Monday, May 14, 2007

A question from Paula

I received many wonderful, thought-provoking comments on my post, "Pressure to Get a Higher Degree". One of them was sent by Paula, who asks:

Think also to the following situation: you get married and after a while your husband dies or leaves you. It can happen. How will you be able to earn your bread and raise your kids?

First, let me say that I certainly don't presume to judge women who work outside the home; each family makes decisions based on individual circumstances. You will also notice I didn't say there's something wrong with education or work as itself. I was raised by a single mother, and if my mother hadn't worked, we would probably starve. Right now I'm single, and since I don't have a father, I will most certainly work until God decides it's time for me to be married; then the matter will be discussed with my husband, and I will submit to his authority.

Most women are called to be wives, mothers and homemakers. Being a wife and helpmeet, even without children, is full-time, challenging, consuming work, and I simply can't see how I'm supposed to manage that and spend the larger part of my day in an office/hospital. Even if I'm creative and have a job with flexible hours, it will still interfere with my ability to manage the home - or my sanity. I know that if I overload myself, nothing will be done well.

As to your question about what happens if my husband dies or leaves me... well, I think it's a question every woman who desires to be a keeper-at-home has been asked at least once.

It can happen, of course. We cannot deny this possibility, as everything is in God's hands. The question is how we deal with that?

Does it mean I will take on a full-time job and neglect my duties at home out of fear that something might go wrong?

Or will I, under my husband's guidance - if God, indeed, has marriage in His plan for me - look for possible solutions: insurance programs, savings, perhaps starting a home business that will not take too many hours of my time and can be expanded if there's need to. I also have a degree which can be 'updated' even after many years with appropriate courses (I've seen people do that, and quite successfully). To sum it up, I'm sure that even if something horrible happens, I won't end up sleeping under a bridge.

However, I must say that I find the role of breadwinner very important for a man. A man should know that he, indeed, is the breadwinner, and he is not supposed to rely on the income his wife brings. I know a family where the husband, a talented engineer, is stuck at a low-paying, under-qualified job because his wife, instead of trusting his abilities and encouraging him, promoted her own career. Now she is the main breadwinner of the family, while her husband became a slacker… because after all, why should he try harder if she earns enough?

I would also like to open this for discussion, and pass this question to you homemaker ladies who read this blog: did you and your husbands make a backup plan in case something goes wrong and your husband is unable to provide for the family?

36 comments:

Paula said...

Anna,

you appear very mature for your age and I admire your insights. May God help you find the right man.


We have already discussed a bit on the comments section of your previous post.

There is not much what I could add.
Wish you all the best.

Anna S said...

Hi Paula,

I am certainly aware of the fact that life is difficult in Romania. A couple of years ago, I visited relatives of mine who still live in Oradea, and... well, they have always lived on one income due to a health condition of my uncle's father, who needs someone to be there for him at all times. My uncle's wife nobly put herself to this task... and what can I say? Indeed, they struggle. It's nearly impossible for them. I think she would have worked if there was not such a pressing need for her to be home.

Haus Frau said...

Before marriage I worked in the banking then marketing fields. Long hours, great competition in the workplace, stress. While engaged my husband shared that he wanted me to be a home maker rather than work outside the home. I was 30 and ever so ready to make the change - amazing coming from a former feminist! Some folks have asked, "What will you do if your Knight dies? How will you live?" My Knight is a wise man in financial matters and has planned very carefully for such a case. We've also planned for *him* should I happen to pass first. Wisdom calls us to do this. It's important to note though, that we did not do this out of fear, but *of* wisdom.

Our daughter graduates high school on June 1. Some have asked if I will seek out a job. The answer? I have a 'job' that is paramount to my family and my Lord. The rewards are precious and my desire is to please the Lord and follow Him totally. Period.

Bethanie said...

We've discussed this, and my husband expects me to step up and take care of myself if something were to happen to him. I have some skills from working various jobs, and there would be enough money from his 4o1k for me to get an appartment and such. The thought of being alone really freaks me out, but I know what my husband would want for me and he thinks I'm strong enough. I would give the rest of my life to serving the Lord in whatever way He led me.
If something were to happen to me, I've told him I would want him to remarry. I know he needs someone to take care of him.

Candy said...

Hi Anna :)
What a great question you ask! First, for me, I truly believe that God calls women to be home keepers (as in Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 for example). That being the case, I believe then that He would provide if something were to happen to my husband. He will always direct my paths. I dont believe that God would call me to be a home keeper all my life and then my husband passes away and God would leave me in a bad situation. I firmly believe He will help me in many ways...so thats why I dont *worry*.
That said, I agree with what you said and also with Haus Frau that we should be wise and prepare as much as we can should that happen.
Rob and I know that his insurance would take care of me for quite a while if Im wise with it, which I would be :) And knowing myself, if I really had to work, I would chose to have my own business.
I dont really think that I have to be working now and getting "experience" or what not inorder to get a job/business if something should happen to Rob.
I KNOW something will work out so I have no fear at all about that.
I also remember my husband in prayer all the time asking God for longivity :) but whatever is His will, I know I am in good hands. I will not worry what the future holds.

Candy :)

PaulaB52 said...

When my husband and I were first married, we took out a very large insurance policy since the premiums were so low due to our age and health at the time. If something were to happen to him before our children were grown, we would have enough money to take care of ourselves for a while. I also could get a job! Even though you might not have a college degree, a lot of companies look at your work experience rather than degrees. I know because I didn't go to college and up until I had children I was working as an accountant in a large oil comapny (not a cpa, but doing the work of a cpa)

I worked up until my oldest son was 1.5 years old. All of my children are in school now. I went back to work part time, and let me just tell you, it was horrible. I felt like I was being pulled at both ends. After a year of working and during the summer having my mother take care of my children, I quit that job. It was the best decision I made.

Anna S said...

Thanks to all the wonderful ladies for sharing your experience! It's incredibly valuable. I hope to get more testimonies.

Tracy said...

Anna,

Looks like you have really opened up the proverbial can of worms with this topic! I'm so enjoying your blog, and I'm amazed at the amount of interaction that you are receiving. Good for you for being able to articulate your thoughts well. I believe that you KNOW where I stand on this issue!(0;

Anna S said...

Tracy,

I know how dedicated you are to being a keeper-at-home and how beautifully you do it. I also know you and your husband have done major financial sacrifices so that you can stay home.

However I don't know if you have made any "backup plan" (like for example insurance, saving program, anything else), I'd love to hear it if you're willing to share.

Alexandra said...

Back up plan: AFLAC(sick or injured), life insurance(death), Workman's Comp.(if injured on job), and worse case scenario, I return to work. We'll have the house paid off soon, so that's a plus.

Emily said...

Excellent post Anna! I agree with what you say.

In His care, Emily

Tracy said...

Anna,
With four children, an elderly grandma, two adults and one income, there honestly isn't any money for savings right now. We do have life insurance though.

Also, I agree with Candy. The Lord will not leave me in a situation that I cannot handle. I'm not saying that life would be easy without my husband, for it surely would not be.

However, we are also blessed to be in a church that believes the biblical mandate that they (the church) should take care of widows.

We have discussed remariage in the event that one of us passes. I would want my husband to remarry. I know he would want the same for me. It's hard to imagine being able to raise a family the size of ours alone.

Buffy said...

I think you should always have a back up financial plan in case something bad should happen to one of you.

Fiance's mother died suddenly when he was 11, the oldest of 4 children. It was the beginning of a very difficult time for the family, as you can imagine. His father had to completely change his occupation (to shopkeeper) in order to both earn money and be on hand for his family. They were hard times, for example, they were never able to go on holiday together due to having to keep the shop open all year round. His father was a star, but life would have been easier all round if he had taken life insurance out on his wife. It's just as hard being a single parent if you're a man as if you're a woman.

At the end of the day earning money and raising children are two separate jobs.

Perennial Pioneer said...

Great post, Anna,
I am new to your blog. I found it on Maidens of Worth, and really like it.
I too have a blog, for Feminine ladies, called the Perennial Pioneer. It is for reclaiming Femininity. If you would care to visit, it is:
http://perennialpioneer.blogspot.com
Again thanx for the Post!
Laura

Anna S said...

Thank you for all your wonderful responses.

Tracy, I pray that you and your husband still have many happy years ahead of you!

Laura - thanks for dropping by.

Jordin said...

I'm not a homemaker yet, but I read about this same topic on Crystal's blog; the article was talking about going to college, but it certainly applies to this question as well. She asks, "How big is your God?":

"Is He big enough to care for you if your husband dies and you are left with 12 mouths to feed? My God is that big!"

