Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Urban Housewife and Proverbs 31

I was a bit bowled over by a blog post I stumbled upon. The blog itself seems like it has a lot of posts about conservative Christian homemaking that I would normally agree with, and I actually want to read more of her writing. However, the more I live abroad and gain perspective in housekeeping/family life, the more I realize that the suburban American Christian vision of a housewife isn't necessarily a universal ideal.

So with that little intro in mind, here is the situation. Someone wrote to this blogger (linked above) asking for advice on boredom and loneliness as a housewife. The blogger had a fairly-anonymous male reader write a response from a husband's viewpoint.

I guess my first issue is with the women who were supposedly commenting that they were bored. I can't even imagine having "nothing to do!" I can't imagine looking around a house that is already clean and wondering what to do next. Every once in a while I will hear a comment from a woman who took up a new hobby while at home with small children, or while they napped. Sure, I take time for a creative project, but if I waited until I did my "chores," I'd never have time for it. Throughout the post, the man discusses how wives can best use their "free time," and it's like he's writing in a foreign language. That might be just me, though.

I will say that boredom can also probably arise from being busy with something that isn't your favorite. I can definitely feel bored doing various tasks or even playing certain games with my kids. So in that case I agree that sometimes an attitude adjustment is needed.

However, I was a bit shocked by this man's harsh assessment of the "modern" woman:
"Whereas in decades and centuries past where the woman worked hard all day long at doing these types of beneficial household activities and ended up contributing so much more to the overall support of the household, nowadays, especially for the stay at home wife/mom, EVERYTHING is left to the husband to earn and provide for while the wives sit at home idle, suffering with loneliness and complaining that their husbands work too many hours."

I wonder what HIS wife would say to this? So we are all lazy, bored, and discontent? Or saved by modern conveniences from doing any actual work since beds make themselves these days? I'm sure we make an individual unwise choice or two during the day, but it's not the same as sitting around doing nothing.

Regarding loneliness, he says:
..."Your fellowship with the Lord and the sense of accomplishment that you will get from the constructive work will drive loneliness far from you and there will be other rewards for… time well spent.

Let’s face it ladies, 90% (or more) of the activities for women at the church INCLUDING women’s bible studies are just social events and are really just a WASTE of time."
What MY husband said: Andrei disagrees that "time with the Lord" is the only social interaction a person needs. Sometimes I feel lonely when Andrei has a lot of work to do and we can't sit around talking as much as we'd like. Spouses need to make time for each other, but prayer can be very helpful in easing loneliness. However, I've also heard the argument that females need each other for companionship so that we're not just waiting to dump all of our thoughts on our husband's ears. I wonder what a good balance would be. I'm able to be in touch with lots of friends and female relatives via Internet, and that's helpful as long as I budget my time and emotional energy wisely. I wonder how I would feel if I didn't have the Internet and was home all day with 2 kids (or none, or any number of kids) with no other interaction. Is fellowship with the Lord meant to be sufficient? And does physical work replace social interaction? I hope no husbands out there would deny their wives human contact!

As for women's "ministry events," it may be somewhat true about the social nature. However, Andrei's noted that the same is true of all church events...any church gathering can be just as gossipy and wasteful. But woman-to-woman ministry in a home setting can be beneficial. I'm surprised it wasn't mentioned here.

The other questions I came up with have to do with cultural context. As I tried to picture myself taking the advice suggested, I could pretty much cross a bunch of them off my list. Gardening? Nope. Sewing? I wish I knew how...but I doubt fabric is cheap anyway. Home-run business? See "lack of free time."

Seriously, though, I wonder how this would work in an urban environment. At first glance, it is more time-efficient to stay at home and even make purchases via delivery service. What does that really do for my productivity and overall well-being, though? I am not getting the physical activity I would in an agrarian environment. I work sluggishly and simply don't have the energy to "work" from dawn to dusk. I can't do heavy-lifting or certain repair jobs that might be done by women in other cultures. I also do not have the human interaction I would if I were outside gardening, visiting a market each day, etc. So I think it is important to keep all of those factors in mind and make adjustments where necessary!

Also, the blog advised not discussing Proverbs 31 with other women (including on the internet), since we can lead each other astray. So I guess I am being a bit rebellious here, but...my husband approves of my blog, even when the dishes aren't washed. ;)


  1. My grandmother used to say, "If you're bored, it's because you're bored with yourself" - so she didn't ever really want us to say that we were bored!

