      3. EG
        EG November 17, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

        You think reading her letter over and over gives anyone facts about some stranger’s life?

        I think it’s a better guide to her life than a bunch of nonsense projected from the psyche of the reader. Because, you know, it’s what we have. If you want to abandon the letter altogether, that’s fine, but then don’t pretend anything you’re saying has anything to do with the situation the letter-writer is describing.

        If I were making stuff up, I’d make up something a shitload more interesting than “Lifestyles of the Rich and Banal.”

  22. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 11:11 am |

    Just wondering who died and made y’all Grand High Arbiters Of Jobly Usefullitude. I suppose Bill Gates’ work, and J K Rowling’s work, and Ratan Tata’s work are all useless because they’re rich.

    What I’ve taken from this thread: we gotta sneer at the rich who don’t work because they’re lazy, and sneer at the rich who do work because it’s useless. Also, a spouse-of-rich-man who don’t work is vapid gold-digging anti-feminist pro-capitalist blargledy blah who’s losing her identity in childing and housifying, but a spouse-of-rich-man who does work and believes that work of some sort is important is inherently bad and wrong because she’s not literally having to work if she doesn’t want to starve and so her work is bad BECAUSE REASONS OKAY JEEZ WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM.

    (FWIW I would be interested to know if LW would be this resentful if her husband were doing something like volunteering, or even actually changing a diaper once a month. I suspect not.)

    1. Donna L
      Donna L November 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |

      even actually changing a diaper once a month.

      And you get the idea that he doesn’t from what, exactly? Given that the letter writer specifically says that outside the 40 hours a week when the nanny isn’t there he is “an extremely involved father” — which in this day and age very much implies precisely that he changes diapers and everything else?

      I can hardly see anything for all the straw you’re raising. You seem to have convinced yourself that people — including the letter-writer — are saying things that they aren’t actually saying.

      And by the way, my comment about SOME people on this thread apparently having internalized Genesis — given the exaltation of being productive through the sweat of one’s brow as an independent value — was not directed at you. I’m not stupid, in case you hadn’t noticed.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L November 15, 2013 at 11:42 am |

        Outside the 40 hours a week when the nanny is there, I meant.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

        You’re right; that’s fair. I shouldn’t have brought up the diapers thing. (Also, I apologise for the Genesis comment; I just lost my head at that point.)

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          It’s okay, I didn’t get it anyway (LOL).

    2. Willemina
      Willemina November 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm |

      He may be involved in the 40h period during the week as well. Point is, we don’t know.

      She’s presented a situation where she can change something about herself to relieve her unhappiness, or she can force change on another individual to achieve the same end goal. Bill Gates moved away from the hard business side of things to run his foundation as did Tata, J K Rowling has never gone on record as saying writing makes her miserable. You’re probably right that the LW would be more fine with it if he wasn’t just “dicking around,” but with his no harm activities, controlling an SO’s personal time like that isn’t on.

      1. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

        She’s presented a situation where she can change something about herself to relieve her unhappiness, or she can force change on another individual to achieve the same end goal.

        And how, exactly, do we know that this is true? Maybe she’s protecting herself – emotionally, mentally, financially, professionally – by working.

        I have a different friend who is the primary caregiver for their 3 children, and works part time in the schools, and earns the princely sum of $700 per month. Her husband recently cleaned out their checking account and moved everything to his business account so she can’t get to it. He set up TRUST FUNDS for his children’s college costs. Hey! He’s taking care of them, amirite? She can just get a better job, right? Not his problem.

        Except now, she’s stuck. Royally screwed. He hasn’t even left her yet, but she knows that’s next.

        Money is a really good bludgeon sometimes.

        1. Willemina
          Willemina November 16, 2013 at 2:30 am |

          She may be working for all or none of those reasons, it doesn’t matter. She said she’s resentful of her husband for how he spends his retirement time. If the Marxism is a new thing for him it sounds to me like he’s already on the path to gentleman scholar and who knows, maybe he’ll get up to Objectivists and become an even bigger douchenozzle. Then all your predictions will come true!

          What she can do is adjust her attitude toward his non-damaging, fully financed leisure lifestyle and their continued 50/50 split of domesticity and continue working and be happy. She can quit her job and risk all the stuff you’ve mentioned as the inevitable outcome of that foolish choice and maybe be happy. She can try and force another human being to do exactly as she wants for no other reason than it’s just not what she expected when she got in to the marriage. She can divorce him but with all the doom and gloom you’ve painted over the scant details she provided it’s likely she’ll end up without a house, without the kid, the trust will disappear, and it’ll probably turn out he’s been shtupping the nanny anyway. Bad idea.

          I think she should continue working if that’s what she wants. She should reevaluate why it is she feels resentment towards her husband’s “dicking around,” and she needs to check her assumptions about the value of the 40-60h work week as an exercise in character building. If she’s not happy with her current work she can go back to school or start her own business, she’s got a golden fucking ticket.

          TLDR: She doesn’t have to quit her job, but she doesn’t get to be Queen of the Scheduling either.

        2. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

          “I really want him to help around the house more” does not sound like “the Queen of Scheduling” to me.

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 18, 2013 at 12:08 am |

          Silly tinfoil! Wanting things is for men, not women! Frankly, the fact that this woman is anything but obsequiously, nauseatingly grateful that a man would even look at her is just super entitled! It’s like she thinks she’s people.

    3. wanttobeanon
      wanttobeanon November 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm |

      even actually changing a diaper once a month

      Actually if you reread, LW says that when the nanny is not around, the husband is an extremely involved father and they split duties 50/50.

  23. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll November 15, 2013 at 11:41 am |

    All I know is that at some point this kid is going to notice that the nanny raised him while his mother worked and his dad played golf.