You can read the entire article at http://www.biblicalwomanhood.com/article61.htm

marie said...

I have to wonder what your mother sacrificed in order for you to go to college Anna?

So many seem to speak FOR God, I wouldnt be so presumptuous.

My own mother was a housewife(what is it with this keeper at home?)and very happy. Then when my Father was diagnosed with cancer she had to go work at 3 jobs just to make ends meet.She worked as a cleaner from 6AM till 9PM. My mother married for love..it was not a mathematical equation.

What happens when the 'good jobs' are not an option...maybe working 10 hours in a boring factory in order to put food on the table will enlighten a few that LOVE is greater than MONEY!

How many wives has Donald Trump had, I have lost count? Elizabeth Taylor, again I lost count? Paul Getty?? They have money they were married it did not bring them the expected happiness.

My two cents worth

Marie

Anna S said...

Marie,

I beg your pardon, but it seems I don't really get what you're trying to say. Perhaps you didn't understand me, or I didn't understand you, or both.

You ask what my mother sacrificed in order for me to go to college. My mother did EVERYTHING for me. She's a brave and noble woman who gave me life despite the difficult circumstances. She made a whole lot of sacrifices for me. She encouraged me to read and study and develop my abilities. But by the time I went to college, I was an adult; I had my own money, and I paid for my college. I also received a scholarship. I work part time now as well, and pay for my clothes, transportation, cell phone, etc.

Now... about love and money. When did I ever say rich celebrities had better marriages, or that lots of money builds a happy marriage? What I DID say - and I can boldly say it again - is that I believe a man should be responsible, hard-working, and willing to provide for his family. No, I will not argue here about special health conditions, individual circumstances and so on. But I do think a man should take his role as breadwinner seriously. This is not greed. This is being realistic.

Anna S said...

Hi Jordin,

Yes, I read that article on Crystal's blog too, of course. Trusting God is always good and right. It's always a blessing. I just focused more on the specifics here.

marie said...

Perhaps I have misread your previous posts. I thought you had said that you would not marry for love, that you had tried love and it did not work out?That you will love your husband after your married.
May I ask what if you met a hard working good man on a minimum wage, would the amount of his pay cheque come into the equation?

Also why would anyone marry a man they did not love? This is where the confusion lay? After all marriage is a Holy Sacrament and a part of the Vows taken state 'will you LOVE, honour and obey' your husband?

I am not a feminist but I dont think the entire burden of providing for what may be a large family should be dependent totally on the man.

Just my thoughts on it:)

Marie

Anna S said...

Marie,

Yes, there definitely has been a misunderstanding. :) What I said is that I reject the Hollywood idea of 'love', which is strongly based on lust, attraction and 'chemistry'. I believe in mature, deep, strong love, which grows out of planning - and living - a life together according to God's design. I believe in love that doesn't focus on the honeymoon period, but instead on the everyday life; love that doesn't seek the romantic and glorious, but consists of simple joy. Love that is a commitment.

If I met a good, Godly, responsible, hard-working man with a small salary, yes, I would definitely marry such a man. My trust is in a man, his attitude, his character - not his wallet.

God's word tells us the man's duty is to provide for his family. See for example in Genesis 3, a man is required to labor in order to have food. No such thing is demanded of a woman; she was created to be a helpmeet. I'm not saying a woman should never get paid, but there's certainly no duty for a woman to be the breadwinner.

Coffee Wife said...

I've always wondered how easy it would be to enter a career after being out of the workforce for years. Even with a college degree would an employer seriously consider hiring me if I had a big employment gap in my recent history? From whom would he get refrences? And how would he be able to judge my suitability for the position I was applying? I don't know if having a college degree automatically means I would be able to find a decent job (making enough money to survive on) if my husband died or was crippled.

Anna S said...

Michelle,

A college degree does not automatically mean being employed and having a good job. I meant it more in the sense that if you have a degree, even if you didn't use it for a long time, it can be enhanced by various courses and improve one's chances of employment.

For example my mother spent quite a few years without a chance to work as an engineer (long story). She worked as a cleaner, babysitter, took care of elders and did various odd jobs. Once she had the chance, she took a course that 'refreshed' her education, gave her knowledge of modern technologies, and helped her with employment. That allowed her to get back to professional workforce after a break.

