This is such an important question and decision. If you decide to get married to a godly man who lives for Christ, it is one that you will want to talk about together before you marry so that you can be on the same page. Ultimately, the decision will be up to you, your husband, and the Lord.
I know that women working full-time is normal today. But there are a lot of sacrifices a woman makes to do that, especially once children are born. So many women plan on working full-time until retirement and they make purchases accordingly. Then they have a baby and realize they want to be home and don’t want to leave the baby in daycare. But it is so much harder to get out of that situation once you are already working full-time and you are used to that income and you have a big mortgage and car payments.
So, here’s the deal. You can’t have everything. Not all at once, at least.
Society acts like women can be superheroes. Like we can have the most awesome marriage, be wonderful moms, work full-time, make every dinner from scratch, and keep the house spotless. I hate to be the one to break this to you, my sweet sisters. But this is just not possible.
You will have to decide, along with your prospective husband, what is most important and what kind of marriage you want.
- If he wants you to work full-time, you will need some kind of help with the chores. It is too much for one person to work full-time and then to have to do all of the housekeeping, as well. (There may be emergency situations where one person has no choice but to do this, but I would not want to purposely put one spouse in such a position.)
- If he would like you to handle most of the housekeeping and homemaking, and he wants to be the financial provider, then you could be home all the time or work part-time.
- If you want to home school your children, you really can’t have another job, too, and be sane and healthy.
- If you want to have lots of children, (or perhaps you and your husband don’t believe in using birth control), and you want to home school, you may also need help with the chores. Of course, you will want to teach the children to help tidy up and give them assignments to help with dishes and laundry and cleaning as they get older to take a lot of the weight off of yourself. But if you have several children and you home school, the house probably won’t be able to be completely immaculate. Be sure you are both able to be on board with that going into the arrangement.
Many women devote themselves to their career first, assuming they can have children later. Keep in mind that if you truly want to be a mom, women tend to be most fertile in their 20s. After the age of 35 it becomes much more difficult to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. A career is something you can do later if you really want to.
There Are Hard Things about Any Arrangement
Life can be challenging.
- Working full-time can be very stressful. For men or women.
- Being home full-time can be very stressful – especially when you are caring for children or homeschooling.
- Finding balance is always a challenge, especially in our culture today with technology and the lightning fast pace we often take.
WORKING FULL-TIME WITH KIDS
When you are at work and you have children, you will often miss out on a lot of things. Important things. You may feel very torn between your responsibilities at work and your responsibilities at home. You may feel like you aren’t doing either role well enough. It is super hard to find enough time for God, your husband, your children, chores, exercise, shopping, church, and work. Balance can seem almost impossible. Work obligations may take you away from things you don’t want to miss out on. People will tell you that you are not a good mom because you can’t be home enough. That hurts. Some people will look down on you.
Your children will likely be sick a lot more when they are young if they are in daycare. You can expect a lot more viruses – for them and for you and your husband. You can expect a greater chance of RSV, hand foot and mouth disease, ear infections, colds, flu, strep throat, etc… Your kids won’t be receiving your personal love all day every day. You can feel trapped by your financial obligations and job or by your husband’s desire for you to work when you really want to be with your kids. It’s easy to be jealous of women who get to be home all the time and who don’t have to pay for daycare and who can take care of their children themselves all the time.
STAYING HOME FULL-TIME WITH KIDS
When you are always home and not working, the family budget may be a lot more strained. You may have to be content with older cars, a smaller house, no vacation, no eating out at restaurants, no expensive clothes or salon treatments, and a restricted budget. It’s easy to be jealous of women who get to have beautiful clothes, homes, cars, expensive luxuries, and vacations. You may feel very torn that you are not at work, people will tell you that you are “wasting your brain” to be home caring for your family. That hurts. Some people will look down on you.
Being home is such a blessing in so many ways. But it can also be exhausting. Taking care of children is, in my view, one of the most important jobs on the planet. But it takes discipline, energy, and vision to do this well in a way that honors the Lord and is a blessing to your husband and children. It requires much patience and a view for eternal rewards rather than immediate rewards. It is easy to pack your schedule too full, even when you are home all the time. So that is something to be aware of, too.
What about the Husband Staying Home and the Wife Working?
I would NOT recommend planning to have the wife work full-time and the husband home as a stay-at-home dad. I know there are times when this is unavoidable. If it becomes unavoidable, then you will deal with it with the Lord’s help and grace. But I would not suggest that couples purposely plan to do this. I know it may seem to make financial sense if a wife has greater earning power which is increasingly common. However, the vast majority of the time, in my understanding, this arrangement tends not to go well.
God designed moms to want to take care of their children and to be biologically equipped to nurse her babies. God designed men to think of their identity in terms of their career. Women tend to get really resentful when they work full-time and can’t be home with their children. There is a very difficult emotional and spiritual struggle that often takes place. Men tend to struggle when they stay home. They tend to feel depressed and emasculated. Husbands don’t tend to take care of the chores even in this situation (or they don’t do a “good enough” job for their wives, and eventually give up trying.) Often, the wife ends up having to do most of the housework and be the financial provider.
It is extremely difficult for a wife in this situation to respect her husband as the leader in the home when she feels like she is doing everything and she feels like she is missing out on being with her children. And it is difficult for a husband to properly lead when he loses his sense of masculine identity as provider. Marriages with this dynamic are at much greater risk of affairs, tension, and divorce. So I would not encourage couples to make this choice purposely. I can give you some additional resources about why this arrangement tends not to be healthy for men, women, or marriages in the comments, if you are interested.
How Do You Make the Best Decision?
Shaunti Feldhahn has a great book, “The Life Ready Woman,” that walks Christian women through God’s purposes for women in general and can help you hash through what God’s specific will may be for you. It helps you to evaluate your priorities in light of God’s Word so that you can try to make the best possible decisions that will most honor the Lord.
Once you and your husband are married, it will be important for you to be willing to follow his leadership on important decisions even if y’all don’t agree. Here are some posts about this situation on my blog for wives www.peacefulwife.com that may be helpful to think about before marriage: