Saturday, April 12, 2008

"I don't understand why someone becomes your financial responsibility just because you married them"

There is an interesting article in the WSJ that I somehow missed (thanks to the reader who emailed it) --Men Receiving Alimony Want A Little Respect with an added caption: "Modern Males Say Living Off the Ex-Wife Is No Cause for Shame." Some of the women are up in arms about paying their ex large sums of money:

To Ms. Friedman, that financial history fails to support the argument that she should send thousands a month to her ex-husband, with whom she had no children. "I don't understand why someone becomes your financial responsibility just because you married them," says Ms. Friedman, who earns about $500,000 a year as the supervising producer of the soap opera "The Bold and the Beautiful."


I agree with Ms. Friedman, why should someone become your financial responsibility, especially after the two of you are divorced and have no children? Yet, men have been held to this standard for some time now, and women are now earning larger paychecks. If men are still responsible for alimony, then women should be also. If women want to be free of alimony, they should fight to end the whole thing, for both men and women, especially for those with no children.

109 Comments:

Blogger JG said...

There are some people in this world, believe it or not, who have never worked outside of the home and who have simply sat at home for 25-30 years of their adult lives.

Mostly women, but maybe one or two men.

They were "created" by some chivalrous dude for whatever reason. These housewives have absolutely no job skills and could do nothing in the job market. They may not even have simple money-handling skills. Putting them out into the world without support would be like putting a zoo animal that has always been in captivity, that has always had its food put before it, out into the wild. It would get eaten alive.

So if you don't want these useless housewives to starve to death, who pays?

I suggest the guy who created them - the husband, and that means alimony.

I realize that now that some WOMEN might have to pay, there is a movement to actually eliminate alimony (after men have been entirely paying alimony up to now), because it would be like UNFAIR if women had to support a useless spouse they no longer wanted.

6:14 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

I think there are situations in which alimony is not warranted, even if one spouse just sat home for years.

There is a trend I have noticed today: I think the "old" paradigm was that the girl maybe met a "rich enough" guy, or a guy with a good job, when she was young, so she didn't diddle around with education. At most girls would get an "MRS" degree at a college.

Today, women make up the majority of students in universities. But here's an example of what many women do: A woman could go through college, go through medical school and even do a residency or start working a bit as a physician. Then she marries a male physician or a man with similar earning power. She then stops working, but continues to SAY that she is a physician. The man is really supporting her, but she looks to the outside world to be a strong, independent woman with her own career, because no one really pins her down about the work that she is CURRENTLY doing. Some also say that they are "writing a book" or the look.

In the end, though, it's pretty much the same as it used to be - man really does the drudge work, woman gets the benefit of some title.

In that case, though, princess can dust off her college degree and work. She should not get a cent in alimony or even any money in a settlement that the man had actually earned.

6:21 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Cham said...

I will assume alimony was designed so that people will think twice about insisting their spouse not earn money and then when they get tired of the spouse after 20-30 years they opt to quietly divorce them leaving the spouse with no life skills. Alimony would be a deterrent.

But it should be applied only when their is a gross discrepancy in earning potential, after a long marriage and not be gender specific.

7:18 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

I don't mind at all if men are ordered to pay alimony for a long-term housewife. Men who think like I do - that I wouldn't touch a long-term housewife with a ten-foot pole - are not going to be ordered to pay alimony.

As far as compassion goes with other men: If a Real Man (TM) wants to blow cigar smoke in your face and pronounce that "no woman of mine will ever work" (and some woman found her match because she doesn't like that icky "work" stuff), then his most eminent RealMan self can also pay for her after she screws the cable installer. Better him than society paying via welfare for the parasite.

Actually, though, a RealMan should never be ordered by the court to pay alimony, because a RealMan would already have a support plan in place for her. That's what real men do.

7:27 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

Alimony should only pay for someone to get by in life, though. That means that princess only rents a furnished room somewhere - she no longer gets to live in a castle.

I also think that assets should be distributed according to who earned them. If you want to pay princess for her housekeeping work, fine, but she may come out negative after you deduct her room & board, use of automobiles, paid vacations, expensive food and all the rest that may have been paid by the man during the marriage.

I guess there's "unpaid work" on the one side, and "unearned in-kind payments" on the other side. So just match them up. I bet a true housekeeper (from Honduras, for instance) would not be driving a Mercedes from her salary, unlike a housewife (who does "unpaid" work LOL).

7:38 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

The Wall Street Journal provides a pretty good argument for alimony as far as I can tell. As many of the men in the article point out, often a spouse sacrifices his or her own economic prospects to support the other spouse's career or to care for young children. There needs to be a legal mechanism to protect spouses on the losing end of these kinds of economic deals.

I would also note the following: One often reads among men's rights folks that "women" want it both ways -- we want equality and independence but we don't want the responsibility that comes with it. But this article illustrates that "women" are not a monolith and that you are going to see a distinction between the views of women actually involved in an ugly divorce and feminists arguing from principle. The alimony-paying women quoted in the article sound exactly like all the disgruntled alimony-paying men. No one -- male or female -- who actually has to pay the money thinks it is fair. But feminist lawyer Gloria Allred is quoted in the article as saying: "We can't assert rights for women and say that men aren't entitled to the same rights." I don't see a feminist double standard -- I just see a bunch of women in divorces fighting tooth and nail for their own financial self interest just as men often do in the same situation. It ain't pretty but it ain't a double standard either.

8:01 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

... often a spouse sacrifices his or her own economic prospects to support the other spouse's career ...

-----

Oh, baloney.

If women want to work, they do. If they don't want to work, they don't.

And it's almost exclusively "her", not "his" like in the article.

Believe me, plenty of men working in mines, working in steel mills and hanging off the back of garbage trucks wouldn't mind "sacrificing" to stay at home (IF they could grab the same money like housewives do and IF the woman had the same stress on her to work that men do). For that matter, plenty of attorneys and plenty of middle managers wouldn't mind it either. THAT'S WHY ALMOST EVERYONE QUITS HIS JOB AFTER HE WINS THE LOTTO.

Is everyone friggin' playing deaf, dumb and blind here? LOL

8:10 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Helen said...

Margaret,

Note what the article does say:

"Divorce experts say that fewer and fewer men are rejecting outright any talk of seeking alimony. The percentage of alimony recipients who are male rose to 3.6% during the five years ending in 2006, up from 2.4%, in the previous five-year period, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

That percentage is likely to rise as more and more marriages feature a primary earner who is female. In 2005 (the latest year for which data are available), wives outearned their husbands in 33% of all families, up from 28.2% a decade earlier."

When one compares the low percentage of men who get alimony (come on-3.6 percent--that is pathetic) compared to the percentage of women who outearn their husbands, there is obviously a double standard.

8:13 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

I agree with some of what jg said, although not with his contempt for housewives. Men can't have it both ways. You can't expect your wife to stay home and do all the housework and childcare at great expense to her future earning capacity, without also undertaking the obligation to support her over the long term. If you don't want to undertake that obligation, don't marry a housewife, or don't marry at all.

I do NOT agree that such men should be allowed to dismiss the wife as though she is a "Honduran housekeeper." Marriage is an economic relationship but it is also a lot more. There is usually an emotional entanglement (except among the most cynical of partners) as well as a long-term expectation of a shared life together. There are also usually children in common.

I can tell you that I would not take kindly to it if my housewife mother were suddenly dismissed with the severance pay due to a Honduran housekeeper after 38 years of a shared life together in which my mother not only performed all the housekeeping work and entertaining of clients, but supported my father emotionally during all the stresses of his career. I don't recall her getting nights or weekends off either.

8:15 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

Helen,

First, I don't think the stats in the article necessarily establish a double standard. The apt comparison would be the percentage of men married to higher earners who receive alimony compared to the percentage of women married to higher earners who receive alimony. Not all women who are married to higher earners get alimony. It depends on a lot of factors, and my understanding is that alimony isn't all that easy to get these days especially for women still in their youth or their prime.

