Social Question

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Why do some people seem to consider it unacceptable for a woman in a relationship to want to be a wife and mother?

Asked by AnonymousWoman (6531points) January 10th, 2012
73 responses
“Great Question” (7points)

I’ve paid plenty of attention to human behaviour over the years and there are people who judge a woman for simply wanting to be a wife and mother. Why is this so bad?

Even in my own experiences, I’ve noticed it. I have wanted to be a wife and mother for a long time underneath it all, but I’ve been shamed into thinking that I shouldn’t want this for myself. It’s not like I wanted it right that moment. Of course I wanted to wait until I was more settled down with my life and could be with someone who wanted the same things with me.

So, why did this scare at least one guy away? I don’t get it. It was very telling when this guy advised me not to talk about marriage with a boyfriend I had after him. O_O What he suggested was to pretty much not let that guy know I was ever interested in marriage if I didn’t want to scare him away! What?

I now feel like I have to hide this… like I shouldn’t be honest about what I want for myself in the future if I want someone to stay… and that feels too dishonest. I don’t want to do that!

I’ve noticed other women who have been in similar situations and I don’t think it’s fair.

Are men ever treated the same way for simply wanting to be a husband and a father one day? If not, why?

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rooeytoo's avatar

It is interesting. I never had the desire, but I think for women who do, it is an excellent career choice. And I do believe having children is a career choice, one that you lock yourself into full time for the next 18 or so years. Our culture tells women it is what they should want and tell men they should be spreading their seed (so to speak) to every woman they can! It makes for difficulties in connecting. But be patient, I think there are some men who think the same way you do, and I’m sure they will show up eventually.

The reaction that you describe from your last boyfriend is probably because he thought you were “desperate.” That is a completely different situation but I suppose they could be confused.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

This boyfriend was a while ago, but the last one seemed scared away because of the marriage thing as well. It’s really odd. I could not even picture being married to him in the first place and he went on this big thing about how he didn’t see a future with us and thought I was living in a fantasy world. He ended up playing with the idea of getting back with me because he felt like we might actually have a future after all and thought that was what I wanted to hear, but I wasn’t as happy about that news as he’d anticipated. How can I get a guy I am with to understand my true intentions without him reading way too much into things?

jazmina88's avatar

find love…..and the rest will happen. dont rush it. dont worry. just breathe. and live.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Oh, @AnonymousGirl , this is a tale as old as time, that has had a lot of crap added to it as the decades went by. In the 60s and 70s it was considered by some women to be a betrayal of the work that feminists were doing towards equality, in the 80s it was considered by some to be a cop-out because “women don’t really want to work” like child-rearing is an easy ride!!!, and always there have been men who feel that a woman is treating him as a meal ticket if she states she wants to do this. The good news is that attitudes have evened out somewhat, but mentioning it too early in a relationship can, not unreasonably, cause some anxiety for a partner. Think of the perceived pressure, to be solely responsible for the financial well-being of a family. Among the couples I have known, this kind of arrangement works best when both parties discuss it and agree to it upfront, but not at the start of the relationship. An understanding of the costs of being an employed parent is good knowledge to have, child-care and the like cost a lot.

zenvelo's avatar

Most men don’t like it if you bring up marriage early in the process of getting to know each other. Marriage is a serious step in a relationship, and most men do not want to hear that you want be married, have kids, and be supported while he works until you have been together for quite a while.

Men don’t get to the same point until they have decided that they have reached the point that you are The One, and now they will settle down.

Paradox25's avatar

Some guys may feel uncomfortable having rigid gender roles pushed upon them at a time where women (even traditional women) are free to pursue their interests and be themselves as a person (rather than just a woman) while men are still held to behaving like ‘men’ first. I know that as a guy who already knows how to cook better than most women I know, and enjoys this, along with being accustomed to doing my own housework, laundry, etc that I don’t need a ‘traditional’ woman/wife.

The thought of marriage or children does not scare me by themselves but some of us may be looking for an equal partner where we both share life’s burdens together. I know of marriages where the men do the majority of the housework but yet bring home the money where they thought they were marrying ‘traditional’ women. I’m not sure about the guy you’ve just mentioned or the reasons for his behavior but I did give you an alternative possibility here.

harple's avatar

I’m going to answer the bit specifically about you, (rather than the larger, generic question), and my answer is from my own experience… (Please don’t read my answer as saying ALL women or ALL men are this, that, or the other.)

Have you come across the situation (perhaps you’ve noticed it with your father?) where letting the man think that something is their idea will make it more likely to happen, and more likely to go smoothly? Some women are masters of this art, because they have partners that work very much in this way. You could call it a game, but it’s more a tactic for leading an easier life. Women who find themselves in this situation can either find it really frustrating and annoying, or they can think “c’est la vie” and crack on with it, still ultimately getting things their own way anway.

There will be things that men do for an easier life too, I’m sure.

Accepting and embracing this knowledge, that men think and operate differently from women, is very helpful in getting on in relationships. You just can’t expect the opposite sex to automatically think the same way as you about things, no matter how much obvious sense it makes to you. Particularly when it comes to approaches to dealing with things (say, problems with a friend or putting together that Ikea cabinet), or when it comes to approaches to life plans.

