July 21, 2006
July 21, 2006

Damaged Ego/Housewife Blues

A lay off, a spouse or parent who denigrates, or unfulfilling life styles which disrupt aspects of ones sense of self esteem may cause depression, feelings of abandonment, frustration and anger which compute to fracture a couple into unhealthy separate halves. From time to time the Traditional role which is still in a small segment of our population causes some stay at home Moms to develop damaged egos. The isolation of having no intellectual adult stimulation likens the home to solitary confinement in a “golden prison”. The beautiful home that the husband is exhausting himself to provide then becomes a matter of overwhelming guilt for her by being resentful of his absence which is now added to a trapped feeling in a cocoon of total confinement. Even if the women can have telephone conversations or drive to a friend’s house she is never released from the obligation of watching the children who constantly interrupt every sentence so that conversation becomes discouraging and disjointed with resulting frustration and and a reactive disorganization (i.e. the house might represent the mess the mind is feeling.) Think about how annoyed one can become when the cell phone continually cuts off words and sentences until you forget what you were imparting.

Frequently these dedicated mothers are semiretired professionals. The retirement aspect is a ludicrous fallacy. Children require twenty four hours attention in the first year of their lives. A woman who slept deeply through the night now as a mother sleeps lightly, ready to spring into action should there be any signs of potential trouble. Exhausted from her vigil she must still be on call for feedings and all the requirements of housekeeping, homemaking, (and since lovemaking is with one ear on the nursery, it unfortunately begins to become an obligation also). Often her husband is attempting to create an improved material lifestyle that demands that he be employed for a double shift of work. The wife feels overwhelmed as does the husband and the couple drifts apart with resentment and anger brewing that neither appears to appreciate the validity and commitment to each other as a family unit. The woman feels guilty because she is aware of her husband’s efforts, but only knows that she is feeling lost, angry and unheard. Both are exhausted and act as if they were two small children, lost in the dark woods, clawing at each other out of fear and helplessness.

There is also a subliminal reaction to being a Traditional housewife which starts with the Protestant work ethic. When our forefathers arrived in America the gospel taught that it was Godly to work hard. Working hard brought prosperity. Prosperity became part of the message and the meaning became a non verbalized cultural mores that if you are Godly you have earned money. Therefore, if you do not directly bring home a paycheck you are worthless. This is a powerful put down that damages a women’s ego. If she tries to identify her need to be employed outside the home the man discourages her with remarks such as: “We don’t need the money. I make enough. I want my wife to be there for the children. All the money you make will go for nursery school, baby-sitting, etc. The IRS will tax us in a higher income bracket so that we will owe the government more if you work. It does not make sense.” These remarks further the woman’s perception that she is worthless, stupid, and a drag on the couple. Moreover men sometimes create a Catch 22 situation by comments such as; ”We need money. If you could contribute there would be money for your needs.” as he spends large amounts, without discussing his purchases with his wife, on his cars, motorcycle, new T.V. etc.

Just how much is self esteem worth? Without it one becomes hopeless, helpless, depressed and often motivation is lost to do daily obligations such as: taking care of the house, the family, and eventually even the children can become neglected. There is a simple solution: agree to have the wife find paid outside employment. Children sense tension and depression. They will be happier if the parents are content. Find a reliable baby-sitter or nursery school that will allow the child socialization at their age level besides the benefits of advancing the proper education of the little one.