    1. Donna L
      Donna L November 15, 2013 at 11:43 am |

      And that’s a separate issue entirely!

    2. Ms. Kristen J.
      Ms. Kristen J. November 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

      Mr. Kristen made a similar point last night. Two people brought a tiny human into the world and even though they both have the resources to care for and spend time with that tiny human *neither* is particularly interested in doing so. I’m sure people like that exist, but to be honest, I haven’t met any and I doubt I’d like them anyway.

    3. Miriam
      Miriam November 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm |

      Wow! I never expected to see such blatant judging of every parent who works rather than stays at home on a feminist board.

      And Ms. Kristen J, there is a huge difference between not being interested in spending time with one’s young child (which is absolutely not either the letter writer or her husband) and not being interested in being the full-time caregiver for one’s young child. I can only guess you haven’t met many parents if you don’t know any who aren’t interested in being the full-time caregiver (but hi, meet me at least through the Internet).

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl November 15, 2013 at 1:43 pm |

        Meh, it sounds like the judgement here is cutting both ways. Judgment of not working for pay outside the home, and judgment of not wanting to work outside the home for pay, wanting to be the full-time caregiver of one’s child, or not wanting to be the full-time or even part-time caregiver.

        Never mind that the not wanting to work person is retired and has the economic resources to be as such. Never mind that the person working is doing so because it’s what they value and want to be doing. The problem is simply that neither of them seems to be respectful of their differing values or inclinations.

      2. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll November 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

        Whelp, given that it’s the kid who may be doing the judging, guess your shock is going to be wasted here. Neither of them have to work or have to play golf, so I doubt it will make much of a difference to an 8 year old. He’ll just be aware that the only person raising him is paid to do it. I guess parenting isn’t a job.

        1. Miriam
          Miriam November 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm |

          I suspect that just like with most children who have two working parents, the son is going to have no problems distinguishing between his nanny/teachers and his parents. Especially because the raising of the son doesn’t only start when the nanny arrives and end when the nanny leaves. There’s plenty of remaining time in the week for the parents.

        2. Allison
          Allison November 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

          I love my family. They mean the world to me. I’m not all that interested in spending time with them.

          I think “I’m not all that interested in spending time with [my family]” is still pretty judgmental as a sentiment attributed to someone else. You can be very interested in spending time with your family and still think it would be a disaster – not least for your relationship – to spend *all* your time with them. It’s important to have your own identity, and many people find that in part in their career.

      3. Ms. Kristen J.
        Ms. Kristen J. November 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

        Wow…way to completely misread what I said. And yeah, I’ve never met a person who has said “I know I don’t have to go to work today, but I’m not really interested in spending time with my family so I’ll be at the office.” Even some of the more intense people I’ve worked with talk about how they wish they had more time with their families.

        1. Miriam
          Miriam November 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm |

          If you’d like to explain how I misread what you said, I’m open. “Two people brought a tiny human into the world and even though they both have the resources to care for and spend time with that tiny human *neither* is particularly interested in doing so” seems like a pretty clear condemnation of people who have no desire to be or regrets about not being a full-time caregiver for their child(ren). Especially given that the letter writer describes her husband as a very involved father when the nanny is not there.

          I wouldn’t go to work to avoid my child, but there was one glorious day last year where my husband and I were both off work for a holiday and daycare was still open. Child went to daycare and hubby and I had a day together. It was glorious. Would I go to work unnecessarily to avoid my child? No, I like my job but I don’t love it so much I go in when I don’t have to. But no one in the letter is going to work to avoid the son either, so that seems like a non-sequitor.

        2. Ms. Kristen J.
          Ms. Kristen J. November 15, 2013 at 8:33 pm |

          Two people have a kid. They can spend time and care for their kid. They BOTH voluntarily spend 40 hours a week (or about a third of their awake life) specifically engaged in activities that exclude their kid. Anyway I read that they aren’t particular interested in spending time with their kid or taking care of him or her. A day of blissful alone time =/= 40 hours a week.

        3. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm |

          I think spending about a two-thirds of your awake time with your kid is plenty to qualify you as not a bad parent.

        4. Miriam
          Miriam November 15, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

          So I don’t appear to have misread you at all, but you are indeed condemning families such as mine that do not have a stay-at-home parent.

          Also, while it’s true that a day of blissful time does not equal 40 hours a week apart from the child, the fact that we both work and spend 40 hours a week apart from our child does equal 40 hours a week. So it’s sweet of you to try and tapdance a way in which my husband and I are different from the letter writer and her husband, but we’re not. We’re all families that, like the vast majority of contemporary parents, are totally comfortable hiring a caretaker to caretake our children while we work and don’t think we’re traumatizing our children.

        5. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 15, 2013 at 11:08 pm |

          So I don’t appear to have misread you at all, but you are indeed condemning families such as mine that do not have a stay-at-home parent.

          Also, while it’s true that a day of blissful time does not equal 40 hours a week apart from the child, the fact that we both work and spend 40 hours a week apart from our child does equal 40 hours a week. So it’s sweet of you to try and tapdance a way in which my husband and I are different from the letter writer and her husband, but we’re not. We’re all families that, like the vast majority of contemporary parents, are totally comfortable hiring a caretaker to caretake our children while we work and don’t think we’re traumatizing our children.

          You are misreading her and you’re misreading the letter as well. It’s not Kristen, it’s the letter writer herself who is saying that you and your husband are different than the letter writer and her husband. She views her husband’s contributions to the marriage as somehow less important because during the workweek he spends his 40 hours ‘dicking around’ and she spends her 40 hours at a job. You don’t seem to feel the need to critique your husband’s work week out of principle. So, based on the letter, and your comments above, you and your husband are distinctly different than the letter writer and her husband.

