Saturday, August 09, 2008

First Year Home

The Wedding Ceremony by Harrison Fisher (1875-1934) at LovelyWhatevers

My Wife

by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Trusty, dusky, vivid, true,
With eyes of gold and bramble-dew,
Steel-true and blade-straight,
The great artificer
Made my mate.
Honour, anger, valour, fire;
A love that life could never tire,
Death quench or evil stir,
The mighty master
Gave to her.
Teacher, tender, comrade, wife,
A fellow-farer true through life,
Heart-whole and soul-free
The august father
Gave to me.

Whether a woman is just married or has just come home after being married for some time, here are a few things that have always, throughout the ages, been a concern for women at home. I will list them under the titles of time, duty and destiny. I am sure there are many more that people could add to this.

Time: I don't know if other married women found this problem during their first year of marriage, but the good use of time is so important. Developing a routine of the home just about has to be done that first year, because it develops good habits of using time wisely. If you know that there are certain things you always do first thing in the morning, you can always use them as an anchor to get you started on the right path when there is confusion. For example, get your appearance ready--a bath, and a freshly pressed dress. It will be necessary to get up early and do this before the rush is on. If you don't, you will find your feet hit the floor running, and you are playing catch-up all day, maybe even never changing out of your night clothes. It never fails, that when you decide to delay getting your appearance prepared, that someone comes to the door that day.

Fix your hair and your face and put on a dash of light perfume, and you will feel like you are going somewhere very important. If someone asks you why you are all dressed up, just say that your work is so important and the people you care for are so precious to you, that you want to dress up for them. I actually don't consider this "dressing up" in the formal sense, but these days, if you even put on a skirt and a fresh blouse, someone is going to look at you funny. (Here is an article on the subject of how to answer when someone says things like this .

Time can really get away from you when you have interruptions. There are two kinds of interruptions in the homemaker's day: those that are necessary and those that are not. Guard your friendships so that they do not rob you of your time. As a newly wed, your loyalty is first to your husband, now, and not to your girlfriends.

Time spent on the phone, or running around with "the girls" is time wasted if you are to establish your home that year. Many a woman has expressed regret that she allowed friends to crowd her time--time that could have been better spent completing important things at home: a sewing project, preparing food, cleaning and improving the appearance of the house and yard, etc. While it is nice to have girlfriends, sometimes they do not understand that your loyalty is now to your husband, and that you have obligations at home.

If you can't work and talk on the phone at the same time, it is better that you do not use it, for it can waste a lot of your time, especially if you are not an experienced homemaker. Be careful of friendships altogether, that they build up your marriage and help you, rather than rob you of your time and emotional energy. Your mother and grandmother, and other wise, older women are probably better guides for you, if they have had good homes, than your younger friends.

Set aside some time for others but do not let them run your life. Choose older women of wisdom, who have had successful marriages and orderly homes, and good children, for your friendships, until you become more proficient at homemaking. We live in an era where we think "peers" are important, but peers do not have to be all your own age.

Sometimes the girls your own age will not understand the necessity of you being wise about time. They may reason that since you are not "out working" that you have all day to laze around, so they may visit and take up your time. Then, when your husband comes home, he is starving and dinner is not ready. He is tired ,and the things that you could have done while he was gone (and unable to do them) did not get done. He then has to help you catch up and still go to work the next day. He may have to help you make a hurry-up dinner. To prevent this, you have to be very busy and serious about your life at home. Remember that you are a help-meet for your husband and so , while he is away, do the things that are helpful to him. What is the point of having a helper if the helper is busy meeting other people's needs all day?

Duty and destiny are combined, for whatever your duty is, will determine your future. Some women complain that things "just happen" to them, but being diligent at home can reduce a lot of the mishaps in their lives. Picking up and cleaning up and having a routine are part of your duty. There is an old saying that used to be put in little plaques on the wall: "Duty Before Desire." We understood this to mean that after we got the dishes washed and put away, after the floor was cleaned, and the bathroom wiped and the beds made, the meals prepared, and so forth, we would have earned our "down-time." That time was for sitting and creating things, writing letters, reading good books, preparing celebrations, shopping, and so forth.

