by Denise Noe
Childless housewives may feel left out in today’s zeitgeist. The term “stay-at-home-mom” leaves them invisible; “having-it-all” leaves them appearing “have-nothings.” Nevertheless, childless housewives are enjoying a resurgence.
Author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women Dr. Scott Hazelton interviewed 650 wives who stay home – and estimates over 10% are childless. “In the past few years, many women who are well educated and trained for career tracks have decided instead to stay at home,” he states.
One factor in this resurgence is that “women’s lib” promises of fulfillment through paid work sometimes prove hollow. Anne Marie Davis recalls feeling “overwhelmed” by her high school teaching. She also felt it detracted from her marriage: “I didn’t have time for my husband.” She broached staying home to her husband who encouraged it. However, she found her choice criticized. “I’ve actually heard people say that [childless] women who don’t work are a drain on society,” she reveals.
Catherine Zoerb finished graduate school but decided against seeking employment because she was happy staying home. Her husband also backed her up. Zoerb admits to misgivings, feeling she somehow betrayed “all those women who worked so hard so that I could go out and have a good career.”
There are varied reasons childless women stay home. Some are “ladies of leisure.” John Hopkins University School of Medicine social worker/psychotherapist Daniel Buccino says they can be “status symbols” suggesting, “We make enough money that we both don’t need to work outside the home.”
However, Dr. Haltzman’s study suggests such housewives “want to focus on caring for the home, whether or not it involves children.” Davis organizes the week by household activities: “Tuesdays are my laundry day. I go grocery shopping on Wednesdays and clean house on Thursdays.” Mondays and Fridays are for errands and appointments. Her staying home has improved life for her and her husband. “We’re no longer stressed out,” she asserts.
Catherine Zoerb also says she is “much less stressed and tense” staying home. Like Davis, she uses her time productively. “I’m able to clip coupons, do all the chores and make nice dinners,” she reveals. Husband Kirk Zoerb comments “I feel the house is more together because she has the time to do things like in-depth cleaning and can be more attentive to the garden. She also has more time to find good deals at secondhand stores, garage sales and grocery stores.” He believes her housewifery benefits their marriage: “We have more energy and are generally emotionally healthier.”
Childless housewife Jaggy writes that people falsely assume that she is idle. She contributes by “finding ways to save money or do[ing] things myself instead of paying someone else.” She can “find ways to save money” and to “research products and make wise purchases.” She does not consider herself unemployed, writing, “My job is being a homemaker.” There are other misunderstandings. She writes, “I’m not at all repressed. . . . My husband doesn’t ‘make’ me stay home, and he doesn’t rule over me. We mutually benefit from me being at home every day: he doesn’t have to do chores he hates, and I get to do things I enjoy.” Like some other childless housewives, she wants kids eventually. She believes staying home before having them gives her the “opportunity to learn this job well” before adding to it.
Sex roles are flexible today and there are househusbands who are not “stay-at-home-dads.” Kirk Zoerb remarks, “I don’t believe that the woman has to be the exclusive cook, cleaner, or shopper and I don’t believe the man must be the breadwinner. I wouldn’t mind staying home while Catherine works!”
Denise Noe is a severely and multiply disabled woman who lives in Georgia. She has had articles, essays, short stories, and poems published. Her ebook, “Suffer Little Children,” about true crimes against young people, can be found at BuzzwordBooks.com.
Bunde, Karah as told to Rabbitt, Meghan. “Confessions Of A Stay-At-Home (Childless) Wife: Why I Choose Not To Work.” LearnVest.
Eenvoudig, Thema. “Childless Women and Homemaking.” Adventures In Keeping House.
Jaggy. “The Social Stigma of a Childless Housewife.” That Forthright Girl.
Jio, Sarah. “No kids, no jobs for growing number of wives.” CNN. Aug. 5, 2008.
Lill, Genevieve. “The New Housewife.” Your Tango.
Stassinopoulos, Arianna. The Female Woman: An Argument against Women’s Liberation, for Female Emancipation. Random House. New York. 1973.