25 Stories Of Why One Should Think Twice About The ‘Tradwives’ Trend

Published 2 weeks ago

One particular trend that is making waves on social media right now is how a woman who looks straight out of the ’50s is making something out of scratch in the kitchen. These “tradwives” as they call themselves, are a group of women who embrace the traditional gender roles of women. These women are dependent on the man as the sole breadwinner of the family, and they follow this lifestyle willingly. Recently an interesting discussion took place on Reddit about what actual ‘tradwives’ of the 50s would like their 21st century counterparts to know about choosing such a lifestyle.  

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#1 My grandmother raised 5 kids on the prairies in the 40s. She worked from before dawn until midnight.

Image source: Userdataunavailable, Anastasia Shuraeva / pexels

She almost died from one homebirth and had to get up with a broken pelvis 2 days later to help with the farm.

She wasn’t allowed to wear pants or cut her hair and slaved her entire life. She had little or no agency in anything. Don’t be like that.

#2 Personally I was too young, but lots of women in our family’s social circle were Ye Olde Wyfe. Overall, they seemed content enough, but once you really listened to them talking amongst themselves, you could hear faint tendrils of Unhappy.

Image source: GreenTravelBadger, cottonbro studio / pexels

This one dropped out of Juilliard (although her husband finished his education, naturally), that one left her job at the courthouse as a judge’s assistant (although of her husband hadn’t left his job, naturally), that one wanted to travel and of course could not (although her husband made frequent business trips, naturally), this one loved sports but certainly couldn’t indulge, as a wife and mother, in playing games, (although her husband never missed his days at the golf course, naturally) etc. All of them – every last one of them – had given up Some Thing they had loved or wanted in order to marry and have children, as society dictated they were supposed to do.

The men had not sacrificed anything that I ever heard them mourning over. The men could happily go off to deer camp for a week, the women might go to a 2 hour long Tupperware party presentation.

The wives took refuge in the spotless house and soap operas, mostly. There was a s***ide, a m*rder of a philandering husband, a few had to take pills “for their nerves”, some of them were completely flummoxed when their husband died and they were faced with mysteries like writing a check or driving a car.

I always felt faintly sorry for these women. Now I look back and am horrified at all the lost potential, the wasted earning power, the abandoned ambitions, the thwarted dreams, the abnegation of Self that these women embraced because that’s just How Things Are, my dear.

“Trad wife” of today does not seem anywhere close to all of that. They can bake their own bread and dress like Beaver Cleaver’s mom, but no, it’s not quite the same now as it was then.

#3 It’s terribly risky. You are staking the survival of your self and your children on a man. So many women have been dumped for a trophy girlfriend after twenty years of loyal service to a husband, and left penniless, with no job skills.

Image source: Bergenia1, Andrea Piacquadio / pexels

Even if your husband doesn’t leave you, he may still become disabled and unable to work, or he may die.

If you’re gonna be to do this, make sure you have a huge multi million life insurance policy on your husband. Make sure you are funding a retirement plan for yourself out of the family income. In your name only, not your husband’s name. Make sure you keep up some sort of resume with a part time job.

Don’t let your husband take the attitude that he controls the money because he’s the one who earns the paycheck. Remember that the services you provide for free would cost him a lot of money if he has to pay fair market wages for the work you do.

#4 My mom was born in the 20s. She had more kids (6) than planned and had a lot of housewife pressures. The hard part for her was that her narcissistic husband (my Dad, whom I adored) cut her out of all major decisions. He was successful (Ivy League prof), but very self absorbed, beyond the social norms of the day and more due to his narcissism. She would purposefully set up boundaries to avoid full martyrdom, which I always thought was healthy. She would sleep in until we left the house to go to school, and she’d give herself a nap every afternoon after lunch.

Image source: Utterlybored, Andrea Piacquadio / pexels

Safe to say she felt very constrained by this role and would have had an interesting career if she been born much later. She was widowed at age 68 and lived another 29 years. In her old age she was very socially involved and LOVED making her own decisions. Sharp to the end, as she outlived her friends, she immersed herself in progressive politics, college and NBA basketball and comedy shows like The Office and 30 Rock. She was lonely as her friends passed, but also loved her solitude.