At your age you would, these days, be considered young to get married. That doesn’t mean you’re too young to be wanting it for your life. (It doesn’t even mean that you are too young to get married, but I know that’s not what you’re asking about.) But remembering that guys are different to gals, it is very unlikely that you will find a fella that will feel comfortable even contemplating the possibility of future marriage to anyone at your current age. That is completely different from them being people who will choose to never get married. It’s just so far from their thoughts right now. And that’s okay. It’s every bit as okay as you wanting to get married and settle down and have kids in the future (whenever that is).

So, how do you move beyond this? You just don’t mention it. In the same way that guys like to think an idea is theirs, even when you’ve planted it there, and as a result you get an easier life… In the same way as this, you accept that the fellas (in question) are not capable of dealing with this topic yet, but that that is different from what they may or may not actually want. You don’t let it rear it’s head, because it doesn’t get you to where you want to be. You bide your time. You don’t focus on it. You accept life as it is, knowing what your overall life plan is. The point at which you want to be married NOW, and having babies NOW – that is the point where you need to have the conversation no matter what.

I’m not saying tell untruths, or mislead. If the topic of marriage or babies comes up (NOT from you), then say, “yeah, I definitely want that some day”, then let it drop. Obviously don’t stay with someone who says from the outset that they never, ever, want the same things as you. But that’s common sense, right?

filmfann's avatar

I knew a few girls like this, back in the day, and no one criticized them.
Some guys were looking for that, some weren’t. I was.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@AnonymousGirl Your 21, most guys your age don’t have a clue what they want. The last thing they’re thinking of is being tied down to a family. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.

cookieman's avatar

I knew a few girls like this, back in the day, and no one criticized them.
Some guys were looking for that, some weren’t. I wasn’t.

See @AnonymousGirl, you need to find a guy like @filmfann – and you will eventually.

That being said, might I suggest you focus more on the journey and not the destination. Don’t miss out on the fun and exploration of dating because your so focussed on your goal.

Unknown82's avatar

I think it is something that needs to be talked about fairly earlier because if not you might fall in love with someone and start a life with them and come to find out its not what they want and you will never get it! I am in this situation right now (as you know) good luck!

CaptainHarley's avatar

It’s just fashionable for women to have “careers” these days. This too will change.

Most men are “marriage averse” and panic when a woman even mentions it. They’ll outgrow it.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it is because you are so young, and guys are in dating mode, not marriage mode.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a wife and mother, but when someone says it, it sounds much better from someone who is self supporting, or has some sort of career goals I think. If an 18 year old said to me I want to be a wife and mother when I grow up, and that is her whole list of goals in adulthood, that makes me nervous. If a happy couple who plans on children discusses the wife not working when raising the children, that is something different.

It might vary a little by social class, the very rich would be in a whole different realm possibly, but the average American, most men I think prefer the entire financial burden not be on them, and most people would advise women not to be completely financially dependent on their husband.

I think it is good to discuss these thing fairly early in a relationship, but at the same time most relationships naturally progress to marriage on their own if they are working out, and during the courtship time conversations about what each person wants when married happen naturally too. Forcing the topic too soon can sound like your goal is to get married and have a baby, not a goal of finding the right person.

nikipedia's avatar

I agree with the people above who mentioned your age. As I got older, I experienced a big 180 in this. I found that as I dated men in their 30s, many of them wanted to get off the dating hamster wheel of despair and settle down. You may end up having a similar experience.

Also, are you talking about getting married and having kids as part of a life plan, or as the entire life plan (i.e., you don’t want to have a job)? That could also be relevant to how people react.

tinyfaery's avatar

In all honesty, a woman who has no goals but to be a wife and mother is pretty sad to me and I can totally relate to why men might feel put off by it. Men want someone who wants them, for who they are (just like women). Who wants some girl who sees you only as a source for sperm and money? I’d be put off in a second.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I’m actually going to go against the “common knowledge” above and say, guys do think about this, very early in life. From very early on (right out of high school), once guys figured out that I had no desire to get married and/or pop out a kid, they either started trying to get me to change my mind or dumped me for someone who did want to get married and have kids. Now, I actually feel I should mention it earlyish in a relationship, so that neither of us are wasting our time.

Just make sure to let them know (assuming this is true) that you want to get married and have kids “someday”, not right now.

nikipedia's avatar

@Aethelflaed, this is gonna sound condescending, but I don’t mean it that way—do you mind saying how old you are?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@nikipedia Mid-twenties.

nikipedia's avatar

So you feel pretty confident your position on these issues won’t change? I surprised myself on the kids issue.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@nikipedia Is my disinterest in those things the issue at hand here?

nikipedia's avatar

Nope, just asking.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@nikipedia Well, I could change my position tomorrow, and it still wouldn’t change the fact that my experience has been that most men think about these things earlier than they let on, which is the relevant part of my answer to @AnonymousGirl‘s question.

wundayatta's avatar

I think it is important to be well-rounded; to be able to be a bread-winner, a spouse, and a parent. I think it is dangerous to specialize because it makes you too dependent on a spouse who may or may not prove to be reliable. My daughter is raised this way, and she wants to be a parent, but first she wants to be able to support herself. She’s only 15, so I don’t know how it will play out, but those are her stated goals.

