My first argument about the whole working moms vs. stay-at-home-moms debate took place with my best friend. We were sixteen years old. Yes, you read that right – 16. I still remember it vividly. We were driving down the road together (obviously one our first driving experiences), and we got into this argument about whether or not we wanted to stay-at-home with our children one day.
I grew up in a household where staying at home with your children before they were in school was not really a question. Moms just did it. My mom stayed at home with my brother and me until we were in school. Then she worked part-time and eventually went back to work full-time. All of my friends’ moms did the same thing.
Even as a child, and then as a young adult, that was my dream. Maybe it was because my mom talked to me a lot about the importance of being at home (from her perspective) or maybe it was divine and God planted those convictions and desires deep within my soul. I don’t know. But my conviction about staying-at-home started young. I was known for saying, “I will eat rice and beans to be at home with my children”.
When I went to college I obviously knew that “stay-at-home-mom” was not a major. Plus, I knew I had to support myself. I wasn’t even close to getting married (and ended up not getting married for fourteen more years). But being a wife and mother was still my dream. So what did I major in? Early childhood education. This would give me some skills to raise children, and the most flexibility to work when I do have children – when they’re in school of course – so I thought. Even my career decision was made based on this desire to be a stay-at-home mom.
Now I sit here, eighteen years later, four years into marriage, and expecting my first baby. All of my lifelong dreams have come true.
Except one. My husband does not share my conviction about women staying-at-home with their children. He wants me to work outside of the home.
My husband grew up in a household very different from mine. His mom did work outside of the home and so did all of the women in their community. Staying at home with your children was not heard of or even thought of.
Now I could go through all the reasons for my convictions, and as you might guess I have a whole list. And I could go through all of the pre-marriage conversations that should have taken place to make sure we were on the same page about this subject. But at this point none of that matters really because my reality is that my husband and I do not agree. The question remains:
What do you do when your husband wants you to work outside the home?
This is a real-life burden that I am currently living, so I by no means have the answers. However, here are a few revelations that God has given me over the past six months and still continues to give me.
1. Examine your motives.
Both the husband and the wife need to examine their motives for wanting the wife to either work-outside-the-home or be a stay-at-home-mom.
Just like every job, there are women who do not take their position as a stay-at-home-mom seriously and work at it intentionally. They do not view it as a job and instead want to be at home for selfish reasons by having a lifestyle where they can pursue hobbies and interests for themselves. Some may just simply not want to work. These are not good motives. Your motives should never be selfish, and your commitment should be to work just as hard (if not harder) than you would outside the home.
Husbands sometimes have the wrong motives for wanting their wives to work as well. Some men may enjoy the material perks of having two incomes. They may want the vacations and house and clothes and toys. This is not a good motive either. If there is a legitimate financial need or if your husband wants you to work for a bigger goal such as getting a business off of the ground or going back to school or having the opportunity to support your church and other organizations more monetarily, then those are worth discussing.
Pray and ask God to reveal your motives to you and to reveal your husband’s motives to him. Then, pray that God opens up a peaceful conversation between the two of you about your motives.
2. Be understanding.
From a Biblical standpoint, there is no doubt that God intended for men and women to be different and to have different roles in marriage and in a family. This goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. Besides the physical differences between the two sexes, God also gave Adam and Eve different consequences for eating from the tree He forbid them to eat from. Adam’s consequence was that he would have to work hard, really hard, on an earth that does not always bear fruit – on an earth that is dying.
Ladies, this is a huge burden for a man. It is a lot of pressure to be the primary provider for a wife and children. The fact that God gave men this responsibility does not make it any easier.
As wives, we need to be understanding. If your desire is to stay at home, then you should not also demand a certain lifestyle that your husband has to provide you. You should be willing to sacrifice your material perks as well. We also need to show empathy by not acting with an attitude of entitlement or resentment. Empathize with your husband and show him that you understand his struggles.
This is so hard for me! Remember, I was 16 when I first argued about this subject! My convictions are deep!
But what I’ve learned is that I’m not always right. From my perspective I might be, but I am now one with another person, and he has his own perspective.
Compromise can work in many ways. For us, my husband has agreed for me to stay at home for six months to a year with our new baby. After that, we are going reassess the situation. In the meantime, I am pursuing different ways I can work from home to help our family’s income. Just this month I published my first eBook, and I am continually learning the writing and blogging industry.
Part-time work is another way of compromising. This is something that I may have to do in the future as well. If so, I will most likely look for a Christian preschool where I can possibly teach while our baby is there with me.
I think the key with compromise is that each person has to feel like they are getting what they want and need while also giving up a little too. Otherwise one person will become resentful. If you’re motives are pure, then your desire to stay at home is a God-given desire. Your husband should honor that as who you are as a person, who God created you to be, and what God wants to accomplish through you.
If I could know the answer to one question it would be why does God gives us Godly desires and then allow them to not be realized in our life? It baffles me, and I don’t understand it. But what I know to be true is that there is a plan. A plan that is much bigger than we can see or realize. Maybe the plan is to teach your husband something. Maybe it’s to form your children into who God needs them to be to fulfill His purposes for them. Maybe it’s to break down something in you. I don’t know. But remember that if you are not able to stay-at-home with your children, then there is a reason, and you must surrender.
Your peace will only come from fully surrendering. Surrender to the fact that your husband is under God’s authority and you are under your husband’s authority. Yes, even if he’s not a Christian. Even if he’s not prayerfully making decisions. Even if he’s not pursuing God. You must still honor your husband. Otherwise, you will reap consequences for your family far greater than working outside the home.
I know this topic and these issues run deep in the hearts of women. I write them with the utmost sensitivity to what weighs on us so badly. I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comments.