Second, despite the foregoing I don't necessarily disagree that there is a double-standard. What gets my goat is when the double standard is blamed on "women" in general, women fighting not to pay alimony in their own specific situations, or feminists in general. Often the double standard is held by men themselves who decline to seek alimony, as the article notes. Another issue is the court system and the often male judges who are more inclined to view men as wimpy if the want alimony. There are certainly many women who buy into the double standard too -- but it is a larger cultural problem than just "those modern women who all want it both ways" or "those feminists" (who tend to support gender neutral alimony).

8:25 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

In these discussions about housewives, there is always a litany of things that housewives supposedly do (all of them?) that justifies a huge settlement for them come divorce.

Like "supporting my father emotionally".

If the man is not a robot, I would venture to say that he is also supporting HER emotionally. A lot of the stuff that is listed in the litany involve things that partners do for each other.

And even if you have some lop-sided marriage in which the man earns all the money and the woman does all the housekeeping: She doesn't even HAVE TO always provide a professional job like a professional housekeeper would. Sometimes a housekeeper is even hired for the housewife. Most housewives today try to pressure the man to do his share of the housework (forgetting, naturally, to do their 50% of the earning). Even traditionally, housewives have NEVER done all of the work around the house - the housewife generally develops a "honey do" list of all the stuff she's too stupid or too weak to do around the house. Repairs, roofwork etc.

My suggestion to men: Think once, twice and then a third time if you think you want a housewife. If she quits her job out of the blue after marriage (very frequent occurrence), and you don't have small children, tell her she's going back to work or you're gone. Grow a pair.

And if you want to pay hero and boss of a lost housewife, then pay her after the divorce too; you aren't going to get any respect or RealMan points from me, though, nor from a growing number of men out there who simply think you're stupid.

8:30 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

This is an area in which law has lagged well behind social evolution. When the alimony and child support laws were written, few persons contemplated an era in which wives might out-earn their husbands. But then, when the current divorce laws were written, few persons contemplated the probable consequences of revocable-by-either-party-at-any-time-without-penalty marriage contracts -- even though they were too plain to be overlooked.

These matters urgently require correction, but just as with many of our other legal obscenities, there are powerful interest groups dedicated to preventing change. Oftentimes, the most important interest group is lawyers. Food for thought.

8:37 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

Believe me, plenty of men working in mines, working in steel mills and hanging off the back of garbage trucks wouldn't mind "sacrificing" to stay at home (IF they could grab the same money like housewives do and IF the woman had the same stress on her to work that men do). For that matter, plenty of attorneys and plenty of middle managers wouldn't mind it either. THAT'S WHY ALMOST EVERYONE QUITS HIS JOB AFTER HE WINS THE LOTTO.

So? Why is this an argument against alimony?

Whether it "feels" like a sacrifice or not, women who stay home are in fact sacrificing their future earning capacity. The daily life of a housewife may be wonderfully pleasant and something every working man or woman dreams of, but the fact remains that the housewife is sacrificing her oppportunities to earn money.

Are you saying she doesn't have a right to compensation if she "enjoyed" herself too much as a housewife? Economic fairness is only permitted to people who are miserable in the roles they perform?

8:41 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

"So? Why is this an argument against alimony?"

---

Margaret, read the part at the very top of that post.

I wasn't making an argument against alimony, I was responding to a statement in your post (which I posted at the very top).

That's pretty clear.

8:46 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

As far as a diffuse definition of "sacrificing" goes:

Every person on the planet "sacrifices" a different future in every decision that he or she makes.

A man who marries a woman sacrifices a future opportunity to possibly marry a woman he is more compatible with, a woman who earns more money or a woman who is more enjoyable to be around.

So compensate HIM for his sacrifice.

OR ... grow up and join the real world, where adults are responsible for the decisions they make.

8:51 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

Jg,

Of course, emotional support goes both ways (or should) and there are a lot of intangibles in a marriage. Which is why you can't compare a wife to a your hired housekeeper.

But where one spouse is the earner and the other in a housekeeper role, the emotional support the earning spouse receives may have a direct positive impact on his earning. After all, married men allegedly receive more promotions and earn more than singles.

I know I wouldn't be where I am professionally, if my husband didn't listen to and absorb some of the burdens of my work-related stress.

8:54 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

"But where one spouse is the earner and the other in a housekeeper role, the emotional support the earning spouse receives may have a direct positive impact on his earning. After all, married men allegedly receive more promotions and earn more than singles."

---

OK, then you would have to find out if that REALLY took place in the marriage, and to a tangible and substantial degree. Not just "could have, maybe, whatever, I guess", so boy pays girl.

[Attention, made-up anecdote]: My friend was married to a housewife who was simultaneously a drama queen. Fights, arguments, drama. Stress, strain, he almost didn't want to go home at night [I guess you could say that he owed her, because he made more money with overtime].

But it was difficult for him to work, always thinking about the fights and what she was threatening to do to him. His work performance vastly improved, and work became more enjoyable to him, after the divorce. Should she compensate HIM for that (hint: it will never happen).

If you think that all housewives are spending every waking hour trying to think how they can make their husband's lives easier, I want to move to your parallel universe.

8:59 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

By the way: I would suggest that in divorcing couples, there is a greater likelihood that the wife was NOT making things easier on him. There is a higher likelihood that the couple was fighting. There is a higher likelihood that they don't like each other.

Because they are divorcing.

There is also a high likelihood that women claim whatever they want in a divorce, and the court is more likely to go along with the woman's story, especially older, male, chivalrous judges. So it doesn't matter if it is reality or not, she just has to assert it.

9:04 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

Jg,

I understand you were responding to my point but the argument is about whether alimony is appropriate. Your response doesn't go to that issue. But okay, your response does clarify that my use of the word "sacrifice" does not mean "misery." I am not sure why one assume that it means "misery" rather than "giving something up" -- but yes, consider the point clarified.

OR ... grow up and join the real world, where adults are responsible for the decisions they make.

Right. Which is why I agree with your prior point that a man shouldn't marry a housewife unless he is prepared to support her.

I also think a big problem here is the still-ingrained cultural beliefs about gender roles. I worry a lot about women who get suckered into poor economic choices because of STRONG and STILL PREVALENT cultural beliefs that women should be full-time mothers or stay in the home. Some people believe these lifestyles are mandated by the Bible, i.e. by God Himself.

9:10 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

Jg,

I agree that you can't prove exactly what the marriage was like. Again the emotional entanglement, for good or evil, means that you can't treat marriage like an employer-employee relatinship -- and no the courts can't untangle which spouse was the bigger asshole on a day-to-day basis. I just think that emotional support is part of the role the housewife takes on -- even if it turns out she did a lousy job performing it.

The other thing the housewife takes on is RISK. Risk that she can't control. The risk is that hubby won't hold up his end of the bargain in terms of winning the bread (unless perhaps he is already rich and even then maybe he will squander the money)-- and that can leave her without any support at all.

Example: My mother-in-law and father-in-law had a traditional marriage. My mother-in-law stayed home with the kids and did all the housework. My father-in-law made money hand-over-fist as some sort of foreman on big construction projects. Then one day after 15 years of marriage, he runs off with a younger woman and decides that he is never going to work again. There is no question of "alimony" because my father-in-law abruptly stopped earning an income. There was a child support order, but my father-in-law never paid.

So my mother-in-law found herself at 40 years of age with two kids to support, no source of income, no marketable skills, no cv, and pretty scary prospects for the future. Sure, she humped up, and after a nervous breakdown and with some financial help from her sister, got a nursing degree and then worked a nursing job at the county home for 22 years, which allowed her to support her kids and retire with a comfortable state pension. But the POINT is that her 15 years of stay-at-home wifedom was a RISK that left her in a very scary, economically vulnerable situation for a time. And without a willing relative to help out, she might have ended up as a single mother on welfare.

(My father-in-law has spent the last 30 years as a transient, doing occasional handyman work. He is now trying to romance my husband's mother again now that she has her own house and a nice fat pension.)