        6. Ms. Kristen J.
          Ms. Kristen J. November 16, 2013 at 12:52 am |

          The key difference is choice. I don’t know how I can possibly make that more clear. But yes, if you choose to avoid your family for a third of their lives when you have the option to be there, I think you’re not all that interested in spending time with them.

        7. Ms. Kristen J.
          Ms. Kristen J. November 16, 2013 at 1:02 am |

          I mean seriously…

          “Honey, I’d love to lay in bed with you for another hour and talk about that time we ate that really awesome donut, but even more than that…I want to go to the office.”

          or

          “Son, I’d love to be able to meet you when you get home from school and make you a snack, but even more than that…I want to attend this conference call.”

          Does anyone seriously think this way? And do you really think that a person who thinks this way likes their family that much? Because pretty much everyone I’ve ever met has said the exact opposite.

        8. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 2:21 am |

          The key difference is choice. I don’t know how I can possibly make that more clear. But yes, if you choose to avoid your family for a third of their lives when you have the option to be there, I think you’re not all that interested in spending time with them.

          I love my family. They mean the world to me. I care deeply about spending time with them.

          And if I spent two-thirds of every waking minute in their presence, I would utterly lose it.

          Don’t you dare tell me that means I don’t actually give a shit about them, you judgmental ass.

        9. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 16, 2013 at 2:35 am |

          I love my family. They mean the world to me. I care deeply about spending time with them.

          And if I spent two-thirds of every waking minute in their presence, I would utterly lose it.

          Don’t you dare tell me that means I don’t actually give a shit about them, you judgmental ass.

          I love my family. They mean the world to me. I’m not all that interested in spending time with them.

          It is you, not Kristen, who is being a judgmental ass by equating being ‘not all that interested in spending time with your family’ with not ‘actually giving a shit about them. Those two terms are not synonymous.

        10. mellie mae
          mellie mae November 16, 2013 at 11:31 am |

          Kristen, you are seriously making so sense to me at all. I have a Thing I Do For Money that has already made me enough money that I could stop doing it if I wanted to. I mean, it wouldn’t be all fancy restaurants and a trip to Europe every year, but we’d be comfortable enough.

          I also have a two-year-old kiddo who I love tremendously. I employ a nanny 40 hours per week. She loves him and takes really good care of on the weekdays.

          I work from home. When snack time rolls around, I would legitimately rather keep doing TIDFM than get up a snack. The idea that this suggests I am not interested in spending time with my son (because I COULD but I choose to do something else instead) would be insulting if it weren’t so ridiculous.

          In the end, I spend about 40 hrs/week on TIDFM, 56 hrs/week sleeping, and the remaining 72 hrs/week with my kiddo. I call it balance; evidently, you would call it disinterested parenting. Should I also feel guilty for the sleep time? Geez, I would never have expected this attitude on this website.

        11. Matt
          Matt November 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

          What is your issue Steve? Because based on Kristen’s other comments its pretty clear she is being judgmental.

          She specifically said she doubts she would like people who choose to not spend more time with their family if they can. Douglas may be using a bit of hyperbole, but that’s understandable in response to someone being pretty judgmental.

        12. Allison
          Allison November 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm |

          “Honey, I’d love to lay in bed with you for another hour and talk about that time we ate that really awesome donut, but even more than that…I want to go to the office.”

          or

          “Son, I’d love to be able to meet you when you get home from school and make you a snack, but even more than that…I want to attend this conference call.”

          Does anyone seriously think this way? And do you really think that a person who thinks this way likes their family that much? Because pretty much everyone I’ve ever met has said the exact opposite

          So, have you ever met a couple where both partners work even though at least one makes a salary above the poverty line? Or even, salary > poverty + benefits? Because no matter how low (general) you think your paycheck is, somewhere there is a family of four getting by on it. On some level, for most middle-income couples/families, both adults working is a choice. In every such couple, is the lower-earning partner – usually the wife because sexism – implicitly saying that she doesn’t love her husband/kids by working outside of the home?

          You can love someone infinitely and still need to have a part of your life that’s not devoted to them, an identity separate from your relationship. Many people find that identity at least in part through work. If instead of “honey I’d rather go to the office than stay here talking about donuts with you,” it was “honey, as much as I love talking about donuts with you/greeting you at the door every day with a snack, I need to maintain my own identity (and going to the office is a part of that)” – it doesn’t sound so unloving. At least not to me.

          I mean, I recently went through a period of unemployment. We were able to get by on my partner’s salary, and I got to meet him for lunch every afternoon as well as kiss him goodbye in the morning and when he got home at night, and when he worked from home I got to spend the whole day with him. It was really nice, but I still became depressed, and not because I missed being able to afford cable – I missed, I don’t know, having an identity/purpose/making a contribution to the world beyond the two of us. That doesn’t mean I don’t “like him that much” – I love him completely. And I know most working mothers (including my own) love their children completely but still need something outside of them. It’s “the problem that has no name” all over again.

        13. Miriam
          Miriam November 16, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

          The key difference is choice. I don’t know how I can possibly make that more clear.

          Ah, I see, you were assuming that despite explicitly identifying myself as someone with no interest in being a full-time caretaker, I’m only working because I’m financially obligated. So let me be crystal clear, I have a choice to be a stay-at-home mother and I am rejecting it in favor of having my own earning power and career.

        14. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 17, 2013 at 9:35 am |

          So let me be crystal clear, I have a choice to be a stay-at-home mother and I am rejecting it in favor of having my own earning power and career.

          So why on earth would you be offended if someone implies out that you’re more interested in having a career than being home with your child?

