- What should I do if my wife wants to quit her job to stay home?
- What should I do if my wife has a promotion opportunity that would require us to move?
- What should I do if my wife has a good job and wants me to stay home with the kids?
To answer these three questions, I want to start by giving some background on what I think marriage roles should be:
Back when God first created people, his design was for the man and wife to work together to take care of their family. Typically the man “worked the ground” and hunted to provide food, and the woman did more of the cooking and caring for kids. This wasn’t because of societal expectation, but was because it made sense based on how they were made. Men were usually physically stronger than women. Farming and hunting was EXTREMELY physical work, so it made sense for the man to take care of that part. But, BOTH the man and women WERE taking care of their family…just in different ways…based on their skills. Fast forward to present day and apply those same concepts to a married couple. BOTH people should be responsible for taking care of their family…based on their skills.
There are two parts to what taking care of a family means:
- Providing resources: In the past, this meant hunting, gathering, and farming, but today this usually means earning money to BUY the things that are needed.
- Providing care: This consists of cooking, cleaning, teaching, and much more. How this looks has changed over time, but the basics are still the same.
I don’t feel that men need to be the primary bread winners. In fact, in the right situations, I don’t think men NEED to even work to earn money. I believe what IS important is for a husband and wife to work together to meet the needs of their family. They need to figure out what is the best way to provide resources and care for their family. Maybe this means the husband works (earning money) and the wife works at home (not earning money). Maybe it means the wife works (earning money) and husband works at home (not earning money). Or maybe they both are employed. If both spouses are employed, this can obviously create some extra challenges in providing care, but many couples do this and do it well.
So, viewing careers from this perspective can help address the questions I posed at the beginning. The answer to all three of these questions are the same. You and your wife need to figure out the best way to meet the needs of your family. What is the best way for you to earn money to provide for your family’s needs? What is the best way for you to provide care for your family? Maybe it means she needs to be the primary (or only) income earner. If you would expect her to follow you to a new city for a promotion opportunity, it would be unfair for you to not consider following her if she has an opportunity. If one of you needs to stay home, don’t assume it needs to be her. If she can earn money, I’m sure you can learn to do things at home. Figure out where each of your skills lie and find the best fit to use them to meet your family’s needs. Just don’t make an assumption on what that should look like based on what other generations did before you.