• Tue, Feb 22 2011

Being A Stay-At-Home-Girlfriend Will Kill Your Soul

Once upon a time, I knew how to starch shirts that were not mine, because I did so on a regular basis.  Without touching on my personal life anymore than I have already done in this wild, exciting  bit of oversharing, let’s discuss how being a Stay At Home Girlfriend will eat up your soul and spit it out like some vomitous cookie monster.

In Quiana Stokes article How To Survive As A SAHG (Stay-At-Home-Girlfriend) she describes what she does all day as a Stay At Home Girlfriend. Namely:

1) Makes her boyfriend breakfast

2) Cleans

3) Cooks or orders in dinner

4) Waxes herself, does her nails

5) Prepares cocktails for her boyfriend when he comes home

6) Has sex with her boyfriend

Now, this seems really appealing if you hate your job. If you dislike going to work every day, then yeah, hanging out around the house painting your own nails seems like a lot more fun. But, look. This is not a sign you should be a stay-at-home-girlfriend. This is a sign you need to find a job you love and do it. Quit. If you hate your job, quit. It’s not going anywhere anyway. You will never get ahead if you’re miserable. People who love what they’re doing get ahead. If you need the money, stick it out as long as you can, but make sure you’re sending out resumes every day. You should not be aspiring to a four hour work-week, because you think work is for chumps. You should be aspiring to a zero hour workweek by virtue of loving everything you’re working on so much that it doesn’t feel like work.

Because if we rank things on a fun scale, going to a job you hate is a 0. Staying at home, painting your own nails, waiting for your man to return is maybe a 5. Working on something you’re great at, that utilizes your creative energies to the fullest, that challenges you and excites you? That’s a good 8.5. And if you get validation from other people for doing it well? 9.6.  (10 is riding a unicorn across a field of rainbows).

Because relying on one person for validation simply isn’t enough. I was going along thinking, “well, maybe Quiana does love her life, lots of people read Ibsen and think “that is rad” maybe diffrn’t strokes, you know, Jessica Wakeman makes a really good point” until I came upon this line:

“If there’s one thing I’m sure [my boyfriend would] like to change it is the way I cling to him when he gets home. After spending a large part of the week talking only to myself, having him walk through the door ready to talk about something other than toilet cleaner is really exciting to me.”

Oh. Yes. That’s right.

This is why it gets problematic. Because you can not rely only on one person for validation that what you are doing is good. In the first place, they won’t be able to give it to you. You’ll spend two hours making dinner, and they’ll come home, say “that looks good” and then, you know, eat it. They will take your two hours and put it in their belly because it’s just  food, and then they’ll go watch television. You won’t know what you wanted them to say, but you’ll know you wanted it to be more, somehow. This will happen with everything. They won’t notice that you carefully dusted everything around the apartment. They won’t notice that you found beautiful new cushions for all the furniture. They will notice when you come up with a great new organizational system for all the cutlery, but only insofar as they will yell “why are the forks all weird?”

And they will be the only person who sees and values your work. If they don’t see it, it will be as though you might as well not have done it at all.

Which would be fine if their job was “admiring your work around the house” but it isn’t. Their job consists of “doing shit.” Out there. In the world. They don’t have time to admire the cushions you meticulously selected because they are thinking about the glory they’ll gain from doing deals or selling articles or whatever their particular job is.

In essence, they will be your North, your South, your East and West, your working week, your Sunday rest. In return, they will see you as a slightly high-strung woman who cries when you tell her the forks are all fucked up now.

Oh, and you’ll feel awful. You’ll be left with a slow, aching feeling in your gut. You’ll constantly be trying to pinpoint why no matter what they say, it never feels quite like enough. It’s not your partner’s fault. Your partner is behaving like a normal human being who has work and responsibilities and lots of  things to do. It never feels like enough because directing all your accomplishments towards one person isn’t enough. You need more. You need the validation that comes from a romantic partner, maybe, but you also need validation from your peers. From colleagues. From friends. From – if you’re lucky – total strangers who like your work. You can’t make one single person – even if he is fantastic – your entire world. It’s not fun. It’s crushing. And it will drive you insane. Slowly, but very surely.

But if you disagree, then here’s a nice article on how to be “mysterious” for your man!

