Last weekend I went away with three lovely ladies for our second annual personal planning retreat. It was such a lovely, refreshing time, pressing the “pause” button on our lives and really thinking intentionally about the year to come.
One afternoon, as we sat around chatting, my friend Jo mentioned that most of the world’s male CEOs/company presidents have a wife who “stays at home” (regardless of whether they have kids or not). She was referring to an article she and her husband had read not long ago, which stated that men with stay at home wives have 25-30% greater productivity than those without.
“Their minds are not divided while they’re at work,” she said, “They’re able to focus completely on the task before them because they have someone who is able to take the car in for a service, or wait on the phone to Telstra for an hour… they just have to mention something once, and then it magically gets taken care of!”
“My husband would like one of those!” I joked truthfully.
Because as she talked, I did feel the sting of conviction – my husband still did a ton of those “little things”, and lots of things he mentions (much more than once!) end up on the cutting room floor of my mind.
Where is the benefit to him in having a stay at home wife?
Certainly, the primary reason I am “at home” (or rather, not in paid employment) at this stage in life is to raise our children. Being a stay at home mum was my dream for a long time, and my husband values this too. But a huge part of my job is still taking care of the house and all the “other” stuff. And supporting a wife and 2+ kids puts a huge financial burden on my husband. *
Which leads me again to ask… how does this arrangement benefit him?
Later that day, after we were chatting, I thought of the Proverbs 31 woman, particularly verses 11-12:
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
Obviously, what these verses are talking about goes much deeper than “the benefits of having a stay at home wife”. What I see here is a passage that describes a wife who has spent her life living in a godly way and she has, over the course of her life, built that trust with her husband through her faithful actions in many areas.
And I know my husband trusts me, generally speaking, but I can’t say that he has reason to trust me in this specific area – “handling stuff”. And sure, this is not a make or break subject in a marriage. Maybe some of you are reading it thinking, “this is so unimportant, why are you thinking about it so much?”.
The reason I’m thinking it through, and writing a blog post about it, is that the Spirit nudged me to think about this. And the Holy Spirit does not tend to nudge people about things that are unimportant. The way I see it, the issue is not the literal division of “who does what, exactly”; the issue is my heart attitude. Is my attitude one of loving service, or stinginess and self-preservation?
When I read Proverbs 31, verses 11-12, and think about all those times my husband asks me to take care of some little thing and I respond by telling him how much I have on my plate already, I get a little sad.
Because I want him to have that deep, heart trust in me – to know that I am here for him and I want to help him. I want to give him the gift of “handling stuff” for our family. I want him to not have to worry about whether things will get done (like the time we drove around in an unregistered car for a month because the renewal notice got buried on my desk…oops!). I want him to not feel guilty about asking me to do things. And most of all, I want to be calm and joyful, not stressed out all the time!
The thing is, it’s a bit scary for me to contemplate even small changes here. I feel the fears creeping in –
“I’m already overwhelmed, how on earth can I manage taking on more things?”
“If I accept more responsibilities, he will keep giving me more!”
“What if I say I can handle something, and then I literally can’t?”
But where do these fears come from?
A lack of faith in God.
Honestly, if I am worried about how I am going to handle things, that reveals that I am putting my faith in my own abilities, rather than in God. And is it any surprise that I will then come up short?
Of course not!
Now, I’m not suggesting that faith in God means I can load myself up with an impossible weight of responsibilities and then expect that He will “magically” allow me to handle it.
But trusting in God – actively trusting – will mean added wisdom in deciding what to do, more joy in the doing and supernatural provision of energy when I feel like I. Just. Can’t
I talked to my husband about this when I got back from the retreat, and told him of my intentions to do better at managing “all the little things”. His answer reminded me once more of why God brought us together… he said he didn’t want me to feel like I had to take on a bunch more stuff, just work on doing the things he actually asks me to do. (I think he knows I can go overboard sometimes 😉 .)
*I feel it’s important to note that for many, having a “stay at home mum” is an unaffordable luxury. Historically, most women have undertaken some form of paid work, usually while still caring for the children. I often like to remind myself of this fact whenever I’m having a little “woe is me, my life is so hard” moment.