Feature 09.01.2021 7 minutes

So You Want a Tradwife

Young pin-up housewife posing

Practical tips for finding what you really seek.

All over the Internet, I see people critiquing the idea of “tradwives”: they critique the women who play that role, and the men who want a woman who plays that role. But it’s very rare that I see people who actually identify as tradwives, and even rarer still that I see someone who professes to want a tradwife.

I see people claiming they want a “good girl,” for lack of better terminology. And I see women who want to rebel against hook-up culture or dating apps, who are dating to marry. Not so many self-professed tradwives or trad-husbands, for that matter. What do people want, then?

My suspicion is that many people dream of a partner who hasn’t been jaded by a debauched romantic life, male or female. Someone whom they can trust to be faithful, someone who loves them wholly, who marries for love. I also suspect that this population values family over career, experience, or money—values that naturally lend themselves to more traditional gender roles. A wife and mother who tends to the home, a father who is a breadwinner and protector.

When described in these explicit terms, this desire can sound cold and detached. But that is how the Internet, and Twitter in particular, often forces people to talk about their hopes and dreams. It can sound like just another iteration of the market dynamics that people are claiming to want to break away from. The biggest critics of The TradWife sound like writers from the 1990s, scorning people for trying to live their lives off a checklist borrowed from a self-help book—except in this case, the self-help book is Twitter. Love is messy and unpredictable, they might argue, and besides, there just aren’t women like that. Saliently, they’ll also point out, there aren’t men like that anymore.

Sometimes the critique is plenty justified. I’ve seen the rare person opine about how they wish they could just pluck a good Christian girl from a wheat field somewhere, either Eastern Europe or Middle America. And they imagine that mysteriously, they’ll also be compatible with this girl, who cooks and cleans and defers to her husband as head of the house, and because she hasn’t been corrupted by girlbossery or third wave feminism or TikTok, it’ll be all well and good.

I don’t think that wanting a wife who cooks or cleans or who even just plain shares your values is a bad thing. The number one predictor for long-term relationship success is shared values. If that’s what you genuinely believe and what you genuinely want, then that’s what you want, and a person who also wants that is your best bet. It’s okay to follow your intuition there.

But I do think the critics are right that there’s something misguided or dysfunctional about pining after an imaginary woman who adheres to a value system so foreign to those in your immediate environment that you need to lay it out explicitly and hope it will materialize out of thin air. This isn’t a judgment on the desire itself. Rather, it’s an admission that you’re going to need to take some additional steps if that’s what you’re looking for.

 Brass Tacks

The short answer to “How do I find a wife?” for people who want a tradwife proper, is: join online communities (yes, like Twitter) where these people hang out; move to a country or region where theirs is the dominant value system; do whatever you can to assimilate and prove yourself worthy of being a high-value mate (which will vary from land to land), or convert to a faith (if you aren’t part of one already) where such values are actively encouraged.

Otherwise, good luck just hoping you organically run into one, especially in the United States. It might happen, but the odds aren’t in your favor.

I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, though. I don’t think when people wonder “Where have all the good women (or men) gone?” they literally mean they want some caricature of a good spouse ripped from a 1950s advert or the idle musing of a grandparent. I think that the critique is a way to minimize feelings of disenfranchisement with modern dating, which is plenty fair. Edge cases aside, the average person is just sick of the rigmarole of how things are: dating as an experience, instead of as a shared journey toward marriage, and eventually, a family.

So, what’s a person to do if all they have at their disposal are dating apps and some patience? Here is some very general advice:

1) Be up-front about what you want and who you are. Yes, in plain English, and yes, right on dating apps. Even if it feels silly. In fact, if it feels silly, that’s great—it’s a filter. It should also go without saying that you yourself know what your non-negotiables are.