9:26 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

Jg,

I agree that you can't prove exactly what the marriage was like. Again the emotional entanglement, for good or evil, means that you can't treat marriage like an employer-employee relatinship -- and no the courts can't untangle which spouse was the bigger asshole on a day-to-day basis. I just think that emotional support is part of the role the housewife takes on -- even if it turns out she did a lousy job performing it.

The other thing the housewife takes on is RISK. Risk that she can't control. The risk is that hubby won't hold up his end of the bargain in terms of winning the bread (unless perhaps he is already rich and even then maybe he will squander the money)-- and that can leave her without any support at all.

Example: My mother-in-law and father-in-law had a traditional marriage. My mother-in-law stayed home with the kids and did all the housework. My father-in-law made money hand-over-fist as some sort of foreman on big construction projects. Then one day after 15 years of marriage, he runs off with a younger woman and decides that he is never going to work again. There is no question of "alimony" because my father-in-law abruptly stopped earning an income. There was a child support order, but my father-in-law never paid.

So my mother-in-law found herself at 40 years of age with two kids to support, no source of income, no marketable skills, no cv, and pretty scary prospects for the future. Sure, she humped up, and after a nervous breakdown and with some financial help from her sister, got a nursing degree and then worked a nursing job at the county home for 22 years, which allowed her to support her kids and retire with a comfortable state pension. But the POINT is that her 15 years of stay-at-home wifedom was a RISK that left her in a very scary, economically vulnerable situation for a time. And without a willing relative to help out, she might have ended up as a single mother on welfare.

(My father-in-law has spent the last 30 years as a transient, doing occasional handyman work. He is now trying to romance my husband's mother again now that she has her own house and a nice fat pension.)

9:26 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

I'm really tired of seeing "chivalry" thrown around without an understanding of what it actually is. It's "courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in arms". Look it up.

That said, men deferring to women against other men simply because they are women are not being chivalrous, they're being complicit.

Chivalry is extended to all, not just women. The knight (that's what it's based on) was courteous to all, generous to all, defended all and backed up his view of justice when necessary.

Quit reading French romance novels for the definition.

Just my pedantry.

9:36 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:40 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:44 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

Oligonicella:

Depends on the dictionary you use.

Whether the meaning I am referring to is listed or not (and it IS listed in some dictionaries - I just found it in "The Sage" on my desktop), it is current usage today.

There are a number of words that are not listed in a dictionary but have a well-known meaning. It took a while for a "mouse" to be something other than a small rodent, but everyone knows what that is in connection with computers.

If you have an old dictionary, buy a newer one, LOL.

9:48 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Edgehopper said...

I've had my proposal for rewriting the divorce law with respect to alimony for a while, based on the principles:

1. Marriage should be at least as enforceable as a regular arms-length contract, and

2. Alimony should be meant to compensate an innocent party from being damaged by the dissolution of the marriage.

Here's how it works:

1. In every divorce, one party is at fault. That party is presumed to be the one filing for divorce, unless the party filing for divorce shows that the other side did something to break the marriage contract (such as adultery, abuse, or addiction.)

2. If the party at fault makes less money than the other party, no alimony will be awarded.

3. If the party at fault makes more money than the innocent party, and the innocent party sacrificed significant financial opportunities to support the marriage (such as raising children, moving away from a good job, etc.), the party at fault must give alimony to compensate the innocent party for those sacrificies.

3B. Also, if the party at fault earns more than the innocent party, for a short period of time, the party at fault must pay the innocent party sufficient alimony to continue the innocent party's standard of living until the innocent party can re-enter the job market.

This is a gender-neutral idea that's meant to stop the "divorce for cash" gold-digging, while also protecting housewives and househusbands who actually do the job of childrearing and get screwed over at the end. My mom was in a very similar position to Margaret's mother-in-law above, and it seems bizarre that some commenters are arguing that women (or men, for that matter) in such a position should be left penniless.

11:48 AM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Michael Lee said...

When my wife and I divorced (relatively amicably after 17 years), she got no alimony. She had worked at least part time most of the time we were married, and had been working full time for several years, albeit making less than half what I did.

Had she been the typical parasitical slug "housewife" who uses her children as a moral shield against growing up herself, I would have been screwed. The alimony system rewards the worst and laziest of women and ignores those who've tried hard to be fully functioning adults.

But I'm not in favor of abolishing alimony. I've also lost interest in any other legal reform in family law. The harms done to men in this rigged system are foreseeable and avoidable. Men who don't realize this by now aren't listening and deserve to get what they want, and to get it good and hard.

As epilogue to my divorce story, soon after we split up, while she was still scared essless about tryng to survive on her mid-management banker's salary, we sat down and I did some coaching for a couple of weeks. She marched into work and demanded, and got, an immediate 50% raise, and within a couple of years was a VP Yeah, I know, VP's are thick on the ground at banks, but she still tripled her salary in 2 years. My point here is that there are a lot of women who work who are sandbagging it because they think they can always count on their husbands to take up the slack and make the real money. Amazing what women can do when they really try, and how the system supports them and excuses them when they don't feel like trying. There's your real glass ceiling.

12:49 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger br549 said...

Damned hindsight. It's always 20 / 20.

12:50 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:17 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

As far as risk goes, men can also lose their job (see: Eliot Spitzer). Who do they turn to for equalization in life? The government bureau of unfairness equalization?

But housewives want utter "job security", even if they were the ones who screwed up the marriage. They even want to be supported "in the manner to which they have grown accustomed". How much more entitled can you get?

I don't find it all that horrible that the princess may have to sully her hands with work or learn a skill (as commoners do) - it may even be good for her.

1:21 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Edgehopper said...

jg-

This all happened within the last 10 years, so it's apparent that we haven't moved beyond the model. In fact, lots of people still take care of their kids full time, relying on a spouse to earn money. The entire society hasn't yet moved to a postmodern world where mommy and daddy go off to their lucrative jobs and dump the kids off at child-care. Meanwhile, re-entering the job market isn't all that easy, especially if you're in a profession with high education standards like medicine. Good luck re-entering the medical field after 10 years out of practice!

Look, if a couple is in a traditional marriage where the wife stays at home, raises the kids, and maintains the household, and the guy's a jerk and runs off for no good reason, why should the wife suffer? Alternatively, if a couple is in a non-traditional marriage where the wife goes out and earns big bucks while the husband stays home and raises the kids, and the wife's a jerk and runs off, why should the husband suffer?

It's a sad day for our society when marriage has become less binding than a credit card agreement.

1:45 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

I'm a little confused...

I understand that there we clearly a time when housework was backbreaking full time work. But that's just not true today.

You can keep a house clean in about an hour a day.
Keeping a washer/dryer going can be done in about 30 minutes a day. And you can cook one hell of an amazing dinner in an hour a day. Throw in 30 minutes a day (3.5 hours a week) for shopping/errands and your average housewife (sans kids) works about 3 hours a day (less than half time).

Clearly looking after young kids is a much more than full time job, but for older school age children, how much work are they really? I seem to recall after about the age of 6 my brothers and I could get ourselves up and out to school, and didn't put that much demand on my mothers time after school.

Considering this, it looks very much to me like being a housewife without kids, or with school age kids is a luxury good (an extra 5+ hours a day of leisure) purchased by the working spouse for the stay at home spouse.

Why again, after having bought the stay at home spouse a large quantity of a luxury good over the years, is the working spouse required to pay the recipient of the luxury good for the imposition of being provided the luxury?

1:57 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Bugs said...

There is no excuse for alimony in either direction. The financial aspect of marriage is like a business arrangement. If someone violates the contract, sue them and get a financial award, then let it be over. The notion that either men or women are incapable of supporting themselves outside of marriage is completely obsolete.

If you have to have alimony, then it should be governed by one simple rule: whoever initiates the divorce must pay. I know - this seems unfair to people who are trying to get out of an abusive relationship. But how many divorces are really the result of abuse as opposed to infidelity or just plain failure to get along?

1:58 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

jg --

I use the newest Webster's Unabridged. LOL yourself. That's the definition. Provide another if you find one, but in the meantime, try not to change the definition of the word so as to disparage those men who believe in being civil and helpful.

