Plight of the Suburban Housewife

From the forum…

Female Reader:  Do you find yourself doing the same thing. Every.  Single.  Day.

I am in a situation where our lives are very, very busy – doing the same things over and over.  I can go weeks without having to go beyond a 5 mile radius of my house.  We do the same things.  In the same places. With all the same people.  Even my work, which I love, is starting to feel stale.

Now granted it is not literally the same thing.  But I find my brain is often on auto pilot…

(Athol: I removed about 1000 words here…)

…Not sure what I am looking for here.  I guess I just wanted to see if anyone can relate.

RedPillWifey: I think it’s possible to be a little bored with being a SAHM without it being a huge 911 issue. Some days it’s just a monotonous grind of diapers, baby food, and tears. It’s just something you have to muck through for a while… The feeling comes and goes. Never have I had the thought to go to a bar to get picked up (unless it was my husband). I’m a tad jealous that he basically has his Dream Job right now, and loves going to work, but he does his best to keep my life interesting. I try to speak up when I need something.

Nothing wrong with feeling a little bored, IMO.

Athol:  Reducing Female Reader’s entire comment to a single thought it’s something like, “This is all a bit boring and I want some Alpha in my life”.  While RedPillWifey sums to, “This is all a bit boring, but I have some Alpha in my life.”

The key phrases to trigger a red flag vs. green flag response are, “Not sure what I am looking for here.  I guess I just wanted to see if anyone can relate.” vs. “he does his best to keep my life interesting. I try to speak up when I need something.”

I think what most men don’t understand is that being at home is often vastly understimulating to a normal adult. I mean really, it’s nothing like the effort needed in 1913 to keep house in 2013. So when he comes home, the lower stress environment is experienced by him as relaxing, and he wonders what is so unenjoyable about it all to his wife.

Meanwhile, she’s bored senseless. It never starts off as bars and Girls Night Out shenanigans though. Facebook and flirting is where it’s at. It can creep up on you so slowly though. No one plans to have an affair, or get disgusted with their husband and fall out of love. It just slowly drifts away….

That’s why I keep coming back to needing to be a SAHM plus something. I don’t care what the something is, just something. Any kind of additional productive stimulation beats sitting on the couch watching TV.

But it’s also why husbands need to be the Captain. SAHM’s eat up a Firm, Fair and Frisky husband with a spoon. If a SAHM has been sufficiently bored to the point where the mailman arriving is an event, the arrival of her husband is a much bigger event to look forward too. If he can fight the natural inclination to walk through the door and go completely off-duty, there’s a lot to be said for allowing her ten minutes of undivided attention to disgorge her daily report.

After that, do whatever… just remember to play with her during the evening. Light teasing, a little groping… anything is better than ignoring each other.

Jennifer:  No matter what you’re doing, if it’s the same old thing every day you look to your partner for a little stimulation…and hopefully they provide it.  (And yes, I’m looking over my shoulder to see Athol with his “I’ll stimulate you, baby…” face on.)



  1. Joe_Commenter says:

    Athol Says: “I think what most men don’t understand is that being at home is often vastly understimulating to a normal adult”.

    Joe Commenter says: I think what SAHW’S don’t realize is how unbelievably stressful the work world is to many men. They go to work each and every day, wondering how they can possibly handle the workload expected of them. In today’s business climate, many employers are looking for just one F-up from the man, so they can fire him. And a fired man will not find another job that pays anything close to the one he has. Even if the current job is soul crushing.

    The grass really is not always greener on the other side.

  2. +1 to all. My mother went to work part-time when I was about 5 simply to get out of the house. I can see where things could get pretty dull.

    And it’s no easier in the workplace. I’m on the road one day out of every three these days.

  3. Exactly, Joe_Commenter. Often when I see comments like these from SAHMs, the assumption is that men’s work lives are non-stop adventures, full of rewarding work and plenty of variety.

    Trust me – most of our jobs are equally tedious, having to do the same old, same old month after month, year after year. With the additional benefit of worrying about if you’re ever going to be able to gain any financial traction to escape living paycheck to paycheck.

  4. >I think what most men don’t understand is that being at home is often vastly understimulating to a normal adult. I mean really, it’s nothing like the effort needed in 1913 to keep house in 2013.