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  • Eileen

    I know in my retail days, the best customers always came around midday on the weekdays: The stay-at-home wives/moms. Given that they were wealthy enough not to have to work, they had money to spend…and they were always so super sweet and polite to us. They’d chit-chat with us about everything, which I loved because I try to make every woman I meet my best friend. Then I realized: It’s because they miss talking to adults.

    And that was when I knew I never wanted to stay home all day.

  • Kelly

    *clap*clap* this is the best reaction to this article that I’ve read.

  • M

    I could not be a stay-at-home anything, but I know my way is far from the only way to live. My best friend is essentially a stay-at-home wife [they have no kids, just a few pets]: she has an extremely part-time job [maybe ten hours a week on average] but her husband is the primary breadwinner, working two jobs for a combined about sixty hours a week. She has issues with social anxiety and back problems, which eliminates most customer service/retail type jobs that would be available to her with her resume. While they hadn’t planned on exactly this scenario when they were engaged, it was her husband and not her who suggested after the wedding: ‘Instead of looking for a job like you said you would, how about you try to not and see if it helps your stress levels? I can support us and I don’t mind working this much, so let’s see if it makes both of us happy. If it does, we’ll work with it. If it doesn’t, you’d be stressed either way so you might as well look for work, but I want to see if you’d be happier staying at home.’

    Needless to say it worked; she doesn’t cry herself to sleep worrying about having to try to find jobs and then try to do jobs that she currently isn’t mentally or physically equipped to handle. She is an excellent homemaker and there is no shame in that, and when he lived alone he was AWFUL at it [both the chores and the financial responsibility parts] so he truly appreciates what it takes for her to have their household run smoothly. They talk about her possibly picking up more part-time work in the future, but as things stand she will probably not end up working full-time. And you know what? It works perfectly well for them. I could never do it, but they are both extremely happy and content and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

  • Jamie

    On the one hand, I’m mad at you for responding to this at all, thereby generating traffic to that article and feeding the trolls. On the other hand, that link you put at the end is priceless. I could never stay mad at you for long!

  • LaLa

    I can’t even imagine being a stay-at-home girlfriend/wife. I am a stay-at-home mom and it’s killing my soul. I love, love, love my child but I hate staying at home. The only reason I’m doing it is because I lost my job and can’t afford to pay for her pre-school anymore (although I tell people I‘m just spending more time with my daughter). I want to work and be a productive member of my family, not have 10,000 tea parties. And I feel like it’s better for her to be at a school than playing with dolls all day. I can’t imagine CHOOSING to give up your life to …sit at home. People need to feel useful, productive, and independent. When you don’t, you’re just not happy.

  • Joel

    I. can. not. believe. how many people think this article is for real. There is no possible way this can be read as anything but satire. With the pictures? It’s just all too perfect. But it is totally worth it to see the outrage. Hilarious!

  • Carolyn

    This is one of my favorite articles I’ve ever read on the gloss.

  • eEv

    Reminds me of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fantastic_Four:_Unstable_Molecules
    Yeah, completely agree. I was unemployed (well, very underemployed) for a while and living with my boyfriend, and I always felt like shit even when I did manage to clean and look pretty. Being a stay-at-home mom is one thing, because raising kids is a job, but living just to take care of your partner sounds so incredibly depressing.

  • Odbery

    Ehh, I read the article and to me it sounded more like a serious Type-A after being fired. If she can’t be perfect at work, then gosh darn it she going to be perfect at home, and she did say at the end that her staying home was only temporary.

    That said, the entire article just shits on feminism but I’m pretty sure it’s satire in the vein of Swift’s eating Irish babies essay.

    • Jennifer Wright

      I think you’d be pretty surprised at how easy it is to end up being the girl in the article. It’s really only satire if satire is defined as “a pretty accurate depiction of what some women do or try to do.”

  • Sinead

    That has pretty much talked about my life. Down to a tee. Seeing it written like that has just made me realise that I do go crazy and cry when he asks “why are the forks all weird?” and such! I need to get out more.

  • larissa

    I don’t understand the reaction to this as some sort of anti-feminist propaganda. She did not quit her job in order to paint her toenails and make her man cocktails.. She got laid off. She’s sending her resumes out every day. When she finds another job she won’t continue in this vein, but why shouldn’t she make the best of it (both in doing the housework, etc. and in keeping a positive attitude about it) until then? When her boyfriend gets laid off, let him assume that role for a while. She did not suggest that she thinks this is the formula for life-long happiness. She’s just coping in a crappy situation.