2:43 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

"Provide another if you find one, but in the meantime, try not to change the definition of the word so as to disparage those men who believe in being civil and helpful."

---

Are you the new sheriff around these parts?

*Yawn*

2:46 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

And what about those men who have primary custody of the kids but still have to pay exhorbitant maintenance to their ex-wives? Talk about absurd.

6:43 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

Some people seem to think that alimony is only about supporting a "kept" spouse who doesn't have any job skills because she was kept. Honestly. Courts don't give a crap about why anybody is any situation. They only care about turning the gears and appearing to be just. If the so-called "kept" spouse is actually a drug addicted alcoholic who doesn't have any job skills because she never bothered to get off her lazy a@@, the end result is the same. He was a fool for marrying her, and then the state sold him into slavery for wising up.

6:52 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:10 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger MikeT said...

As long as the state is going to legislate these things about marriage, it makes no sense for it to not make adultery a criminal offense for those who have state-licensed marriages. It would be a lot easier for the state to reign in the costs of divorce, if it is going to get involved in marriage, by making having sex outside of marriage while married at least the highest misdemeanor possible under state law.

Personally, I think it would be a lot less invasive to married couples to have the police arrest cheating spouses and cart them off to the pokey, than to have to divide up assets. You could make it fairer by allowing the defendant to use marital infidelity on their spouse's part as a defense for why they should not be prosecuted because in such an environment, it would be hard to have a clear-cut victim.

IMO, if we are going to license marriage (something I oppose), then I say that it makes no sense to let adulterers get away without fear of imprisonment.

8:16 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Auto Report World Editors said...

Divorce is the only contract where one party can arbitrarily decide the partnership is over, seize most of the partnership's assets, and then force the former partner into indentured servitude, with the state acting as the collection agency.

At the time of our divorce, I was making more than twice what she was making (at a job that I actually found for her when I suggested she use her sewing skills to work for an industrial sewer), but for most of our marriage I was providing about 80% of our income. No court could order her to go get a job.

I caved financially because I was hoping for a reconciliation and figured that the less disrupted her and the kids' lives were the better off we all were. That didn't stop her lawyer from trying to screw me and deliberately low-balling the value of our house. I even, foolishly, agreed to alimony because our son was going to be living with her and he was over 18.

Soon after the divorce I lost a well paying job and she's made significantly more money than I have for most of our divorce, but I'm still on the hook for the alimony.

Her collection agency, aka the State of Michigan Friend of the Court system, has done the following:

1) They explicitly told me that they don't want me to be self employed because that means they can't seize a paycheck.

2) When I tried explaining to the referee that if I can't survive I can't very well pay off the debt and asked him "don't you folks care if I can survive?" and he answered "No". He'd routinely demand whatever cash I had on hand even though I explained that it was budgeted for advertising and that if I don't advertise, I can't sell anything.

2) They forced me into a "jobs program" making me spend 4 hours a day sending out resumes that never got read. That was a deliberate effort to make it difficult for me to work for myself by killing more than half my day.

3) They seize 50% of my take home pay from any W2 job I might find. With jobs being how they are in Michigan, that means if I find something I'll have to figure out how to live on $5-$7/hr after they get their cut.

The truth is that the state wants me to owe as much as possible and never eliminate the debt. States get 66 cents on the dollar Federal matching funds for every penny they collect. If they can keep you making payments for the rest of your life, that's just more gravy for FOX's budget.

At this point, if I want to do anything about it, I'd have to hire an attorney to reopen the divorce. Of course while FOC represents my ex's interest free of charge.

10:09 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

jg --

Nope. I simply attempt to use words as the general populace does. Just don't expect everyone else to go along with your personal vernacular.

I notice you can't provide a reference for your caterpillar like definition.

10:22 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger DADvocate said...

Ms. Friedman's attitude doesn't surprise me. It's a "what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine" attitude that I see much more often in women than men as far as marriage goes.

As much as looking at Gloria Allred disturbs me, I find myself agreeing with her quite often. But, for some women feminism doesn't mean equality it means however I want it.

10:46 PM, April 12, 2008  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

quadrupole said:
Considering this, it looks very much to me like being a housewife without kids, or with school age kids is a luxury good (an extra 5+ hours a day of leisure) purchased by the working spouse for the stay at home spouse.

You obviously have never taken care of a house or children, school age or otherwise. When you set out to actually raise children, it's very different than warehousing them. I don't know a single mother (stay at home or working) with an extra 5 hours per day.

FWIW, I think that marriages in which there are no children there should be no alimony.

I currently work 20 hours per week, and as such make substantially less than I did before having children. However, more telling, is that in order to get my 20 hour per week job, I had to agree to give up my managerial responsibilities. This resulted in a grade drop.

This was fine with me--I'm all about making decisions and taking the consequences--but the decision had consequences. To say that my husband doesn't benefit because I work (for pay) fewer hours now, would be false.

5:49 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger pockosmum said...

I want to know how you clean a house in an hour....

6:15 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

When I was in college, one of my jobs was to work for a property management company in a work crew that cleaned apartments and houses that had been deserted. The condition of some of these places was indescribable.

It's amazing what you can do when you have your work clothes on, your own bucket with cleaning supplies, scrubbers etc.

Now the typical housewife does not put on work clothes and attack the cleaning as if it were a job ... on the clock ... being watched by a supervisor.

But once the house is clean, a hard-core attack, with sweat, multitasking and elbow grease will bring wonders in a short period of time.

We would turn dumps into something that could be moved into in a short period of time. Think about how much easier maintenance would be if you didn't have to do a complete renovation every day (which you DON'T in a normal household).

6:39 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

What's funny is that I would clean SEVERAL apartments or houses a day sometimes (usually Saturdays), I was going to college full-time and sometimes had another part-time job.

Cleaning my own apartment (I lived alone) was done in minutes - sometimes I attacked the cleaning tasks in my apartment right when I got home in my work clothes and with my industrial cleaning equipment. It wasn't even a side note to worry about. I realize extra people cause extra mess, but it's not what housewives are claiming.

It's almost sickening to me what housewives claim and what RealMen(TM) believe. Just hide out in your house (that hubby bought), shut up and be glad you are getting a free ride. Bejeesus.

6:49 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

Reserve three hours on Saturday for a fundamental weekly cleaning. You can get a hell of a lot done in three hours with your work clothes on a your cleaning equipment carried around in a bucket or cart.

Then you have four hours to distribute over the week in maintenance cleaning.

Basta. That's one hour a day. If you need a bit more time, OK, but how much more - and for what?

7:01 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

Here's an example:

Laundry. You don't put a load in, read a book until it's done, and call that an hour or hour-and-a-half of work.

You sort, pop a load in and then work on other household tasks until the load is done. Pop in the dryer, pop the next load in. The actual amount of time for that work is a few minutes - because you're cleaning other things while the machines are working.

There are certainly ways to reduce your cleaning time and to make your cleaning more efficient - with the same results. If you want to s.t.r.e.t.c.h. the time out, though, I realize my statements will fall on deaf ears.

7:18 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Gee,JG, if you are so darn good at cleaning, you should start a house cleaning business.

Cleaning an empty apartment is much different than cleaning and maintaining a house that has actual humans (some of which are small and messy) living in it.

Most moms spend more than a hour a day just doing the dishes and kitchen clean up that three meals a day require.

In my single days, I'd eat a bagel at the office and lunch at the office, so yeah, I only had to do dinner dishes and most of the time that was something fairly simple. My how my life has changed.

10:25 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Margaret said...

JG,

I am not, never have been, and never will be a housewife, but I was raised by one and I have to disagree with the notion these women don't work that hard.

Sure, you can clean the house in about three hours a week if you are willing to tolerate some dust building up during the week. That's what my husband and I do since we both work long hours. But some people don't want to live that lifestyle.

