Monday, December 31, 2007

Ideas for the newlywed

A question from a reader: "What are some specific things a newly married woman should be doing while keeping her home and growing her marriage before children come?"

First, I'd like to tell you how my heart rejoiced when I read this question. So many young women today would find the answer to this question obvious, without even thinking about other options. What should you be doing in your single years? Why, everything in your power to advance your career. What should you be doing when you're newly married? Keep investing in your career; don't let something as petty as your husband's needs interfere. What should you be doing when you become a mother? Grudgingly allow some attention to your children before you ship them off to daycare and return to the only thing truly worthwhile – money-making and climbing the corporate ladder.

Of course, as someone who isn't married yet, I can naturally only offer you an unmarried woman's perspective. As many of my readers already know, I believe it makes sense for a young woman to prepare for marriage. And of course it makes sense for a newlywed woman to invest in her marriage, her home, to deepen her bond with her husband, to show him their marriage is the most important thing on this earth to her, and to make sure he knows she trusts him to provide for their family.

Practically, I think there are countless things you can do to better equip yourself for marriage and homemaking. If you don't have children – for some couples this period lasts a year, for others it might last a lifetime – you might find yourself with a bit of free time on your hands. Don't squander this precious gift! There might be periods later in life when you look back at it longingly, wishing you would have managed it better.

Invest in setting a good working routine in your home, tailored to your husband's plans and needs, so that the two of you can spend plenty of quiet time together when he is home. Practice and perfect your homemaking skills; learn to make your husband's favorite dishes – I feel this is especially important if he comes from a different culture with a different cuisine.

Now is also a good time to try out creative pursuits such as sewing, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and more exotic hobbies like making soap and candles. Try growing a vegetable garden, even if you haven't done anything like that before – just give it a try. Invest in making beautiful things for your home. Fill your home with lovely smells of cleanliness, fresh laundry, and delicious food; and most importantly, fill your home with your loving, contented presence!


Calamity Jean said...

Hi Anna,
I loved that you have shared pictures of the beautiful summer days!

Just to add to this post, I think that spending the first few years of your marriage figuring out the best way to run your household is crucial to a managing a glorifying household. Its a perfect time like you said to decide if you want to grow a garden or sew your clothes. There are always going to be outside distractions whether its a job or children. If you have laid a solid foundation you should be able to manage your home without any interruption! Its truly an art.

Jimena said...

These are all great ideas. I was kind of clue less on a lot of things right when we got married but after 8 months now things have settled, I'm sued to a new country, getting used to a new language and sharing a home with the man I believe the Lord had for me and I love. Your thoughts and ideas are all great, but may I add one more thing that I think it very important as a newly married woman...

When you do have those extra moments here and there get on your knees and pray for your husband, pray for your home, pray for your marriage. Search the Scriptures on how to be a better wife, on how to be a blessing to your husband, resting in God's love. My husband shared with me not long ago that sometimes he thinks he can tell when I'm praying for him, and it blesses him so much to know that I'm praying for him when he is at work. When I take the time to be with God and be filled with His love, I know that mopping is done with a song in my heart, ironing is done in prayer, decorating is done with love and my husband will find me with a smile which makes him smile too. Being married can be such a great blessing...

Gothelittle Rose said...

When you are married and settled in the home in which you want to bear your children, and you want to prepare for actually having your children, I will give two pieces of advice.

1. Move any heavy furniture exactly where you love it best and will want it for the next 2000 years.

2. Paint every room in the house the exact shade that you want it!

You can't paint or be anywhere near the painted room for a couple days after when you're pregnant, and you are going to have this strong desire to see it the proper color anyways.

Now is also the time, if you own cats, to train your husband in the maintenance of the litterbox.

Ways of Zion said...

Hello Anna,

What a wonderful question! May I make some humble sujestions? There are always people that can use some help. An older couple in our congregation both were dignosed with cancer within a few months of each other. Their family found it hard to get enough care for them, and emotionally draining as well. Hubby and I decided that I would drive up to their house (1 hr away) once a week to help out around the house and read to them and visit. They both passed away within the year, but I learn't so very much from them.

Also I wished someone woule have told me how little time I would have to study after having been blessed by children. If I had known that I was still (nearly 5 years latter) drawing on that well of strength, I would have taken the time to study more, espeically Proverbs as it is full of wisdom for raising a G-dly seed.

I hope that that helps.

Amanda said...