        15. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve November 17, 2013 at 7:54 pm |

          What is your issue Steve? Because based on Kristen’s other comments its pretty clear she is being judgmental.

          She specifically said she doubts she would like people who choose to not spend more time with their family if they can. Douglas may be using a bit of hyperbole, but that’s understandable in response to someone being pretty judgmental.

          …except Douglas wasn’t quoting the bit where she doubted she would like someone who behaved like the letter writer. He claimed she was being judgmental for claiming that voluntarily staying away from your children for 40 hours a week showed a lack of interest in them. Whether that’s wrong or right, I can’t say, but that is merely a deduction based on logic, not any sort of value judgement.

        16. Miriam
          Miriam November 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

          So why on earth would you be offended if someone implies out that you’re more interested in having a career than being home with your child?

          I would not be offended if someone said that I’m more interested in having a career than in being my child’s full-time caretaker because that would be the truth. The formulation you gave, by contrast, implies an exclusive contrast between a career/being home with child. I am home with my child for a good portion of the week. If I’ve worked my math right, I’m typically home with my child for more of our waking hours than I am away from my child. So I do not see a conflict between having a career/being home with child. I can and do both. Just as the letter writer’s husband can both relax/play for 40 hours a week and be a devoted, involved father, who is absolutely co-raising his son.

          I am not offended by the assertions, by the way. People here are welcome to judge me as a bad mother all they want. But I do not want to leave the assertions unchallenged because I think they represent a dangerously unrealistic model of what wanting to spend time with one’s child/raising one’s child/caring about one’s child means for a parent’s reality. It is also a model that I thought feminist writing and research had thoroughly debunked, so one I am shocked to see here. I thought by now people knew that parents are capable of both wanting careers and wanting to raise their children and actually doing so.

      4. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm |

        Daycare is fine and dandy if you both “have to” work, but not okay of you don’t “have to” work?

        If a kid is in daycare 40 hrs a week, does the kid really know/care what the reason is?

        Hell, my kids remember exactly ZERO about their daycare that we fretted over, chose carefully, and paid a shit-tonne of money to send them to. So much for trauma.

        It’s just more projection: assuming kids will grow up to express our anxieties and fears. They don’t have the context from which to do that. And they are aitonomous beings who have their own ideas, opinions, and experiences.

        1. chava
          chava November 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm |

          Mmmm, so, there are middle grounds between a full-time, hired caregiver and a SAHP, fwiw.

          Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be married to a millionaire who was super attached to not seeing his child from 9-5 each day, despite having no vocational calling (which YES, is more important that a squash game).

          It doesn’t have to be a capitalist calling–Mr. Money could be doing a 9-5 charity job, or reading, or writing The Great American Novel–but yeah, I attach more importance to spending time with one’s children and to meaningful activity than I do to play (not to get all Arendtian, but doing s.t. in the vita activa or the vita contemplativa is important, yo). Has nothing to do with whether you get paid.

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 17, 2013 at 5:51 pm |

          It doesn’t have to be a capitalist calling–Mr. Money could be doing a 9-5 charity job, or reading, or writing The Great American Novel–but yeah, I attach more importance to spending time with one’s children and to meaningful activity than I do to play (not to get all Arendtian, but doing s.t. in the vita activa or the vita contemplativa is important, yo). Has nothing to do with whether you get paid.

          So reading is an inherently superior activity to playing a sport, objectively? Evidence, please?

        3. (BFing) Sarah
          (BFing) Sarah November 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

          “So reading is an inherently superior activity to playing a sport, objectively? Evidence, please?”

          No, not objectively. That’s why she said “I attach more importance to spending time with one’s children and to meaningful activity than I do to play.” The “I” is there for a reason, I assume.

          Just as an aside, though, I remember lots and lots about my daycare experiences. I also have very vivid memories of the abusive home day care provider I had when I was 4. Your children might have remembered more about their daycare experience if you hadn’t fretted over it so much to make the best decision possible for them–so it was definitely not wasted fretting or money! Then again, my son has vivid (not so positive) memories of his daycare from when he was 22 mos, despite my fretting and money paying. You never know how kids will feel about something, so you can’t really make your decisions based entirely on what you THINK they will feel…but I personally believe you should consider their point of view as well. That doesn’t necessarily mean that our decisions as parents need to be based on how something COULD impact our kids, to work or not to work is a calculation that no one can make for anyone else.

        4. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan November 17, 2013 at 10:21 pm |

          Oh, so now every personal value must be backed up “objectively”? Is there some sort of evidence-based ethics that I’m not aware of that we could use to measure and calculate the exact worth of every occupation in the world? Or are we allowed to express opinions on this blog that we read for fun still?

        5. chava
          chava November 18, 2013 at 1:59 pm |

          FWIW, if you take your sport seriously, and try to make a contribution to it as a whole–then yes, I give it the same weight as doing serious research, writing, etc.

          Point is, I like people who have some sort of directed purpose/passion to their life. I care less about what that purpose is than that it’s there at all. Often circumstances keep people from pursuing it (poverty, etc), but that doesn’t seem to be the case for this man.

    4. PrettyAmiable
      PrettyAmiable November 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm |

      Because they aren’t present for 40 hours a week? I disagree with this deeply. Both of my parents worked. Before I went to school, some woman in the apartment building looked after me. I don’t even know her name. I don’t even remember what she looked like, though I do remember watching GI Joe and playing with her hair curlers (which is the only reason I can hazard a good guess at her gender). Then I was in school for the vast bulk of their worktime. Unless you’re arguing for homeschooling, are you suggesting that kids are raised by their school teachers? Because that 13 years was pretty formative for me.

