For the past eight years, I have had the great blessing of working from home. It started as a full-time job outside of the home, and I was able to begin telecommuting after my third child was born. Over the course of marriage and motherhood, I have also stayed home full-time without an income, worked from home as a consultant, and I have worked part-time while my husband, mother, or close friend watched the children. All of these scenarios have come with challenges and advantages, but I consider myself very fortunate to be in my current situation.
Whether a marriage starts with one income or two, that number may change (multiple times) as the family grows in size and as financial needs change. Whether and how a wife will earn an income affects the entire family and can be a difficult decision. As I have learned from experience, that decision can be even more difficult and a source of conflict if she (or he, for that matter) does not fully understand their financial situation. In other words, sometimes a husband and wife don’t agree on this issue because they don’t both have a clear picture of the budget.
While knowing your total income and expenses doesn’t guarantee that you and your husband will be in agreement, it’s important information to have as you consider this decision together. If you work outside the home, for example, but your heart’s desire is to stay home, would leaving the workplace require small adjustments or major changes? Would you and your husband both be willing to make those changes? If not in the short-term, is it a goal you can work towards? On the other hand, you may have a desire, or sense a need, to return to the workplace in some way. After factoring in commuting, childcare, clothing, and other work-related costs, would the net increase in income be worth the effort? As you add up the numbers, seek the Lord for wisdom, direction, and unity (see James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 4:6-7, and Ephesians 3:20 for encouragement), knowing that ultimately, the Lord can change any heart and any circumstance.
For many moms, working is about more than money. Moms who stay home may find themselves envying their commuting counterparts, who get to enjoy adult conversation during the day, and perhaps put some of their skills and education to work in interesting ways. There may be added pressure from friends and relatives who do not understand a woman’s decision to focus her energies on the home, as taught in Titus 2. But God sees that investment, even if others do not recognize its value. And even without earning an income, a woman can bless her family financially through wise management and learning the “state of her flocks.”
It’s also tough on the other side. While it’s nice to be able to go the bathroom without small people following you, balancing family and professional responsibilities is extremely challenging. And here, too, there may be judgment from others who disagree with a family’s choice. But the wife who earns an income can thank God for the skills and experience that enable her to bless her family in this way. I rejoice that God has given both me and my husband wonderful work opportunities, and provided beyond all of our needs.
Above all, whether we work at home, outside the home, or both, let’s remember this:
~~ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24, NIV) ~~
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