In this, she is following her mother’s example. Her mother went to law school and was able to bring in an excellent income for most of her life, enabling her to retire early enough to be a SAH mom now. I say this to show that there are all different kinds of ways of arranging career and parenting. The idea is to be flexible and to do what you need to do for your life. To have what you want.

Women of my generation who were SAH Moms have often ended up in poverty when their husbands left them. There are a few women here with kids who have had a lot of financial problems after divorce. Divorce is likely. Half of first marriages in the US end in divorce. I think it would be wise to prepare for it. Women still usually get the kids. Women still usually have lower or no income. Women, in other words, are more likely to get shafted in a divorce. I think it’s a good idea to be prepared for that.

Everyone thinks they’ll have a perfect marriage. No one goes into it thinking they will get divorced. But half of married women end up divorced. At those odds, it does not seem to me to be a wise career choice to plan on being only a wife and mother. The unemployment rate for wives is far higher than the overall unemployment rate. Don’t count on that career.

Of course, I’m not the only one who looks at the numbers. Lot’s of people can see what is going on and I’m sure that plays into the mistrust of the wife and mother career stability these days.

Aster's avatar

It’s just another silly game played in the dating arena. Never, ever would I or have I mentioned marriage or kids on dates back in the day. I had a girlfriend who brought up marriage a few times on a first date that I arranged and the guy told me right away that she had done this. He found it quite pushy. A year later he married someone else.
I recall being on a date with a boyfriend . We saw bride and groom mannequins in a window and he said “I wonder how I’d look in that?” and I thought, “are you serious? Do you think we’re anywhere near that stage?” I just looked at him. I knew full well he wasn’t the one for me. First off , I was nineteen.

john65pennington's avatar

On our third date, my now wife put her arm around my shoulder and asked, “I wonder what our children will look like?”. I sat there, in shock, and said, “with your looks and my brains, they should go very far in their future lives”. If there ever was a big HINT given to a man, this was it. From that moment on, I placed myself on the railroad tracks leading to our marriage. I was 21 and she was 18. Her words, that night, were the key to our destiny. Should I have brushed her off and changed the subject? Yes or no? I guess I was head over heels in love with her and my comments were music to her ears. We both knew what we wanted and I have never regretted that conversation, that night, parked in her driveway.

I guess it all depends on whether you are ready for marriage or not. Apparently, I was and her words just seemed appropriate at that time and place.

We both knew what we wanted. I just did not have the guts to ask those words….FIRST!

It’s been 46 years since that night and neither one of us has forgotten how it all began.

My son is in a very high position with The Federal Government and my daughter is a Registered Nurse.

We didn’t do too bad.

JLeslie's avatar

@john65pennington Loving someone and wanting to have a baby with them is very different than a woman wanting to be a wife and mother. Your wife, then girlfriend, was excited about you, wanting to make a baby with you.

cazzie's avatar

…...@CaptainHarley put quotation marks around the word careers. gaah.

Aster's avatar

@CaptainHarley when will women not want careers anymore? Why do you say that?

Keep_on_running's avatar

Just to add to the last two comments ;)

@CaptainHarley Way to degrade the hopes and aspirations of modern women…

Blackberry's avatar

There’s nothing wrong with it, since it would have to be done by some anyway. I wouldn’t personally want to be with someone like that, though.

john65pennington's avatar

I believe that some women were born to be home bodies and mothers and others were born to be leaders in their endeavors. My wife was born to be a little of both and I was happy with that.

Nothing wrong with that.

tranquilsea's avatar

I met my husband when I was 20 and he was 22. He pursued me like crazy and we eventually started dating. Three months in to dating we were talking about marriage and what our potential children would look like and how many we’d like to have. We even came up with names.

I don’t know that my hubby was gang busters for marriage but those were my terms. I wasn’t going to be a girlfriend forever (and I’d seen some women exist as such for years and years only to be dumped). Our dating life was brief as we married a year after our first date. He had changed a lot of assumptions I had made about my own life. I had not wanted to marry until I was 30 but then he happened.

I eventually became a stay at home mom and eventually a home schooling mom. We just rolled with the punches always keeping what was best for the kids and our family as our focus.

Keep your options open as you never know when “he’ll” show up. You wouldn’t want the ones that run away anyway.

You can gain a lot of knowledge about what a guy is thinking by what he says about relationships in general. What does he say about friends who have girlfriends or his parents? Using that information instead of questioning him will give you your first clues about what he may expect out of his own relationships.

mazingerz88's avatar

It is the sign of the times. Different generation, different philosophies, trends and realities. There is absolutely nothing wrong with your wishes and wants. You might just have to be a little more patient in finding the right partner in life that’s all. Good luck! : )

Sunny2's avatar

I think it’s wise for women to prepare for a career. if you marry, fine, you have training to be employable should you wish or should it become necessary. And if you don’t marry, you’ll be able to support yourself. If you scare guys off by talking about getting married, be careful how and when or if you talk about it.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

After reading some more answers (I will finish reading the rest), I would like to say some things…

No, this is not my only goal in life. It’s not even so much a goal. It’s more of a desire. Yes, I do want to be a wife and a mother… but I only want to be a wife to somebody who actually wants me for a wife… and to have children with someone who actually wants the same things with me as well.