I think some people worry that this is tantamount to proposing on the first date, but trust me, it’s not. You’re not saying, “I want to marry you, specifically, reader.” It’s the same principle as people who say they’re not looking for anything serious. If you are, be honest about that. You might also want to be aware of euphemisms in other people’s profiles, like “open-minded.” That usually is gesturing toward open relationships or the fetish community.

You have goals, just like everyone else—state them. It does no good to hide what you’re after and disappoint yourself and others down the line.

2) Two important points that will seem contradictory: don’t pursue people your gut warns you against, and give people a chance. Don’t try to change people who you know from the jump don’t share your values. People do change. But that kind of change needs to come from within or it’s not going to stick. Real self-reform is no guarantee with anyone.

On the other hand, though, give people a chance. I see way too many people forgo second or third dates f0r what feel like Seinfeld-tier shallow reasons. You don’t really see people’s true colors until the third or fourth date, so give them an opportunity to open up to you in that capacity. The first and second date, you’re nervous, you’re wearing a mask. By the third date, you’ve warmed up to the person and you can get a better idea of their character.

3) Put physical attraction in perspective, but don’t pretend it’s not a thing. I suspect a large number of frustrated trad-seekers are so frustrated because they fear or experience a mismatch between their standards for physical attractiveness and the trad pool. This needs to be confronted honestly: the sad reality is that millions and millions of the more physically attractive people aren’t looking for a traditional lifestyle and will never be.

On the other hand, you can’t force someone to adhere to a value system that doesn’t feel organic to them—you might be able to temporarily, but it ultimately breeds resentment. This shouldn’t be confused with “people can’t change.” There are countless examples of women and men alike who’ve changed their ways. The important part here is that change came from within, of their own volition.

The upside is that often these discrepancies between physical and spiritual beauty often come down to mutable forces: physical fitness, clothing choice, and grooming habits. And these are available to everyone. Never sacrifice your values for your looks—looks fade, looks evolve, looks change. But values are much more static.

4) Adhere to your own values. Let’s not mince words here: I hear a lot of people say that they value chastity and then do casual hook-ups. I’m not passing judgment on casual hook-ups. I am saying that if chastity is something you want in your partner, walk the walk. This is another good filter: it’s a good sign if they respect and share your boundary.

5) Pay attention to red flags. You’ve made it this far. You’re three dates in, maybe you’re exclusive. Here are just a few red flags to be aware of:

  • If someone isn’t respecting your boundaries in the beginning, they aren’t going to later on in the relationship. You hear this advice given to women all the time, so let’s talk about a hypothetical germane to men. If your girlfriend or date makes jokes at the expense of your masculinity and it offends you, even if they’re just jokes, and she doesn’t stop when you tell her to? That’s not respecting your boundaries. This advice goes for both genders and is vitally important.
  • People who are ready to commit are ready now. If your M.O. is marriage, don’t let people waste your time. No means no, maybe means no, yes means yes. This is especially true of men, but it’s also true of women! Don’t give women a chance to play mind games with you or put you on the backburner. Be ready to end things.
  • Everyone moves at his or her own pace (some of the happiest marriages I know of happened after two months and no engagement period), but beware of love-bombing. Yeah, it’s one of these buzzwords you’re going to see in places like Teen Vogue, but it’s very real, and it can cause a lot of broken hearts in both genders.

“Love-bombing” is exactly what it sounds like: when someone showers you with affection, then pulls away. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they don’t. So how do you know if someone’s moving quickly or if they’re love-bombing you? The easiest way is to make sure their actions match their words. Saying “I see a future with you,” is not enough. Are they doing things to lock in that future?

There are more, but that’s a primer. I know a lot of you are going to have the most trouble at the top of the funnel, but unfortunately, that’s a much harder nut to crack. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s impossible to do in a very general way. It’s case-by-case. It’ll change depending on your geography, your appearance, your age, your faith.

It’s a frustrating answer, but unfortunately, that’s the God’s honest truth.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

Suggested reading from the editors

to the newsletter