When I was growing up, my mother worked long hours to (a) keep the house freakin' spotless; (b) sew all my clothes (which saved money); (c) knit sweaters and scarves for the whole family (which saved money); (d) shop for and cook gourmet meals every night; (e) teach me to read, write, and do basic math since the schools weren't doing a very good job; (f) chauffer me to my activities all over creation; (g) run all the family errands such as taking cars to be inspected, keeping track of my dental and medical appointments, and grocery shopping (which included clipping coupons and researching the best deals); (h) mowing the lawn, landscaping the yard, and maintaining a garden for fresh vegetables; and (i) performing household tasks such as repainting the walls or refinishing furniture.
She also engaged in a lot of "easy" and "fun" tasks such as baking cookies with me, or reading aloud from books with me. While these tasks may have been enjoyable and undemanding, her availability meant that I had tons of adult supervision and support and my father could work long hours without worrying about me. My father had no worries except focusing on his job. The only task my mother engaged in which is obsolete today is ironing my father's shirts -- I guess wrinkle-free garments didn't exist back then.

A lot of my mother's activities were not strictly necessary. I get by with a house that is not spotless, microwave dinners, undone home renovations, frozen vegetables instead of fresh, paying for more expensive groceries and clothes rather than clipping coupons and sewing, etc. etc. But, due to the era my parents were born into, they lived a particular lifestyle that was built equally on BOTH of my parents' backs. In other words, there was VALUE in what my mother did even though many people (including me) can choose to dispense with many of those benefits.

The wonderful lifestyle of beautifully hand sewn clothes, gourmet meals, and total cleanliness came at an enormous cost of course. My mother to this day remains in a dreadful marriage to my demanding, entitled father. She has never left because she was financially dependent on him and also never had the confidence to make it in the real world.

10:54 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

Margaret,

I can't speak about individual people. If you say your mother was a hard worker around the house, I believe you.

I guess there is Donna Reed, but there is also Peg Bundy.

Most housewives I have seen (your mileage may vary) are basically entitled children. They are insulated from the real world. They can put on a show on the surface, but dig just a little deeper, or interact with them in any meaningful way, and you get the whole range of childish behavior. Bullying (with their husband's assets and position), pettiness, bossiness, greed, co-opting their husband's status in life as their own, materialism and all the rest.

Most people don't look at the housewife's actions carefully; they just have a pasted-on smile with her because they don't want to upset the husband. Take a look at what SHE is the next time.

11:11 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

Look at this statement:

"She has never left because she was financially dependent on him and also never had the confidence to make it in the real world."

--

It sounds to me like she chooses to stick around a guy she doesn't really like because she can remain a child. He pays for her. That does not sound like adult behavior.

I'm sure you are aware that most men don't get that choice. I can't say that I admire a person who sticks around someone just for the money.

11:23 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Jack said...

It is a screwy system that needs to be reviewed and updated.

11:33 AM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

evil hr lady

Funny... I don't remember much in the way of parental effort for myself or my brothers after school age. We got ourselves up and out to school, prepared our own breakfast (cereal), and cleaned up after it. When we got home we played outside and did our own homework.

As to making and cleaning up meals... we made (and cleaned up after) our own breakfast, lunch was at school. Mom made dinner, but one of the children was always tasked with cleaning up afterwards.

12:02 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

Margaret:

While I completely believe that there was a point when sewing the family clothes and knitting scarves etc saved money (and it is quite plausible that this was true for your mother), I believe if you were to price out the cost savings for doing so today you'd find that either

a) It doesn't save money.

b) The amount of money it saves is less than the
minimum wage compensation for the time it takes.

Clothing has just become way to cheap for 'making' clothing at home to be considered as anything but recreation.

12:05 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Quadrupole, I actually laughed out loud at the idea of your mother doing less because you and the other children did the dishes. If you had any experience with children, you would know that it takes less time to do it yourself then it does to teach and train them to do it right.

Sure, by the time they leave home they know what they are doing.

And JG, you need some new friends. Seriously. I work part time. I have friends who stay home full time and I have friends who work full time. None of my friends are entitled, worthless little princesses. Geesh, where do you hang out?

12:19 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

"I work part time."

--

And I bet that's "your money" to spend, right? Hubby makes a lot more, so it just makes sense that he pays the mortgage and all the big bills.

Don't bother answering "No, it's not that way ... it's some other way that makes me look good".

I don't even blame the women for this - take all you can take - I'm getting more and more disgusted with the RealMen(TM) who enable that crap in society.

12:50 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

I don't remember much in the way of parental effort for myself or my brothers after school age.

And because that was your experience, by God it must be the same for everyone else. There are parents who enjoy being with their kids, and actually do stuff with them, even once they reach that magical school age.

Laundry. You don't put a load in, read a book until it's done, and call that an hour or hour-and-a-half of work.

Gee, thanks for the tips. Got any other condescending comments to make?

How many housewives/stay-home moms do you guys know anyway? And why do you expend so much energy spewing about people who have no effect on your lives?

12:55 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Auto Report World Editors said...

If you had any experience with children, you would know that it takes less time to do it yourself then it does to teach and train them to do it right.

Only the first time if the kids have half a brain. And anyone that needs an hour to clean up the kitchen and dishes must be OCD or anal retentive. How many housewives even wash dishes today? Most, I'm pretty sure, use a dishwasher.

Thomas Edison and the inventors who followed him did more to liberate women than Susan B. Anthony and Betty Friedan. When it took a full day to do the wash, when most women sewed family clothes, when rugs and carpets had to be beaten to be cleaned, when gas lights and candles left soot deposits on walls and ceilings, when water had to be hand pumped or drawn from well, women had to work all day seven days a week.

BTW, I know a "full time" housewife with two teenage girls whose husband works very hard as an attorney to provide them with an affluent lifestyle. She drives a brand new Acura and the kids have their own cars as well. When she became concerned that her younger daughter wasn't getting the social opportunities, she insisted on moving into a different, more affluent, school district. Million dollar home. Of course with real estate being what it is, particularly around Detroit, this means he's been making two house payments for three years.

She gets whatever she wants. She's constantly redecorating the house. He follows her around like a puppy dog and genuinely loves her.

Unfortunately he doesn't know she's bored and planning to divorce him and take half their assets as soon as the girls finish college. Behind his back she mocks and has no respect for him.

1:01 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

evil hr lady

Sure, it takes less time to do the dishes once than to teach a child to do them. But it only takes 2 or 3 weeks of the added effort of teaching them to do them right to reap ten or twelve *years* of them being able to do so reliably. It's all a matter of foresight.

I remember pretty clearly the extra effort it took my parents to teach me to do various domestic chores... but in all cases it was a couple of weeks of extra vigilance on their part (definitely more work than doing the task themselves), after which I had learned to carry out the task myself with no parental assistance or follow up at all.

1:03 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Auto Report World Editors said...

>I don't remember much in the way of parental effort for myself or my brothers after school age.

And because that was your experience, by God it must be the same for everyone else.


I notice that you didn't have the same critique for the woman who complained about her put upon mother and entitled and demanding husband.

Is some anecdotal evidence more "truthy" than others?

1:08 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

I notice that you didn't have the same critique for the woman who complained about her put upon mother and entitled and demanding husband.

The commenter I was responding to used his/her experiences as a child to calculate how many hours of work and leisure any housewife/stay-home mom has each day. As if those experiences and those time calculations have anything to do with any family but his/her own.

For example:

Keeping a washer/dryer going can be done in about 30 minutes a day.

For how large a family? Does that include folding, ironing, putting away? Replacing lost buttons or doing other mending? What if laundry has to be carried to the laundromat down the hall of the apartment building, or down the street?

The woman with the "put upon mother" didn't do that, so it wasn't relevant to my point.

2:16 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger JG said...

And then comes the big question that a Real Man who is supporting a housewife dare not ask, especially of himself: Is she really worth it?

2:42 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

I've been a single father for years. I clean my own house, raise my son, do all the parent stuff with the school (I used to homeschool, but ran out of time and energy.), teach a class at church, and work a full time job. My house isn't the neatest in the world, but it's not dirty. I spend about four hours a week on housekeeping, including laundry. It would be more difficult if I had more children around, but keeping one house neat and ordered would never amount to a full time job. Being a real wife and mother, OTOH, and not just a maid/baby-sitter would be a difficult and time-consuming job. As with any other profession, most women who call themselves housewives are just occupying space. Others are women of spectacular skill and dedication. I have nothing but admiration for the women I know who make it their mission to do it right.