I never once said in my question that I did not want to work outside of the home, or that I wanted to rely on a man for his sperm and money. I don’t for one second want to have a marriage where I would have that much disrespect for my husband. If I only care about a man for his sperm and money, then I don’t see how a relationship, never mind a marriage, with him would ever work.

I like the idea of having a job outside of the home where I would still have time for my family. I like the idea of being there for my potential children, helping them grow and learn. I like the idea of being there and welcoming my potential husband home and giving him a hug and a kiss after he comes home from work. Is this really such a horrible thing? It’s a simple gesture, and would (I hope) give him a home to look forward to coming back to because he could count on a supportive wife, no matter how stressful his job is/was.

I don’t see me being a wife and a mother for a long time, if ever—maybe when I’m 30 or so and have things done that I want done before settling down. I don’t know. When a guy tells me plans like that, I don’t get turned off by it. It doesn’t seem fair that I can’t say the same thing without men being turned off.

mazingerz88's avatar

@AnonymousGirl Well you could look at it this way. The “unfairness” of it all has its advantage. You could easily check off the guys who get turned off, instead of potentially wasting precious time and attention on them.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ That is a good point. Thank you! :)

There is something else I wanted to address here…(but I felt a bit weird answering twice in a row, so I decided to wait for someone else to answer before I addressed this) ...

@harple‘s answer is what I want to address.

My father is nothing like that. He met my mother while they were in their early 20s. They had a son together (my oldest brother) when my Dad was 21 and my Mom was 22. My Dad decided to marry my Mom soon after because, where they lived, it was required by law for an unmarried man who had a baby out of wedlock at the time to adopt his own son (not sure what the exact laws were, but from my understanding, this was something he had to do in order to be taken seriously as a parent) and he thought that was utterly ridiculous… and he felt like they were living together like they were married anyway, so he did not see the big deal. My Dad loves children and he says, if a woman wanted to be with him and she did not want children, he would not want to be with her at all. In fact, my Mom’s love for children is one of the reasons he was interested in her in the first place.

My Dad is of the opinion that nobody should date if they are not ready for marriage. He feels that there is no point in being with someone who is not even open to the possibility of marriage. He has also made it clear that we should not be with anyone who we do not think would be a good parent to our potential child(ren) or someone who does not share our values in any way. He suggests honesty upfront and that if someone is scared away, well, too bad… that guy isn’t the right guy anyway. To him, a mature guy would not be scared away by that kind of talk—he would be able to handle it.

I am not saying I agree with my Dad on absolutely everything—just trying to explain his background a bit more.. and how it may have influenced me, whether I like the way it has or not.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am not sure if you just want to have a husband or kids OR you want to have a husband and kids and stay home to look after them, so I will go with the latter because I don’t see why anyone would have a problem with the former at all. I think @mazingerz88 is spot on, it is a reflection of changing times. I don’t see any reason why you can’t have both a career and be a wife and mother, even a stay-at-home mother for a period of time, if you want to. Families and how they operate should be diverse in structure. It is also worth considering our changed economic conditions too. It would be very difficult for families to operate with just one person earning money permanently in Australia. While this might have worked in the 1950s, the size of the average mortgage and just the cost of day-to-day living makes it hard for most families to manage on one income.

I think the advice that you probably shouldn’t start out in a relationship by spelling out you are looking for a husband and children and to stay home and look after them (if that is what you want), is not a bad idea. If you had been born in a much earlier time, there would have been a greater expectation that you should be a stay-at-home mother and wife. Look at @CaptainHarley‘s post that suggests women’s “careers” are just a bit of silliness they need to get passed. I think younger men though are cautious about getting into a situation where they are used as ‘meal tickets’. I am not saying you (or other women who choose to be stay-at-home mothers (or fathers)) are looking for a meal ticket of course. I do think this is a more prevalent attitude now though. So, getting to know the person and then having a discussion about their ideas about how your family should operate is probably a sensible bit of advice.

I hope you and all other women can have choice. I hope you can have a good education, a fulfilling job in a field you enjoy, be a mother and partner and either stay home to raise your children or work outside the home. You may do all of these things at different times in your life. I have. Another change to keep in mind is the higher level of divorce. Where in earlier times divorce was less likely, a woman who doesn’t gain any work experience prior to marriage, marries, gives up her job and then stays home will find it harder to support herself and her children if the marriage fails. Marriages do not necessarily last forever and contemporary women are not guaranteed financial security because they marry a man with a good financial future.

harple's avatar

Hi @AnonymousGirl Your father is nothing like what? I mentioned your father only as a potential example of a male that you will know well, and that part of my answer was an example of how SOME men need to think something is their idea before it can happen, even if, actually, the woman has planted that idea. Please note, that part of my answer was an example of how women sometimes have to adapt their way of introducing something (anything) in order to get along better in the relationship. It was not about marriage or children, or men’s opinions on these. Again, I mentioned your father only because I know you have one (you have mentioned him elsewhere) and so he was a good example of a male that you would know well enough to have noticed this happening, IF, it happened. I also used the word “perhaps”. I certainly grew up knowing that my own Dad was far more forthcoming on something if he felt he had had the idea in the first place.

