I definitely do not receive a ‘wife bonus’.

I read this article in the New York Times, and couldn’t really stop thinking about it, so of course that means I need to blog about it.

In case you don’t want to read the entire article (although I think you should, because it’s pretty interesting), the writer of the article says that she lives on the Upper East Side in New York City and she says that she was shocked to find out that some of the stay-at-home moms there receive a ‘wife bonus’ (of sorts) from their husbands. Evidently this bonus is based on how much the husband earned during the year and also how well the wife ‘performed’ during the year. This writer/anthropologist goes on to discuss how the wives/mothers in this scenario are culturally disempowered and dependent.

Being a stay at home mom myself (for now, at least), makes me defensive about the importance I have in the world and even in my family. Although I do not earn an income right now doesn’t mean I’m powerless in my marriage. I do not get an allowance and I do not get a bonus from my husband. Instead, I have access to joint bank accounts and make financial decisions together with Tim. Neither of us has financial power over the other person and I don’t think I’m less important because I don’t receive a consistent paycheck. My work (in the home) is valuable, too.

Have you heard of a 'wife bonus'?

I don’t understand how anyone thrives in a marriage in which the power isn’t equal in every aspect, including financially. And if the power is equal in marriage, how would it not be in society as a whole? If we support one another to excel in the areas of life we’re responsible for, everything can work efficiently and effectively. Of course, I know this is a ‘perfect’ scenario and life is far from perfect, but I don’t think that necessarily means we need to give up on the ideal.

As his wife, I plan on supporting Tim as much as I can in life – including in his career. Right now, me staying at home is the best solution for our family. If Tim wants me to go back to work and it proves to be what is best for my family, I’m willing to do that, too. I am fully confident that Tim also intends to support me however he can.

Although the author of the article may think otherwise, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I give away my skills (that I paid a university a lot of money to teach me) or that I sometimes prefer to socialize with wives and mothers away from our husbands. I realize that I’m dependent on my husband financially, but he is dependent on me as his wife and the mother of his child. We are both irreplaceable in our respective roles.

Or actually, maybe some of these things do disempower me and I just don’t care as much as I should. There are better things in life than being powerful, right? We are all uniquely made by God with different gifts and I am happy to use mine to the best of my ability, even if it does not necessarily make me the most ‘powerful’ member of society.

I absolutely believe in equality, make no mistake about it. I believe in equality in marriage and in the workplace and in society as a whole. I believe we should do as much as we can to empower each other to be the best in our positions, no matter what those may be.

So no, I do not receive a ‘wife bonus’. I would never have married a man who thought it was appropriate to withhold money from me, making a ‘bonus’ an option, and I hope to raise Clara to not accept that sort of marriage inequality, either. But I won’t look down on her if she decides to stay at home, as I know that stay at home moms are important and powerful forces who shape minds and families and who also support men to be the best that they can be. I hope and pray that she picks a husband who, like her dad, cherishes his wife to be the best in everything that she does, too.

Have you read the article? What are your thoughts on it?

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23 Responses to I definitely do not receive a ‘wife bonus’.

  1. Neely says:

    I read this article as well. I work from home and in turn tend to do most of the household duties: grocery shopping, cleaning, meal prep, laundry etc. I would never think that Andrew needed to give me a bonus for how well I performed.

    • Lisa says:

      Let’s be honest, if I needed to ‘earn’ a bonus, I wouldn’t be getting any extra money! I think it’s important to do household things for the FAMILY, not to make someone happy so they give you a bonus. Ughhh I could rant about this for a while!

  2. I read the article too. It’s honestly pretty disgusting to me. A marriage should not be a business arrangement where you participate and work hard in order to gain something monetary. It’s hard for me to relate to the women in the article.

    • Lisa says:

      I completely agree. Part of me can relate to the women in the article in terms of wanting to be great moms and contribute to society (volunteering) with different organizations. However, I don’t understand these intelligent, strong women putting themselves into a position in which they need their husbands to ‘gift’ them money.

  3. “We are both irreplaceable in our respective roles.” Best one-liner and summary EVER. It’s truly astonishing to me the way people function and treat each other in our “modern” society. Just blows my mind. Really says something about how “power” (or the feelings we associate with “power”) is everything for some people.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks, Natalie! I agree with you – people truly amaze me and I can’t believe some relationships/marriages function as they do! I don’t think marriage is about proving our worth or earning anything (especially a bonus), I think it should be about unconditional love and acceptance and above all – sharing as a partnership!

