Recently, I was contacted by “Anne” who said,
Hi, Jill! In your post about staying home with the children, you encouraged moms having a hard day to contact you – and so I am. Because today was a bad day!
I feel my husband only values my stay-at-home-mom choice in so far as it saves us money (its cheaper for me to clean our house than for a cleaning service to do it… its cheaper for me to cook than for us to eat out, etc.) But the overwhelming vibe I’ve been getting lately is… that’s where the gratitude stops. He doesn’t value that along with the financial savings, I’m putting my heart and soul into loving our kids and making a godly home for us.
My friends and even my mom are telling me I need to get away for a weekend and just leave him with the kids – that making him carry my ENTIRE load is the route to instill appreciation for the hard work I do everyday – so that he doesn’t feel like he did SO MUCH for me just by loading the dishwasher. But, Jill, I’m not feeling quite right about taking that advice. For one thing, it would confuse our young kids who would not understand why mom disappeared! Surely there’s another way to build up our marriage and pull it our of this rut of ungratefulness… right?! I’d love to hear your insights!!
I found out that Anne is the mother of a four year old and a two year old and is expecting a baby…this means that Anne is working very hard, indeed. I also discovered that her husband had a single mom who worked outside the home.
Here is my reply to Anne and her response. There is a lot more to say on this subject so chime in with your best advice and encouragement for her (and check out the many comments on Generational Womanhood’s Facebook page).
Here is what I have learned about men in general (and what I wish my mother had taught me);
Even the most loving, committed family-man will not really “get” what you do. My husband always said that he wanted me to stay home with the kids (his mom worked as well) and he said he “supported” me but he really didn’t have a clue what an effort I put into it and what a difference I was making in the lives of the children and in him!
He tried to be appreciative but he took me for granted (and, to be honest, I took a lot of what he did for granted).
Here is what I did right when the kids were young:
I read lots of encouraging books that reaffirmed the value of godly motherhood. I wasn’t hearing it from my family, church or society at large. I needed constant reminding that I was raising souls.
I also read and listened to godly encouragement in my role as a wife. I tried very hard not to be so child-centered that I forgot about my husband so I taught my kids to pick up the house a bit before he came home from work and to welcome him when he came in the door. Too many men come in from a hard day’s work and aren’t even acknowledged or greeted when they come in the door.
Here is what I did wrong;
I felt sorry for myself and I expected him to be a godly Patriarch who had the time, energy and maturity to “build me up.” He was maturing just as I was maturing and that was too much to expect from him.
I listened to other “older” women who told me I “deserved” a break and that I had it “hard.” Motherhood was sanctifying me and, yes, it was very hard but not because of other people but because of my own maturing process.
I would advise you to renew your mind over and over. Ask God to help you be the queen over your home, ruling with graciousness and joy. Ask Him to help you think of ways to bless your husband. Yes, you may need to ask your husband to appreciate you every once in a while (and there is nothing wrong with insisting on respect for the hard work you do!) but wait on God to work on your husband.
Don’t you worry! The day will come when your husband will visit another family or see a friend come home to a chaotic home without a caring wife and he will realize what a blessing you are to him and the family. My husband would verbally thank me for what I did but really didn’t appreciate me until later when he saw what other men experienced in their homes. He really and truly appreciates me now!
Personally, I don’t think it would hurt to occasionally leave your children with your husband for a few hours or part of a day although I don’t think that you need to “teach him a lesson” by leaving the kids with him.
Also, are your friends and mom telling you to leave the kids with him because you tell them how your husband doesn’t appreciate you? Be careful about gaining the sympathy of your friends and family at your husband’s expense. Your friends are loyal to you and they can get very upset on your behalf and be angry against your husband. Their reaction to your situation might make you feel justified in your own resentment. Instead, if you need a place to “vent”, try to find someone who is wise, older and neutral! Those people are hard to find but they are out there.
Ultimately, you have a responsibility before God to be the best wife and mother you can be. If you are appreciated for what you do, it is a wonderful thing. If you aren’t, God sees what you do and is pleased with you and, meanwhile, you are maturing and growing as a woman.
Bless your husband. Bless him and don’t curse him. Raise up children who will bless him! Many a man has been humbled by the kindness of a godly wife.
At the same time, remember that you don’t have to carry HIS load. If life is too heavy for you or you are taking on too many responsibilities, ask him for wisdom and help. He doesn’t really have to unload dishes (just like you don’t have to do his work). As soon as you can, teach your little ones to help you. Clap for them and appreciate them and your load will gradually get lighter.
If you are overwhelmed, talk to your hubby about finding a mother’s helper (pre-teen and teen girls who will work for a small amount just to assist you). Again, your husband does need to know that you feel overloaded and unappreciated but let him know in a gracious, non-attacking manner!
Remember, the feministic mindset that has infected all of us causes us to resent our husbands for not “helping” us but we were created to be a helper for him! This doesn’t mean waiting on him hand and foot but it means completing him. Part of completing him is by raising his children and running his home and managing his money. All of these things are done for the mutual benefit of the covenant couple.
So. let him know how blessed you are to be his wife and have his children and how much it means to you when he appreciates you.
Tell your husband that he is “the man” because he is willing to be the sole provider so that you can stay home and nurture the children. Since his mother worked outside the home and was a single mom, he must often feel like he is groping in the dark; trying to be a man without any guideposts or examples of how to live like one! Your appreciation and respect is like oxygen to his soul. He needs to know he can trust you to speak good things about him with other women. A man like your husband is becoming more and more rare today. He is stepping up to the plate and shouldering a heavy burden and you are blessed because of him!
Anne, you are doing an essential work. You are raising children who will transform our nation and our world. Don’t give up. Don’t give in! Trust God.
Here is Anne’s gracious reply:
I just read your reply & can’t tell you how much it means to me! I want to read it through a few more times and take some time to reply later today when my little guy is napping. For now I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much it means to get such practical encouragement when stay-at-home-mothering can be such a lonely task (so many of my mom friends tell me how eager they are for their children to become school-age so they can finally quit “having to” stay home with them & get “their life” back). Embracing the calling to being a mom does not seem widely understood & its rare for me to find anyone who feels *blessed* by it. Again, thank you.