The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female company employee in my 30s. I resent my close friends and mother-in-law as I’m angered by the presence of full-time housewives.
I worked hard to obtain my state qualification and earn a full-time job. I became financially independent so that I can keep my household running without being dependent on my husband, and I try to organize my life efficiently. For example, I cook a week’s worth of meals over the weekend and store them in the freezer.
On the other hand, I just can’t tolerate women who nonchalantly live their lives without even paying their national health insurance premiums or national pension premiums, just because their husbands are company employees. I find them unacceptable because they don’t pay a lot in taxes or try to organize their lives efficiently.
These days, it’s normal for women to work even after they get married. I’m sure all such women work really hard to secure their livelihoods.
When I think like this, however, I feel disturbed and tormented. How should I change the way I think so I can better tolerate full-time housewives?
K, Chiba Prefecture
Dear Ms. K:
I have never found fault with full-time housewives. I’ve also never viewed my homemaker friends from a financial perspective like you. This is because the unfairness you highlight is institutional in nature, and full-time housewives have nothing to do with it.
In a nutshell, housewives perpetual presence at home is in itself valuable. Some may measure the value of their work in terms of wages, but they get caught up in the same logic as yours by only considering money.
True value is often invisible, personal in nature and can’t be measured financially. I would often play the guitar and sing for fun during my childhood, but I never felt like doing this when my mother was not at home. It didn’t matter to me if she was in another room. Just knowing she was listening to my music made me feel like playing. This nourished my love of music and I ended up writing a book about music. I’m sure my father and siblings also had their own reasons for appreciating my mother’s presence at home.
I think your friends and mother-in-law also offer their families valuable moments that other people cannot properly understand. It’s wrong for outsiders to be judgmental. You must figure out the true reason for your resentment without misdirecting your angst.
Hazuki Saisho, writer
(from June 1, 2019, issue)