... I definitely don't think this is the *ideal* situation for a woman. But it's possible if there's not much choice.

Paula said...

Anna I am visting after a long time...you said To Marie: "God's word tells us the man's duty is to provide for his family. See for example in Genesis 3, a man is required to labor in order to have food. No such thing is demanded of a woman; she was created to be a helpmeet. I'm not saying a woman should never get paid, but there's certainly no duty for a woman to be the breadwinner."


Hmmm.....this is certainly a very convenient interpretation of the Genesis. Convenient for women who want to let the heavy burdens to the men. I do not mean to offend you but this is my very honest opinion.

Anna S said...

Hi Paula,

I do respect your honesty. I've heard a variety of opinions regarding gender roles, which go to both ends of the scale - some say women get the 'better', more convenient deal by following men's lead, some claim it's horribly unfair to women. You say it's unfair to men.

I personally don't think it's possible to say someone gets a better, more difficult or more important role. The roles for men and women are simply different. I expect my future husband to be a provider and protector while he expects me to be the keeper of our home. On the day of our marriage, we will become a beautiful family unit where each one contributes according to his or her unique role.

Paula said...

Anna,

I see you very young and I see that you already think you have answers for everything.

I do not intend to patronize you at all.

Only to point that excessive self-confidence does not let too much room to humility.

Anna S said...

Paula,

I'm just a humble human being and I don't think I am the one who has answers - but He does! In His word we find all the answers we need. I may not feel confident about anything I personally think, but I know men and women are different, and have different roles, because He made us so.

Notice that I never said "working outside the home is a sin". I just pointed out it's a man's duty to provide for his family.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna ~

While I have no desire - and I really mean no desire at all - to jump into the fray of whether a woman's Biblical role is to keep the home and the man's is to be the breadwinner, I did want to provide another Scripture for consideration.

1 Timothy 5:8 tells us,

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel [unbeliever]."

This does seem to indicate that the man's Biblical mandate is to provide for the financial needs of the household, and that any income the wife makes should be icing on the cake, so to speak.

Also, I think it's great that you are living out the convictions God has given you with respect to family life. Not all of us share that conviction, of course, but I think that living out what God wants specifically from YOU, whether culturally normative or countercultural, is very honorable.

Other than that, I am not wading into this mess. :D

God bless!
~Lori

Mrs. Nichols said...

I know of two ladies who have lost their husbands due to untimely deaths and another who may to inoperable cancer. The first widow struggled a bit as I don't believe there was a life insurance policy, but is doing fine not working, going back to college (as her son now goes to college as dual-credit for high school) on social security which pays for her son. She seems to be doing fine and lives modestly. Widow #2 was much better prepared re: life insurance and has moved to a smaller home and finances have not been a concern. She is home with her children and has had time to grieve without concern for finances. The 3rd woman and her husband have prepared for her if he does die so that she will have no concern for living expenses or college funds due to savings and a lot of life insurance.

Bottom line: whether you have a degree or not, if you prepare the best you are able with life insurance and trying to get out of debt or stay out of debt, you have to trust that the Lord will CONTINUE to take care of you and provide for you as He always has... you've always had whatever you needed and, many times, a lot of things you wanted.

We're not be be worried about what to eat or wear because our Lord will take care of us. But it's good to be like the ants and prepare for winter, as best as we are able.

Michelle Potter said...

Two things to add. First is that the Bible says for young widows to remarry; they are not the responsibility of the church.

I find this command particularly difficult since I have trouble with relationships (even friendships), and I cannot imagine ever being able to build the trust and closeness I have with my husband with another man. But the idea of being widowed at a young age is not too far-fetched for me, since I am almost a decade younger than my husband and he has health problems (not severe). I just have to trust that God will either let me keep my husband for a good long time, or He will find me another.

Secondly, when people suggest that I should have "protected" my future by having a career and a smaller family, I wonder what they mean. Suppose I have ten years with my husband and then have to work to support my family. Do I want ten years at home with my children and the remaining years at work, or no years at home and all of them at work?

Anna S said...

