There are several young ladies preparing for their first year of marriage. In all the advice they get, the people that encourage them to spend that first year out working, are the most vocal. I wanted to write something to show the wisdom of staying home, as did the women before us, who took the time to really invest in their marriage and establish a great spiritual foundation for the home, in the first year.
Here, we have an opportunity to show the importance of staying home that first year and getting used to a routine. I hope many people will post about this subject! Several young ladies say they want to be home the first year but they "feel guilty" because their husbands have to work everyday, while they, the wives, "are not contributing." It grieves me to hear this, because it is a quote straight from the mouth of Karl Marx, author of the Communist Manifesto. He claimed women at home were "not contributing," and did much harm to the home. You all know what a lazy bum he was, refusing to look after his own wife and children. They lived in squalor in London while he wrote long thesis about how the world ought to be run. His ideas were rebellious and unBiblical, yet they are ingrained in the minds of most young women today.
The words of the Bible, addressed to young women, are quite the opposite of those of Marx. The Holy Spirit said that women contribute the most by being helpmeets to their husbands, and it shows them how to do that by guiding and guarding the home. This was well-understood by generations before us. The apostle Paul warned Christians not to believe myths and old wives tales, yet there is a huge population of young ladies who believe in this myth. They actually think that in order to "contribute" they have to bring in money.
Money seems to be foremost on everyone's mind, but what about love? Sadly, the young connect the word "money" with "love," but money cannot keep a marriage together, make you a good cook or a good housekeeper, or hand down good values to your children. These are things that must be learned, whether or not you have money. In fact, getting out and earning money that first year might handicap you and prevent you from acquiring the skills you will need the rest of your life, in your marriage.
As Jesus said to Martha, "You are worried about many things," that is one of the main problems that exist in homes today. Young women are taught to worry from an early age. They worry about money. They worry about how they will survive. They worry about education. They worry about careers. They worry about poverty.
I listen often to young women in their conversations in Ladies Bible Classes, at tea parties, in church, and other places and one thing stands out supreme: they don't seem to be worrying about their spiritual condition or the spiritual condition of their children. They don't worry about whether or not their husbands are happy. They don't worry about their children's character development. They don't worry about whether or not they will be able to keep up with the housework and maintain the home. They don't worry about whether or not they will be able to have proper nutrition at home. They don't worry about their husband's health. They do not reveal any of this in their intimate conversations with other women, so if they are concerned about these things, it is a big, big secret.
I sat and listened, a few years ago, to a young married woman who said that her children were going to join clubs that would teach them to race cars, drive speed boats, and many other things. The child's soul was never mentioned. I've heard many women talk about all the "things" they want in their houses but rarely talk about the spiritual journey they hope to have, with their husbands and future family. Whereas years ago women would say, "I hope my son knows and follows the word of God," today the young women are saying, "I hope my son makes lots of money." I realize not everyone is like this, but this represents what I've been hearing in my corner of the world.
In keeping with my attempt to have shorter articles, I will now proceed with the things that can be done in the first year of marriage at home.
These future brides wonder what they will do all day at home, while their husbands are at work. I used to sympathise with this question, while I was raising my family, but when they all grew up and I was left with just my husband in the house, I was ASTONISHED at how much time it actually took to look after one man again! You have to keep his clothes ready for work, remind him of his schedule, check his mail, show him the bills that need to be paid, keep track of some of his paper work, remind him of upcoming events, and keep him from losing his mind. I know a couple in retirement, where the wife is always always busy.She quilts and she gardens and she fills up her days at home, even though there is just one man to take care of.
Here are some things that have to be done, that take the entire day:
-If your husband is health conscious, you have to "get your food from afar" as did the Proverbs 31 woman, by seeking the best natural sources in the form of local farms and organic markets. This takes a lot of scrutiny and time.
-You will have to plan some menus so he won't get tired of having potatoes every night.
-You will have to pack his lunches. This in itself is a learned skill, that can be acquired that first year of marriage. You may need your mother's expert help for the first few days. Seasoned married women know how to make a packed lunch beautiful, nutritious, interesting, and sentimental.
-You will have to begin early in the day while he is gone, to get the evening meal ready. When he comes home, you need to have the major labor of it out of the way so you can relax with a cup of tea or a cool drink and visit with him. You need to have the table set. You need to have dinner on a back burner, warming. You need to have taken a shower and dressed in fresh clothing. You might not do this years later when you have children and live in a bigger house, but the first year of marriage is your honeymoon, and you will have more time to pay attention to yourself.
-You will need to have his clothes washed, pressed, mended, and ready for him to wear the next day. When he gets ready for work, you don't want him running around desperately looking for matching socks and shoes or trying to find his watch, his cellphone, his keys.