    I can certainly buy this for the average housewife and the average family setup. Do you think this is true regardless of the number of kids or the “difficulty level” that you set for yourself domestically? Dropping one kid off at school for the day is one thing; do you think it remains boring for most women if you’re homeschooling four and tending your backyard vegetable garden? Is this:

    1) Still really boring
    2) Boring + more work
    3) More work and interesting, arguably more so than a cubicle job

    And if (3) is true, why aren’t more folks taking this option?

  5. @Rico

    You’re missing the point in your comments.

    It’s not that going to an office every day is exotic and an always-changing adventure. Just like spouses who have an “away” job need their spouse to understand their need to crash and/or pursue a non-desk hobby in the evenings, the SAHM or SAHD needs their spouse to understand that the entire day’s efforts are wrapped up in producing a great evening for the family. Clean house. Delicious food. Happy, healthy, educated kids. Smiling wifey. But all of these stay-at-home tasks can be done by someone with very little training…it’s not rocket science. It’s value is in the persistent investment in the lives of those we love, scrubbing potties or grilling burgers for the 1,000,007th time, because it makes the home a beautiful place.

    But it is boring after a while. Those of us who are high stimulation and high energy can max out our contributions at home and still have bored brains.

    Athol is just reminding the away-ers that the home-ers need to feel some excitement and anticipation about the evenings and weekends, or they are vulnerable. And it’s the captain’s job to keep tabs on this, and keep the dialogue open so that he can keep the crew healthy and sane.

  6. Oh golly yes. SAHM need some stimulation. I’ve been SAH for the past 12 years – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

    I spend my time doing the chores and whatnot -yes. But while I do the chores, I improve my mind (wireless headphones – not just for WoW anymore). I found a group of *women* online to hang out with who likewise provide mental stimulation and keep me from being lonely. I’ve learned several skills and practice hobbies. I’ve taken on an internship… and even with all of that? Sometimes I just need to get out of the house of a Sunday afternoon – ALONE.

    Excepting when your children are the tiniest of babies, you can improve yourself and participate in things that improve yourself. (Anyway, when you have tiny babies, your hobby tends to be catching up on sleep). You can do all of that and make sure that your hubs has a nice place to land after his workday.

    My husband has a job that can have very erratic overtime at the last possible second. I don’t know how I’d keep a job outside the home with children, honestly. But this can be done – and it can be done without going nuts.

    Start with: What have you always wanted to learn to do? The internet is a great place to learn! Get started. :)

  7. Milf in Training says:

    The problem with being bored with one’s job is the BOREDOM. Anyone in an un-stimulating job needs to do what Athol calls “And”. If you add enough “and” to your life, you can defeat the boredom.
    For the SAH spouse, it’s easy these days. Volunteer in your school/community, join a book group, take a class, spend an hour a week in the local cafe. At home, there’s books on tape, iTunes University, and hundreds of resources online.
    I’m not SAH any more (I work from home), but when I was, I volunteered at school, my house of worship and for my town government, ran a tiny internet business, educated myself continuously, took classes, wrote ebooks … had my ex-husband cared to ask about my day, I could have told him lots of things.

  8. So often relationship issues get stuck in the circle of non-empathy where one side isn’t listening to and understanding the other; it certainly goes both ways as Athol and commenters have attested. I believe that one of the prototypical failures in both business management and relationships in this country is a failure to simply listen to your workers/partner, coming to understand their feelings without taking down any action items. People who feel *listened to* are much less likely to do rash things or foment mistrust in the other side.

    Link plugs:
    Vox Day on the importance of sleep to childrearing and how to be the captain in getting your postpartum wife some Z’s:

    My own post on “when she just wants you to listen,” with a rule of thumb 20-minute maximum vent time (subject to discretion):

    One of the most mainstream pieces of relationship game out there is for guys to learn the skill of listening for listening’s sake without becoming her psychologist…it’s an easy to learn move that requires some beta (listening) with an alpha chaser (get her to stop venting and move on to something else).

  9. It doesn’t matter how tough the day job is for a guy, wifey doesn’t see it so it doesn’t register on her radar. All she see’s is her man going off and coming home, what actually happens in between she’ll make up, and it depends on her mood what she thinks thats gonna be.

  10. Good ponts! And 100% spot on. I knew from day one of my marriage that SAHW was not going to be my job description. I found jobs that worked with our kids’ schedules; I volunteered; I continued to have social time with friends. Nevertheless, as busy as I got, I still wanted to connect to my man when he got home. We sucked big time at this for about 20 years. Now that the kids are almost gone, we are salvaging the pieces of the marriage and trying to focus on one another.