If you had ever had experience of this, then it formed [I hoped] a good example for me to refer to when answering the crux of your question. Please do read my answer again and see that it was genuine, and meant no disrespect to anyone.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ I understand that you weren’t intending disrespect. I read it the way I did, though, because it seemed like you made it clear that you wanted to make it about me, not in general. That being said, I realize that following his advice (talking about marriage and children as soon as possible) might not be a good idea in this day and age. While I don’t want this yet, it could give a guy the wrong ideas. This very thread shows how those false impressions can be formed very easily with references to using a guy as a meal ticket, or for his sperm and money, or a woman who wants to depend entirely on her husband… yeah, clearly, I need to find a way to make myself easier to understand so that such false impressions are not formed in the future. It looks like my problem isn’t so much my “dreams”, “hopes”, and “desires” as much as it is the way I choose to communicate about them in the first place.

Bellatrix's avatar

@AnonymousGirl, I read some of these posts earlier and some just now. I see you have addressed the SAH/Working parent issue. I can see no reason why you can’t have all of that (and more I hope). So, as has been said, find a nice guy, get to know him and when the discussion of whether your relationship has a long future, hopefully he will have the same aspirations.

harple's avatar

Well there were two elements to the question – the main question was being well addressed by others, and is a large question about attitudes and rights etc etc. I don’t feel qualified to answer that.

But I saw in your details how you are being affected by it all in your own relationships, and I wanted to give you a (hopefully) helpful answer to that part from my own experience.

I wouldn’t like to comment on your father’s advice – all I will say is that there will come a point in your life when it will be important to know for sure that your other half wants what you do, but as you don’t particularly wish to marry any time soon, don’t let it overbear your thoughts. It is likely that the fella you are with when you’re 30 will be different from the one you are with when you’re 21, and if it is the same fella, then you’ll probably have been married for 4 years by then :-)

(Do you remember the episode in Friends where Ross’ girlfriend wants to know “where they are going”. Right up until that point, he was loving the relationship. He wasn’t necessarily thinking it was just for fun, he just wasn’t planning the future yet either.)

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ Your answers have been helpful to me as they’ve helped me reflect on my past and I appreciate that and all the other answers here, even the ones that show that the answerer may have misinterpreted my words. These are important and help me understand that I have a communication problem I need to address. I may say something, but if the person doesn’t understand or reads into it the wrong way, there is a problem in the communication. If I want to be understood, I need to speak in the same “language” as the person I am talking to. It would not be reasonable for me to expect a guy to understand something the way I do just because I understand it, especially something serious like this.

harple's avatar

I think “communication problem” is being a bit hard on yourself! Your last sentence: “I can’t expect a guy to understand something the way I do just because I understand it.” is spot on though! And the same goes in reverse – a guy can’t expect a girl to understand something the way they do just because they understand it. Knowing that will help you to go far in life.

As to misunderstandings on here, the written word is only one part of communication, and it is so easily misunderstood. Add into that the fact that you have members here from all over the world, and all with a slightly different upbringing. I’m English, and you know what they say about Americans and the English? Divided by a common language. ;-)

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Oh! Yeah, I definitely see what you’re saying. Even with the English language, there are differences – something as simple as “toilets” being one of them. I remember reading Harry Potter and imagining toilets out in the open when the author talked about the girls’ toilets. It seemed odd to me. I found out later that British people call bathrooms/washrooms “toilets” and her wording choice made more sense to me as a result. The author made sense all along, but my thoughts were limited to what I understood at the time.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@CaptainHarley “It’s just fashionable for women to have “careers” these days. This too will change.” – um, no…you don’t get to put that in quotes and think that’s okay to do.

@AnonymousGirl Some people have a problem with the whole mother and wife only pathway because they remember a time when that was all that a woman can long as you allow for anyone else to have their own path, which may not be about mothering or marriage, do what makes you happy.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Perspective. There’s a line between mother/teacher versus servant/nursemaid and wife/partner versus arm candy/housemaid. Those are all generalizations but you get it.

Mariah's avatar

Hm, regarding the one guy being scared off by it, was it because he really thought it was unacceptable for you to want to start a family, or was he scared by your mention of marriage and the commitment it entails?

I have learned that I can’t assume a partner’s intentions through being in this situation with the roles reversed when I was 15. I figured at that age a guy was just looking for some fun, right? Until he mentioned being nervous about handling a long-distance relationship with me once we leave for college….in three years. Wow!

That aside, I do know there is a bit of a tendency for some people to look down their noses at women who want to be homemakers. I think this happens because it’s considered women’s “traditional” role and people might feel that by choosing it she is letting herself be pushed around by a patriarchial society. However, I think true feminism would involve women being able to pursue whatever life they please, including being a homemaker if that’s what they truly want. It’s only bad if she chooses to do so because she feels pressured to.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ I would say that he viewed it as unacceptable, or why would he suggest for me not to bring it up ever to a guy after him?

