One man’s view of Amish women

The same reader who shared with us about Ada the quiltmaker offers some impressions of Amish women in general:

How many never-married 60-something Amish women are out there?  The one I know has a very distinct individuality that I believe is due to her single status which has freed her to be the open, in-your-face sort of gal she is.  Not that Brownville is lacking strong-willed women who know how to rule the roost.  As Miriam proclaims in Amish: A Secret Life “I am the queen of this house” and there are many queens in Brownville homes.

I remember the trials and tribulations poor ol’ Rudy suffered at the hands of the women of his household because he could not properly engineer and construct a suitable clothes line.  The poor guy tried 5 or 6 variations only to have them not acceptable to his houseful of women folk.  Unfortunately, his best effort was obliterated by a tractor trailer truck delivering building supplies.  I told him this would be a terrific time to embrace electricity and quiet them down by getting a nice, big Maytag dryer and plugging it in.  If memory serves, I believe he was tempted to do so.

I have also noticed a very distinct and palpable tendency of Amish husbands to have a very healthy “respect”, for lack of a better word, for their mothers-in-law.  While in a matron’s presence, I have seen a roll of the eyes here, heard a virtually inaudible sigh there, with the ever present longsuffering nature of the Amish fellows shining through.  I may not understand much of their mutated German language but I can easily recognize a tongue lashing when I hear it.

As I have told my male friends, when you marry a woman it’s a buy one get one free special.  You don’t just marry a woman, you also marry her mother.  Don’t get me wrong, I have had two and dearly loved them both, but . . .

That said, I firmly believe the perception that Amish women are subservient and repressed is flawed when put in the context/setting of life in the Amish home.  True, the younger wives seem to be eternally, terminally and permanently pregnant, surrounded by hordes of barefoot toddlers while cradling a baby or two in their arms, but all the ones I know seem to be happy and well adjusted and very much the queen of the household.

What do you think?  Does this fit with your experience/impression of Amish women?

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    27 Comments

    1. Marvin Mohler

      Amish women

      Your term “eternally, terminally and permanently pregnant,” might be a tad bit exaggerated. Amish for the most part do have large families, however in most cases it is a blessing. We have a daughter in Berks Co. PA who has a family of 10 biological, 1 adopted & 1 foster children. It is a lovely family, but it sure helps for the daddy to be a good provider. They are not Amish, they are German Baptist.

      1. Pauline

        One Mans view of Amish women

        I agree it is unfair to say they are premantly pregnant and have hords of little ones around them. There are many that have spaced several years between their births. And we could say something about how well mannered their children are compared with some brats you see in public that are out of control.

        Not Amish

    2. Just goes to show how much they really are like everyone else ~ always going to have a little of everything. Cute post!

    3. Margaret

      The Amish women I knew when I lived in Kansas were more like the Proverbs 31 woman than anything else. They were confident, kind, loving, and very much in charge of whatever was in their care. Lovely women, who were always a joy to visit with!

    4. Anne

      Just have to say how hilarious this is….thanks for your perspective. We need these reminders that our Amish friends are just like us!

    5. That was an interesting post.

    6. Carolyn B

      Dear Secret Author, I would enjoy seeing one post dedicated to that 60 year old “old maid”. Very funny light-hearted post today. I look forward to others as you and Erik schedule them.

    7. Alice Mary

      Agree with Carolyn B.

      I, too, would like to hear more about the 60-something “single” woman.

      How different are the lives of “single” Amish women as compared to the more typical “married, with children” version? I’d like to know how many (percentage-wise) Amish women remain single past child-bearing years, and why, and what their usual “standing” in the community is. Are they “respected” more,or less, or doesn’t it matter (seems like it would)? Does it differ with Old Order any more than more “progressive” Amish?

      You truly caught my eye and piqued my interest with this post (especially since I’m now “60-something” myself)!

      Alice Mary

      1. Amish single women

        Good questions Alice Mary, with longer answers needed…for now the short version–the “optimum state” is married with children, so Amish singles do sit further down the social hierarchy in some sense. I don’t know %, but it is higher for women than men. Amish single women can have fulfilling lives without being married, or at least according to things I’ve read written by Amish single ladies 🙂

        I think it must be difficult though, especially in such a family-oriented culture. On the other hand, having a lot of extended family (nephews and nieces and siblings) probably helps.

    8. Judith Grober

      Have never had the good fortune to meet anyone Amish,but would love to!Living in Oregon ,California,and Arizona most of my life,there were no Amish communities around.Wish I had been born Amish!