    I essentially came here though, to comment on another of your blogs– about “withholding” or “teasing” to bring back up the desire level in marriage. I would have preferred to comment there if I could find it… but anyway….

    Background: I’m the “High sex drive wife and he’s the “low sex drive husband” in this marriage. We’re making some baby steps towards compromise on sex, because last year I told him that if he was interested in continuing on in a platonic marriage once our kids were gone… then I would need to move on (at this point I had lost the 70 pounds I had gained by self-medicating myself with food in response to being ignored for 15-20 years; I was working out, and looking and feeling good). I couldn’t contemplate a celibate future after 20 years of hit and miss very bad sex and never feeling pursued by my husband. He manned up, faced the ED and is giving Viagra a try (although we have had times he doesn’t need it), and we are making slow, but steady progress at renewing our marriage (and I’m not easy… more than just sex, I’ve asked him for Dominant/submissive or Domestic Discipline marriage, for him to be Head of Household. That’s not going so smoothly). I do love him. I want to respect him, I want a strong man. I am willing to do my job to submit. I want to do whatever I can to raise his interest in sex and connection with his wife. Soooooo, just tried the “lead him into the bedroom and knelt before him to give the 80% BJ.” He refused. He would not accept. He laughed uncomfortably and said “thank you, but no…” Do I feel pretty stupid? What kind of man refuses that? I took the opportunity of a guaranteed kid-free house window… thus allaying his fears of a walk-in. No deal.

    Anyway, without a huge long history (you can go to my blog when you have unlimited time on your hands: what does this say to you? I’m asking (begging) for sex at least 2 times a week, and this seems like an imposition for him. I’m asking we take advantage of rare empty-house moments for playing. I’m getting lots of attention from other males, and I know my relative sex rank is up there. I have the tall, blond young for my age look; losing the weight shaved 10 years off according to my harshest critics, my teens kids and their friends. Am I just spinning my wheels here trying to turn his head? I don’t want to start running down your list of fair warning to him… but I am so frustrated. As up as I may be on my relative rank… I do not relish being “out there” in my 50s looking. Hate to think this is as good as it gets.

  11. Joe_Commenter says:

    @FJ34. You are right. I guess I was inserting my own issues into the original post. My bad for hijacking the thread.

    The SAHW’s have a very valid point. at work the men get validation (good or bad, often bad) from their boss. At home the wive’s validation comes from the husband. We hubby’s have a responsibility to make sure that our crew has what she needs to do an effective job. I expect this out of my boss. The wives legitimately should expect this from the captain. A perceptive captain will read the mood of the crew and ask about what is going on and what the issues are. That is when the wife can let it out.

    My own struggle is to hold my tongue in cases where I hear of SAHW boredom. My initial reaction is “whaddya mean you’re bored?. This is the job you begged me for. This is what you wanted. What did you think was gonna happen when you had 2 toddlers and a dog running around the house?” This of course is less than helpful. But I have to admit it is what comes to my mind first.

  12. I’m waiting for the day when someone in the Manosphere will get the revolutionary idea that “I need something more” may mean exactly “I need something more”, even when spoken by a person of the female persuasion.

    Interestingly, the answer is not more stimulation, more activities or playfulness. It may mean doing less and seriously thinking- why do I feel as if my life is going to waste.

    Now, replace SAHM with vampire. You are rich, immortal, not bound by morals and you are a bad-ass piano player with a wonderful wardrobe and never have to experience a bad hair night. And yet all the time you are thinking of setting yourself on fire or meeting the sunrise. You mope around your palatial mansion, reading an obscure 12-th century alchemical text aiming to state a problem that has no name.

    Merely adding activities or TED talks to a housewife’s day may turn into a mockery. You are still there, only perhaps more knowledgeable about pre-Islamic pottery from the Middle East. But have you really changed? Has your motivation really changed? I recall the housewives in Betty Friedan’s book were also advised to do more, add more. When one should stop and start subtracting.