    (Bedtime now so I'll respond more later)

    PS If we ever come to St. Pete, or if you feel like venturing a bit farther for a visa trip, let's connect in person! :)

    1. Have you found any similar-themed blog posts from a (gasp?!) egalitarian perspective, or from missionary women? If not, maybe you can make your own post - or your husband can write a guest post! :)

      Anyway, with the culture differences, I've noticed that a lot with Pinterest ideas for lunches/snacks or outdoor activities or home organization tips....Even barring for the ingredients that you can't find here, some of those snacks/lunches would be looked on with a raised eyebrow here. My husband takes 3 sandwiches (or 6 батон-size sandwiches) to work every day - nothing else - and I'd imagine that kids do the same for school. Outdoor activities presume a private yard - our current yard is the size of a postage stamp, so they say - and stinkin' hot summers (which is the case for us maybe 2-3 weeks max). And we don't have as many clever inventions here as in America for home organizing or baby organizing (I really like my Skip Hop diaper changing pad with zipper pouches for wipes and diapers! Here you can just get the trifold pad).

      Anyway, all great ideas but you have to hit 10 different stores before finding what you want.

    2. All that rambling about "stuff" to say, there's definitely a culture bias!

    3. Regarding what your grandmother said, that is a good way to exhort without calling someone lazy. Maybe we even need to be called lazy, if it's true. But I found this man's comments quite rude and presumptive.

      Honestly, I hadn't looked for other viewpoints on other blogs because I wasn't really looking! I do read American blogs more even if I can identify more with Russian culture, or maybe just apartment life? Do you know of any blogs from more of an apartment-life perspective? It really does depend on the individual family, so I agree that your husband should have the final say and not some random person in the blogosphere.

      Kind of crazy when we realize our "Christian values" are really just our culture or family tradition talking.

      My husband is the opposite and doesn't consider a sandwich to be lunch, even though we do it when we're in a pinch. He'd prefer soup or a hot dish of some sort. And he'd rather wait all day than take a bag lunch.

  2. I've tended to only focus on the interior design and organization tips for apartments or small-scale living (considering that "small" for Americans is still on the medium-large end for Europeans). As far as outdoor activities and outings, I've just looked at the ideas and picked out the ones that work in our size yard (that to this point is the equivalent of an American patio, no grass) or within biking distance.

    Good point about "Christian values" - I think we (I) started realizing that when we were dating/engaged, but I'm still seeing it with political stuff in the US too.

    What happens if you make him a hot sandwich? Would he give you a weird look? haha

    1. Even that "Apartment Therapy" site doesn't quite work for Soviet floor plans, ha ha.

      Yes, for example, other cultures are sometimes more multi-generational while we focus on "leaving and cleaving" in U.S. marital counseling.

      We do hot sandwiches and he understands if we're out of soup or whatever. Sometimes he suggests it himself, it's just a slight violation of meal categories. And soup is for lunch, not dinner. Breakfast for dinner would be even weirder, but we've done pancakes on occasion.

  3. I am completely nauseated by the content and tone of that man's rant. ICK! If I had a choice between being married to him and never talking to another human being, I think I'd take the latter. What a jerk! I wonder if he's ever asked his wife if he could "do anything different or better". He'd get an earful if he asked me. Sorry, his attitude is repulsive to me. (Can you tell?)

    Granted, I work outside the home now, but I was at home for a few years and loved it. I agree that a person who is bored is bored with themselves (though I'd say - A person who is bored is BORING!)

    Maybe he also offends me when he says that women's activities at church are a waste of time. Really? Would he suggest that MEN'S activities at church are also a waste of time?

    What I would say to the woman who is bored at home, is that perhaps she is the kind of person who needs challenges. (I used to think that I'd like housekeeping better if someone came by and graded me once a week - I could have a little challenge going to get a better score each week." But, I don't see any reason why a housewife shouldn't have human companionship, or "do good in the world" by helping children or the elderly outside the home. Anyway, the whole post has my head spinning.

    I haven't felt this "contemporary and liberal" ever!

    1. Well, that got you going! :)

      I'm actually happy to be missing out on some of the more gossipy activities at church. But I think we need to be in fellowship to "sharpen" each other. I'm sure I've blogged about that before.

      I have so many ideas for decluttering and decorating. The problem is that I do those instead of the more mundane tasks. I just can't stop the creative urges. I don't know, I'm just a mess. But I'm not bored!

    2. Maybe because our parish is big, or possibly because I'm on staff, I seem to be spared the "gossipy" stuff. Praise God! I am in the most wonderful Faith-sharing group now. I think they keep me sane. LOVE these ladies.....and they do help me be a better wife and mother AND Christian!


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