Young women can look ahead and think: What do I want my married life to be like 20 or 30 years from now? Well, it will be somewhat the way it is right now, so analyze carefully how you are using time, and the fulfillment of your duties, and you will be able to foresee your destiny. Instead of just letting "things happen," learn to control your day by creating a routine. This is not the same as a point by point schedule. It just means that in the morning, certain things will be done, as in the afternoon and the evening. Our forebearers had some things figured out long before this. Women had dishtowels with the weekly jobs written on them: Monday is wash day, Tuesday is ironing, Wednesday is shopping, Thursday is baking, Friday is mending, Saturday is rest, Sunday is church. It varied, but basically, it kept them from having to do the same things every day. I have tried this and found it to be more efficient and restful than doing all of it every day. There will be every-day jobs such as cooking and washing dishes and straightening up the normal clutter of a home, but having a day to write letters and a day to hang out laundry, can help make a routine for you.

Jesus told his disciples to go beyond "duty" when he said, " And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." (Matthew 5:41). We can be inspired by this, because, to tell you the truth, just doing what you "have" to do can be very uncreative and boring. It is when we go beyond the mere doing of something, that it becomes interesting and fun. It is when we try to do it extra well, and make it a beautiful masterpiece, that duty becomes desire. This explains why many people of old actually enjoyed working in their homes, improving their property and yards, and baking a pie, more than they enjoyed being entertained.

When you are first married is the time to develop that habit of making even ordinary jobs shine. If you will use that first year to practice this good attitude, it will serve you well when the children come along (and even if they don't) and in making your home something to be proud of. Slothful living costs you more, and making good use of time is like saving money.


Jenny said...

Oh, how beautiful! Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I agree, I am inspired. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great article! And excellent advice even for the the more seasoned wife who has recently relocated. Setting up new routines and getting established in a new home and community takes time, effort, and concentration. I have found over the years that I am not eager to jump into "the social scene" in the months just after relocating because it takes valuable time away from my work at home. Thanks for saying things that so few are willing to say in your blog!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been a stay at home wife/Mother for twenty-one years. I love being in the home. I treasure the fact that my husband does not pressure me to take on a job outside the home.
Posts like this are an inspiration.
They give a renewed desire to put in that extra mile.
Thank you for taking the time to write.
Also, just a personal comment. I have a nineteen year old son that decided to move to a tiny apartment closer to his job. He is living just far enough away, and I have another son that uses our car everyday, (so I cannot use it). I know my son is working long hours, has been stressed about his finances, and does not have a girlfriend. Being his mother, I began to think of what I wish I could do for him. Then, a little blessing came to me. I realized, that what I was wishing for him was what I do for my own husband. This thought made me feel a value that I had never experienced. Me. I actually want a wife for my son like me. I am not special or great. But, I know that I love my husband. I do a lot for my husband. I wanted another little me to take care of my son. And these thoughts made me realize the real need for the man. A man who has a caring wife is a blessed man. Being a mom, I want a girl to care for my son. It isn't my job anymore, it is a job that is waiting for a nice girl. IF my son is as good to this girl as my husband has been to me, then, she will also be blessed.
Hope you don't mind my little opinion being expressed here.
Again, thank you for your post.

Anonymous said...

This is really to the point, isn't it? I am efficient & purposeful now about my work here at home, but I do regret the early years of our marriage, when I didn't make full use of the time I had. It isn't that I sat around watching TV all day. I just wasn't efforts were rather scattered, I think. Lots of good intentions, not always the results I wanted. I have certainly learned so much in the years since!

Thank you for posting about this very important element of good homemaking.


BessieJoy said...

This is good advice for any homemaker!

Anonymous said...