Such a beautiful post.

(I found your blog via a comment you left on another's.)

I've enjoyed some of your other posts as well. :)

Brenda said...

You know, the message we got before we had children was that we should enjoy each other and have fun before we start a family. Like marriage is a ball and chain, but children will be even worse--that kind of mentality. I always heard bad things spoken of couples who immediately had children.

Rebekah S. said...

Amen! I couldn't have agreed more! What a wonderful and much needed post! I'm currently working on many posts on this very subject as well, and I'm currently writing a book on it, too! :) (I'm still working on some of the Intro, Anna, but I will get that to you asap).

As I write these posts, would you be interested in possibly posting them here, for the benefit of your readers? Your blog has many more readers than mine, so I thought that may be a good idea. Just let me know! :)

Rebekah S. said...

That's so true, calamityjean! Homemaking truly is an art, and it takes practice!

Wow, what a great tip, Jimena! Thank you for sharing it!

My mother married with no knowledge of how to cook, etc. She often tells me just how important it is to learn all of these much needed skills now-it makes your marriage a whole lot easier! :)

Stam House said...

Just want to stop by to wish you Happy new year!!!!!

I would say get to know your husband, what he like and dislike, what is it's favorite meal, how clean he expect the house to be! how he like his clothes folded etc.... also get to know him what are his hobby spent time doing stuff for him with him while your childless cause the foundation of your intimicy together will last even while children will be taking a uge part of your time for the first couple year of their life

So invest in your husband and your investement will last until death saparate you 2

Elizabeth Joy said...

Good idea! I have children now, so looking back, the things I think would have been helpful is to learn how to clean quicker and more efficiently, because there isn't much time once you are a mom.

Learning to garden, sew, etc are excellent and useful skills. Organic garden produce has so much more nutrition, and it will be good skills to pass on to little ones. Sewing can save money, or even if it doesn't, it can help you provide modest clothing or clothing that doesn't have offensive pictures/sayings printed on the front.

It is also a time when you can have more time to serve in your church, help needy people or bless your community in some way, that you won't have time to do as a mother.

It is so good that you are thinking ahead. I so want to affirm you and other ladies like you.

Karen said...

Looking back on it, it might also have been a good idea, at least for me, to spend some of that time preparing for motherhood. Maybe sewing or collecting baby clothes and bibs, etc, so that I don't have to rush and pay a lot for something we need "right away". Even while I was pregnant there were sooo many other babies due at the same time, everything seemed so pricey! Spending a little time learning how to cook quick, nutritious meals that a toddler can chew might've been a good use of time, too, cause you just DON'T have much time for meal-planning or collecting recipes when you've got a toddler! You'd be surprised how difficult it can be to tailor cooking to a toddler's delicate taste and chewing ability!

Planting fruit trees and canning would've been a good idea, too.

But most of all, I think I would've just spoiled the husband a little more. Made fancy dinners that I just don't have time to make now, reading together, couples Bible studies, working on a charity project together...things we just can't do now!

Mrs. Brigham said...

Great post, Anna! I smiled when I read the part about making your husband's favorite dishes. The first time I made kimchee I had no idea what I was doing and it turned out terribly. Luckily, I have learned quite a bit since then and have mastered most all of Sean's favorite Korean dishes. :o)

Along with all the new homekeeping & domestic skills to learn, I also found the beginning of my marriage to be an excellent time to do some research into childbirth, breastfeeding, and so on, that way when/if the day came, I would be (semi) prepared. I also found this to be a great time to learn more about Sean's career field to both more understand what he was talking about and find better ways to support him in his endeavors every day.

I was also able to use my early marriage days to speak with several dear older ladies who taught me MANY tips & tricks about marriage, housekeeping, and cooking. There were several things that I had wanted to try, yet had no idea where to start, and these ladies were more than happy to share their experiences and expertise. :o)

Kacie said...

These are wonderful ideas! Thank you for posting about this topic.

It makes sense to me to try to become the best homemaker you can be before children are born, since the first few years of their lives especially, I can't imagine a woman finding the time to learn how to sew a dress or something more complex, for example.

PhDCow said...

I've been married 8 years now. We waited until our 3rd anniversary to get pregnant.

For us, those early years were all about learning about each other and forming a strong relationship. We went on dates, saw movies, slept in, and did all those things that we knew we wouldn't do when we had children.