The wording in my question does not only apply to me. It also applies to other women who have been in the same or similar circumstances. I’ve noticed other women being treated like there’s something wrong with them if they want that for themselves.

GracieT's avatar

I have friends whom have what I consider the ideal relationship. He is an author, and she is a doctor. He worked from home and she worked part time. I think that having him home and having a babysitter (me!) until she arrived home was a good compromise- he was home for the kids and also got to work, and she was a doctor for a part of the day and then came home for the rest of the day. That way he was home if the kids needed someone and he also had an office for him to go to and his wife did both also. I can’t have kids and don’t think that I would be a good mother (even though the desire is there) but from the outside looking in I would love this arrangement.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ I definitely understand what you are saying. My Dad has found a way to work from home and it totally works for him—he can do his job and be home for his wife and children. It works!

Paradox1's avatar

I think that some people confuse a woman who wants to be a full-time mother with someone who wants to be lazy. Obviously they don’t get it. They might equate a full-time mother with someone who is like a trust-fund baby who never has to work a day in their life, even though they are (probably) worlds apart. The trust-fund baby is seen as lazy, idle, a waste of a person if they do not do anything to contribute to society and even some real jobs get this too. Hope it works out!

keobooks's avatar

I think people who think this sometimes feel that a woman who chooses this lifestyle is a throwback to prefeminist times and is setting back women. I disagree. I think all people should be able to choose what sort of lifestyle they want to live. I think it’s a very 1970’s mindset to think that if you are going to be a fully liberated woman, you HAVE to have a full time job and climb the corporate ladder.

I think that in that era, it was a big deal because there were lots of women that didn’t have the choices available to them. Many stay at home moms back then were basically forced to stay home or take low level jobs below their ability. So they fought hard for the rights to have a much wider variety of lifestyle than they had back then. If you stayed at home back then, most people assumed that it was because you weren’t adventurous enough or too submissive to follow your dreams against your husband’s will.

It was a bit like the turn of the century when farming fell out of favor over living in the suburbs and cities. Why work on the farm doing back breaking work when you could work in an office and have all the great stuff the suburbs and city have to offer? People assumed that only unintelligent people who couldn’t read or write well stayed on the farm. If they were smarter, they’d go out and do all the new things.

Well, now things have changed a lot. Farming and being a stay at home parent are among the many lifestyle choices you can make. And part of being liberated and free is being able to choose whatever lifestyle you want—not just do what is right for your gender.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ I really like that you brought farming into this…. because I like the idea of growing my own food for my family as well!

JLeslie's avatar

What if a man says his main goal is to be a dad and father? Imagine, if a guy said that to you @AnonymousGirl, you would be out of there in flash, because it does not line up with your goals at all.

Or, what if anyone says they want to be dependent on their spouse financially when they first start dating someone?

I think most middle class young men today expect their wife is going to work, at least at first before there are children. So statistically when you tell a guy you want tot be a wife and mother, most likely you are talking to a man who is not exactly thinking that way. But, you might come across a man eventually who thinks the idea sounds great. I guess that is the guy you are looking for.

Thing is, counting on someone to financially support you is usually a terrible plan, because what if it doesn’t happen as fast as you want it? You have to work like you only have yourself to count on, and then find a guy who shares the same goals as you in a relationship. Unless you live in a culture and community that women stay dependent on their families until they are married, or some other unknown situation we are not aware of specific to you.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

If a man told me he wanted to be a father, I would respect that. In fact, my closest male friend is exactly this kind of guy—he wants to be a father (not now, but when he is older) and he wants to be there for his child(ren) like he seems to feel his father never was for him. I respect that. Now, he is not a boyfriend, but still.

As for my ex-boyfriends, I was not out of there in a flash for any of them for them making it clear they wanted to be a father if they did. The first guy I was with is a family man and wants a family. The second guy (the one I brought up in my description) ... I’m not so sure about. He has had several girlfriends after me and he seems to get bored whenever he feels like someone better or different comes along. Looking back, I’m better off without him. The boyfriend I had after him seemed to want to get married eventually and to have one son (yes, specifically… one son… I wonder how he would react if he had a daughter instead?). The guy after him seemed to want a lifelong relationship eventually and children. I was not scared away by any of them for that reason. Wanting to be a Dad is fine.

I would like to add that I never said in my question or description that I planned on counting on someone to financially support me. I am aware of the high divorce rates and I know how important it is to have work experience in this day and age. I am also aware that several people jump into marriages too quickly only for them to fail later on. I am also aware that someone can seem like the most perfect person in the world, but still change into someone I don’t like at all in the future. I am also aware that I could change into a person he doesn’t like, even if he likes me now. It’s possible… and you’re right, it would be wise for me to be prepared for it if it does happen (even if it never does). Better safe than sorry.

JLeslie's avatar

@AnonymousGirl When you say wife and mother, do you mean stay at home wife and mother, no job? That is what most people assume when a woman says wife and mother I think.

AnonymousWoman's avatar


No. How can I explain myself instead so that no wrong conclusions are made?