    9. Julie Turner

      Amish women

      I have found Amish women to be just wonderful people.
      They are an inspiration to me of Godliness and humility by their lovely Christian mannerisms.

      They are warm, friendly, so sweet and caring towards others and they exude complete feminity in how they move and speak.

      They are a refreshing example of woman hood, unlike todays women who are loud, brash, and act like a man speaking foul words and no sense of decency in how they dress and move.

    10. Ava

      Single Amish Women And More

      I’d be truly interested to learn what would be thought about ( by English, Amish, or members of other Plain groups ) a never-married woman in her early 30’s, who cannot have her own biological children ( but who loves them dearly just the same ), who is English, with Amish ancestry, who could speak the Amish ( Pa. Dutch ) language – and who was seriously seeking the early steps of becoming Amish, both in culture, lifestyle, and religion?

      Would this woman typically forever remain single? Given her inability to have biological children ( an unfortunate side effect of successful, prior chemotherapy ), and her age, would she even have a chance at marriage within any Amish community? Of course, I believe everything is as God wills, so no man ( or woman! ) would know for sure, I don’t think.

      But, I’d love to hear opinions about this. Smiles. Thank you for reading! 🙂

      ( P.S. – This woman would have loved to be “eternally, terminally and permanently pregnant, surrounded by hordes of barefoot toddlers while cradling a baby or two in their arms,” as the article said. After all, to my thinking, children are a blessing – not to mention adorable, and who could be cuter than a darling barefoot toddler? :). At the risk of sounding irreverent, cradling an infant while toddlers ran about would be like a bit of Heaven to me. )

    11. Lattice

      Ava, I know of a recently married widower and single woman, both in their 60’s (yes, they were the “talk” of the community). Also, the other widowers I know of remarried. Wouldn’t that be a happy circumstance, to be unable to bear children, but able to marry an Amish man w/ children and help to raise them? These things are possible.

      On a different note: In my experience, when Amish children are older (but still living at home), the girls seem to “rule the roost” inside the house. This does not apply to the father, but I sense that the older boys almost seem uncomfortable inside, and really try to stay out of the girls’ way. I don’t know if this is typical, or just coincidental, but it’s definitely the case in three homes that I can think of. I sort of feel sorry for the guys.

      1. Ava

        Reply to Lattice

        Oh Lattice, what a wonderful thing that would be!

        If a couple in their 60’s could find happiness together, perhaps I would not be too old to give up on dreams of a family among the Amish, if that truly is where God leads me.

        Although the circumstances leading to the loss of a wife would be very sad, I can’t think of a much better life than meeting a widower, marrying him, and helping to raise his children. I would have children after all, and help a man who had lost his wife.

        Thank you for the encouragement, Lattice. What a wonderful life that would be, I imagine. As I continue to seek whether becoming Amish is or is not right for me, and take true steps toward this, I will always keep your thoughts in mind. 🙂

        1. Lattice

          I’m glad that I could be encouraging. If God puts it on your heart, He can sure make it happen. Best wishes!

    12. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I thought about this statement with great interest:

      “I have also noticed a very distinct and palpable tendency of Amish husbands to have a very healthy “respect”, for lack of a better word, for their mothers-in-law. While in a matron’s presence, I have seen a roll of the eyes here, heard a virtually inaudible sigh there, with the ever present longsuffering nature of the Amish fellows shining through. I may not understand much of their mutated German language but I can easily recognize a tongue lashing when I hear it.”

      Could this be the true reason why so many Amish communities split from one community to form a different group at a location at a distance, perhaps its not doctrinal all of the time after all? Are groups that move away from home districts actually fleeing mothers-in-law that they can’t bear? I thought I’d put that out there for consideration.

    13. Traci Banville

      It never fails to “amuse” me whenever someone talks about wanting to become Amish, that the subject of marrige always comes up. It makes me wonder how many would still be so interested in joining a community if they were told that they could not marry and have children? I believe, not many.
      Do these people honestly think that “competition” for future spouses, including widows and widowers would be appreciated from “outsiders” ? I very much doubt it.
      If wanting to “become” Amish is truly a calling and a desire to live a more spiritual and simpler life, then why not wait until you see if you can fit in as a person, master the language, develop (or improve)your farming/building/cooking/sewing ,etc. skills, prove your devotion to God and the Amish way of life and let time and God decide when and if there is someone for you?
      You cannot marry until you are baptized and that will not happen overnight.
      Being in a hurry is not very Amish,you know.

