The Cost of a Wife

If I died Hagar couldn’t deploy. He would have to stop flying. We have two kids. He would be responsible for them. My mum died in 1974. I was 2 years old. My dad hadn’t insured her. He had insured himself to the hilt in case of his own death so that she wouldn’t go without but he had under-valued the impact of her role in the advent of her death. We have talked about this since. It wasn’t a malicious act. Maybe it was a reflection of the attitude at the time.

Her death was unexpected. It was sudden and tragic. He was left solely in charge of me. He had to sacrifice his blossoming career to raise me. He was working as a British Rail manager doing some type of operations role at the rail freight terminal in Anglesey, Holyhead. Not far from RAF Valley and not far from where Kate & Wills will be setting up home. (I hope she has more fun there then my mother did!) For a few years he was a single parent.

Not so long ago, I was having a cuppa with a milly wife, whose husband had deployed for six months and she said to me something along the lines of, ‘my other half doesn’t mind if I don’t work because it would cost £24,000 in childcare if I wasn’t around.’ I nearly choked on my brew! And the rest! It was then I started thinking about the cost of my replacement in the advent of my death, or severe disabling, (divorce doesn’t count) in order for Hagar to deploy for 6 months of the year, plus attend the exercises and also do the night flying, to deliver his life to the same standard that he experiences right now, he would require at least:

3 x full time qualified nannies (£30k p.a each)
1 x housekeeper (£275 per week – £13k p.a)
1 x part-time gardener (£2000k p.a)
1 x part-time personal assistant ( £100 per week – £4800 p.a)

Approx £109,000 p.a – which is considerably more than he earns.

(We don’t have the family back up that could step in and help either just in case you were thinking he could palm the kids off to his mother or mine. Mine is dead. His is too old to handle our two kids even now when we are both alive!)

In reality, he couldn’t even afford to hire me at my commercial rates as a freelance consultant. I make an expensive cup of tea. But the hard facts are that even though I am insured, if I was to die Hagar would have to give up flying and could no longer deploy. The taxpayer has invested in well over a £3 million pounds to keep Hagar operational and current so that he can deliver his role at the sharpest end of the pointiest bit of the conflict. Once you are father you have responsibilities to your children that are solely yours and the mothers’ of your children. It shouldn’t be under-estimated the value of the role the supporting parent gives to the service to enable the serving parents to deploy and fight for their country. I can only say what I see in my own home but Hagar loves his job. He wants to deploy and he wants to serve his country. It’s not for me to stop him and I support him without complaining. (I truly do!) But, honestly, I do think the partners are played lip service to, that we are an imbuggerance that has to be tolerated and the role they give is not wholly appreciated or the enormity of it is taken for granted.

Hagar doesn’t even see half the stuff that gets done in our house. In fact, he once made the mistake of arguing that he did 50% of the domestic chores.

‘Interesting!’ I thought.
‘I know’ I said, ‘I have an idea. You write down a list of all the jobs that need to be done and then put a percentage next to it indicating how the jobs are divvied up.’

Hagar was feeling pretty bullish at this point. He was fairly confident that he was going to prove his point and the status quo that he was aiming for would return. But alas, it was not to be so because the reality was when he formed the list and allocated his percentages to all the tasks that we have as a family unit, he omitted at least 50% of the jobs from the list because he didn’t even know that those jobs were being done in the first place!!

At the end of the day, would the tax payer be willing to bear the cost so the widowed father can deploy and they can get their return on investment? Err No! But it’s a crying shame that a woman has to die before her true value is appreciated!

I guess like Joni Mitchell sang in Big Yellow Taxi,
‘Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone.’

My Christmas wish is this, I wish that the world would stop taking women for granted.

NB: Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas so very few men are going to say ‘I agree. Yes, let me do more!’ And the battle continues on…….

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41 thoughts on “The Cost of a Wife

  1. I absolutely agree with you lover girl, and I am a man too! Like I have said before, every day I underestimate you, hopefully I will never ever have to realise just how much for myself…..xxx

    • Hi and welcome – thanks for commenting – yes, I agree I think women do forget too. I think everyone takes their mother for granted – I am sure I would have done if she had lived. But not letting that over shadow the fact that MANY MANY men do more so!! 😉

  2. My mother was a Marine and college professor; she enlisted in 1943 simply because her father said no, and after going back to work after 3 children, finished as the head of the English Dept at a local college – if I thought any other wsy, she’d reach down from heaven and give me a pinch!