JLeslie's avatar

@AnonymousGirl Maybe this is the big problem, it might be a huge miscommunication. I definitely made the wrong assumption, my apologies for that, but I think most likely people assume the same thing I did. When I gave the example of a man saying he wants to be a husband and father, I meant also, stay at home dad and father.

I also want to point out that I haven’t worked in almost three years, I have no problem with women not working, but I am in a financial sitiation where it is ok for now.

I think you should say you want to have children when it seems the appropriate time in the relationship. Most people assume marriage comes with children, at least in my social circles it does, so talking about children implies marriage. Discussing having kids is crucial for most couples, because it is usually a deal breaker if one wants them and the other doesn’t. It also does not imply whether you would work or not when you have them and it is not telling the guy my goal in life right now is to married. At least that is how I see it. Maybe others will comment.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

^^ I have a friend who has told me he wants one parent to stay at home, even if it’s him and his wife who is working. He views this as extremely important to the child’s growth. The way he explained it made so much sense to me and he really wants the best for his child(ren). He is now married and has a baby of his own. I respect him a lot and I am very happy for him and his wife.

I agree that it appears to be a communication problem. It is also quite possible that past guys saw what was important to me as worthy of being criticized.

Here is more background:

With my first boyfriend, we were both Christian at the time. Family is very important in the Christian religion… what we seemed to disagree on was some of our values. The distance was also pretty great. I don’t think he wants to ever move from there and I don’t think he wants to take me away from my family, either. We were young then, very, very young… so maybe it wasn’t something we should have been thinking about in the first place. Besides, we have grown so far apart to the point that I feel like he’s some sort of stranger to me now. He seems to have gotten more Christian… and I’ve become “less Christian”.

With my second, there are people who wouldn’t even count it as a relationship. During this relationship, I was still at the point where I didn’t want my first kiss until my wedding day… so that was why marriage came up. It seems pretty foolish now looking back, but that’s honestly what I wanted. That guy probably thought I was ridiculous. I know he seemed to get mad at me later in an IM conversation and seemed to hint very strongly that one of the reasons he broke up with me is that he didn’t get the “human touch” from me or whatever.

With my third, marriage came up because he was obsessed with sex and wanted sex from me. He ended up kissing me without asking me, so there went my dream about waiting until my wedding day. I should have known then that this would be a disaster. I’d made another stupid agreement with myself that the first guy I kissed would be the only guy I would do sexual things with. This guy knew I wanted to wait until marriage to lose my virginity, but he tried to tear those values down anyway. I ended up changing my values for him… and decided that I would have sex with a guy I loved, even if I wasn’t married to him. I had to feel like he loved me, though… I told myself… and I had to be sure I wanted to stay with him for life before I went that far. I should have left then. He took advantage of my feelings and made me do things he knew I didn’t want to do. I felt stuck.

With my fourth, marriage came up because of other people. Before we were even together, one of my close female friends at the time…. and his own brother and mother wanted us to be together. That close friend would tell me that we were perfect for each other and that she could see us getting married. At least one of his own very best friends suggested he date me also. We were very, very good friends and he was so happy when he talked to me while we were friends…. but I think it was… pressure from the others to be with me and to make it work that scared him away from me.

JLeslie's avatar

@AnonymousGirl Ok, almost everything you describe has to do with outside influences and not your own internal compass. I know you realize this already by what you wrote. I think some of it has to do with how young you were, all of us learn as we go, and look back at high school relationships and see where we were naive or foolish. I also think, and I don’t want to offend you, that possibly you grew up fairly sheltered with some unrealistic ideals about dating, marriage, sex, and more. Well, unrealistic is harsh actually, I have no problem with women wanting to be prudent about sex, but, it sounds like you were very unprepared to handle the situation you were in when your boyfriend was pushing you for sex.

I find it very very odd, only because of how I was raised, to think about getting married to have sex. I have two women I have known who got married to have sex, and they both wound up divorced. One was divorced within a year, the other the marriage lasted several years. Not, that people who get married for this reason always get divorced, but I think it happens a lot. Of course, people who do have sex before marriage also get divorced, so you can take my statement about the girls who marry to have sex however you might want to think about it. What I want to point out is not that you should have sex before marriage, but wanting to have sex is not a reason to get married. You have to want to spend the rest of your life with the person. Does that make sense? I’m not sure I am explaining it well.

I think it will get better as you get older, because men won’t be such idiots, and you will be more sure of yoruself and what you want.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@AnonymousGirl I think it might be that you’re phrasing it as “I want to be a wife and mother”, rather, than “I want to get married and have kids”. The first tends to be a phrasing code for wanting those parts of your life to be your job/career, your main identity, while the second is more that you want those things to be a part of your life but not the only (or near to only) things in your life.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

But the mere mention of marriage seems to scare people off. Maybe it is because of how common divorce is. It seems (at least to me) that marriage is viewed more and more as a joke…

What is the difference between saying “I want to get married and have kids” and “I want to be a wife and mother”? That’s not much different.

I don’t understand why some people feel the need to read so much into something that does not have a hidden meaning unless they are the type to assume things and read into things that aren’t there.

If a guy tells me he wants to be a husband and father, I don’t automatically assume that he doesn’t want to work also. If he said that, that would be one thing, but if he didn’t say that to me and I claimed that he did, then that would be me putting words into his mouth.

