I love my job, but it’s not the only reason I go to work. There was a time when I gave serious consideration to not doing paid work anymore and becoming a housewife with the hopes of becoming a stay-at-home mom. It seemed like a great plan, but then my life fell apart. I became frightfully aware that I would have been in big trouble if I hadn’t had somewhere to go and was grateful to not have kids to support just then. There are lots of people out there who worry about what would happen to their families if they split off for any reason. I don’t want to ever need one again, but I know the importance of a back up plan.
I didn’t expect my life to fall apart the first time, so why be open to getting blindsided again? And there’s still the possibility of a whole lot of other things that doesn’t involve my marriage dissolving but does involve my husband not being able to work or financially contribute. He works on the same thing and we both want to be able to support ourselves individually at the same time as make for each other’s successes and failures. It just seems like good planning to us. This same idea liberates lots of people and not just to recklessly dissolve marriages. As substantiated in multiple ways in the The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family, it’s better for families to be cooperative than whole.
Whole families are great but not everyone can do that peacefully. Having the financial independence to leave a harmful relationship or even to curb the amount of control either party has in a relationship goes a long way to improving the environment that children are living in. It’s not like the possibilities of good work keeps all women from wanting to play a more traditional role. There are still plenty of housewives and stay-at-home moms, but should they get to choose to do it, as should that choice be extended to men. Not having this sort of work forced on you must also be liberating for the women and men who perform it. There’s also the nasty matter of the many families that never had a choice and the many families that still feel like they don’t have a choice as to whether or not a parent works.
Sometimes these families need mom and dad to work for there to be food on the table and not to work because child care is too expensive at other times. This isn’t a new concept, the women of low income and impoverished families have always had to work, despite what “traditional values” may seem like. There are lots of reasons why women work or must work. There is plenty to be gained from each adult in a household having financial independence. Personally, it helps get me up in the morning to know that any force under the sun that might remove my husband from my life won’t remove the only means of keeping the rest of my family fed, clothed or housed. Not being financially dependent on either of us also helps us both to not feel used, pressured, or overworked by any of our roles. That life seems to want to tear us down, it helps to have two plans and two incomes and two sets of aspirations, especially since when they don’t always work out at the same time. It may not be easy, but it works for us.
While this is not the case for all families, financial independence is something that is important to me and my family. Is it important to you?
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