-In the morning you can make him a hot breakfast. When he leaves, you can clean up the kitchen and get out a project to do: maybe a new tablecloth and placemats, or framing a picture. You might need to go to a thrift store and find some things you need. While you are out, you can check on your mother and your new mother in law. Maybe you could take them a batch of cookies that you have baked. You have time to teach a younger girl something like sewing or crafting.
-The first year at home is a good time to send out thank you notes for the wedding and shower gifts. Many young married women neglect this.
-The first year at home is a great time to fix up your living quarters. It will give you the experience that you will need when you move to something else. I remember reading in an old magazine written in the 1800's called "The Dileanator" about a newly married girl, who had very little in the way of material possessions. From scraps of fabrics, she sewed together a table cloth, some napkins, curtains, and made coverings for the tops of boxes which she used as end tables and coffee tables. She did this by cutting the fabrics in strips and alternating them so that they matched. Smaller pieces were made into doilies by cutting them in circles (traced with a dinner plate) and stitching a border of lace around them. Her home, this article said, was the coziest of homes, and if I can find the article I will reprint it in full for you here. (Fabric scraps can also be used for card making. Just put saran wrap between the cardstock and the fabric, and using a press cloth on top, firmly press and let dry, repeat if necessary.)
In doing this, the young married woman shows an example to other young women just how it can be done. Learn to live on your husband's income that first year, and you will be well on your way to prosperity in the future. If you start out working, it will be almost impossible to quit, as your expenses will go up, and you will want to reward yourself by buying things, with your money.
In the story "When Queens Ride By," one of the theme articles on the side links, a woman tells her story about how her husband wanted her to go to work with him in his business when they first got married. She explained to him that a woman's place was in the home, and later he found out what an advantage it was to him to have one person to come home to who was calm, had a good day, and made life comfy for him. If he had a bad day at work, at least there was only one of them in a grumpy mood. This story was made into a movie on "The Loretta Young Show". It was one of the episodes, and I saw it myself when I was younger. It showed the difference it made when a woman cleaned up her house, took a bath and put on fresh clothing and put a hot dinner in the oven. It showed the difference it made in the men, who, instead of coming home to chaos, neglect and tension, came home to peace, beauty, order, happiness, smiles, cleanliness and good children. A woman cannot achieve all this without staying home and really concentrating on it during the day.
-The first year of marriage is a time to establish a routine. You will need this all of your life, and having that first year free, is crucial. If you wait, and do not come home until you have children, you'll feel huge pressures upon you. Learn to adjust to a homemaking routine when there is just you and your husband, and it will be much easier when additions come into the family.
I know there is so much more to this subject, but I've already gone beyond my self-imposed one page limit, so I'll let the others add their useful comments to this.
When a woman goes to work, she cuts herself off socially, from the home, the church, her parents. I have seen this many times, as a preacher's wife. Christian women know the importance of such spiritual qualities as accessibility, availability, and flexibility. Working away from home that first year cuts off your flexibilty and your accessibility. I remember when we were able to visit aunts and uncles and the aunts were home, so we visited with them until the husbands came home. Years later when so many women went to work, you couldn't make a trip to visit a relative because the women were not home anymore. You had to wait til they both got home, and when they did, they were in no mood to entertain. Homemakers are flexible with their time. Although we must get our houses in order, we know we can drop it all at a moment's notice and attend to something else when it comes up.
If you are bored, as a young married woman at home, then you are not discovering the work that must be done. You are not doing enough. Boredom does not exist in the mind of a thrifty, industrious, creative, spiritual person. If you will really apply yourself to the job and be the best you can possibly be, you will find that there is not enough time in a day to complete everything. You can begin sewing a skirt or dress on Monday and have a new one to wear by the following Sunday. Building your wardrobe through sewing, the first year, will prove to be one of the most important things you ever did, because the next years will keep you so busy you will not have time to do so.
Everyone remembers a lady I wrote about, a friend of mine that I see every week, who married at the age of 15. That first year her husband only earned a couple of dollars an hour. She kept a list of all they spent, with the receipts, and she figured out how to make his paycheck last for the month. She had kept a good relationship with her mother, who graciously helped them in many ways by fixing the little cottage up and inviting them over for meals. Being a successful young married couple depends a lot on having a good relationship with the parents, who want to help in many ways. If the young woman goes to work, the parents will not see the need for such generosity. After all, the girl is working, they will reason, and will not have as great a need. Many young women in the past stayed home, even though there was no money or very little money. They used to say they could "live on love," and they were right. In that first year, their appreciation for each other dimmed the desire for worldly goods. They were happy to share their food and share their possessions.
Lauren Christine is newly married, and her blog shows the kind of contented busy-ness that I am talking about.