Lately, I received several emails about my posts in which I talk about how I view my calling as a future wife and homemaker. And here's something that was repeated in all of them (I'm summarizing it): "Baking cookies and making your home look pretty is nice, but don't you think your husband could benefit more from an extra income? The modern wife serves as a helpmeet to her husband by having her own career and helping earn money for the family."
Let's get this straight once and for all. What does being a helpmeet actually mean? It means the wife is supposed to encourage her husband, have unconditional faith in him, cultivate his feeling of accomplishment. She is called to help him – not do his job for him. And yes. Call me old-fashioned, but I think that men are supposed to be breadwinners. Even if I someday start a home business, give lessons, grow vegetables, write a book or do anything else that brings some extra cash from home, I still want my husband to feel our family depends on his income alone. I want to be able to drop whatever extra activities I might have when that is needed – for example if there's a new baby or I'm simply facing more work at home.
Ladies, I certainly don't claim there's only one way to be a helpmeet. I might as well make a disclaimer here: I'm far from judging anyone's personal situation. We are all different. There are many different situations; I could never say for example that the only way to be a godly wife is to raise a dozen children, grow all of your family's food, grind your own flour etc. What about childless women? And what about women with certain disabilities, which might make them unable to take care of all the household duties? Are they less of a helpmeet to their husbands? Of course not!
What we need to pay attention to is the attitude. Think about anything you might be doing. Are you doing it to help and honor your husband, or are you doing it only out of ambition? Does it in any way interfere with your duties to your husband? For example, if you work or volunteer in a certain organization, do you come home late in the evening, tired and cranky, unable to give your husband the attention he deserves?
About the suggestion that being a helpmeet is better accomplished not by putting all of our efforts into our home and family, but by heading to the workforce and earning some extra cash: I strongly recommend reading the short play "When Queens Ride By".
This play talks about a couple that lives on a farm; they struggle with financial difficulties, and to help her husband, the wife takes on a larger and larger part of masculine work on the farm. She becomes exhausted, frustrated and is unable to take care of her home properly. The needs of her family (and ultimately, even herself) are unattended. What next?.. Go ahead and read!
You might say, "But I have no problem to have the best of both worlds. I have plenty of time to take care of my home, husband and children and earn money to pay the bills". If you say so, who am I to contradict you? You know your own situation better than anyone else. Maybe you are, indeed, a champion of efficiency; maybe at the end of a long day at work, you have time to make your house spotless and cook a delicious dinner and freshen up and welcome your husband with a smile, and then spend the evening in gracious conversation and reading to the children. I don't think I would be able to accomplish all that – if it can be done at all, even physically - without feeling tired, overloaded, irritable. My heart would not belong entirely to my husband. There are only 24 hours in a day, and I'm only a human being. I know that even if I can strain myself for a while, it will take its toll. I don't want that, and therefore I'm making a choice: I'm choosing a life that might be more frugal and simple, but will give me peace and more time to spend time with my precious – God willing! – future family. I'm opting out of the rat race and going home, and you know what? I feel I'm making the best choice for everyone involved.