Michelle,

I talked a bit about the second point you mentioned, in a post which discussed abuse in the family (it's also in my FAQs). Sure, there's always the possibility that a woman's husband dies/leaves/abuses her, but what does it mean we should do? If I get up tomorrow and say, 'wow, what a lovely sunny day! But there's always an option war might break out, so you know what, I think I'll go and hide in a bunker for the rest of my life' - will it protect me? I guess so. But I'll be missing out on LIFE, so what's the point?

Kim said...

I want to say as a response to people who ask "what if he dies": I have a very dear friend who is grieving the loss of her precious husband to brain cancer. He was 35, she'll be 35 in August. They have a seven-year-old son. Her husband was so smart and provided so well for his family, in both his work life and his preparation for retirement/emergencies, that she will never have to work again if she doesn't want to. Her husband did not work the last five years of his life, and they were able to afford everything they needed and more. She has even bought a new house in the last few weeks, while waiting to sell the last home they shared together. She is heartbroken, and yet she is secure in her husband's love and faithful care of his family.

Obviously not every situation turns out that way but I was thinking today as I had lunch with this friend - What a husband! And that is what a husband should be! Now, if my friend chooses to work, for any number of reasons, no one would think any thing of it. But the blessing in this is that her husband, in his role as provider and breadwinner for their family, made sure to make long-term provisions that have made them secure for a long, long time. And so, when people ask that question, I can say that if I marry a man with his head on straight, and if we are both careful and smart with money, I will be blessed like my amazing friend and her amazing husband. And what 25- to 30-year-old men think that way these days? I think it's as much, if not more, of an issue as training the boys to become men as it is training the women to become ladies.

(Sorry to comandeer your comments, Anna! I just thought you might appreciate a real-life application of these things!) :)

Anna S said...

Kim,

Thank you for sharing your insight. It was very helpful!

Bethany Hudson said...

Just chiming in with another homemaker's "plans if things go wrong." My husband and I have, of course, discussed what would happen if either of us were to die and what would happen to our children if we were both to die. It's not pleasant, but it is important.

If my husband were to die, I would sell our house and move back to my hometown (we currently live about 3,000 mi away). My children and I would live with my mother for a time, probably, just for the emotional support. Between the money I could get from our house and my husband's life insurance policy, I would have more than enough money to get my Master's degree in teaching while supporting my family for the year or two it would take. After that, I would seek a career as a teacher.

Of course, I would prefer to live off of my writing and remain at home with my children, but if that doesn't take off, then teaching it is. I would probably first see what my options might be for running a homeschool and taking in outside pupils, as I could then stay with my kids, but that might not be able to take care of us all. If I had to work full-time, I would hopefully be able to enlist the help of some of my relatives who stay at home so that they might care for my children while they are young.

Personally, I think, as you said, Anna, that the status quo for most women should be wife/mother and homekeeper. But, of course, not everyone is dealt a hand that permits this. Then, we have to do what we need to in order to survive. But, I don't believe we should give up our callings as keepers of the home and caretakers of our families just because we're afraid of what might come to pass. I trust God with this calling, and I trust Him with anything that may follow.

~Bethany

Harper said...

I agree with you that it is important for the man to be the breadwinner, especially when he is a father. I'm a new mother, and intend to stay at home with our blossoming family. My husband was present at the birth (at home) and has been supportive of me through my recovery. He has been amazed--overwhelmed even--by the miracle of the female body and its ability to develop and sustain life without completely overwhelming the woman. I can handle waking up every two hours, for example, he cannot. Honestly, watching me birth our son intimidated him. He needs the role of breadwinner to show me that he can make an important contribution too.

Hearts Surrendered to our Awesome God said...

Anna,

I am so glad to have met you here! I cannot wait to catch up but had to stop and comment on this first.

It is so frefreshing and encouraging to hear your views. I just wanted to share our circumstances:

I was a single mother for 13 years when I met my current husband, 5 years ago. My deepest desire was always to be at home with my daughter. She suffered like you, in not having me around and now at 19, she is a sad example of the outcome one can expect. We since have had 2 more children and God has called me to and enabled me to be at home. I have been home for 3+ years and have never been so fulfilled as I am today. God is good, all the time. I am thankful!

I did have to work after our first daughter together was born, our lifestyles just didn't permit one income existance. My heart was torn out every day I left my home and family. We adjusted our lives, God's provision, and were able to get to this point. I am in such agreement with you on this issue, I have lived it both ways and every way in between. Thank you for sharing this.