  24. Jenna
    Jenna November 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm |

    What I see is a heck of a values mismatch between the two adults in the family. From the description of the discussions that they have had it sounds like it has gotten both political and personal. That is some interesting vocabulary being tossed around. If they don’t get something straightened out soon I do see a divorce as likely because I don’t see that either person feels respected, and to me that spells disaster.

    Now on to my own personal history that contributes to my perspective on this. My spouse made more than I did, but, I was the one writing the checks for the bills. This put me in the position of asking for funds periodically, and I HATED THAT. It was our household, and I had to ask for funding. This contributed to the pattern of my funds getting used up more than his, although he earned more than I did. Then, he would decide that he had so much saved up that it was burning a hole in his pocket and he would go buy himself something fun. Ok, he earned more than I did, and I could hardly deny him something fun once in a while, but…..
    His threshold of “enough saved to spend a chunk on something fun,” and mine? Very different amounts. Also, with my insecure feelings towards money I didn’t feel like I could spend my money on something fun unless I had more than that amount, which was never going to happen due to the pattern of my paying the bills, but hating to ask for money. What a mess.
    Anyhow…..attitudes towards money and spending can break a relationship if they don’t mesh well. This one sounds like it is breaking from here.

    1. Little Raven
      Little Raven November 15, 2013 at 4:57 pm |

      Anyhow…..attitudes towards money and spending can break a relationship if they don’t mesh well. This one sounds like it is breaking from here.

      I don’t think they’re arguing about money or spending. From what she writes, they have plenty of money, and have no constraints on spending. They have different attitudes about working. She sees hard work as a positive trait in and of itself. She’s upset that he isn’t working, and even more upset that by not working, he’s providing a bad role model to their son. Her husband sees work as a means to an end – namely money. He worked super hard to get money. And now that he has enough money, he sees no more need to work.

      Now, for me, and 99.999% of the human race, this isn’t an issue. I have to work hard, or the money stops, and things get bad. Frankly, I don’t see this ever changing for me. But if I found myself in a situation where I was well and truly loaded for life…I don’t know that I’d want to keep working just for the sake of working. I like my job and all….but I don’t know that I like it that much.

      1. Jenna
        Jenna November 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm |

        Ok, my issue was spending and money, but, I still think they have enough of a values mismatch on working that it’s a problem for them already. Some people work for money, and without that constraint they see no value in work. However, there are others who see work, or producing some service or product for the benefit of others, as neccessary for their own sanity. Sometimes one side of that divide has a hard time even imagining the other.

    2. Miriam
      Miriam November 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm |

      What seems saddest to me about the values mismatch (which I 100% agree is the core issue and not the housework) is that I would bet if the wife was just patient, a little time would resolve the issue. The husband’s only been retired for a 1.5 years, all of that time with a small child in the mix. That is just not enough time to get bored.

      If she hires a housekeeper to give herself some more leisure time and lets things be for a bit, I think odds are really likely that by the time their son is old enough to be forming lasting memories, the husband will be bored of squash and the gym and have either returned to some form of job or have picked up a serious hobby.

      1. (BFing) Sarah
        (BFing) Sarah November 17, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

        Agreed completely. Give things some time to settle.

  25. TMK
    TMK November 15, 2013 at 4:14 pm |

    I’m tired of this devolving into a sociological debate! How can we resolve this?

    Also, it sounds to me that he reads quite good books during that ‘dicking off’.

    Seriously dissappointed with half of feministe commentariat going all conservative, protestant work ethic, gender essentializing, and whatnot.

    I guess i should not, i mean, half the people dont, but i think i expected something better.

  26. a lawyer
    a lawyer November 15, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

    What’s the big deal?

    It reminds me of a friend of mine, let’s call him “johnny.” His parents make him mow their lawn. He hates doing it and would rather do something else. He would be happy to pay for someone else to mow the lawn. But for some uncompelling reason, his parents have fixated on “Johnny mows our lawn” as a way for him prove his love, so he pretty much is stuck doing it.

    This is sort of the same thing. Wife has decided that her values regarding work, leisure, and what someone “should” do are more important than his values. Which, what the hell? I know folks wouldn’t take that as OK if the sexes were reversed, so why are so many people scrambling to find a desperate rationalization to justify it?

    Now, it may be that the husband is being a dork. To which I say: that’s OK. People are free to be dorks, and the wife is free to leave; and from the data we know (as opposed to the data we make up) it would be possible to do. She can be–is being!–a dork herself. If she wants the “I do what i want to do” choice, then she should grant him the same respect.

    There’s no larger message here. Conceding that she is acting like a dork in these particular (very unusual) circumstances doesn’t really give much to apply to other, more normal circumstances. As analogies for “marital relations in general” go, this is a bad one.

  27. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl November 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

    I still don’t get why some commenters here are so up in arms about this husband not working. It’s not as though one day he just up and quit his job is now leaching off his wife and otherwise being a liability to the household. He’s retired, because he has apparently amassed a large enough fortune to afford to do so. Just because he’s younger and not in his sixties or seventies doesn’t change that.

    The letter writer herself does not mention any misgivings or concerns she has regarding the sufficiency of her husband’s retirement fund or his ability to insure their long-term financial solubility. So why all the hand-wringing and hostility towards someone having the financial wherewithal to retire early? And why the insistence that he’s de facto a lazy bastard for deciding to retire early?

    The whole Protestant work ethic, work yourself into the ground until you’re on your deathbed thing coming from some of the comments here really mystifies me. We talk plenty here at Feministe about work-life balance and the unrealistic and unfair demands placed upon the average USian employee, yet somehow this guy is a schmuck for finding a way out of that life?