I watched my parents' marriage dissolve as I grew older and I know one reason for this dissolution was that they never got to know each other as a "couple" because my mother was 5 months pregnant with me when they got married and they had known each other less than a year.

When the children are grown and out of the house, it's just going to be the two of you again. You'd better have a solid foundation to go back to.

- Angela

Terry said...

I was married for about 5 years before I began to even get a clue about what a wife should be doing. It's good that you write posts like this to encourage and equip newlyweds and young women preparing for marriage.

Jaimie said...

This is a great topic! One thing I would like to add is that it is a good idea to find out what kinds of things your husband appreciates most, and spend more time and effort in those areas than in others. If your husband is just as happy with meatloaf, don't spend half the day in the kitchen cooking a gourmet meal. Use the time you have to focus on the areas that are most important to him.

andrea said...

This is a helpful post! I'm not married yet either, but this is what I sometimes think about as well...

Anna, what do you do as a vegetarian who will be married to someone who eats meat? I'm sort of in the same situation! I'm pretty clueless as to how to prepare it...and frankly, my motivation is low because meat kind of disgusts me. What do you plan on doing for food and meals? Also, do you plan on raising your children as vegetarians. This is something that has crossed my mind as well! : )

Bethany Sue, CFO said...

I concure, focus on learning many skills that will bless your husband and new home. Take it from me, I did not learn the important tasks of homekeeping in my teens and early twenties, now I am trying to learn as I go. Happy New Year Anna! Blessings to you my friend on your engagement and preperation time!

Lydia said...

I might also add, make your home a place of hospitality, and offer to help other mothers who have many children to build your mothering skills (as long as it doesn't interfere with your home life).

The Chatty Housewife- said...

The soaps, candles and other home made items can be sold to help your husbands income if it is his will for you. Like the prov.31 woman.

Anonymous said...

Nice thoughts, but I've found as a married women with no kids, I have more than enough time for work and cooking and cleaning (not hard when you live in a tiny apartment!) Sometimes the extra income to save for later is more valuable than an extra clean house.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful advice! I've been married for 10 years and have three children under eight years old. I thought I would share a mistake that I made as a newlywed. I worked outside the home until I became pregnant with my first. My home didn't get the attention that it needed and as a result I didn't get enough practice in daily homemaking tasks until I was pregnant and lacking energy. After 10 years, I can now whip a room into shape or throw together a delicious meal in no time, sort the laundry while making a mental shopping list, etc. My point is that the more practice you get at these things, the more they become like second nature and therefore easier. When you have to really think about each and every thing you are doing it is much more taxing. I wish I had devoted more time to homemaking in those early days. As it was, I ended up learning most things with a baby on my hip.


Anonymous said...

"What should you be doing in your single years? Why, everything in your power to advance your career. What should you be doing when you're newly married? Keep investing in your career; don't let something as petty as your husband's needs interfere. What should you be doing when you become a mother? Grudgingly allow some attention to your children before you ship them off to daycare and return to the only thing truly worthwhile – money-making and climbing the corporate ladder."

Really and truly not every woman who gets a college education and works outside the home is this way in any way, shape, or form. It does little for the cause to deal with professional women with the same "look down you nose disdain" they sometimes give ladies who choose to stay at home.

PhDCow said...

When I suggested doing things that you don't be able to do with children, I wasn't being derogatory towards those with children. I was being realistic. I have 2 children and there are just place we can't go anymore and things we can't do. Am I sad about it? No because my children enrich my life in ways I couldn't have imagined. But you need to be realistic and get those things crossed off your "to-do" lists before you start having children.

Rebekah S. said...

Someone said: "I worked outside the home until I became pregnant with my first. My home didn't get the attention that it needed and as a result I didn't get enough practice in daily homemaking tasks until I was pregnant and lacking energy."

What a wonderful testimony to the fact that God's way is always best, and that He issues us His commands for a reason. So many ladies work outside the home until they have children(as Mama did), and doing so really takes a tole on your home, time with your husband/time serving and helping your husband, time learning to be a great mother, etc. I believe that's why Titus 2:5 says, "Teach the younger women to be homemakers that the Word of God be not blasphemed." This verse leaves no room for ifs ands or buts. It doesn't say "Teach them to be homemakers only when they have children in the home". Because God knew that it would be to the best interest of everyone involved if the wife is a lifelong homemaker. That's why God commanded this.


Calamity Jean said...


