Do you remember the feminist essay, “I Want a Wife” by Judy Syfers? Ms. Magazine published it in their inaugural issue back in 1971, and it’s been required reading in Women’s Studies classes ever since. I read it in Sisterhood is Powerful and thought it was pretty funny in 1978. I thank the generation before me who did the heavy lifting for the privilege of finding humor in feminism.
When Steve and I married in 1979, we hyphenated our names, committed ourselves to an equal partnership and raised two kick-ass daughters. Our marriage has its traditional moments (he mows the lawns, I buy the birthday gifts), but we’ve shared parenting, housework and our business as equals. I’ve always worked outside the home, and during the past 35 years, I have, indeed, wished for an extra wife. We did have awesome babysitters from the local university, and when they went home, my strategy was simply to lower my standards for housecleaning and baking from scratch (I don’t). Somehow we muddled through brilliantly.
Equality is hard work. It was our choice, and I can’t imagine making a different one. But we’re ready for a change. We don’t want to give up the equality part, just some of the responsibility. We made this decision last night, over dinner and a bottle of wine, so you know we’re serious.
We’d like a husband. That’s both of us, and we don’t think it’s too much to ask. Because we’re feminists, our husband can be male or female. We just have one important request.
We’d like a rich husband.
One who will ask us both to stay home and occupy ourselves with hobbies, like writing, painting, and gardening, while s/he is busy securing our financial freedom. We’ve discussed the merits of a spare husband vs. a spare wife, and we think at this point in our lives, a traditional husband would be little more useful than a traditional wife, because neither of us mind cooking, or even cleaning. Our daughters are grown and gone, and now we’d like to be engaged and productive, but not stressed and over-scheduled. We think a wealthy husband is a fabulous solution.
To show our gratitude, we will wake early, fix fresh ground coffee, and send our husband off with good wishes for a stellar and successful day. Steve and I will take turns, so we can bicycle and walk in the mornings. Once our husband is out the door, we’ll alternate planning the evening meals before we meet our friends for coffee and fascinating conversation. We will show up for our meaningful volunteer commitments and have time for our creative pursuits. We’ll also check in with our neighbors, friends and relatives who might need an errand or just a little company. Since our husband is very successful, I suspect s/he won’t be home much, which is fine with us, since we have each other for company. If an after work martini and some patient listening is required, I can stir and nod with the best of them. It’s a fair trade, as long as I can get back to my other activities quickly. I’m willing to give up a half hour a day, I think.
Steve’s request is that his husband take care of any plumbing and electrical issues around the house, pay the bills, and deal with our cars and automatic sprinklers (that aren’t always automatic). He is happy to maintain the vegetable garden, but would like his husband to trim the trees, mow the lawn and take the trash out (and also do the runs to the dump when needed). He’d also like his husband to make wise investment decisions for our retirement and pay off our daughters’ college loans. One last request, clean the garage. Also, pack the car before every trip, and do the late night driving.
My request for my second husband is to simply do what Steve desires. I am feminist enough to ask for what I want … and what I want right now is for someone to take care of our financial needs, so we can take care of our life.
It’s been pointed out to me that my scheme might be unrealistic–that a rich husband probably isn’t in the same body as a handyman husband. I disagree. I believe there is a very special, very rich, generous, handy, and self-reliant (you know, in THAT way) husband out there, who would like a delightful, creative and fun-loving (but not in THAT way) couple to support.
You know where to find us. Also, we’re an equal opportunity employer.
P.S. The agreement need not last more than 7 years. We’re cool after 65, and can easily replace the extra husband with our retirement savings, which we have BOTH worked very hard for, for a very long time.