      1. Amish marriage competition

        I think your take hits some interesting points Traci. Though on the one hand I don’t know that they would think in terms of competition but, as you touch on later in your comment, rather in terms of God’s plan. However humans are humans and more people of your gender means more competition in that department, that’s just a reality.

        Something else perhaps worth pondering: while I don’t have statistics my sense is that significantly more men end up joining the Amish than women, while for various reasons there tend to be more single Amish women than single Amish men. Those two may have something to do with each other.

        I would also be a little less hard on someone viewing becoming Amish and marriage as closely linked…I could see how someone would see those two things going hand-in-hand, since that aspect is so emphasized in this family-heavy society. That said I think the phrase you finish with is good to keep in mind for anyone who appreciates the Amish: “Being in a hurry is not very Amish,you know.” 🙂

      2. Ava

        Dear Traci,
        Oh no, I didn’t speak of becoming Amish simply for the thought of being married!
        I thought of the idea of becoming Amish for the sake of being Amish!
        I simply had wondered if there would be any hope for someone my age — and unable to have biological children — could or might ever be accepted into such a community, unmarried or married.

        As Erik mentioned, marriage is something upon which great value is placed in Amish society, and I was perhaps thinking “out loud” as to whether someone like me might ever be able to attain that, that sense of belonging.

        Of course being married is not the be all and end all of life, grin. And if I truly decided I felt “called” by God or that God wished me to be Amish, it would be something I would do not because of marriage, but because of God’s leading. I do hope that makes sense!

    14. Joshua

      I find the way of life and the women very attractive! I also wish I was born into the Amish faith!
      I was born a Jew and married a Mormon for many reasons I find the Amish life style attractive. Out west here we don’t have Amish so I guess one can say I had to go for the closest thing! I find that their values and their love for their family and god to be very similar.

    15. Tiffany

      Does anyone know if the Amish would accept an “outsider” woman who is divorced with two young daughters into their community?

      1. The Other Erik

        Tiffany, the answer is "yes, and no"

        I think a divorced mom could get nominal, official acceptance, by meeting the standards. But she might never be considered truly Amish because she wasn’t raised within the system; the Amish know that her thinking would be different.

        Because the Amish don’t recognize divorce as valid, I assume they would consider remarriage to be adultery.

      2. Divorce and Joining the Amish

        Given their diversity I don’t know how much leeway, if any at all, exists between individual Amish communities, but generally speaking divorce is not accepted by Amish and would be a serious, if not insurmountable roadblock to someone joining the Amish.

        No offense to you Tiffany, but most people who ask this type of question on these forums are usually looking for something that they feel the Amish might provide–but in the end can probably find elsewhere, and with less difficulty for all involved.

        If you are looking for a deeper spiritual life I’d encourage seeking it in another (even related Anabaptist) religious setting, unless there is something specifically compelling that is only offered within a horse-and-buggy Amish setting (for the majority of people that is not the case). If you’re seeking something beyond spiritual answers I hope you can find it; joining the Amish is for most people a radical change of both lifestyle and mentality, so it’s usually not the solution.

        This comment by one of our readers addresses a similar question and offers suggestions of other churches: https://amishamerica.com/joining-the-amish-after-50/comment-page-1/#comment-28501

        1. Carolyn B

          Computer glitch question

          Erik, Piggybacking here on your comment, please forgive.

          When I go to hit the link to take me to the direct comment found in my email mail box, the computer no longer sends me to the comment, just the original article. I then hunt down the comment I want to read.

          Any thoughts on why the change? Thanks for any reply.

          1. I think this is a glitch with the comment notifier which appears on certain articles, possibly after a certain number of comments or certain post age. I have noticed it myself. I’ll be installing an update soon which hopefully might take care of it. If not I will dig further into it. My experience is it happens on some articles and not others, same for you?

    16. Michelle

      Volunteering at Amish Farms

      Are non-Amish women allowed to volunteer to work at Amish Farms? What would the dress code be for a non-Amish woman?

      Thank you,
      Michelle

    17. Bonnie

      Seriously?

      I don’t think the writer of this article knows very many Amish women. He seems a wee bit disrespectful. Maybe I should write an article about my opinion of English men. Why is the writer’s name not on the article, or did I miss it? I’m surprised if Amish America published an anonymous piece.