3:47 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Tether said...

The position of housewife may be a position headed for extinction due to advances in household technology. Dishwashers, washing machines, microwaves, vacuum cleaners are just the start. Robots are even starting to make their appearance.

The change from horses to automobiles eliminated a lot of horse-shoeing positions.

When the true homemakers (maybe 1%) are absolutely no longer needed in any possible way in society (robots do it), the housewives occupying that position because it beats getting a job (99%) will have to think of a new excuse. The latter group is very creative though, I shed not a tear for them.

4:10 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Susan said...

<< Had she been the typical parasitical slug "housewife" who uses her children as a moral shield against growing up herself ... >>

Wow. And they say feminists give stay-at-home mothers no respect.

5:19 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Susan said...

<< Had she been the typical parasitical slug "housewife" who uses her children as a moral shield against growing up herself ... >>

Wow. And they say feminists give stay-at-home mothers no respect.

5:19 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Tether said...

||And they say feminists give stay-at-home mothers no respect.||

|||||||||

Maybe they're getting the respect they're due.

5:27 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:12 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger jay c said...

Don't confuse stay-at-home women who have kids with stay-at-home mothers. Like Hollywood parasites compared with Daneb or Eridani, there is a very big difference.

6:13 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger tweedburst said...

As things stand in our society, it still comes down to this: A man who gets married is making a very, very poor decision. People eventually act in their own self interest - even beaten-down, guilt-tripped men - and more and more men are going to opt out of getting themselves legally bound to women who can and do ruin their lives at will. And society stands back and cheerleads the whole mess because "women good, men bad." No thanks.

6:19 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Tether said...

Tweedburst,

I pretty much agree, but you have a chance of making it out of a marriage without being skinned alive if you marry a woman who has an income similar to yours (and you keep it that way by refusing to let her quit and stay at home).

The problem is getting a woman who has an income similar to yours, because they want to marry up. I've always found it odd that many women will "look down" on a man with an income similar to hers. She is equal to a man making more money. I never figured out how that works, but it seems to be reality.

7:28 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Auto Report World Editors said...

Marbel said: The commenter I was responding to used his/her experiences as a child to calculate how many hours of work and leisure any housewife/stay-home mom has each day...The woman with the "put upon mother" didn't do that, so it wasn't relevant to my point.

Actually, that's exactly what she did. While she didn't break it down in terms of time per task, she mentioned "long hours" and listed all her mother's chores. You make think there's a distinction (besides the number of X chromosomes the commenters have), but there isn't.

When I was growing up, my mother worked long hours to (a) keep the house freakin' spotless; (b) sew all my clothes (which saved money); (c) knit sweaters and scarves for the whole family (which saved money); (d) shop for and cook gourmet meals every night; (e) teach me to read, write, and do basic math since the schools weren't doing a very good job; (f) chauffer me to my activities all over creation; (g) run all the family errands such as taking cars to be inspected, keeping track of my dental and medical appointments, and grocery shopping (which included clipping coupons and researching the best deals); (h) mowing the lawn, landscaping the yard, and maintaining a garden for fresh vegetables; and (i) performing household tasks such as repainting the walls or refinishing furniture.

7:30 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Auto Report World Editors,
Actually, that's exactly what she did.

No. Margaret listed things her mother did. That's it.

Quadrupole said:

You can keep a house clean in about an hour a day. Keeping a washer/dryer going can be done in about 30 minutes a day. And you can cook one hell of an amazing dinner in an hour a day. Throw in 30 minutes a day (3.5 hours a week) for shopping/errands and your average housewife (sans kids) works about 3 hours a day (less than half time).

Q. is making a direct statement with regard to how much time particular tasks should take any person, which led to this assertion:

Considering this, it looks very much to me like being a housewife without kids, or with school age kids is a luxury good (an extra 5+ hours a day of leisure) purchased by the working spouse for the stay at home spouse

Sorry you can't see the difference between the 2 comments.

9:42 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger br549 said...

I feel for you, auto report. Been through quite a bit of crap myself.

I have raised 3 children, working full time. It cost me 5 career quality jobs over the time period, and am now only making just a bit more than half of what I was making before the ca-ca struck the fan. I am in a deep financial hole I can't climb out of. And now, there are other things going on.

I find it hard to believe, understand, and feel for many women with sob stories. It's all about what's between the ears, and what you're made of. So I borrow sgt. ted's whistle and bullshit flag.

How does a single guy do it? You cook dinner, vacuum, and do laundry in between helping with homework. You change the oil when the kids are in bed. Mow the grass and paint the house in between ball games. You get used to becoming isolated, getting looked at from down the nose of your kids' teachers who want to know where the mother is. You learn to bite your lip, take a bunch of crap from many corners you shouldn't - or wouldn't - take otherwise. If a kid is sick at school, you go - now. Even if you know you may have to clean out your desk when you get back to work.

Worth it? Hell yeah! One daughter is a loan officer at a bank, one daughter is getting her PhD at a good school out west. My son is still with me at home, and he's a great kid!

I'm not the lone ranger, either. But you'd think each and every woman who cries those alligator tears in a court room certainly is.

I've said this 10 times in this blog alone. Go sit in the last row of divorce court for a week and watch what goes on. You will leave daily shaking your head in disbelief.

9:54 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

marbel

For the record, it's clear to me that your distinction is whether or not a particular anecdote was generalized from.

Margaret reported an anecdote, but did not generalize. Her's was essentially an existence proof (mothers working long hours as housewives exist), for which an anecdote is sufficient evidence.

Mine was definitely a generalization from experience.

Perhaps you could enlighten me then... what exactly is it about being a housespouse without children, or with well raised school age children that occupies a person fulltime that could not be purchased more cheaply than the cost of the housespouses time (assuming a college educated housespouse).

I ask because Margaret's (b),(c), and most of (g), (h), and (i) fail the cost of time test. (a) I would suggest was mostly of value to Margaret's mother, as I know very few men who can distinguish a clean house from a "freakin' spotless" one. I already accounted for (d) in my one hour a day of dinner prep estimate.

That sort of leaves me with (e) and (f), neither of which (definitionally) take place during the school day. Are housespouses really spending 5 hours a day as chauffeurs and tutors? Outside of the school day?

Seriously, I'm trying to figure out where all the time goes.

10:05 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger Joe said...

A distinction should be made between being a stay-at-home mom with babies and kids under about eight and those older. The former job is harder than many people realize, the latter easier. With the latter, a lot of the "work" is self-inflicted.

One thing my wife and I agree was the biggest surprise when raising kids was how much time school took. Our younger kids had way more homework than we did as kids. While there are less concerts and night stuff with our kids, there are many more parental involvement things.

11:32 PM, April 13, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

JG asked "Is she really worth it?"

Having a stay at home mom for my children for their first 5 years was absolutley worth it. We all sacrificed to make that happen, she was there for them, there for me, and the children are well attached, happy kids.

Small children's brain development depends on the quality of their attachment relationships. It affects them for the rest of their lives.

Worth it? Damn straight.

Trey

12:07 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

joe, tmink

I completely agree with you that caring for small children is an enormous task, and well worth it.

Please note my qualifiers on all of my statements above about 'school aged children'.

12:49 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Tether said...

Something that has always bothered me is when a woman is getting everything paid for by a man, but she will then cut him down to her friends and others. She will even use little things to mock the man or make fun of him.

Most men in that situation are not aware that the woman is doing that to them or that she really thinks about him in that way, in fact they would refuse to believe it if someone directly told them.

That is all part of the entitlement package of modern-day woman.

5:46 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Perhaps you could enlighten me then... what exactly is it about being a housespouse without children, or with well raised school age children that occupies a person fulltime that could not be purchased more cheaply than the cost of the housespouses time (assuming a college educated housespouse).

Housespouse... I like it.