    And the whole nanny raising the kid thing floating around is bugging too. Nannies don’t raise the kid, the parents do, and the fact that one of the parents here is retired and the other works outside the house doesn’t change that. I am a SAHM, and I know damn well that my friends and acquaintances who WOH are “raising” their own kids just as much as I am.

    1. Miriam
      Miriam November 15, 2013 at 11:21 pm |

      THANK you! I don’t think I’ve ever commented on a thread as much as this one, but I am so genuinely shocked to people on a feminist board seriously arguing that employing a nanny equals the nanny raising the kid and a SAHP is always the best case for a child.

    2. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve November 15, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

      And the whole nanny raising the kid thing floating around is bugging too. Nannies don’t raise the kid, the parents do, and the fact that one of the parents here is retired and the other works outside the house doesn’t change that. I am a SAHM, and I know damn well that my friends and acquaintances who WOH are “raising” their own kids just as much as I am.

      One thing I’ve noticed about my friends who are SAHP’s: the employed partner seems to do MORE of the after ‘work hours’ chores mainly due to the feeling that the SAHP has been spending the day doing household chores combined with genuine enthusiasm for the child based chores as they haven’t seen their children all day. If both parents spend the 40-hour work week ignoring their household, they should spend the non-work time equally working on the household. Nobody defending the letter writer has explained why household chores should be based on a subjective appraisal of your ‘work ethic.’

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl November 16, 2013 at 8:31 am |

        And you know, Steve, my general experience of SAHMing is that the Spouse basically takes over with the kids when he gets home both to give me a bit of a break and because he wants to spend time with his kids that he’s missed while he was gone all day.

  28. BroadBlogs
    BroadBlogs November 16, 2013 at 12:19 am |

    If the guy’s so rich, surely they can afford to pay for more help.

    But I don’t get why anyone would want to spend their day lazying around–unless it was for a short period time to make up for the overwork that created the fortune. Or why anyone would want to be married to someone like that.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl November 16, 2013 at 8:35 am |

      Wow, I couldn’t disagree more.

      Having that kind of financial freedom can open all kinds of doors to do things that don’t involve working oneself into the ground. Like traveling, education, philanthropy, and various hobbies. Again, why is work for work’s sake such a value that you can’t bear to be in the same zip code as it?

    2. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl November 16, 2013 at 8:35 am |

      Wow, I couldn’t disagree more.

      Having that kind of financial freedom can open all kinds of doors to do things that don’t involve working oneself into the ground. Like traveling, education, philanthropy, and various hobbies. Again, why is work for work’s sake such a value that you can’t bear to be in the same zip code as it?

      1. ldouglas
        ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 9:21 am |

        If you don’t enjoy sitting in a cubicle more than playing sports or reading books, you’re a reprehensible excuse for a human being.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl November 16, 2013 at 9:42 am |

          Right?

          My pov is admittedly colored by having initially bought into the American dream, Pull Yourself Up By The Bootstraps, and Hard Work will open all the doors and make you successful. And then I tried my damnedest, and worked at least one and sometimes two jobs to get through college and law school. And I worked and worked and worked, and then worked hard some more.

          And I learned the hard way that I was never going to be able to break into the upper levels of my profession, for a whole lot of classist and sexist reasons, that were further compounded more by having the nerve to reproduce. Oh, and that whole find your career joy thing can suck it too. Work has rarely ever been about doing something I enjoy and that fulfills me and makes me feel like I’m doing good things that are valuable and interesting to me and the world in which I life.

          Nope. If I/we somehow fell backwards into a pile of money tomorrow you bet your ass there would be at least a part time nanny hired and a housekeeper and oodles of down time and vacations had. Maybe I would even go back to get that Masters Degree in whatever esoteric historic subject interested me at the moment. But I would never go back to cubicle land and work at the last couple of soul sucking jobs I had. Not on your life.

  29. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley November 16, 2013 at 5:22 am |

    Meh. The Capitalist “Work” structure/system is basically inherently oppressive, and short of a revolution (or total economic collapse) it’s not going anywhere. This guy amassed enough money to be able to just bow out of the whole fucking thing (Aside: I’m in acting school but only because the only thing I want to do more than acting is nothing. Nothing is goal.) They split the chores 50/50 already. This is established they split the damn chores 50/50. Her work is not supporting him, he is not able to stay at home because she is working (also really important here), so he is under no obligation to go the extra yards, nor do I blame him for not doing so.

    Here’s the deal, if she doesn’t like it, leave him. If she doesn’t want to do that then by all means keep working (it brings her joy so good for her) and keeping splitting 50/50 the chores (I really am amazed how many people skip over this when rushing to proclaim him to be clearly abusive or clearly a lazy asshole), keep enjoying that her husband is an attentive father beyond the 40 hour work week (again see my previous bracket comment it applies here too).

    Honestly, this guy is living my fucking dream. Work (FOR ME) is an oppressive, boring, parasitic system. I mean seriously I’m expected to spend 40+ a week for 30-50 years doing something I’ll probably hate so that sometime between 65 and higher I can relax… if I’m lucky. Fuck that shit, this whole thing is fucked we (and by we I mean me) waste our (my) best years (biologically speaking) doing menial crap, usually for someone else’s benefit. Do you know how many awesome books I could read (or write), how many awesome movies I could watch, how many TV series I could marathon, how many games I could finish, how many friends I could visit, how many community theatre productions I could perform in without worrying about if doing this show means I’ll have to eat less this month, how many avenues of experimental performance art I could explore free from having to worry about it making me money, and how much stress free fucking fun I could have while I’m still young and healthy (other fun fact I’d rather live till 60 or so having had an amazing life of leisure than live till 85 having spent 30 years in some workforce…) This world is awful(call me pessimistic I don’t care) and honestly all I want to do is escape it (because it sure as hell can’t be my job to change it).

