“A wife must always be beside the husband” is a very common and taken-for-granted idea in the patriarchal culture. Although this is considered quite obsolete in this era, moreover by feminists, I believe many people still adhere to it. Therefore, it is very easy to find a woman who gives up her job after getting married because her husband—who happens to work out of town, or out of island—asks her to be by his side.
Several weeks ago, a neighbour was seen here while in fact several months ago I heard that she moved to Kalimantan, to follow her husband who worked there. Her mother said, “She didn’t feel at home there. Not many things could she do so she easily felt bored.”
“How could she say she felt bored? She had an honourable duty there, to accompany her husband!” This was my mother’s comment. FYI, my mother was taken to Semarang by my dad five days after they got married in 1962. Despite the fact they were cousins, they barely knew each other. I once told her that she was very lucky because my dad was a very good man so that she was really in the ”right hands” after she was taken away from her loving parents. That’s why it is understandable if she completely agrees with the aforementioned idea, “a wife must always be beside the husband.”
To respond her comment above, I asked whether that neighbour of ours worked before she moved to Kalimantan. She did. So, it was very easy to know why she was bored in the somewhat isolated area. She was accustomed to being busy working, and suddenly she was forced to be idle. Not all women were born to have a housewife instinct, I suppose, so it must be understood if some of them could not find enjoyment being a “Stepford Wife”, who feels excited to do all household chores and become the best servant for the husband and children, as well as become submissive.
Perhaps that neighbour of mine could not get enjoyment being a Stepford wife.
The second reason was it was hard for women who used to work and get her own money and suddenly she became financially dependent. This would be worse if the husband were stingy, calculating money he gives the wife every month and does not really believe in the way the wife manages the money.
Agreeing with what I said, my mom then cited an example. In one community she joins, (she mostly joins religious groups, besides some gatherings in the neighbourhood), several months ago the members planned to have a uniform. However, when discussing the cost of the uniform to make, one of the members desperately said, “It is difficult for me to make it. It depends on my husband’s generosity, because the money is his. He usually doesn’t agree if I want to buy new clothes.” The woman used to work. She stopped working after getting married because her husband asked her to be a full housewife.
I remembered the first wife of my brother. When they got married, she worked as a cashier in one bank. For that, she often went home late, around 9pm while my brother arrived home at 5pm the latest. After the bank got bankrupt, she became a full housewife. She didn’t look for another job because she said she wanted to focus on trying having a baby. I believe it was not my brother’s idea but hers due to Indonesian culture that adores having kids in a marriage. Some time after that, my brother opened a “playstation” rental. She seemed happy when counting the money she got on one day, and said to me, “I used to work and have my own money. After being laid off, I often felt depressed because I didn’t make my own money. The money I get everyday from this small business really makes me happy although only a little.”
Despite the fact she suffered from a physical disease, I sometimes thought that the depression she had by being a full housewife and coveting to have a baby helped “kill” her in 2004. My brother married her in 1992.
I think the two reasons aforementioned were enough to make my neighbour go back to her hometown. Moreover after knowing the possibility of the quiet and not enough entertainment in the city where her husband lives, one perhaps had better understand why a woman chooses to leave her husband and decides to have a long distance marriage.
I reminded my mom that she had a different background. She used to be very young when marrying my dad. She didn’t have any experience to earn her own money. Besides, she belongs to a ‘housewife type’ so she found enjoyment to do household chores. And the most important thing is: everything changes. The era has changed too.
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