You know, I can't speak for all housespouses with or without children. I assume that women who don't work do so with their husbands' blessing. And I don't doubt that the stereotypical lazy housewife exists. I just get a little hacked off by the assumptions that because someone knew a lazy housewife, or saw that their mother had a lot of free time, everyone must be like that. As for me, I homeschool my kids (a surprising number do) so that keeps me from sitting around watching tv all day. Many mothers volunteer at their kids' school.

There are intangible, noneconomic values to having a non-working spouse even with schoolage kids. How much is it worth to a family not to have to decide which spouse can better afford to stay home from work with a sick kid? How much is it worth a family to have a parent available to go get a kid when the school nurse calls? Not to have to find and pay for daycare when a day off from school comes up? They are not always on legal holidays that the parents will have off too. What about summer vacations?

What is the benefit to society to having someone home when the kids get home from school each day instead of kids hanging out in empty houses or wandering around empty neighborhoods? What are the benefits to kids to have someone to talk to after a tough day at school? Maybe you and your siblings didn't need that. Some do. Who are you gonna hire to do that?

I know women who spend an enormous amount of time maintaining a garden and canning food to stretch their tight food budget. Searching through thrift stores to find affordable clothing for their families. These are not the privileged rich housewives some of you guys scorn. Sewing? Maybe it's not always cost-effective anymore, but try to find inexpensive clothing for a pre-teen girl that doesn't make her look like a hooker. Ever had to do that?

Some women spend time taking care of themselves (exercise, reading, etc) to be more attractive to their husbands. Sure, sometimes they have friends over for lunch or for coffee. Remember, their husbands who work generally get a lunch break and may enjoy it with friends. Some women study so they can prepare, or stay certified, for careers for after the children are up and out.

Most women I know try to manage all the housework (even home improvement projects), much of the yard work, the family finances, shopping (I am not talking about recreational shopping), etc. so their husbands don't have to worry about that when they come home, so they can enjoy their evenings and weekends. Some of you guys are laughing at that statement (if you are still reading this overlong comment) and you have no reason to believe me, but... I'm just answering the question.

What I don't understand is why some of you guys have such contempt for a group of people who have no effect on your lives. I do empathize with men with regard to the divorce, child support, alimony laws etc. I have seen good men hurt by this. I've seen good women hurt by men too. There is plenty of bad behavior on both sides.

7:08 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Rizzo said...

Most women I know try to manage all the housework (even home improvement projects), much of the yard work, the family finances, shopping

Who are these women?

I don't know if it's an age thing, but almost no woman my age or younger (34) that I've known has any idea how to do any kind of housework, and they generally have contempt for the whole idea of doing housework at all.

I do over 95% of the housework in my house (not to mention make about 95% of the income). I don't really mind the situation all that much since I don't mind staying busy, but I also don't spend anywhere near 40 hours per week cooking and cleaning, etc., and while my home isn't prestine, exactly, it's not disgusting. And, if I didn't have two dogs, I probably would spend even less time cleaning.

Anyway, I also don't buy the whole "women making sacrifices" to stay home nonsense. Personally, I would love to stay home. Most people have jobs, not careers, so staying home is a much more attractive option than working the night shift at Taco Bell. No woman who really wants a career and thinks she's "sacrificing" by staying home is going to do it. I honestly don't think I've ever seen that happen.

10:28 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Tether said...

Maybe a quick date check would be in order: Marbel do you have 2008 on your calendar?

I assume so, but weird things can happen like an electromagnetic disturbance creating a rift in the space-time continuum that transmits messages from 1958.

Rizzo: I think the "modern" woman is disinterested in housework but interested in a "career" until she is in her mid-30s or until she gets some kind of discouraging setback on the job (like that never happens to men, but they have to just keep plugging).

Then it's up to hubby to protect her from the real world and enable her Oprah-watching.

10:43 AM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger TMink said...

Quadrapole, I read you! Qualifiers accepted.

Trey

12:02 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

marbel

I'm glad you like housespouse. I adopted it because even though *most* of the folks I see staying at home are housewives, I've know a number of househusbands now as well... and my complaint really is gender neutral.

So first, let me commend you for homeschooling your kids. That alone (independent of any other efforts you put into supporting your family) is a full time job, and a hugely important one. The homeschooled folks I've known have consistently been the best educated.

That said, I still don't buy most of the other examples you gave of the value and time consumption of housespouses. But I don't see it as all that productive to argue them.

You did as a salient question though about 'contempt for a group of people who have no effect on your lives'. Since I believe your question to be genuine, I'll try my best to answer, for me at least:

Because the housespouses do so much damage to their families, including their kids, and a lot of those folks they hurt are friends of mine.

I spent a lot of time growing up observing. One of the things I noticed was that the friends I had with two working spouses had a much better quality of life, better educational opportunities, etc than the friends of mine who lives with a housespouse. What I did not notice was a significant difference in the cleanliness of the homes, quality of household dinners, etc (except that the dual income families has a slight propensity to higher quality groceries). My general assessment was that having a stay at home parent after the kids were small was a net drain on the *kids* opportunities.

I also watch my coworkers who have working and stay at housespouses. Those who have housespouses carry enormously more stress. They are a complete *wreck* whenever there is the slightest wiff of uncertainty around their jobs (think layoff rumors, etc). The coworkers with a working spouse are much more sanguine. Having a housespouse seems to have huge non-economic costs in terms of stress. The coworkers with housespouses are also much more risk averse in their work, and so tend to get 'stuck' much more easily. Those with a working spouse tend to have more space to take risks and are much more likely as a result to advance.

I also see an even larger version of the effect on children than I noticed when growing up. My coworkers with working spouses can afford to send their kids to good private schools, those with housespouses have to settle for crappy public schools. The coworkers with working spouses can afford to provide an array of enrichment activities for their kids, the coworkers with housespouses... they're kids just go home after school... to neighborhoods where most of the kids are off doing such enrichment activities and thus not around as much to play.

So I see these real and large costs to having a housespouse at home, both for the children and for the working spouse. Naturally I start looking for the offsetting value, and I come up pretty short these days. Part of why I come up short looking for the value of a housespouse is because as far as I can tell they don't do much, and a whole lot of what they do is work that would be easy to outsource for less than the wage of the housespouse.

So why do I have such contempt? Because I'm kind of tired of watching folks I care about hurt to support someone's fantasy of playing house. The alimony thing is just more salt in the wound.

I want to take a moment to reiterate here however that I *do* see your homeschooling of your children as generating sufficient offsetting value to more than compensate for you being a housespouse... much more.

12:30 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Maybe a quick date check would be in order: Marbel do you have 2008 on your calendar?

Now that is funny. :-)

I realize the women I described are not the majority in the US now. But they are there, in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and up. None of them consider that they are sacrificing. It's true that most are conservative/reformed Christians and believe they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Of course their husbands feel the same way. I suspect that the divorce rate among people with this more traditional lifestyle is low, though I admit I have no stats to back that guess up. But I am not talking about people living in, say, Mennonite communities, just regular urban and suburban families.

I suspect most 30ishs women today were raised by moms who taught that there is no value in "homemaking." Now don't get me wrong - I think women who have kids and careers and all are great, except when their families suffer for it. I don't begrudge women who have someone come in to clean their toilets. I just don't happen to know many women like that. There are also women who work at home, or have jobs where they can still be available when their families need them.

Today, because I am home, I was able to help out a mom with small kids who needed a babysitter for an hour. Because my kids are homeschooled, they were forced, I mean able, to spend some time with the little kids, showing them how to play with the dog, being temporary big brother and sister. Yeah, I guess that looks like 1958. Or maybe 1858? LOL. It doesn't work for you? That's OK; it works for my family.

So, when y'all go off on the greedy, rich housewife you know, or the lazy one who watches tv all day while her husband slaves away to pay the housekeeper, remember that they are not all like that.

Oh, and to tie this back to alimony - because my husband and I agreed to this lifestyle, and because by the time my kids are out of high school age I will be 60 years old, you can be damn sure I'd expect alimony if my husband decided to leave our family. But I don't lose any sleep over that possibility.

12:38 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Marbel said...

Quadrupole - I was posting as you were, I guess.

