When I see all that my wife does for our family and home, I’m not sure how she does it all. Wife, mom, administrator, accountant, food buyer, cook, taxi driver, keeper of the family calendar, school liaison, and (I’m writing in December) Christmas Season ninja.
Stay-at-home-moms are amazing.
And yet, it’s easy for us to unintentionally take them for granted. But as husbands, God’s calling for us is to notice and give thanks for all they are and do.
Before we dive in, a few, quick disclaimers. First, by ‘stay-at-home-moms’, I’m talking about any mom who spends a significant amount of their waking hours at home.
Second, if you’re a mom who works full-time (or nearly), please know I’m not criticizing you in any way. How you balance your work and the rest of life is between, you, the Lord and your family.
A Proverbs 31 Example
The woman we find in Proverbs 31:10-31 sounds a lot like my wife, and other moms who are based at home.
- She works hard. ‘She… works with willing hands… her lamp does not go out at night’. (13, 18)
- She’s proactive. She ‘seeks wool and flax’ and ‘rises while it is yet night’. (13, 15)
- She has wise, big plans and carries them out. ‘She considers a field and buys it’. (16)
- She looks after the needs of her husband and kids. ‘She does [her husband] good’ and ‘looks well to the ways of her household’. (12, 27)
- She wears a million different hats. This Renaissance woman is involved in textiles (13), buying food (14), business (16, 18), making clothing (19, 24), relief work (20), and wisely instructs those around her in kindness (26).
- It all flows from her relationship with God. She isn’t operating out of a bunch of ‘shoulds’ or others’ expectations. She is ‘a woman who fears the Lord’ (30).
This, of course, is an idealized picture and not meant to be an exact template for any one woman. (So don’t get discouraged, women.)
But notice her husband’s reaction:
28 …her husband… praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
He notices everything the poem celebrates, then praises her for it. In that way, he sets an example for us as husbands.
Notice All They Do
Husbands, here are some things we should notice about our wives who work hard at home.
- They have many part-time jobs. Have you ever had more than one job at a time? The sum is always (way) more demanding than the parts. This is your wife’s life.
- They get interrupted constantly by kids, phone calls, emails, texts. Interruptions are God’s work, but they can be awfully frustrating and it takes a long time to get back in the flow of what they were doing. That is worth noticing and being grateful for.
- They give up – or greatly sacrifice – their careers. Moms based at home are incredibly capable people and many would make great executives or managers. They manage our homes, often at the cost of careers and work they love.
- They are the primary role models – and disciplers – of our children. Because they spend so much time with our children, they are teaching them what faith in action looks like. It’s very similar to what Jesus did with his disciples.
- They are often taken for granted by our kids. When you work outside of the home, people generally feel the need to at least feign respect and decorum. Kids… not so much.
- They serve without pay, benefits, vacation, recognition or thanks. It’s never perfect, but most of us who work outside the home are at least compensated and appreciated on some level.
- Their work frees us up to work outside the home. My wife’s choice to manage our home and children allows me to pursue work I love outside our home. It’s a choice we’ve made together, but it’s a real gift.
No doubt I’m missing a ton of other things here. What else can you think of?
Give Thanks & Praise
After we’ve noticed the many gifts our wives at home bring to the table, we’re in a position to acknowledge and give thanks for them.
- Acknowledge how hard it is, and listen to her struggles. Simply acknowledging the challenges our wives face, without glossing over them, goes a long way.
- Spend a day or three in her shoes. We can give our wives a break by sending them away for a day or long weekend, maybe with friends. This helps us understand what their worlds are like, and is one way to practically fulfill God’s call to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2).
- Thank God for her. The writer asks, ‘An excellent wife who can find?’ The unstated answer is ‘No one! She is a gift from the Lord, “far more precious than jewels” ‘ (10). We all ‘know’ this, but need God’s help for it to deepen. As that happens, everything else on this list becomes possible.
- Thank her. Like the husband in Proverbs 31, we need to actually express our thankfulness to our wives often, with actual words.
- Help your kids thank her, and treat her with respect. Most of this is our example, but we can help our kids notice what mom does for them and point it out, too. Each year on my wife’s birthday, for example, I ask the kids to tell her why they appreciate her specifically around the dinner table.
- Praise her publicly. The godly woman’s works ‘praise her in the gates’ (31). In the Ancient Near East, city gates were central, public spaces. We need to honor our wives and what they do publicly, too. On Facebook, in face-to-face conversations. (This is also a great way to affair-proof your marriage.)
- Stay engaged at home. Moms are often ‘on’ all day while we’re at work, so it’s important for us to be around whenever we can. We need our own down time, but we shouldn’t selfishly pursue hobbies, for example, to a degree that increases the burden on our wives. And when we are home, we should be engaged, ready to help however we can.
- Re-evaluate your roles as the seasons change. God has given Christian families a ton of freedom in terms of what exactly husbands and wives do. What works in one season may not in another, so we should re-evaluate our roles together periodically.
I’m sure you guys have other ideas. Again, we’d all benefit if you’d share in the comments below.
Husbands, how can you show your wife that you appreciate all that she does for you in her role at home? When will you do it?