Thank you dear Lydia for this wonderful, wonderful article! I'm sure it's an inspiration to new and older homemakers. We can't hear enough of these specific directions and great advice... Very much appreciated!! Love, LML

Anonymous said...

A timely and beautiful post.

My husband and I will soon be relocated to a town which is a 6 hours drive from where I currently live. What's overwhelming for me is that this'll be the first time I set up my own home. I've gotten so used to having my mother aka mentor by my side throughout my 3 years of marriage that I cannot imagine what will happen once I have my own place to run with a 10-month-old active baby in tow!

Although I'm looking forward to running my own home I don't know how I will cope with the loneliness and isolation after having all these years in the company of my merry family.

Furthermore, how do you do housework and attend to your own needs when there's a baby who doesn't like to be put down and needs to be constantly monitored?
With no grandma or aunties to mind my baby boy I don't know how I can get my daily routines done!

I hope those with experience will contribute their 2 cents worth, thanks.

Lynn said...

Another beautiful post - lovely - thank you & well said!

Anonymous said...

I loved this article and the one you gave a link for. We live in such a sloppy society. Two of my daughters work in banks and their coworkers are always commenting on how dressed up they are, which they are only dressing appropriately! And just like going out to work, we homemakers need to take our job just as seriously by getting dressed each morning and organizing our day. One rule I always had for my children is that they had to get all their work done (chores, school work) before they could go off to play. We need the same rule for ourselves. Thanks again for the post. I love coming here.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Very useful reading to me as a new wife! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia. I have been married for over 2 years now and am just now learning what it means to govern my home and what it looks like. I wish I would have discovered these truths you mentioned before now, so late in my "early times" of marriage. Thank you again for being the mentor for younger homemakers and mothers around you that the Lord calls women to be!

ladyakofa said...

I'm not married yet, but this makes sense. I've always been concerned about time management, esp. when I'm at home for holidays or during the weekends.

Lady Akofa.

Jenn said...

How refreshing.

Unknown said...

Once again you are an role model we can look up to.
I have found throughout the years that prayer is so important to accomplish those routines and have found great satisfation in God's blessings for my day. Granted I might miss some of His calling but I can still see the love.
I don't know why women think that being a housekeeper isn't work. When I help dh w/his business & it takes time away from my duties things don't get done. Granted the kids do what they can but there is still that special touch that only the Queen can do. No pay check is the biggest issue. So it isn't good enough that a nice home and all the things that come w/it aren't good enough.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the excellent post this morning. I ended up having a blog article about "why are you dressed up" as a result and put a link to your article and the one you posted. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Cindy said...

Thank you for this post.

The part about being cautious about friends is particularly helpful: I cannot tell you the number of times 'friends' want hours on the phone, an afternoon of time together, or (by far the most popular option) to drop their kids off at my house so they could 'get things done'. (I try to make my daughters part of getting things done!)

People look at me strangely when I say I enjoy my housework. We had guests, and it was so nice to hear them say "What a lovely home" -- but I couldn't have had that without he housework.

And YES! Slothful living costs more!!!! Simply being able to cook a meal is a skill that's disappearing, and it costs people a fortune to eat out all the time.

A respectful question: we talk about the value of peers, but I wonder about the value of peers if we have the opportunity to teach. I have a few friends that have taught me how to be better housewife -- and I've been blessed to be able to teach some of my friends things I'm sure you would consider basic housekeeping (like the fact you have to wash down walls every now and again!) I would hate to lose the value of peer-to-peer teaching. How do you parse a good teaching/learning opportunity from a waste of time?

Again, thank you so much. Your blog is an inspiration.

Lydia said...

