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The Traditional Wife to Single Mom Pipeline: What Does This Look Like?

by Danielle Wright

Traditional wives, or ‘trad-wives,’ are making a comeback, but the rules may be changing.

A traditional wife is a housewife who is married and stays home to raise the kids. It sounds appealing enough: the idea that as a woman, you do not need to go out and work because hubby is making all the money, and once he’s home, you can simply serve him and the children their dinner before bedtime. But what are traditional wives missing, and what is the path from traditional wife to single mom? It’s almost like a question of ‘would you rather?’


Would you rather be a housewife and be 100% dependent on your spouse for your and your children’s financial well-being, or would you like to contribute to the finances by working a job and allowing the kids to go to daycare or have a nanny? Both options, no matter how perfect your marriage is, can lead to single motherhood. Wives complain about their husbands not helping with the children after work, and for working moms, there is mom guilt and husbands feeling neglected, as well as the children.


But in only one of these scenarios can a traditional mom walk away with absolutely nothing, having to start from scratch at something 45 or even 50 years old. While traditional wives have grown in popularity, more women are insisting on prenuptial agreements where the man is responsible for paying both child support and alimony in the event of a split. Of course, there are some grey areas to this because if the spouse did not want or initiate the divorce, some states will require proper cause for the divorce which could result in a traditional wife walking away with nothing. Now, back to my question: which one would you rather?


THE TRADITIONAL WIFE ROLE

Many women are accustomed to a partnership where roles are often defined by societal norms, and while this can feel fulfilling at first, it can quickly become mundane. Also, prior to such agreements, you may not be taking into account that you could have a child with special needs that would require both parents to be attentive or an extra set of hands from a nanny, which will increase your monthly expenses.


Triggering events such as divorce, separation, bereavement, and abandonment can easily shift your traditional wife role. We see this often where one partner will initiate a divorce, and the other party was not privy to this. When it’s the woman who is left in the dark, she has to not only continue to put on a brave face for the children but also fight with her husband for resources to care for herself and the children if these things were not discussed prior. Aside from divorce, there is the act of abandonment, where one partner will leave without warning, leaving the woman to manage alone.


There is an emotional transition that one experiences when going from a traditional wife to a single mother—the most common being anger and resentment. But while it’s easy to be angry at your partner, there needs to be accountability for your inability to be wise enough to stash money for a rainy day—even if that day is divorce. Men are sometimes flaky, and their feelings can change at the drop of a hat.


THE RISE OF SIDE GIGS

We see the rise of trad wives utilizing platforms such as TikTok and YouTube to document their day-to-day lives and earn additional revenue for themselves and their families. This can be somewhat problematic if (a) your husband is insecure and starts to resent you for doing something as simple as using social media and earning more or even the same amount as him from his day-to-day job;


(b) the constant use of the camera—for example, having to set up the tripod and camera inside the house and then leaving the house to film—can cause great annoyance for many men, leading to fights or quarrels over the excessive use of social media. This is not as bad as you may think, but it’s a good idea to stash some of those funds away in the event that things start to go south and your husband begins to feel challenged by you and your new role.


Finances are still the number one leading cause of divorce in America. When you and your husband have agreed to a one-income household and he begins to feel challenged or as though he is losing control, he may act out and threaten divorce. This is especially true if he begins to feel like the children are being exploited or that your time and attention are slipping away from the duties you promised to prioritize.


In the beginning, it can seem fun to start a TikTok, and as your channel grows, it can become a lucrative venture. But make no mistake, it is a full-time commitment— it only looks easy, but it is not. Most men do not adapt well to change; they are creatures of habit and need to know that what you’ve said is what you’re going to do. Sudden changes in daily routines and activities can bring on trust and anger issues.


If your goal is to earn income so that you’re not left holding the bag at the end of your marriage, it’s best to be sure that both you and your husband are on the same page. Once you’ve established some sense of independence, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself because nothing in this life is guaranteed, not even a husband.

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