I appreciate your comments and regret my earlier snippy reply to you. And I see and understand your points. My own experience does not agree with what you say, though I must grant you that I have no way to tell how stressed out the husbands of the housespouses I know are. People seem happy to me. I also question the real value of some of the "enrichment activities" that children are involved in - many that I have experienced are simply warehousing for kids with working parents. Of course that is a matter of opinion.

Being a homeschooler does not afford me any moral high ground. There are probably lazy homeschoolers too, but I guess I am veering way off topic now!

Interesting conversation - thanks!

12:49 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

marbel

Just to go on record here. Based purely on you homeschooling your kids, if you husband is unwise enough to divorce you, you deserve alimony in my book.

That said... you have given no indication that your husband is a mouth breathing cretin in your posts, so I suspect a divorce is extremely improbable for you :)

12:51 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

marbel

Being a homeschooler does not afford me any moral high ground. There are probably lazy homeschoolers too

While I will agree with you theoretically here... I've never seen, nor heard reports of a lazy homeschooling parent.

12:56 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger Auto Report World Editors said...

Most women I know try to manage all the housework (even home improvement projects)

An expression of the female need to control and manipulate. Women excel at claiming martyrdom for doing things they want to do. They manage the home improvement projects because they want them done the way they want it done and think their husbands are idiots with crappy taste (except in women). How many men have any significant input (besides paying the bills) on kitchen and bath renovations? How many men even get to pick what colors the walls will be painted?

Ask men if their wives ever second guess or criticize the way they clean, cook or do any kind of "housework". Ask married women if they think their husbands are competent at those tasks.

1:53 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger serket said...

I agree that in our society it is okay for some people to not work, but it isn't right for others. Often, the divide is along sex. Perhaps men have an instinct that they must be working to provide for their family. However, even most people who don't want to work or would prefer to do something different, realize that somebody in the family must earn an income.

6:09 PM, April 14, 2008  
Blogger MikeMangum said...

Evil HR Lady -

You obviously have never taken care of a house or children, school age or otherwise. When you set out to actually raise children, it's very different than warehousing them. I don't know a single mother (stay at home or working) with an extra 5 hours per day.

It isn't that hard. Really. It can get frustrating that you can't go do "adult stuff" because you need to watch your children, but (at least with 1 child, which is what I know about) it is not equivalent to "working", not even close. Things like spending 2 hours on a trip to the doctor's office is work, but that doesn't happen every day. For me it's easy to tell the difference between my job and taking care of my daughter: my job feels like work, taking care of my daughter usually doesn't. My days off, when I get to spend all day with my daughter, are my days off. If I could forego my actual job and stay home all day, every day with my daughter, I would do so in a heartbeat.


Margaret -

When I was growing up, my mother worked long hours to (a) keep the house freakin' spotless; (b) sew all my clothes (which saved money); (c) knit sweaters and scarves for the whole family (which saved money); (d) shop for and cook gourmet meals every night; (e) teach me to read, write, and do basic math since the schools weren't doing a very good job; (f) chauffer me to my activities all over creation; (g) run all the family errands such as taking cars to be inspected, keeping track of my dental and medical appointments, and grocery shopping (which included clipping coupons and researching the best deals); (h) mowing the lawn, landscaping the yard, and maintaining a garden for fresh vegetables; and (i) performing household tasks such as repainting the walls or refinishing furniture.

It just isn't this way any more. Two hours a day is plenty to keep a house clean if you have a washer/dryer, dishwasher, and basic modern cleaning supplies and tools. Dusting isn't really that time consuming. If you think it is, I strongly recommend 1) Swiffer Dusters, and 2) fewer knickknacks. Do you really need to dust the entire house daily, getting the ceiling fan and blinds every time? Of course not. Browning ground beef and making pasta is maybe 15 minutes work. Add 10 seconds for opening the jar of Barilla and pouring over the meat. While the pasta is cooking, the green beens are warming up in the microwave. And frankly, most of that time is "standby" time, where you are waiting to stir something. That's when I unload my dishwasher. Paper plates work wonders for most lunches, and often you don't need more than a paper towel for things like PB&J or grilled cheese sandwiches. (Try as I might, I can't convince my daughter of the joys of dipping grilled cheese into tomato soup.)

For me, the biggest issue I have with that litany of jobs to do is that modern housewives for the most part don't do them. They don't knit sweaters or darn socks, they don't scrub the bathtub for 20 minutes using a horsehair brush and comet, and they don't spend an hour cooking gourmet meals on a regular basis; modern appliances and cleaning tools/supplies have dramatically reduced the drudgework required to keep a house clean. Refinishing the furniture? Sure, if it is a hobby. Ikea makes that pretty pointless now, otherwise. Mowing the lawn and landscaping? When my wife stayed home fulltime, traditional "men's work" was still my responsibility (and when she was working was never counted as part of the household chores that we split). The very first paid vacation I ever had, after a decade in the workforce, was a week I spent landscaping our yard. My wife was kind enough to bring out a soda now and then while I flailed away with a pick and shovel. As a former landscaper, I can assure you that many of the customers I worked for were stay at home wives...and boy did they sure seem to like young, tall, burly landscapers. (I'm glad I had enough self control in my late teens - early twenties that I never took advantage of the offers from other men's wives. There's a big difference between asking a landscaper "would you like a soda?" and "would you like to come inside and have a soda?" Those were the subtle ones.)

4:16 AM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

"I don't understand why someone becomes your financial responsibility just because you married them"

This person doesn't understand what marriage is to begin with. Nevermind the legal hash that has been made of it in America.

11:57 AM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger Tether said...

"This person doesn't understand what marriage is to begin with. Nevermind the legal hash that has been made of it in America."

--

That was also Helen's comment.

I'll tell you how the typical American woman thinks: Everything's fine if money is flowing from the man to her. He also has a responsibility to take care of her.
On the other hand, the woman has no responsibility at all for him, and she is seriously dumbfounded when anyone would even suggest that.

If the guy runs into problems, financial or otherwise, just divorce him quick so you won't have to help the guy.

I don't think the women are funny, but you have to wonder what is going through men's minds: They have to know that THEIR WIFE also thinks that way. Are men so worthless today that they actually chase after these American women?

12:17 PM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger Tether said...

The combination of Helen's comment above (why should anyone take on financial responsibility just because she married him?) and the realization that she "married up" and is getting a good flow of money her way (from a husband who is responsible for her, but apparently not vice versa) are making me rethink my former respect for her. Like a lot.

I'm getting the drift that she operates like a typical American woman. A shell.

Yeah, don't bother Helen. I can find my own way out.

12:21 PM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger quadrupole said...

tether

Hang on there.

In any characteristic, for any marriage, you will almost always find asymmetry one way or the other. This is particularly true for income, where one spouse will almost always earn more than the other.

So you've hypothesized that Helen makes less than her husband. If that's true, so what?

What we've been complaining about here has not been asymmetries not in income, but in treatment and expectation.

I've seen no indication that Helen *expects* her husband to make more than she does, and would leave him if he didn't.

I've seen no indication that she feels she should be able to divorce him and abuse him with the current legal system.

All I've seen here from Helen towards her husband is the kind of loving admiration that all spouses should have towards each other.

3:29 PM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger serket said...

MikeMangum: I can't convince my daughter of the joys of dipping grilled cheese into tomato soup.

I'm not a fan of tomato soup either, but I enjoy dipping bread or crackers into other soups.

5:05 PM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger serket said...

Tether: READ THE ARTICLE!

6:03 PM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger Auto Report World Editors said...

MikeMangum: I can't convince my daughter of the joys of dipping grilled cheese into tomato soup.

My kids thought I was nuts when I told them a slice of melted cheddar was great on apple pie - till they tasted it.

Someone should make a list of great food pairings.

Ketchup & French Fries
Mashed potatoes & chicken schmaltz
Chopped liver & sour dill pickle (no vinegar please)

7:28 PM, April 15, 2008  
Blogger br549 said...

serket, I know you are a young man. But you have knowledge and wisdom well beyond your years.

It is a pleasure to read your posts.

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