The Realities Of Being A Stay-at-Home Wife

I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of confusion over the whole “SAHW” thing. Believe me; I harbored a lot of these feelings before it became my reality. When I first made the choice to be a stay-at-home wife, I was convinced that everyone would feel this way about me.

As this lifestyle continues, I’m realizing more and more that there are myths that need to be put to rest, and that just because a woman seems to be living in luxury as a stay-at-home wife does not mean that it was her dream. Here are some of the more common ones that are decidedly not always true:

1. There are kids involved.

Not true. That’s why there’s the whole other title of stay-at-home mom. Typically, if you label yourself as a stay-at-home wife, it’s because you’re not a mother.

2. Her husband is a billionaire.

That would be lovely, but not always true. Hopefully (as in my case) a stay-at-home wife’s husband can provide for the home without the extra income; however, this does not mean all SHAWs are living in mansions and driving luxury cars. We’re middle class people, too.

3. She’s too lazy to get a job.

Completely untrue. I personally am married to a man whose job requires frequent relocation, making it hard for me to find a steady career. I know a lot of women in the same position. I went to college, earned my Bachelor’s degree in just three-and-a-half years, and spent an entire year desperately searching for a job. I will look for jobs again when we move; for me, the situation is (hopefully) not permanent.

4. She’s content mooching off her husband’s income and benefits.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear wives excuse their excessive spending habits by saying, “We’re making good money now that my husband is [insert job promotion title here]!”

My husband assures me that his money is my money, and I believe him, but it would be enormously disrespectful of me to blow his paycheck on my material desires. I spend money on groceries and gas for my car more than anything else. Obviously, I pick things up for myself every once in a while (Target is five minutes from my house; I can’t help it), but I don’t need his money to make me happy.

5. Her husband is sexist.

I could have married a guy who complains that I do nothing around the house all day, the home-cooked meal I made for him is cold, I can’t buy anything because it’s not my paycheck, I shouldn’t be looking for a job because I need to be home, etc.

My husband could not be more supportive. When I get down on myself for not working, he reminds me that everything I do in the home is a bigger help than extra money. Every meal I’ve ever cooked for him has been met with positive comments, even if it had been sitting on the counter for an hour and needed to be microwaved. If I come home with a new outfit, he’s thrilled because he knows it makes me happy. He’s the first one to get excited if I see a potential new job opportunity. I don’t worry about him ever putting me down; on the contrary, he’s my biggest fan.

6. She watches TV and paints her nails all day.

A lot of SAHWs I know have small businesses, like selling art for Etsy or babysitting. My typical day is spent going to the gym, running errands, cleaning the house, preparing and cooking meals, writing for LD, and editing a book for a professor at my alma mater. Other wives I know volunteer at local nonprofits or substitute teach. I have no excuse for boredom; there’s always something I could be doing.

7. She’s one of those “my job of staying home is way harder than yours!” types.

I’m fully aware that some women would kill to be able to stay at home. Some hate their jobs but have no way out. Some may be mothers who wish they could stay home with their kids but can’t because the need for extra money is too great. I don’t think I have a harder life than the women who are trying to balance a home life with a full-time job. I admire them.

8. She thinks she’s too good for minimum wage jobs.

Some people might see a stay-at-home wife and wonder why she doesn’t just get a job as a retail clerk or a restaurant server. I don’t think I’m above that kind of work. After earning my Bachelor’s degree, I become a babysitter/lifeguard/unpaid intern for a while. It’s not beneath me, but typically jobs like those require availability on nights and weekends. Since nights and weekends are the only times I can see my husband, I’d rather not be absent. If his income couldn’t comfortably provide for us both, I would gladly take the first job I was offered.

9. She’s nothing without a man.

Please. We may be financially dependent on our husbands, but for most of us, it was a choice. We are educated, talented, bright women who are qualified for wonderful jobs. I put my dream for a great career on hiatus because my husband’s job is so demanding. If he didn’t exist, I would have a hundred career options because I could travel anywhere in the world.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t resent him at all. I love him far, far more than I could ever love a career, and I love that I’m always home when his work day is over. Being a stay-at-home wife may not have ever been my dream, but it’s now my reality. I’m learning to enjoy every minute.

View Comments (7)
  • Thank you so much for writing this! Your article actually helped me articulate some of the feelings I had been having since becoming a SAHW! We also have to move a lot, and I have been a SAHW for about 2 years now. Both my husband and I come from families where everyone works, even if it’s not completely necessary. I was convinced that everyone would lump me in with these stereotypes… and in some ways I still do. So thanks again for writing this and helping me come to terms with my situation a little bit more :)

  • Hi Hillary! Thank you for writing this. I am also a stay-at-home wife, no kids, and am constantly amazed at the assumptions people make. My husband works long and unpredictable hours, so most of the housework falls on my shoulders. If I worked outside of the home, I would have to hire help. I just started a new website about homemaking… I will put a link to your blog. I think women like us need to stick together to clear up all the misconception s about stay-at-home wives. Thank you again for your inspirational post!


  • Thank you, this article is very helpful as I am having an interesting time adjusting from working two full time jobs as a single woman to relocating from my hometown to be with my boyfriend and now currently unemployed. My income is not needed but i hate not feeling resourceful. I’m not used to having so much time on my hands, but am applying and finding ways to be useful.

  • I swear this is exactly me. I have no children and my husband doesn’t ask me for a penny but I often feel like I’m not pulling my weight, mostly because of societal views. I’m intelligent, have a degree and years of work experience prior to moving cross country to live with my husband. It’s an interesting balance I’m having to find. Thank you for this.

  • I FEEL THIS SO DEEPLY!! I am struggling with finding a job out on the road with my husband, habing nobody out here but him and our dog, and anxiety. Its not fun at all.

  • Bless this. Everything you said here is 1000% true- and then some; there are so many misconceptions about being a Homemaker- kids or not- ranging from pretty harmless but still annoying, to completely offensive and asinine. It’s lovely to see them broken down like this!

  • I was finishing my college program when the pandemic hit, I successfully graduated, and all the jobs in my field vanished, hoping this would be temporary I tried to stay positive, my Significant Other is very supportive and doesnt need me to contribute financially. Then I learned I was pregnant, so now I feel in a way useless, like there isn’t enough house chores or way for me to mentally earn my keep, i am struggling with my own views of feeling lazy and worthless because now I fear working in the public with all this still going on in the world. This article made me feel better, but I wonder if I’ll ever feel like I dont have to continue to make excuses or validate my worth everytime I have to tell someone Im not working and my SO supports me financially.

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