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 5:47 am |

      Mostly with you.

      Though I’m not sure the fact that work is required to, ya know, eat is really so much a feature of capitalism as it is existing in the world. Fairly certain the cavemen had to hunter and gather and such.

      1. Lara Emily Foley
        Lara Emily Foley November 16, 2013 at 6:30 am |

        Biggest difference the work was the result. They were working directly for the food, and the work was beneficial them primarily. A job, especially menial labour jobs don’t provide me any benefit but the pittance that is the “wage” all of the rest of it goes to someone else. 40+ hours a week just to eat is bullshit

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 6:43 am |

          If it’s any consolation, our primitive ancestors worked about 120 hours a week to find/hunt enough food to survive. And frequently failed. So again, I really don’t think it’s capitalism’s fault so much as the reality of being existing in a universe with entropy.

          But yeah, I’d love to live in a world where all the things I wanted magically appeared in front of me, too :)

        2. EG
          EG November 16, 2013 at 9:22 am |

          Really? I’ve read that hunter/gatherer societies actually end up working about 20-30 hours a week. Of course, I can’t do a cite, because I read it a year or two ago, so take it with a grain of salt.

        3. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 16, 2013 at 9:44 am |

          Well, if I’m going to be totally intellectually honest, there’s an ongoing anthropological debate between the revisionist model (or ‘original affluent society’ model) and the classical model, with the former holding pretty much the position you described. The former, which is more or less what you describe, is largely based on observations of modern hunter-gatherer societies like the Hadza. A lot of the conflict is over the definition of ‘work,’ though; the revisionist model typically excludes everything outside of actually searching for food (including food preparation, tool maintance and creation, child care, and so on – all, not coincidentally, primarily female jobs). Cite

        4. Willemina
          Willemina November 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm |

          Not to mention that such food gathering models would no longer work to sustain the human race and there are many goods and services that are necessary to maintain a moderate quality of life and lifespan. Specifically goods and services that would not directly benefit the producer with their output and are really not something that would win out in a voluntary-work/no work environment.

          But yeah, I’d love to live in a world where all the things I wanted magically appeared in front of me, too :)

          Indeed.

  30. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet November 16, 2013 at 2:41 pm |

    Welp, now I’m convinced that after years of the Feministe commentariat making fun of her (deservedly, don’t get me wrong!), Dear Prudie published this one to troll us specifically: we can argue about Marxism! Stay at home parents! Capitalism, the Protestant work ethic, and the silliness of said ethic! Rich people who are assholes! The way a person is not entitled to a relationship with a person of their choosing! The historical baggage of women working for reasons other than survival!

    She gave us something for everyone, this time.

    1. tinfoil hattie
      tinfoil hattie November 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

      Exactly! That’s why this discussion was participularly lively!

  31. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan November 16, 2013 at 7:29 pm |

    On a side note, can people pleeease stop with the fucking “if the genders were reversed” bullshit? I’d like to think that a feminist readership already knows that male labor != female labor in this universe, nor does male leisure = female leisure; there’s no way to reverse the genders when half the problem is how this behavior is gendered. Seeing certain people act purposefully ignorant of all things feminist on this thread (“well maybe she’s just a shrill bitch!” “he needs man time!” “female labor is the equivalent of male leisure!”) is depressing.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas November 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm |

      “well maybe she’s just a shrill bitch!”

      Cite?

      “he needs man time!”

      Cite?

      “female labor is the equivalent of male leisure!”

      Cite?

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan November 18, 2013 at 12:05 am |

        I’m summarizing, but aren’t your reading skills precious.

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas November 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm |

          So in other words you tossed a bunch of baseless quotes that you’re aware aren’t related to anything anyone actually said, and fell back on sarcasm after you were called out.

          Precious, indeed.

      2. tinfoil hattie
        tinfoil hattie November 18, 2013 at 4:45 am |

        It’s called “hyperbole,” jackdaw.

  32. tigtog
    tigtog November 17, 2013 at 5:59 pm | *

    Thread has been placed into full moderation because the stoush is getting unproductive. Any further comments which include condescending/patronising ‘splaining will be declined publication.

  33. msgd
    msgd November 18, 2013 at 11:47 am |

    This thread would be half as long if tinfoil hattie didn’t need to constantly explain how stupid this woman is for thinking she understands how her trust fund works and that her evil husband will inevitably leave her helpless and penniless if she considers quitting her job. I have not once seen the concession that she might actually be correct about about the security of her own financial situation or what that might entail for the subsequent discussion.

    1. trees
      trees November 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm |

      @msgd

      My words have been interpreted in the same ways as tinfoil hattie’s. I challenge the notion that the woman is working by “choice”, and it’s read as me saying the wife is stupid and the husband is evil. When you say that “she might actually be correct”, you are making an interpretation based on your understanding. Why do you expect concessions when your interpretation is being presented as the only possible logical way a thinking person could ever read the letter?

      1. msgd
        msgd November 19, 2013 at 11:06 am |

        Well, that’s an interesting point. You are suggesting that the wife writing this letter does not actually believe that she has a choice about whether or not to work? She says:

        He tells me I should just quit if I don’t like it, and that I shouldn’t worry about being dependent because he’s set up a trust fund for me and our son. But I also think it sets a bad example for our son to see a father who doesn’t have some productive purpose in life.

        And then she goes on to talk about the influence of her husband’s choices on her son and their subsequent political and pedagogical differences. Are you interpreting her saying “He tells me…” as her indication that she doesn’t actually believe that? I find that unlikely given that she spends the entire rest of the letter talking about philosophical differences, and never mentions financial concerns other than that one line where she seems to dismiss them.

