Urban homesteading, householdering, radical homemaking….call it what you will, the world of glorified housewifery seems, perhaps unsurprisingly, to be dominated by the wifery. Certainly the world of blogging about all this stuff tends to be the realm of the gentler sex (though I’m not sure how much gentler I looked as I slaughtered that chicken or shoveled that horse shit, but I digress).
More than a few readers and Facebook followers – women – have mentioned that they are in relationships with people – men – who are not entirely supportive of their efforts to run a productive household. This seems to be particularly true for women who have opted to not work outside of the home, focusing their efforts on negabucks instead of megabucks.
The tale I’ve heard quite a few times is that not-on-board man wants not-making-money woman to get back out into the big, wide world and start bringing home the bacon. (In the figurative sense only, of course, not in the, “Hey, babe, you need to start bringing home the bacon ’cause I just built you a smokehouse in the backyard and winter-is-a-comin’,” sense.)
I’m just speculating here, but I imagine that, to much of the outside world, and even to the outside spouse, running a productive home looks and sounds suspiciously like, “I don’t want to work,” “I don’t have to work,” or – and I hate this phrase – “I’m just a mom.”
Some people – and fortunately I do not seem to be surrounded by many of them – seem to think that the home is where weak brains go to die. In the world of the superwoman, the decision to “stay home,” particularly without children or after children grow past early childhood, is looked on as a cop-out decision made only by those unqualified for the world out there.
In this social context, perhaps the non-householder-husband really does think his bright, capable, vivacious wife would get more personal satisfaction from the balace that a career outside the home would offer.
But I suspect really, it comes down to money.
I suspect it comes down to money, and the perception that a job done for money is more valuable, by definition, than a job done for, really, anything else: self-sufficiency, education, personal satisfaction, the ability to put food on the table.
Radical Stay-at-Homemakers who spend their time growing the family food will rightly point out that you can’t eat a iPad, while their at-the-office partners can justly counter that the bank won’t take potatoes as a mortgage payment. Money – how to get it, how to spend it, what to do and how you feel when you have too little, what to do and how you feel when you save some extra – these questions are answered in the context of our values.
I am blessed to have a husband who is usually on-board with my hare-brained schemes, and willingly helps a huge amount in “my” garden. He also works his ass off outside the home. I am very fortunate to have him as a partner, but I flatter myself to think he’d say the same, since I’m no slouch in the hard-worker department either. Our values align and so we work, separately or together, to common purpose on and off the homestead.
But I am aware that this kind of shared effort and shared vision is not universal out there, and many great couples have very divergent views on what work and leisure should look like.
Does your partner support your efforts to live a more self-sufficient life? Have you run into any disagreement over your attempts to change the consumption habits or productivity of your home and, if so, how have you dealt with any strife? Or maybe you’re the spouse footing the bill for a non-working urban homesteading partner – do you resent that you bring more to the table as the wage earner?1