Are You Ready For The Shade? The Judgments And Challenges You’ll Face As A “Kept Woman” Today
In a world full of self-help books, women touring the country giving seminars on “doing you” and umpteen thousand Facebook fag pages dedicated to motivating you to do more, more, more every day, where does a stay-at-home woman fit in? Fifty years ago it was the norm to be a “kept woman.” Now, just that term raises negative images of women spoiled out of their senses, drinking white wine all day and pretending to love their wealthy husbands. But that’s not all it is. Some women just so happen to fall in love with a man who is well off—a man who makes that woman’s minimum wage job at a café obsolete, because he can provide for the both of them. And that’s okay. But, if you’re such a woman, you may get some grief from society, not to mention your closest friends! Here are the judgments and misunderstandings to be prepared for.
You don’t understand your (working) friend’s schedules
“Ugh, I was up at 6 am because my boss wanted these briefs early and then our meeting ran late tonight and…well, you just wouldn’t understand.” You’ll be getting a bit of that from your working gal pals. They’ll think you don’t know how to empathize with their stresses because you lead such an easy life. They’ll think you no longer have your finger on the pulse of the working world, and have forgotten what it’s all about.
While it’s unfair of your friends to assume you don’t understand their schedules, you need to put in some work to show that you do understand them. The truth is, if you don’t have a job, then the things you do all day long (work out, clean the house, take care of bills and correspondence) is what your friends squeeze in in the few hours they have after an 8 hour work day. So try to actually get all that done during the day because if you cancel on drinks with your girlfriends because you just have, “Oh, so much mail to respond to” they won’t sympathize. If you do have the gift of leisure, then work around your working friend’s schedules. They don’t really have the privilege to work around yours.
Do you really love your partner?
When you shack up with a wealthy man, that ugly question is always lingering in the back of your associates’ minds: “Do you really love your partner?” (Or does all that money somehow gloss over the fact you’re less than nuts about him?) Your friends will wonder, if your man didn’t have all that money, would you still be with him?
It’s really none of their business
Your partner worked hard for his financial success. Do you admire his ambition, his intelligence, his savvy and his sense of responsibility? Of course you do. That is what you love, and that happens to (usually) bring money with it. It’s none of your friend’s business why you’re with your man, but if you want to deflect that nosy question, tell them just that: that you love the qualities that have made him successful. Just like your friends love the fact that their partners are spontaneous, young at heart, or the “creative types” (you know, all the things that usually make a man broke). You’re not judging them, are you?
How are you satisfied?
Today, everyone is about themselves. You see relationships in which the two people lead totally separate lives, each filling their days with work, their evenings with networking events, their weekends with “wellness conferences” and “girls/guys weekends away” and the only time the couple really spends together is sleeping. But that is encouraged—women are encouraged to fight, fight, fight for their own individual identity and career. So, many of your friends may be asking, “How are you satisfied simply being someone else’s support? And cheering on someone else’s career?”
For some people, love is enough
Foregoing your own career in order to support and love another person is not always a weakness. In fact, in today’s society, it can be considered a strength. At the end of their lives, none of your friends are going to be thinking, “I wish I’d made more money/made CEO.” They’re going to be thinking, “I wish I’d spent more time with the people I love.” You, fortunately, won’t have to say that. You may have recognized that for you, loving a man worthy of love, and being a positive support in his life while he pursues his goals is enough. Each person is satisfied by different things. Neither is better or worse, or wrong or right.
Shouldn’t you at least be having kids?
So, you’re home all day, you have all this time on your hands, shouldn’t you at least be having kids? Shouldn’t you be sharing all that free time with someone—like a newborn? This is a question you’ll get a lot. Because today, the only reason most women see to not work is if they’re having children. So, what’s your excuse?
You’re allowed to enjoy this time with your partner
Working women will almost unanimously agree that after marrying or settling down with a guy, they want to enjoy some years when it’s just the two of them. They want to indulge in one another. And working woman or not, when you have kids, you just don’t get to do that with your partner. Say goodbye to the freedom to travel, socialize and have sex whenever you want for 18 years! You’re no less entitled to enjoying this one-on-one time with your guy than a working woman is.
What do you and your partner talk about?
Some couples speak of nothing but their work. Their dinners are filled with gossip about co-workers, complaints about bosses and stresses about presentations. They bond over the common stresses that come with full time jobs. So, your friends may wonder, what do you and your partner talk about, if you didn’t really do anything all day?
True love withstands lulls
The truth is, even those busy couples will have to retire some day, or perhaps one of them will lose their job, and then what? All they know to talk about is work. True love withstands lulls in life. When you really love someone, you’re happy to talk to him about the cute things the dog did that day. Somehow, even these simple conversations carry weight, and bonding for the two of you. A happy couple is a couple who is comfortable with silence, and with even the boring days in life. Can your friends, who go on and on about work with their partners, say they’d be happy without that conversation-starter? Perhaps not…
Don’t you ever feel guilty?
So you went to college, or at least you’re smart: don’t you ever feel guilty not putting your faculties to use somehow in the world? Don’t you feel guilty just enjoying yourself every day?
That is a construct of our society
Don’t let your working friends fool you; they feel guilt all the time! They’re so conditioned to believe they have to be multi-tasking, and triple-doing all the time, they feel guilty just taking twenty minutes to watch the sunset with their partner. They’re secretly checking their work email on the side. But what’s there to feel guilty about? Are you harming anyone? Absolutely not. Are you going to regret all the happiness you experienced later in life? No way. Your working friends have been told they should feel guilty just enjoying life. And that’s a shame. Don’t buy into it.
Don’t you lose touch with “real problems”
Okay, so your biggest problem is having to reschedule your massage to accommodate your Pilates class. Your friends will think you’ve lost perspective on what a “real problem” is, because you don’t seem to have any.
So, just don’t lose touch
Let’s be real: you lead a privileged life. Some women who let themselves feel ashamed of this will try to make their lives and issues seem bigger and more important, so as to not feel ashamed. They’ll make it a huge deal when their personal trainer cancels so that they can feel important things go on in their lives. Don’t do that. You don’t need to do that. You can either be the unbearable woman berating the poor server because you got the wrong kind of white wine with your lunch, or you can be the pleasant, patient woman who appreciates the humor in the fact that that’s her biggest problem of the day, and you can be kind to the poor server, trying to support his three kids. Stay in touch with the real world: be that latter woman.