        I had not considered that you would interpret that as an indication that she really is concerned about that, but I suppose that could be an interpretation. Is that how I am misunderstanding you?

        1. trees
          trees November 19, 2013 at 10:40 pm |

          You are suggesting that the wife writing this letter does not actually believe that she has a choice about whether or not to work?

          No, that’s not at all what I’m saying, but I do appreciate your asking me to clarify. If you page up you’ll see that I entered this discussion to challenge the given that she is working by “choice”, and to explore the possible implications of her quitting her job. It’s just a brief letter written to an advice columnist, so I have no idea about this person’s actual concerns, or if she’s even a real person (check out Lolagirl’s theory). I don’t really care. I will say that I was in an abusive marriage and financial control was definitely a component. At the time, if I was to discuss issues with my marriage, I would have given a similarly blah description of our finances and can very much imagine focusing on the division of household duties.

          I have no interest in the woman’s question nor in the response of the columnist. I have no idea what squash is and don’t care enough to even bother googling it. I don’t care about rich-people-problems in general.

          What I do care about is the financial independence of women and mothers. I know that with a U.S. divorce rate around 50%, wives would be wise to do some endgame planning. I’m speaking to the married and maybe one day married women who may be reading this. If a woman has the good fortune of being gainfully employed (and actually wants to be!), and is able to support herself and her child, it’s no small thing to give away the power.

        2. msgd
          msgd November 21, 2013 at 8:59 am |

          Okay, then I’m firmly back to just saying that your comments are too off topic to be relevant. I’m sorry that you had those problems, and I agree that those problems are real and important. So are a lot of other problems. They are not what this letter is asking, and not what is at issue in this scenario, and not at all what this discussion is about.

          I would have used the other theory replying to my first comment comment as an example of how ludicrous that kind of speculation can end up being. What if the woman doesn’t exist at all and it’s just a big patriarchy conspiracy!?

          I have no interest in the woman’s question nor in the response of the columnist….What I do care about is the financial independence of women and mothers.

          Well, great, but then make your own thread and don’t derail this one which is about a completely different question.

        3. trees
          trees November 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

          I’m sorry that you had those problems, and I agree that those problems are real and important. So are a lot of other problems. They are not what this letter is asking, and not what is at issue in this scenario, and not at all what this discussion is about.

          ??????
          I share my background only as an aside, in hopes of providing insight into why I may be coming at this from a different angle.

          Well, great, but then make your own thread and don’t derail this one which is about a completely different question.

          My contribution to this thread has been singularly focused on questioning the assumption that the writer is working by choice, and to explore the possible implications of walking away from gainful employment. I am challenging the foundation upon which some of the responses are based. It’s a long thread so I don’t know if you saw the “she should just quit her job” comments, but this is what I am responding to. I don’t consider a brief and direct response to a comment to be a derail.

    2. Miranda
      Miranda November 19, 2013 at 12:29 am |

      That’s really not fair. People on the other side of the aisle on this issue, such as ldouglas and EG, have been equally, if not more, persistent in their lobbying.

      Without taking a stand on the argument, I really don’t get the vitriol, condescension, and stubbornness this letter aroused…so what if people are going “off the text”? The varied interpretations here have given me a lot to think about, because people seem to be responding not just to the letter but to their own past experiences with situations similar to this letter. And I think that’s okay. I don’t know that why there needs to be a “winner.” This is not an exam.

      Also, maybe this is just me, but I would feel more comfortable if the commentariat would stop snarking about how others don’t understand trust funds and calling others uneducated. It’s an incredibly obnoxious way of throwing around privilege. Just my 2 cents.

      1. msgd
        msgd November 19, 2013 at 11:11 am |

        I view this as effectively a discussion about a hypothetical situation. We are provided a scenario that is specified by the wife writing for advice, and we are to discuss that scenario. I thought that the letter straightforwardly meant that the writer was not concerned about the adequacy of the trust, and that the criticism here was that she could be mistaken and shouldn’t trust her husband. I had not considered that the letter could be interpreted to suggest that the wife herself did express concern about the adequacy of the trust, and if that is the case then I retract my criticism because then the entire dynamic of the scenario would change.

        However, questioning the judgment of the letter-writer in this case is not helpful or appropriate. If she believes that the trust is an adequate security, then that is the scenario. Otherwise we might as well question everything else and the discussion becomes pointless.

        1. Miranda
          Miranda November 20, 2013 at 4:59 pm |

          I mean, I don’t want to be argumentative for the sake of being argumentative, but you do say that this is

          a discussion about a hypothetical situation.

          So why is it so inappropriate to extrapolate a little bit based on people’s personal experiences with such situations? Sure, it might be projection, but I learned something by listening to where people were coming from. This is, after all, all hypothetical, an exercise, more or less.

          Lolagirl, for example, I think is on team “wife is a douche” but speculated so far as to think that the letter is a fabrication to advance an anti stay at home mom ideology. And for some reason no one got their panties in a bunch over THAT assumption.

          Are people reacting strongly because they find it patronizing to question the woman’s (implicit) judgment about the trust? Is that what’s going on here?

        2. msgd
          msgd November 21, 2013 at 9:08 am |

          I guess now we are just expressing different ideas about what the point is of a post like this on a website like this. I think that comments and discussion should address the issues raised by the original post and the scenario it contains, and not stray into every tangential topic that could be related to that post.

          I think that would be a totally appropriate discussion to have in the spillover thread. Instead, conversation about whether or not this trust really exists and what it might or might not do has totally overwhelmed discussion about how partners should share childcare work in a situation of mutual financial independence, which is what the letter is straightforwardly asking.

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