Last week, I went out of town so that I could speak to a MOPS group in San Antonio. I made mention of it on Facebook, adding, as a funny aside, that Wes was having a hard time keeping up with my job at home. I said it was good to be appreciated.
A very sweet friend messaged me later, telling me that I was very kind to Wes and that if she had been in the situation, she would have been frustrated with her husband for not knowing how to take care of himself. She made the comment that she wasn’t raised in a situation where either men or women were delegated to certain tasks alone, simply because if one or the other died, where would that leave the family?
Her message was so good and brought up so many good points that I couldn’t answer it all in a simple email. So, I decided to write about it here. I hope this might clear up some confusion regarding my own situation and also make some answers for some very valid points she brought up.
First of all, Wes actually can handle everything that happens here at home. Does he do everything just like I do? No, but that’s because a lot of things around here — doing the girls’ hair, cleaning the kitchen, having the laundry done — are things he doesn’t do on a normal basis because they’re tasks that I do. But he can if he needs to. He left home at eighteen and managed to live for four years on his own before we met and married, and I’m pretty sure he stayed fed, clothed, and relatively well taken care of when he was on his own. (He, however, was not deliriously happy like he is with me. So, I guess he really was in bad shape those few years.) If I died tomorrow, he would survive because he can still do everything I do around the house for him. Would it be easy? Not at first. But I’m confident that he could figure it out in no time and probably end up doing a whole lot of the tasks better than I currently do them. (But again, he wouldn’t be deliriously happy without me… so you would still need to pity him. As you would, I’m sure.)
Along those same lines, I don’t work. I haven’t worked since 2006. What if Wes dies? Well, I’m pretty sure that I still have all the skills I had before I became a mother (and maybe some that I didn’t have!), so I could probably find a job somewhere. Would it be easy? Not at first. Would life be as comfortable for me and the girls with me working and trying to keep up with all that I do now around here? Probaby not. But we could figure it out.
All that said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we’ve fallen into these roles around here. I think it’s actually a really great thing. And would we have hard times if something happened to Wes and I had a hard time finding a job after being out of the workforce for eight years? For a while? Yes. Would Wes and the girls have a hard time if something happened to me and they had to bring in some help until Wes could refigure his schedule and how he was going to get it all done? For a while? Yes. But we don’t live our lives in the expectation and anticipation of worst case scenarios. I don’t think we would do that even if we had no faith or trust in God to sustain us, and we certainly don’t do it as believers who know that God will give us what we need to endure whatever befalls us.
My friend made mention of one of my books (and I’m going to try not to spoil it for those who haven’t read it) and how my main character was, in her mother’s words, a stupid woman for having put all of her trust and faith in a man to take care of her because he ended up dying. I would agree that misplaced faith and trust that was meant solely for the Lord is stupid indeed, but I don’t think making the decision to stay at home and trust that your husband will provide (or in Wes’s case, making the decision to not do any household chores because you’re trusting that your homemaker wife will take care of you) is stupid. I think that’s called having faith in your spouse.
And if you’ve read the book (which is fiction, so take it for what it’s worth), you know that the woman in that story turns out okay because the right job comes along at the right time, and even when she learns more disheartening information about her husband, she still manages to be okay because God provides insight and wisdom when she needs it most. The story ends with her in the same situation, putting her trust in someone again, and I guess I can see how someone might conclude that she didn’t learn squat the first time around. But what a pitiful existence that would be, always living with our breaths held in anticipation for the worst. I think her story (which is fiction, again) should show us that even when the worst happens, God still makes a way.
All this said (and whew that was a lot), this is an argument I hear ALL THE TIME as a homemaker. And it gets worse, if you can imagine. A very well-meaning woman once told me, and I quote, “I think it’s great that you stay at home with your kids and don’t have a job… but you know, men don’t always do what they’re supposed to do. And he could leave you. And what would you do then?” To which I responded, “Don’t worry about that. I’ll shoot him in the back as he’s leaving — if God doesn’t strike him dead first — so that I can collect the life insurance on him. He knew what he was getting into when he promised till death do us part.” Okay, so I didn’t actually say that. (But I should have because it would have been awesome.)
What if your husband dies? What if he leaves you? What if you’re left all on your own? What in the world are you going to do? Still have a brain, folks. Still trust God. Still believe I can make a living and that God will give me wisdom to know what to do. Suggesting that it’s stupid for me to do what I do around here, freeing up Wes to do his job with all of his attention and energy, because where will he or I be without each other is a great argument against ever getting married because we all, in our own ways, learn to depend on our spouses. To not depend on one another or learn to live in such a way that it would be hard to live without one another would make for a really pointless marriage.
Regardless of what happens, I’m never going to beat myself up for these years. I’m going to thank God that I had these years, at home, doing all these things for Wes that he should be able to (and can) do for himself because these were amazing years. I didn’t miss a minute of the girls growing through babyhood and toddlerhood, and I was able to be a helper to Wes at home and at the church in ways that I never thought I would be before we married. That’s worth a lot.
And more importantly, I do what I do for him and he does what he does for me because we love one another. I don’t resent him for not doing what I do, just as he doesn’t resent me for not doing what he does. It actually endears him to me even more when he acknowledges that all that I do for him, which is all that he could do for himself? Is helpful. Is appreciated. Is worth something significant to him. Is well received. Call me backwards, but I honestly want to please him, make his life easier, and have him conclude that everything in this world became a million times sweeter when he married me. (And it so totally did, y’all.)
Just some food for thought…