I am the first one to say that being a homemaker is a married woman's first calling. I understand that you mother worked and that it was not a positive thing for her and her marriage. But you cannot take the Titus 2 verses and make the assumption that working is an unbiblical action. The verse states that we should be a keeper of the home or in the home there isn't a line that says "In order to be achieved a woman must not have a job or career". Each woman and each marriage is different and living out the role of homemaker looks different for every woman at every stage of life. If you neglect your home because of any outside influence then that influence should be removed but many woman work and manage their home. I completely respect the decisions that your mother and father have made but that doesn't mean that it is the ideal decision for all others. I am a better, more organized homemaker when I work. Until I have children there is 0 reason fro me to be home full time. But that doesn't that is what works best for you or Anna. This is what is best for me. And it might surprise you to know that my husband is a well fed, clothed and honored man who loves nothing more than being in the home that I have created and I don't feel over worked or exhausted. Making dinner after a day of making deals is a wonderful way for me to focus on my husband.

Anna, I did not mean to take over your blog but i wanted to address Rebekah's thoughts. I would like to know your thoughts on my comment.


Maggie said...

Not to sound morbid or anything, but I think it's a very wise idea for young newlyweds, or anyone else for that matter to have a will prepared and discuss with close family your funeral arrangements.

There is nothing worst than having a death very suddenly and having your spouse's family 'arrange' matters for you because you didn't know what your spouse's wishes are.

I know that my mom, since us children were able to comprehend funerals and all that (so probably teenagers) told us exactly what her wishes are and us kids too have discussed what it is we want to occur should we have an untimely demise. It'll also ensure that any property you own doesn't wind up in the hands of the tax man as oppose to your relatives.

Just a thought.

College Gal said...

Very wise words Anna, thank you.

Tia Lynn said...

I think women who choose to stay home and embrace their roles as wives, mothers, and homemakers are admirable, noble women who deserve the utmost respect. But I would not be so quick to stereotype women who work hard for an education, or hold jobs or ministries outside the home. It all comes down to motive. If a woman worships at the alter of career/money, neglects her husband and children as a result, then this is clearly not God's ideal. However, there are not only two options of fulltime homemaker or fulltime 100-hour work week career gal, there are a plethora of options that allow women to be faithful wives in and out of the home. I've been married for seven years (no children yet) and some of the most difficult times in my marriage were when I stayed home. I had TOO much time on my hands and not much to share about my day at night with my husband. He LOVES the fact that I went back to college two days a week and it gives us so much to talk about. I don't think about things like "how can I get as much education so i can climb a corporate latter and make tons of cash"-we both want to pursue social justice in the area of debt relief, AIDS treatment and trade reform for Africa. A pending job/ministry opportunity for me (based on biblical justice and honoring God's commands) might make that possible for us both before we start our family. This Mutual support for eachother has deepened our marriage and given us vision for our lives together. I just thought I'd share with you that many different seasons emerge throughout a couple's marriage--a different setup does not always equal a money-hungry femi-nazi.

Tammy said...

Interesting vision. However, I suspect your ideal for the newlywed woman would not be the ideal of most men. The typical newlywed man would be ecstatic if his wife cooked and cleaned, but would find it an utter waste of time if she spent the rest of the day doing embroidery, crocheting, making hand made soaps and candles. These are all lovely hobbies, but not at all necessary for a well-kept home. People once did these things because there was no choice (nowhere to buy ready made); today it is a hobby, and no more necessary for home keeping than learning to scuba dive. It may add a special touch to your home life, but so does teaching your kids to scuba dive if you know how.

I would dare suggest that most men would say a wife's time is better spent working part time - or even full time if there are no kids yet - than trying to grow tomatoes. I'm not saying gardening and crafting aren't worthy pursuits/hobbies, just that they are exactly that - fun hobbies - and aren't at all necessary to make a good home. The newlywed wife would definitely be better off developing her career or job in the mornings, so that when the kids do come she will have some savings. In most families, this money will be more than necessary down the road for everything from dental work to speech is so expensive to raise kids, especially if you want many. Your vision is very romantic, but it's far more practical for a woman to earn money while she can still do so comfortably (no kids), in order to make life bearable and cover the costs life will bring. Her income at this time will prove far, far more crucial to their future family than an embroidered tablecloth or a pretty soap, however quaint.

Rebekah S. said...

Hello again, Kyla! :) I'm sort of confused by your comments. My mother did indeed work, but she quit right before I was born to become a stay at home mom. Perhaps you were thinking of Anna's mom?

