Former 'Trad Wife' Issues Warning After Being A Submissive Wife Left Her Homeless And Divorced — 'A Man Is Not A Plan'

'Trad wife' influencers like Nara Smith and Ballerina Farm don't show the catastrophic way the trend can end.

trad wife Stokkete /

If you're active on social media, you've surely seen the "trad wife" trend all over your feed. One woman used to live that life, and she's now sounding alarms that the trend is more insidious than it appears.

The mom is warning about the 'trad wife' trend after 24 years as a submissive Christian wife.

The "trad wife" trend, abbreviated slang for "traditional wife," has exploded in popularity in recent months, especially on TikTok. Women identifying as "trad wives" extol the virtues of old-fashioned and traditional gender roles and call for women to serve and submit to their husbands. Many also explicitly denounce feminism in the process.


What began as women playfully sharing an enthusiasm for the retro aesthetics of 1950s domesticity has since merged with religious and far-right political movements to transform into a trend that often feels like thinly veiled misogynistic religious and right-wing propaganda — if it's even veiled at all.

RELATED: Self-Described 'Trad Wife' Did Things The Old-Fashioned Way And Nearly Ruined Her Marriage


"Trad wife" influencers often urge young women to turn away from having a career and to "liberate themselves" by giving over their autonomy and serving their husbands, often in the name of Jesus Christ.

The trend has particularly strong links to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which many "trad wife" influencers like Nara Smith — a model and 22-year-old pregnant mother of two who has become the trend's latest sensation — are members.

Smith, far more subtle than her more openly propagandistic peers, comes at the trend somewhat less directly, with slickly produced, obviously performative videos that show idyllic domestic scenes like making homemade Cocoa Puffs cereal from scratch while wearing a designer dress for whatever reason.



But like all "trad wife" videos, hers omit entirely all of the actual work of being a homemaker in favor of a glamorous — or dystopian and discomfitingly sterile, depending on your view — image of implacably perfect housewifery. They also omit the unspoken truth — if these women are truly living the way they urge others to, they are entirely, utterly at the mercy of their husbands.


Content creator Jennie Gage says she knows all of this far too well because she lived it as an LDS "trad wife" for 24 years. She also knows firsthand the catastrophic aftermath it can bring as she says her husband left her high and dry five years ago.

RELATED: Stay-At-Home Mom Claims She's Raising Her Daughter To Become A 'Traditional Wife' Who 'Depends On A Man'

She became a 'trad wife' because she was told it was her duty. She ended up losing everything to her abusive husband.

"If you are a young 14, 16, 21-year-old girl, listen up," Gage said in a recent video, going on to describe how she had just finished a trip to the grocery store "and I've been sitting in my car crying ever since because I never have enough money. And why do I never have enough money?" she asked. "Because when I was a 19-year-old girl, I fell in love."



She then described how her "Mormon faith" told her she was "supposed to be a stay-at-home mom." She dropped out of college and became an entrepreneur, starting a windshield business — which quickly got handed over to her husband because she was told "women weren't supposed to work." 


She then started another business building custom homes with her family members, and this too, went to her husband, including all of the six-figure profits on the houses she built.

"I never got paid. I didn't have a salary, my name wasn't on it," she shared. "I literally worked for room and board." 

"I didn't even have a bank account," she added. "He would give me little envelopes of cash to go grocery shopping with."

When she divorced her husband due to his infidelity, she and her kids ended up homeless. She's still struggling five years later.

"I found myself divorced at age 44 just five years ago. And within just a few months, I was living in my car while he made about a quarter million dollars," Gage said. "He would eventually quit that job so that he wouldn't have to pay alimony and child support."


In a follow-up video, she explained that her husband was horribly abusive and that their marriage ended because she caught him picking up a 19-year-old sex worker. Nevertheless, she got almost nothing in their divorce, because she had no money for an attorney.

"I had a terrible divorce attorney," she said, "I put most of my attorney's fees on a credit card that I'm still paying off today."



RELATED: Divorce Attorney Says The Way A Husband Gave His Wife $250 For A Monthly Housecleaner Is 'Financial Abuse'


Gage's situation is far from uncommon. Statistically, women almost always get shafted during divorce proceedings, despite perceptions to the contrary. On top of that, a staggering proportion of alimony and child support arrangements go unpaid or are only paid partially. And women's income usually drops by an average of 20% after divorce, whereas men's increase by 30%. Divorced women's poverty rate is also nearly three times that of men on average.

For Gage, digging herself out has been a nightmare. She thought her business acumen would help her land a great job, but instead, she was "laughed at" as merely a stay-at-home mom with no skills, because her businesses were entirely her husband's. She ended up with a job making $11 an hour at a school.

"I lived in million dollar homes, I vacationed all over the world. I spent my summers in Hawaii. I could buy myself $500 jeans, diamond tennis bracelets," she said, describing all the trappings of a "trad wife" who let her husband take care of the money while she took care of him. "It never bothered me once that my financial security was dependent on that man being in love with me," she said. "I never realized that him liking me or not liking me or finding me sexy or attractive or interesting determined whether or not my children could eat."


She has one message for women falling for the 'trad wife' trend: 'A man is not a plan.'

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't wonder why — why I didn't have a backup plan," she said, going on to lament that nobody ever told her to get an education or to make sure her name was on her and her ex-husband's house and cars.

Name-checking Ballerina Farm, one of the "trad wife" trend's most popular influencers, Gage said, "You can be happy and rich and loving your life, like Ballerina Farm, until the guy walks out."

She shared that she gets messages every day from women in situations just like hers. As such, the "trad wife" trend, and especially the evangelical Christian and LDS strain that has made it so popular, deeply disturbs her.

"I am so tired of living my own story. We have to make this stop," she said. "Raise your daughters to be financially independent. Focus on their futures and educations … I wish that someone had done that for me."


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.