    I recall Tolkien once wrote that one could spend months working on an uninspired medieval text, only because he knew he could reach something bigger, use the studies as a stepping stone to that elusive knowledge you are seeking. But even such work has a time period. How long can you devote yourself to a limited thing? Alright, you are a housewife. So what? How will you imprint yourself on the world? Because that’s what we want, after we discover meaning in our lives. We want to leave a mark, and we all want to do this individually. There’s a being inside of us, a real bastard, which sometimes asks- is that it? Or is this just a stepping stone…

    Man, or woman, without internal transformation will whither. Perhaps this is the problem that has no name: you are given a role and you have to do it all the time, no way out. This role defines you. You could add a frill or two, even a whole education, but why are you doing this? It feels like pouring all your energy into a dead end. Yes, there are your kids, but are they enough? And are you really giving them what they need, when you are providing all the everyday stuff, but you are missing out the grain of meaning that you deny even to yourself?

    Now, granted, not all women have an inner craving. For some- most- the play and game and whatnot solution may work. For others, it may infuriate them even more, because they feel they need something more and when you try to give them a nice but inadequate solution, they may grow more bitter and resentful.

    So yes, having toddlers and dogs does not always mean people will abandon the restlessness. I was one of those people who genuinely cried – I want out, I want more, I want bigger. And guess what, none of it required any Greek letters. I would have done anything to get this thing, and placation, game, kindness, warmth would have done zilch to stem the craving.

    My question is: what do you do when the longing is genuine, and you don’t want to mistake it for the standard-issue boredom? Can you admit that even women can genuinely long for more?

  13. Joe_Commenter says:

    @Hipparchia. What kind of “more” do you long for? Achievement? Fame? Inner Peace? To be worshipped? All of those things are applicable to both sexes. And they must be earned. No one can give these things to you. But those goals must be balanced by your obligations. You cannot undo being a parent.

    When you sign up to be a parent, it is a lifetime commitment. The kids have to be given priority. You may or may not get those other things you so much desire. But you will always be a parent. If you do your parenting job well and with commitment, you will have achieved something very great. Don’t underestimate the importance of what you have already in your life. Kids always know when they are considered as unimportant by their parents. And it leaves lasting scars.

  14. Hipparchia’s plight was not the absence of life meaning despite intense heart-felt searching. Her plight was her utter inability to define a life meaning without first marking out enormous boundaries via semi-rejecting her family/culture.

    Hipparchia greatly longed for less freedom. Options thoroughly paralyzed her. She hoped most of all to be enduring and strong, yet managed only indifference in the end. But what toil it took to arrive at indifference.

    Of course I speak of Hipparchia the philosopher (wife of Crates) of ancient Greece, and not our friendly commenter above. These days, some of the best life meaning Q&A might be found with the last psychiatrist on the internet.

  15. SAHM’s should be studying part time while their kids are small so they can get back into the workforce once they hit school age. And I mean studying something useful, not Arts.
    I work full time, study part time, have a 3 year old and a baby on the way. I suppose I could be called a SAHM…on my days off. I’m looking at my 7 months maternity leave as a HOLIDAY, because once the housework is done and meals prepared I have the entire day to..go to the gym…take the kids on a hike…catch up with friends..drop in on the OH and bring him a coffee…catch up on some computer games…do something fun with the kids. I may even go back to study full time during that period to keep myself challenged.
    I just don’t understand this apathetic ‘waahhh I’m bored’ attitude. Surely a grown woman can chase her own interests? I’ll never be Sally home-maker but at least I’m interesting and fulfilled.

  16. (Athol: I removed about 1000 words here…)

    I suspect that the effect of excessive verbiage (which is not so easy for the husband to elide) if distilled would replace depo provera. Conversely, maybe such is merely a **it-test.

    Around word 100, the optimal solution (if you have even a drop of alpha) is Roissy’s “You done?”, and assuming word 150, “good!”, and a removal from earshot. Of course if you are a beta you will start gnawing the most convenient limb around word 200, with complete amputation (through the bone, some will find this humerus) by word 800.

    As to the intraday boredom, (opening of Shrek4 comes to mind), If you are bored, find something interesting or useful – learn something like a new language, help at charities, sew, knit, or whatever. Yet Athol’s advice is good. Even if you are tired, cast her into some more active role which is entirely unexpected and exciting. Perhaps that can be her new project, to transform things when you return.

    Surprising each other requires no great expense and is a gift spouses can give to each other, and can be renewed. I doubt either will be bored if their thoughts about 2pm are “what is s/he planning…”.

  17. I totally missed that you posted this… I’d been taking a blog reading hiatus. Totally agree on the + something. I’ll be glad to get to that point. Talking to the 3 year old who NEEDS everything all day is starting to get taxing and old. :P

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