Just curious: what are your thoughts when you hear the word "homemaker"? To me (and I'm sure to most others), when I hear that someone is a homemaker, then I picture someone that doesn't have an outside career. Also, the Scriptures don't say keeper of the home(that indeed could mean many different things). Rather, the various versions of Scripture either say a keeper AT home or homemaker. I still have not fully responded to the questions/comments you left on my blog a little while back, but I assure you that I'm in the process of doing just that, so be sure to check back soon! :)


That's a very wise thought, Maggie!

Many women make comments such as, "I work outside the home, but I ensure that my family is well cared for." If all the Scriptures had to say on this topic were, "Make sure you put your family first" or "Make sure they're well cared for and receive time with you", then I would say to that woman, "Great! That's awesome!" If all the Scriptures said on these subjects was what I stated above, then my conviction would be that you can be a homemaker if you want or work outside the home, just as long as your family is well cared for. But that's not all the Scripture says. It commands women to be homemakers. And that's what Christian women need to do-if we love God we will happily submit to His commands and live them out.

Hi! I would say that obeying God's commands is even more important than earning a little extra cash. The Proverbs 31 woman and Lydia both sold homemade items in order to help provide their families with a little extra cash, but they did so from home. Home businesses are wonderful and very helpful, but they need to be just that-home businesses, so that you can fully obey the Lord's commands. Also, I personally think that learning how to knit, sew, embroider, etc. is a huge asset to homemaking! You can lovingly decorate your home with beautiful hand-made things. You can make things such as quilts, for example, for a much lower price than buying one, and you can be sure that you get exactly the look you want, because you can pick the fabric(s). Sewing is also extremely valuable, because you can make clothing for yourself and your children for much less, and you, by doing so, can also ensure that what you and they are wearing is modest.


Gila said...

Hi Anna,

I have to admit that I am a bit confused by your blog. You describe yourself as Jewish, but "speak" Christian. I am guessing you may fall somewhere in between....

It also appears that a lot of your readers are Christian and (I believe) not living in Israel. I think it bears pointing out to your readers that the Jewish ideal may not be identical with the Christian one. I am not familiar with the psalm you reference, but the Jewish ideal of the Woman of Valor (Eshet Chayil) specifically notes that the woman is working and earning money. Not only that, but her husband is noted as studying, and not working.

Which brings me to my next point. "Education and career" and "bad mother" are not mutually inclusive. Most of the women I work with do have children and make amazing efforts to make sure that everything gets done. In fact, many of the women I have worked with here in Israel 1) have professions 2) have multiple (as in more than five) children and 3) are the sole support of their families because their husbands are full-time Torah scholars! I cannot say that I completely agree with the ultra-orthodox lifestyle, but one would be hard-pressed to try to term these women as less than completely devoted to G-d, their faith and their families.


Anna S said...

Hey Gila,

I'm not sure what you mean by "in between". I'm Jewish. I've lived nearly my whole life in Israel, among Jews, and don't know too many Christians in real life.

Sure, the Proverbs 31 woman is earning money. That is just ONE of her many pursuits. To me, it doesn't look as something that takes about 90% of her waking hours, leaving a stressed and exhausted wife and mother.

As for women who support their husbands while they are in kollel, I have a post written about it which I plan to publish soon.

A wonderful Shabbat to you.

Tammy said...

I really must be ignorant because I know of no place in the Bible where earning cash is against God's commandments. (See Gila's post about the ultra-orthodox women; I don't agree with them either, but they do keep the commandments). Jewish women have worked throughout the centuries, in and out of the home.
The woman of valour works outside the home! 'She is like a merchant ship and brings bread from afar'. (my own rough translation from the Hebrew).
I'm not Christian so maybe the commandment forbidding women to work is in the New Testament and unfamiliar to me.

BTW, where I live, it is much cheaper to buy ready made clothes than sew from scratch. Cloth is very expensive. Sewing is a valuable art but not necessary for happy home life!

Rebekah S. said...

Hi, Tammy!

I never said that it was wrong for women to earn money! If I had said that, then I would have to take all of Proverbs 31:10-31 right out of the Bible! :) However, it's clear in the context that she was a homemaker. When it says that she brings her food from afar, that doesn't mean that she works outside the home. What she did would be similar for us to drive to a far away grocery store, so that we could provide more nutritous food to our families.

Thanks for your comment. :)