If I wanted to be a wife and mother who had no interest in earning money, I would have said I want to be a “stay-at-home mom” up there in my question.

It is possible that these guys felt that that is what I wanted because my Dad is the breadwinner here and my Mom… well, she helped raise us without earning money outside the home. Maybe they feel like I will want to be like my mother? That whole “Like mother, like daughter” thing…

harple's avatar

@AnonymousGirl The difference is that wife and mother are titles, where as getting married and having kids are actions.

Using the language “I want to be a wife and mother” really does sound as strong as saying “I want to be a doctor” (for example). It sounds like a job title.

This isn’t the best example in the world, so bear with me, but it would be a similar misunderstanding if one were to say “I want to be a stripper” rather than “I want to learn how to strip for my fella”. One is a job, the other is an action you want to learn. The connotations are wildly different.

AnonymousWoman's avatar



Why are men treated differently?

harple's avatar

Do they, really? If you use the clear language for what you mean (as in “get married and have children” rather than “wife and mother”), does a man who says he wants to get married and have children really get treated differently?

And if you’re talking about specifically within a relationship, then I’ve already answered that above – men and women often think and process things differently. So in a role-reversal situation, then it is the woman who is hearing the man say “marriage and kids” and she may commonly process that information and react differently from a man in the same situation.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

I meant “husband and father”.

Also, more and more men don’t seem to want marriage these days.

JLeslie's avatar

I agree with everything the last few posters said about how it is worded. Wife and mother is very different than get married and have kids for exactly what @harple and @Aethelflaed describe. A man wanting to be a husband and father is even different than a man saying I want to get married and have kids. It does have to do with label vs. actions, that was a good explanation.

I also think since it seems you grew up in a fairly religious Christian home, very religious Christians seem to have their own language about some things. Submissive in the dictionary means obedient, passive, even meek. Submissive to many Christians means respectful. When Evangelical Christians use the word they are not effectively communicating with the majority of America. Also cult is defined very very differently among some Evangelical Christians, they define it as a group claiming to be Christian, but is not Christian. That is not how it is defined in the dictionary or by the majority of the people in the United States. I have no idea what sect of Christianity you are, and I am not trying to criticize Christians either, I am only pointing out in your circles the terms wife and mother might be very common and understood the way you think about it, but for most of America people think about it differently.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

If it helps any, I live in Canada. Yes, I did grow up in a Christian home—and was taught that the Bible is the Word of God. I also live in a fairly large family. I did go to church when I was a child (a Baptist Church and then a Reformed Presbyterian one), but we stopped going to church when I was 10 or 11, I think. Possibly 12, but I think it was earlier than that. My Dad still believed (and still believes) the Bible is the Word of God, but he didn’t feel church was the right place to be anymore because he didn’t like the way churches were run. He considers himself a Bible believer who doesn’t attend church now.

I appreciate you explaining to me what different things mean to different people.

Submissive.. interesting that you should bring that up.

Guy#3 has told me that I am too submissive.

Guy#4 has told me he wanted an equal partner and didn’t feel like we were equals. He also seemed to think I didn’t know how to make my own mind up about things, at least sometimes.


JLeslie's avatar

@AnonymousGirl I was not trying to say or assume you are “submissive.” it was only an example of how people understand words differently. However, your language might be conveying you wait for the other person to make decisions, and that you want to take a less powerful role in relationships. Is that the example your mom gave? Did she defer to your dad when decision were to made? Sometimes wanting to please the other person by letting them decide everything comes across as indecisive or weak.

keobooks's avatar

If someone says that you’re being submissive, and instead of challenging them, you say “Oh well, I guess you are right…”, then you ARE being too submissive. This has nothing to do with the wife and mother thing—it’s about being assertive. When someone says that, don’t roll over and take it.

Maybe things would go differently for you if you tried this. Edited to add: I’m saying this because of your comments about Guy 4 and guy 5.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

@JLeslie My Mom tends to agree with my Dad on many decisions eventually, even if not right away.

@keobooks I didn’t say what my reactions were, just what I remember them saying. With Guy#3, it seemed like a random comment he said when he was angry. He would also get mad at me when I would defend myself and he would do and say things that caused me to feel immense guilt. These are things he’s told me: “Other couples have gone further than this by now”, “We always do the same thing—it’s boring!”, “Why aren’t you more like (one of his female friends)?”, “Other guys are like this, so you better get used to it!”, “I won’t talk to you until you send me a strip tease video”, “I hate your parents because they made you hate sex” (on a bus, in a loud voice, in front of everyone on there), “I never loved you, I guess I just lied and told myself I did to convince myself I did”, etc. I may not have gotten all the exact words right (we were together a while ago), but the meanings are still the same and I tried to be as accurate as possible with the quotes. I do think that he had a point about being submissive (as I’ve made clear previously in this thread, this wasn’t a healthy relationship to start with).

With Guy#4, his comments, I’m pretty sure, were more because he was angry at me for not wanting to sleep over at his apartment at night.

Both Guy#3 and Guy#4 really did not like my parents, and most especially my Dad. They ended up taking this out on me.

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