#5 My mom was a trad wife and stay-at-home mom. She was extremely miserable. She barely graduated high school and then worked low-paying jobs and lived at home for a few years until she met my dad and got married at age 20. She moved directly from her parents’ house to my dad’s house. She never went to college. Never traveled. My dad was a Vietnam vet with PTSD who drank a lot. Did not go to college. Worked low-paying, blue-collar jobs.

Image source: tigermom2011, RDNE Stock project / pexels

I ended up being a stay-at-home mom for awhile but had a couple of college degrees and +10 years of work experience. I also traveled a bit by myself and with friends to see the world. I loved staying home and leaned into the DIY homemaker role. I love to garden, cook, bake, being a mom, etc. I home-schooled my child for awhile. I re-joined the workforce when my kid started public middle school.

For women considering doing a “trad wifeish” stint:

* Have a backup plan in case your husband drops dead or leaves.
* Have some job skills. Try to maintain them. Take a class or workshop now and then.
* Make sure your name is on EVERYTHING that is shared with your husband: The bank accounts, the house, the car, the bills, etc.
* Husband should do some tasks, mine has always been in charge of meals on weekends.
* Communicate clearly with your partner about your emotional needs. If you are feeling unappreciated, talk it out before it spirals into a bigger problem.

#6 I’m not a woman, so this will rightly languish down the bottom of the page, but the tradwife resurgence amongst young women, especially as it’s emerging from the right, is not yet old enough to have experienced that the next step after trad-wife is trad-betrayed-wife-in-an-anti-divorce-culture

Image source: cromagnone, Ron Lach / pexels

#7 My grandma didn’t really want to get married, and had desperately wanted to become a doctor.

Image source: ih8comingupwithnames, viresh studio / pexels

She was married after the partition(India Pakistan)in 1948, it was arranged. Before then she had been quite politically active, having been arrested among others protesting the British occupation.

She ended up going for her masters in the 60s, when her kids were older, but I think she always felt unfulfilled. The great irony is her younger sister(grandma was 20 years older) ended up going to med school and becoming a doctor.

My grandmother was adamant about all of us finishing our education and got mad at my mom when she heard i was taking sewing classes at the community center one summer. She didn’t want me stuck doing that type of work.

My grandma taught me how important it was to have your own money, she used to hide and give me cash to get her things, or give me more birthday money or Eid money than my grandpa. She would ask how much he gave and then secretly hand me double.

She taught me that having a career and education is very important for women. I think if she’d had the option she wouldn’t have gotten married and probably been child free.

Her MiL and maiden SiL lived with them and caused problems and fights their whole marriage. She never learned to drive bc grandpa wanted SiL to learn also, and my great aunt some how would interfere with every attempt at her being independent. Often being so cruel to my grandmother. And her and grandpa fought most of their lives, even in old age.

She was a very strong woman who taught me strength and to go after my dreams since she didn’t get the opportunity to do so.

Sorry for the rant, but she definitely did not want us to become housewives, and tried her best to have her own secret money always.

#8 You are more than your uterus

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#9 I was the wife of a minister. But I chose to stay home and raise the kids. I also worked at the church and just took my kids with me everywhere I went.

Image source: traceyrenee53, Volker Thimm / pexels

This was my decision and was extremely important to me. I am now a grandmother and I am supporting whatever my kids decide to do. I do believe that being home is important to the growth of a child and the relationship but I made my own decisions with my children and I believe that every other parent has the right to do what they feel is best for their family.

#10 My mom was a SAHM in the 90s. She had a degree but my father forced her to SAH. He refused that she worked because ”children need their mom”. My mom chose to open a daycare in the house. My father said it was ”her choice” so he still expected her to do all the chores, cooking, and tending to me and my 2 siblings. Mom was young at the time (early-mid 20s) so she was not really aware that she was being abused.

They split in 2000 and mom had almost full custody (every other weekend at father’s). She worked full-time, and at some point even needed 2 jobs because my father refused to pay child support.

A decade after that mom had a new partner. They were both working and us children had left the house. In the beginning the partner would do half the chores, but gradually he stopped. Then he retired. So he spent his whole days doing nothing, staying home and watching tv, doing only like 5% of the chores. Mom was still working and doing 95% of chores.