  4. Lisa C says:

    What. I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around the idea of an at-home spouse (regardless of gender) earning a bonus from the working spouse. I would slap my husband if he ever suggested such a thing. My thoughts on the marriage as a business arrangement idea:

    • Lisa says:

      Hahahaha PERFECT image! It describes my feelings about all of this stuff perfectly. Marriage is not about a power struggle with money used as a tool/pawn/bartering chip!

  5. Hannah says:

    Oh. My. Gosh. That article! I can’t even believe it! I can’t imagine being in that kind of a relationship. It’s frightening on so many levels. I need a cocktail to regroup after reading that. Yikes.

    • Lisa says:

      I mean, to each their own, but I sincerely hope that Clara never finds herself in that sort of relationship, and I’m glad that I also don’t accept that sort of treatment from Tim! And I fully support your cocktail decision 🙂

  6. Amberly says:

    Umm…. I have no words. I understand having an allotted amount of spending money based on household income, but not one that’s dependent on performance….

    • Lisa says:

      Let’s be honest, if I was going to get awarded a ‘bonus’ based on performance, I probably wouldn’t be making much extra money.. haha!

      • Amberly says:

        Hahaha, whatever, you do lots!! I wouldn’t make much at the moment 😉 Although I have been rocking the house projects and keeping the house clean this week, so maybe.. 😉

  7. Jordyn says:

    I think if a couple decides that one person will stay at home that as a unit they both should decide on financial decisions and budgets. I cannot ever imagine being a stay at home mom but as a nanny I can see how being a stay at home mom is hard work! in a healthy respectful marriage I do not believe money should be used as a power tool with allowances and bonuses but sadly I can see how it can easily become warped when one person does not have an income (not that I am saying that makes it fair or right).

    • Lisa says:

      Oh being a SAHM is the hardest role I’ve ever taken on, for sure. And I think you said it so well, that money should not be used as a tool in the balance of power in a relationship – it’s so unhealthy for a marriage to have that sort of inequality.

  8. stephanie says:

    um… a WIFE BONUS? what!? that makes it sound like you’re an employee!! whaaaat. my mind is literally blown. in general it’s a shame that our culture sees being a stay-at-home mom/wife as some sort of leech option.. ESPECIALLY if raising kids are involved. you are literally RAISING A HUMAN BEING! that is SO MUCH WORK. maybe a bonus in that you get a day to be yourself and not a mom because your husband sends you off with friends, but not in the form of a check and a “good job.” messed!

    • Lisa says:

      Right?! Let’s be honest, if the ‘bonus’ was performance based, I probably wouldn’t be getting one – haha! But it’s so true, I think our culture sees SAHMs as lazy or entitled or something, but staying at home is difficult and necessary – someone needs to take care of children!

  9. A wife bonus??? The whole idea seems so foreign to me! I’m so glad my parents (and my husband’s parents) lived their lives equal to each other, although assuming different roles. It makes me sad when our society at large seems to put more value on a person’s paycheque than on their life’s work. Every now and again I ask my husband if he still thinks it’s a good idea for me to be at home and he always gives the same answer – that what I do at home is one of the greatest things I could be doing for our family. (I should clarify that I agree with him. I just think it doesn’t hurt to ask every now and again.) I know that if I wanted to and it was best for our family, he would support me going back to work too.

  10. Oh my goodness. The ‘wife bonus’ idea makes me so mad! One of the counselors we went to for pre-marital counseling recommended the book “Man of Steel and Velvet” for my husband to read and one of the first things it talked about was giving your wife an allowance and ruling the family with your financial power. Needless to say, the hubby did not finish the book. And I think he threw it away. I think the book was written a long time ago and I really liked that counselor so I’ve often wondered if he ever really read the book or if he had within the last 20 years anyway. Right now, I actually make more money than my husband because he is still in grad school. But that doesn’t mean anything. Our bank account is full of OUR money! Not his or mine. We are equal in this respect and in every other way!

  11. Susannah says:

    WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??! I’m seriously flabbergasted by the idea of a “wife bonus!” I’m a sahm too but there’s no way my husband would even think of telling me how much money I can spend (unless we, as a couple, are needing to be saving for any reason). We talk about any big purchases and know what’s reasonable to spend on small purchases. Nate trusts me, I trust him, and just because he’s making the money does not mean I’m not pulling my fair share of work too. Raising a baby is HARD! Nate and I are a team and our finances reflect that.

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