Cindy: I did say "we think "peers" are important, but peers do not have to be all your own age. which would indicate the importance of good peers (a peer is someone of equal interests or station in life, not necessarily of equal age) so that would necessitate having some friends who would give you energy, and some friends that you would naturally want to help. The danger is the temptation for younger women to lose track of time, as they may have once had friendships that they spent long summer days with just enjoying the lack of responsibility. Things change wheny you marry, and a lot of girls aren't really prepared for the task of keeping and are surprised at how they have to keep it up and make it livable for two people. That is why I suggested that although they could possibly set aside time for friends, the ones who can really be a benefit to them might be someone older like their own mothers and grandmothers, who have years of experience.

Lydia said...

Nicole, when I get time to go through all my links again, I'll try to replace some of them. Some of them are put there not for Christian women but to educate the radical feminists who need to know the roots of feminism. That way, I don't have to write long explanations to them about the origins of feminism and the damage it does to the family, and I don't have to post articles about that, and can blog about my homemaking interests. That is why I link to other people who have articles already written.

Cindy said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia, for the clarification. I appreciate it.

Aelwyn said...

Very good article! I wish that I had spent more time before marriage practicing homemaking skills and routines. I was a daughter living at home (did not marry until my 30's), but was very career focused out of necessity. (My father died when I was 19. My mother needed my help.) When I married, I really struggled, and still struggle, to use little moments wisely. Learning those routines even before marriage is important.

By the way, I see that you are going to visit Alaska soon; I saw your comment on Sparrow in the Snow's blog. I have yet to travel to Kenai, but my husband went dipnetting a couple weeks ago and came home with about 24 salmon! So I have been learning how to can salmon with a canning pressure cooker.

Enjoy your visit! God grant you traveling mercies.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for this post! This is what I needed today. I am a newlywed (married 4 weeks ago) and am trying to come up with routines and not spend too much time focusing on my friends. I love your blog and have learned so much from you already! Thank you!

Mrs. R said...

I loved this post, and I'm glad you mentioned the getting dressed. I recently "came home" after working at a daycare, and every day at the daycare someone would ask me why I was so dressed up. Many of the girls dressed horribly, and I was embarrassed for the fathers to see them! My answer to people was always, "I want my husband to know I took time to look nice for him today." No one can argue with that! What woman doesn't want that kind of marriage?!

Unknown said...

Oh, if only I'd had this wonderful counsel when I was a newlywed! Looking back, I realize I wasted a lot of time during those precious first years. Once children came along, I felt like I was having to "catch up" in the areas of sewing and other homemaking skills.

...Listen up, young girls!

Candylei said...

I had to smile when I read this post. Especially when you say what to tell people when they ask why are you dressed up? Excellent answer. :)
Living and homesteading in the country does not mean we don't care about our appearance.

Lydia said...

I was looking at two sets of pictures: one, of my family in the homestead era in Alaska. Most of the pictures showed the girls in the family wearing dresses. We loved them so much that when we had to wear snow suits or jeans in the cold weather, we wore the dresses over them! Two: pictures for teh 1800's era and the early visitors and settlers showed women in long wool coats, boots, skirts with layers and layers of things --petticoats, pantaloons, aprons, wrappers, over-dresses, etc. They actually might have been warmer than we are today, dressing in one layer. It didn't seem necessary to the pioneer women to wear jeans or pants, and probably didn't occur to them, because they would not have wanted to wear men's clothes or look like men or immitate their clothing in some way. It is interesting how we get our modern clothes to look like men's clothes (even the underwear) and since it is "made for women" then, can't be accused of actually wearing men's clothing. We wore jeans a lot on the homestead but we didn't like them that much, and we wore dresses when we could!

Anonymous said...

Mrs Honeybee, can I suggest a sling that can be used either on your back or your hip - that way you can carry your ten-month-old while still getting things done around your home.

If you get one that keeps your hands free, it makes housework so much easier than trying to carry a babe and do things at the same time!

A ring sling is probably the most useful sort, since your baby is already ten months - or a woven wrap if you have any tendency to back problems, as they distribute the weight better. They take a little more practice, but in no time you'll be able to carry your babe while still getting things done.