Tiffany Willis wakes up every morning between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the Southfield home she shares with her husband of six years.
There is no chatter of children getting ready for school.
There is no job waiting for her to punch in.
Instead, she gets up to hang out with her husband, Lamar Willis, and to do everything to meet his every daily need. She has prepared his lunch the night before and laid out his clothes, "so when he gets up to start his day, he can just kind of operate,” she said.
The two chat while he puts on the pants and button-down shirt that she neatly pressed for him the day before. They joke around as she makes his coffee and sends him out the door.
After he leaves for work, Tiffany Willis spends time meditating before doing her daily household “chores.”
But she has to finish by 2 p.m., she said, because that is when it is time for her to prepare her home for her husband to re-enter once he gets off work.
“Either I’m baking something for him, or filling our home with some sort of good scent for him to come home to,” she said.
Willis, 36, is a housewife. In fact, she says, she is a proud housewife. And she said she understands that her path is not for everyone and that some people cringe at the word housewife and the June Cleaver images of subservience that it can conjure up for many women today. In fact, she says, she frequently gets pushback on her social media pages from other women — and even some men — accusing her of supporting misogyny as a woman and of erasing the progress women have made over the decades.
But Tiffany Willis pushes back — not in an offensive way — that what she is trying to do is not set women back, she is trying to prop them up. And she does this through her online Wifestyle Academy where she seeks to teach women not only to take care of their relationship, but how to tap into their "feminine energy," what she describe as the calming, peaceful presence in women that makes them appealing, alluring, nurturing and powerful.
At The Wifestyle Academy, Tiffany says she focuses on helping women to find their voice with her six-week Feminine But Firm: Setting Boundaries Like a Lady, digital course. After they are able to find their voice, she said, a woman can better advocate for what she wants and needs.
“It just bugs me when women don't feel empowered to advocate for themselves,” she says. “And contrary to one’s belief, housewifery gives a woman the power to really advocate for themselves. But they have to see themselves as valuable first, and then they have to protect that value.”
Dr. Rose Moten, a clinical psychiatrist, life transformation coach and founder of the BLOOM Transformation Center, in Detroit, says the idea of women staying in the home and the man bringing home the bacon is a rarity today as opposed to our grandparents generation. And she said it's especially true given that, statistically, Black women tend to have higher rates of attaining college degrees than Black men.
“There are many women who are just, they are not hard wired to want to be a housewife” Moten, a mom of four, says. “They have lots of contributions that they want to give to the world.”
Reflecting on when she was married to her children’s father, Moten said she enjoyed her time away from the home when she was working. In fact, she says, for her, she felt as if it was more work to do inside the home than outside the home. So, being able to work outside the home, for her, is important.
“That's a 24/7 job that's oftentimes not appreciated with the amount of work that you have to put in and running a household.”
But, according to 44-year-old Tamara Anderson, “Everyone needs a Tiffany in their life.” Anderson says that she took the Feminine But Firm course in April because she believed in what Tiffany was teaching and speaking over her social media pages.
“I had done the opposite," Anderson, who is a divorced mom, said. “So with me doing the opposite, I knew that what she was saying was true.”
Anderson said Tiffany’s course breathed life back into her and helped her to be okay with speaking up for herself. She says after losing her voice in her marriage, and getting mentally and emotionally “beat up” in a relationship before her marriage because she wanted to end things, Tiffany Willis helped her to understand that she has to honor her voice.
“It got so bad that I became a professional ghoster” Anderson said laughing. “If you look up the word 'ghosting' my face was painted right next to it … and so yes, I was like the person that if I didn’t like something that someone did or said, I would just not say anything and just be mad.”
What Tiffany Willis is teaching, according to a recent Pew study, is part of a rise in stay-at-home moms vs moms that work outside the home, where Black moms came in third compared to other races. White women were the least likely to stay at home, while Hispanic women came in second and Asians women came in first. The study shows that many factors play into why Hispanics and Asians come in at the top for women who stay in the house instead of working outside of the home. A main factor, the research says, is that many of these women are immigrants.
While Tiffany and her husband do not have children, she says they are actively trying to conceive and have been for some time now. When the couple does become parents, Tiffany Willis said she will continue to stay in the house and take care of the child.
Her choices may seem out of sync with many women, but they certainly jibe with husband and father Larry Blocker, who does not know Willis, but said he gets what she is trying to do.
Blocker, 67, said that he believes having a wife who takes care of home is a good thing because it helps to build stronger families.
“If you go back into the 60’s when I was born, it was more dads in the house,” Blocker said. “They were out there doing the heavy lifting, and the moms were taking care of (the children).. . And so that was always a better situation because Black women were able to nurture the kids and get them up and going so that they can know right from wrong.”