They split 2 years ago, mostly due to that. Now I am well into adulthood but currently living with mom because I got severe health issues. The little energy I have I spend it on helping with the chores. My mom gladly says she never has so much help in her life! And I find it astonishing, because I am very disabled at the moment…

If my mom had been in relationships where she was respected I am sure she would have loved being a SAHM and homemaker. She loves being at home, doing canned food, home-made bread, etc. Actually she can’t wait to retire to stay home and do those things. But the contexts in which she SAHMed and homemaked were awful and abusive.

So I’d say to young tradwives…1. Is it really your choice? 2. Do you feel fulfilled in your role? 3. Are you respected by your partner, and is your role acknowledged? What would your partner say if you suddenly wanted a job?

Image source: stephorse

#11 Not me. I got married in the 90s. But all the women in my grandmother’s and mother’s generations fit that bill, and they were miserable and trapped and dehumanized and left with no options and it made them mean. They didn’t choose that lifestyle, and they barely chose their husbands. They were forced into it by a lack of other viable options and the pressure of their families. Most were just grateful to have found someone to support them, without much regard for whether they liked them or not.

Image source: Reneeisme, Tatiana Syrikova / pexels

It’s the choice that matters. As long as you choose that lifestyle and choose your partner and it makes you happy? Terrific. But there are still people alive who would gladly force women back into having no choice and no options because that was easier for men. Be careful that you are not on a slippery slope back to that hell scape because I’m here to tell you, I didn’t know one happy woman in those generations.

#12 My mother was the typical trapped Christian Trad wife. She had three daughters and told us constantly that we needed to be self-sufficient and never rely on a man.

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When she was first married as a woman, she could not get her own bank account or credit card without my father’s permission. She had no identity other than Mrs. “Dad’s first name/Last name”. My father kept an iron grip on her and she was very depressed. I made sure that I could always fully support myself. I would never put myself in that position because I grew up seeing the abuse perpetuated on so many women by their husbands. Never, ever, ever give away your power and identity to another. I believe in equal partnership in a relationship.

#13 My mother was one. Watching her life is why, at the age of 8, I swore never to have kids. And now, safely post menopausal I can confirm I never did. You will lose yourself completely, everything you think of as you. Will be consumed by the lifestyle. Your bodily autonomy is taken not only by your husband and pregnancy, but taken by your children, your privacy, your time, your thoughts, and your ability to make a decision for yourself. Every decision you make will have to put someone else first because hubby isn’t picking up the slack.

Image source: wwaxwork, Elina Fairytale / pexels

#14 It is ripe for abuse. It didn’t end well for me and now I am disabled. PTSD & a more severe case of EDS than I should’ve had. Got diagnosed during the divorce process thankfully.

Image source: Fabulous-Ad6663, Ron Lach / pexels

#15 Make sure you’re left with a way to support yourself and all of your children should you be left alone with them when you get a little older. Chances are pretty good you will be. Forty-three percent of first marriages break-up within 15 years

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#16 My friend is a tiny bit older than I am but was mother, home-maker, hostess for business dinners-seriously! Gave up her STEM job for the whole mom/wife thing. Husband traded her in for a younger model after 27 years. I would never suggest anyone do this without a viable income.

Image source: Handbag_Lady, Teona Swift / pexels

#17 An English woman I know told me a great story that I think fits here:

Image source: Ok-Zucchini-5514, Anna Shvets / pexels

She came to America in the 50’s after marrying a G.I. By the 1960’s she had two children. Right after she gave birth to her second child, she developed a really terrible pelvic infection. Like fever, sharp pains, hurt to pee, the whole nine yards.
Her husband was deployed so a neighbor friend drove her and all their children to the hospital. The friend waited in the car with the kids and she walked in alone. She explained at the reception area that she had just given birth and was in terrible pain.

They refused to treat her because she was wearing pants.