  3. What an excellent post – and soooo true! I am married to a man who doesn’t give two thoughts to my true worth. He just sees that he earns more than I do, regardless that we work the same hours, and that somehow this therefore means he can palm off some of (read nearly all) of the menial “woman’s work” onto moi. Nuh-uh!!

    Sadly, he’s never going to change, so I am just going to have to exit stage left… there is only so much a woman can put up with after twenty-something years of this bollocks!! 😀

    Glad to see Hagar is not like said husband!

  4. Great post – thought provoking. How true that a mother’s/wife’s role is undervalued. But surely we are partly to blame. 40 years on from the Women’s Lib movement and most of us still try to do it all. Until we stop no one else will notice what is getting done x

    • Men are to blame. We are not to blame – we just haven’t found the key to unlock the solution yet. The Women’s Lib brought the debate to the forefront but just gave us more to do. It was one battle in a long war. We need to work smarter. Women need to unite and resolve this problem with our heads, not our emotions. The first problem is getting us to unite. Misogyny is rife even amongst women. In order for us to unite we need learn to support women we don’t like – that is sisterhood.

  5. Beautifully elucidated. Consider that the white male dominated culture in which we live as a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and not recognizing women’s true value.

  6. You missed out the uncalculateable (not a real word but can’t think of the right one!) of the emotional support women put into a house for all it’s inhabitants (incl the pets!) Great post C!

  7. A great post. So true, my man, bless him he really thinks he does loads but like you said, there is so much being done behind the scenes he doesn’t even know about it, doesn’t even know it needs to be done.
    In your case, given your hub’s job.
    Also given your own particular circumstances, it would make sense for a mechanism to be put in place by your husband’s *employer* to make sure, if anything did happen to you, that he would still be fully functional
    in his capacity of defending the realm.

  8. I love this post, you are spot on. The thing is, I think, if us women don’t value ourselves and see that the roles we fill *are* valuable, then how are the men going to see it? We need to stop trying to do everything, stop trying to be this 1950’s perfect housewife and start to see our marriages as partnerships where everybody has an equal role and responsibility.

    • Yes – I absolutely agree. It is a partnership. I think we all take women for granted – until we appreciate each other then it’s never going to change. This means, by the way, that you have to appreciate your own mother for everything she did for you!! OMG!!! Can you imagine that? I have it so easy with the get out of jail card – mine died.

    • Thanks hun – yes – tie them to the sofa and force read it! In fact – I do readings – we could gather all the men in community centres and force them to listen. In fact we should lure them there saying that they are all going to get free blow jobs and then when they turn up, lock the doors and read my post to them – and then shout ‘HA! Fooled you suckers!!”

  9. As a working single mum of a 3yo I totally hear you on this. Before I separated from my boy’s father, he would come home from work in the first few weeks after the baby was born and moan that the house wasn’t spotless. I ended up doing the same thing and for a whole day (and night) wrote down exactly what I did and how long it took. It ended up being 11 sides of A4 for one 24hour period. He was stunned! I recommend this action to any mother who’s OH just doesn’t understand what we’re up to while they are out at work. A brilliant post and so well written.

    MJM.

    • Thanks for the lovely comment – half the time they just want to whinge and don’t want to look. It’s always our fault – many men/women don’t realise that happiness is found within. It is not given to them by the actions of others. Single parenting is a tough gig! I hope he pays you! xxx

  10. I am in the unusual position of the boot being on the other foot so to speak – while I do look after the kids after school I’d say my husband does about 50% of the housework, also my daughters for reasons best known to themselves like to hoover, dust, scrub scum from shower, wash up etc etc although I’ve never even asked them to!! So I’m not really financially viable from the housework pov.

    It’s good that you have such a value on your head but if I have to boil down my value it would be as a stand up comedian, say Rosanne Barr quality, $2000 a gig!!! One thing I am good at is making people laugh.

    • Laughter is very important! I think we have already established what lured me into my domestic trap! You are obviously a better husband picker and lucky with the child rearing! I shall be popping over for the laughter and the in-house housekeeping! 😉

      • Well I think it came down to being brought up by a single mum so really I didn’t have a clue about men or dads or what most women put up with ie men who do nowt around the house etc. So when I got married I just assumed he’d do most of it and luckily he was the type who’d been trained by his mum to do housework, pay all the bills, do grocery shopping etc etc!

  11. Loved this article and I esp. loved Hagar’s comment to you! So sweet. And yes, I agree. Danny and I have often talked about how hard it would be on either one of us if we died. And so we both insured the crap out of each other just in case. It’s horrible to think about, but like you said, it is important to be prepared. I’m really sorry about your mom. No words can express that kind of loss. My heart goes out to you and your family.

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