But it's not just about creating strong homes and families, it's about women claiming their voice. Tiffany says women have never been given permission to advocate for themselves. Aside from the grandparents and great-grandparents era, when women were considered feminine because they were quiet and home taking care of the house and children, Tiffany says women are not even comfortable advocating for themselves in the bedroom.
“Advocating for sexual needs is huge,” she says. “Empowering women to have a voice in their sexual likes and dislikes reduces the chances she will become a victim to what is supposed to be enjoyable for both parties.”
Moten agrees that women should feel empowered to advocate for themselves. She also believes that “this is not a one-size-fits-all remedy.”
“You (a woman) can have your voice, and you can advocate for yourself, and still be a BOSS, and/or work outside of the home … and it does not mean you are any less delicate or feminine because you decide housewifery is not for you.”
She also cautions about the dangers of dedicating one's life solely sole to taking care of a spouse.
In her book, "Bloom: 7 Steps to Personal Transformation," Moten — or Dr. Bloom as she also is known to some — discusses a former client who dedicated herself to taking care of her husband. The woman married a man who was into politics and shortly after they were married she became a housewife.
“He told her there was a certain look she has to have now and that she couldn’t wear her hair in the different ethnic hairstyles she wore before because her hairstyles need to represent the wife of a politician. And she became depressed,” Moten said.
Tiffany Willis said she is aware of such pitfalls, which is why: “When I walk women through those things that make them valuable,” she identifies the pieces of the woman that cannot be taken away and that should not be taken away.
Willis says when a woman finds herself abandoning those pieces “that make you, you,” they are giving up themselves, their voice and their power.
Forty-one-year-old Rondre Brooks, who has been engaged twice but never married and recently just ended a long-term relationship, says he would want his partner to do whatever makes her happy.
“I prefer for her to do the things that make her feel fulfilled," he said. “If that is work, work … I don’t play gender roles. If a woman enjoys cutting the grass, she can cut the grass.”
Brooks, who grew up on the eastside of Detroit and is a father and Realtor, said his mother was a stay-at-home wife and his dad made the money. It worked for them. But he does believe that the woman staying home and the man doing all the heavy lifting is the “old way of thinking.”
Blocker says his current wife stays at home. The two moved from Detroit to Houston together once Blocker retired a little over three years ago. He built her a salon in their home simply so she could have her own independence and because that's what she likes to do.
“She was working in Michigan, but when we came out here (Houston), I didn't really want her to do a lot of work,” he said. “But you know, most women, they want their own money and independence, so I set up a studio in the house for her to do hair in.”
Before she married Lamar, Tiffany said she dated and had to carry the brunt of everything for herself. One date, however, was the last straw.
“We were at the end of our date, everything was going fine. And then the check came. He was like, ‘So we're just gonna work this out 50/50, right?’ And I was like, 'Well, you, invited me out.' ” And she said she knew from there where she had gone wrong.
“It was my energy," she said. “I had just read out all my accomplishments to him, he said, and he felt I was okay with providing for myself because I basically had told him I could.”
Tiffany defines this energy as “masculine energy” and says many women today still move in that energy.
“Either she's been let down, or led astray like I was in the past, and now what we do is take the 'You know what, forget it, I’ll do it' approach, and that's not the right energy to move in.”
Anderson says she too has moved in that so-called "masculine energy" in her prior relationships. Today, after successfully completing The Wife Style Boundaries course, she said she still is healing from that place of where she was disappointed or let down by a past partner. But if she ever does get married again, she said, she hopes her husband will have the same mindset as Tiffany’s husband and Blocker. And in return, she will make sure her partner does not come home to "chaos."
“A Black man, in general, deals with so much when they leave the home, such as, if they will come home that night for dinner. So that's my job; that when he walks through that door, he's walking into his own little piece of heaven” she said.
A bliss of paradise is what Tiffany Willis says her husband comes home to every day. And, she said, it has made her a better woman by doing so. Along with the income she earns from The Wifestyle Academy, and her baking company, Willis Wife Bakes, she uses it she says to spoil her hubby.
“Aside from helping other women, I started the academy because I wanted to take my husband to Jamaica for his birthday. I celebrate my husband every chance I get” she said.
And on Saturday, Tiffany, is taking the American man made holiday: Sweetest Day — that was originally created by an employee from a Cleveland candy store in 1922 in an effort to bring happiness to the forgotten, and reserved today as the men's Valentine's Day by those who celebrate it — to honor her hubby, Lamar Willis, with a Detroit theme date night that starts with a massage earlier in the day from their monthly spa package that Lamar pays for.
“I became a housewife to simply take my power back,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Southfield housewife Tiffany Willis offers Wifestyle Academy