They said if she came back in a skirt she could be seen. She frantically made her way back to the car and told her friend what happened. Friend immediately takes off her own skirt in the car and they try to trade bottoms so the English woman could go back in. She couldn’t get the skirt zipped up because she had just had a baby. So they left.
The friend took her to own gynecologist who, after examining her, said that her pelvis was so infected he thought he was going to have to give her a full hysterectomy. She did end up having surgery but he was able to leave all her bits intact. Took her ages to recover and I nearly fell out of my chair listening to this story. We will never know, truly, how bad it was for so many women then. Stories like these don’t often get told and it’s a shame because these women were hard! The s**t they put up with is unreal.

Oh and all this took place in California which surprised me to no end because I thought they’d have been one of the most progressive states for women.

#18 Being a “tradwife” is an idealized version of what the reality was and they are “playing” house. My mother couldn’t open a bank account or have credit card or get a prescription for birth control without his permission.

Image source: SeaRice7236, Antoni Shkraba / pexels

For many, many years, she signed her name, Mrs (his name). Her identity WAS his identity. Being a feminist, this all angered her. Yes, you can be feminist and still love men and participate in traditional activities. She enjoyed cooking and baking, took great care of the house, was President of the women’s club, etc but as soon as she could, legally, she made sure she had what she needed to take care of herself if she ever needed to. Including birth control, signing HER name, getting her own bank account with money she made, and buying with her own credit.

#19 It was so lonely

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#20 My mom kept house and churned out five kids between 19 and 26. Five kids under 7.

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I think she loved being a mom and was ok with keeping a large house. My grandmother lived with us, so there were two people to keep up with chores. My parents got divorced though as soon as we were all grown. My mom went back to school at that point and got a doctorate.

I think she liked having the best of all worlds when she had them, but her advice to my sister and I was to have our own money.

#21 My mom was a tradwife.

Image source: theweebird, PNW Production / pexels

Based on conversations with her over the years, she’d probably tell those young women: “There’s nothing wrong with learning and mastering the domestic arts. You should always be proud of yourself for learning new skills and keeping a nice home.

But ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ also applies here. In this modern age, things change so quickly. Relationships, geographic location, even family. You need to be comfortable having the skills to take care of yourself too — not just your house and your husband.

It’s much better to view homemaking as a hobby rather than your raison d’être.

We did lived that way because we had to. But people also used to drink wine because the water wasn’t safe to consume. Just because it’s traditional, doesn’t make it good.”

#22 My father was visiting family after his mother passed away in her late 80s. As he tells it, the scene was himself, my stepmother, a number of my grandmother’s sisters, and assorted friends of my grandmother and great-aunts, mostly women.

Image source: TDLMTH, Kindel Media / pexels

My father was talking to a woman whose husband had recently died. She, like pretty much every woman there, had been married her entire life and had lived as a “tradwife”. At one point, she looked at my father and said, “I had forgotten that men could be kind.”

#23 I mean, even for “old people“, on Reddit, you’re still talking about our grandmothers, or at best, mothers. But from what I witnessed of it, it’s thankless and miserable. Financially trapped and controlled. And that’s the GOOD ones.

Image source: Sheila_Monarch, Karolina Kaboompics / pexels

#24 Not me, but my mother who is now in her mid-late 60’s. My mother is a tradwife (she had her first child in the mid 80’s). Her marriage with my Dad is not a particularly happy one and she drinks quite a bit now all the kids are out of home.

Image source: phantompath, Kampus Production / pexels

She is happiest when he travels for work or she is looking after her grandchildren. I’ve noticed she can fixate on relationship issues between her and my siblings because she never had much of an education or career (she left school at 15 to become receptionist/secretary) or any sort of life outside of the home.

She only had one friend outside of the women she met through her kids at playgroup, school etc. Menopause was hard as she went through it cold turkey and was married to a man who made it all about how he suffered through her mood swings and completely untreated mental health struggles. She was a wonderful mother – she devoted herself completely to her kids. But I’ve watched her struggle since we all moved out. I try to take her out, buy her nice gifts and call her regularly (I live in another state). I worry about what will happen when my Dad retires. She has no financial independence at all. I suspect one’s experience of the ‘tradwife’ life is entirely dependent on the man you marry.

#25 Isolating and frustrating as the work is never done. I tended to obsess over cleaning type things (mopping daily) and did not like not having my own money.

Image source: kateinoly, Andrea Piacquadio / pexels

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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feminism, social issues, traditional wives, tradwives, women
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