Thursday, August 15, 2013

Fearing The Future

There are many arguments put forth for a married woman and mother to work outside home. One of the most persistent objections to full time homemaking is the one which claims that you should work at least part-time to prepare yourself for the situation when your husband dies suddenly or divorces you. The idea is that working part-time insures the woman against financial uncertainty in the future, while on the other hand allowing her to properly fulfill her domestic duties.

I personally believe that the argument doesn't hold water, and I'll try to explain why. First, let's consider the situation from a purely pragmatic point of view. Most part-time jobs don't pay well and offer no job security. In the family where the wife works part-time, her husband will still be the primary breadwinner, which means that if his income is suddenly lost by whatever reason, the family will be in trouble.

Second, what do we understand under working part-time? 30 hours a week is still officially considered part-time, and this type of job could pay really well, but any woman who is away from home for that amount of time, will necessarily neglect her domestic duties. At this point, she could just as well start working full-time.

If, on the other hand, she is employed for 10 hours a week, her contribution to the family income will likely be very small, and her salary will by no means guarantee her financial independence, should anything happen to her husband. It will also interfere with her domestic duties, though to the lesser degree. In many cases, the wife could probably contribute more to the family budget just by strict economy and wise money management.

It's logical that in the situation when the wife is left without means, either through her husband's death or divorce, she'll probably have to find some paid employment, but does it really make sense to keep on working now to prepare yourself for something which may or may not happen in future? It would probably be a better idea to start an emergency fund.

You see, having a job now is no guarantee for having it in the future. I heard about a lady who was married and also worked full time as a shop assistant. She decided she didn't need her boring old husband any more and ditched him. Next month she was fired from her job. So now she has no job and no husband and lives on public assistance.

A neighbour lady lost her job years ago and still can't find anything. Luckily for her, she is married and her husband works, so that he can provide for her. European economy is not doing fine at the moment, and there is little by way of job security, in whatever branch. You may think that you insured yourself against the future problems by getting this part-time job, but is it really so?

The truth is, in this life there are no guarantees of anything. There is no guarantee that when one gets out of his house he won't be hit by a car and die. There is no point in going against your convictions just in case something bad happens to you in the future. For a Christian, this is a matter of faith. It's whether we believe what the Bible says about the male - female roles, or not. If you don't believe it, there is probably little which could be said to convince you otherwise, but if you do, then you should do what is right, regardless of the consequences.

This said, I'd like to point out that it's only reasonable to take some measures to ensure that if your husband dies, you are not left completely destitute. There are things like insurances. In a sane society, the widow would have right to a pension, and would not be forced out of the house and into the work world. Churches nowadays are obsessed with the Third World countries, but often offer little or no financial help to a woman who finds herself in a difficult sitution. Also, I firmly believe that the family should help their own. After all, charity begins at home, as they say.

If you have daughters, even though you believe that they should become housewives, it helps when they are taught some skills which ensure that they can make their own living, if necessary. You never know when they may need it. If emergency arises, it's good if the woman is not totally helpless.

To sum it up, while it is reasonable to prepare yourself for the future, we should not be paranoid about it. Women stayed home in much worse times than these. The arguments against being a full-time housewife could also be used against having children, and yet there are women who get pregnant in the refugee camps. If our ancestors had thought as we do, the mankind would have probably died out long ago. Pa Ingalls used to say that nothing was sure but death and taxes, and yet they went on and got 4 children in the wilderness, and I don't recall Ma Ingalls having a job outside home, either.


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful and wise post. It really spoke to my heart.


  2. You are welcome, Lesley! I'm glad that you liked it.

  3. I couldn't agree more with you!

  4. Great minds always think alike, they say...:)

    1. "In many cases, the wife could probably contribute more to the family budget just by strict economy and wise money management."

      Exactly. I wonder why this opinion is not talked aloud more. On the contrary, women are encouraged to have a job, even a part-time one, at any cost. And costs there are, from commuting (you might even need a second car just to get to your 'dream job') to office birthday parties and so on.

      A penny saved is a penny earned.

      On of my favorite books is American Frugal Housewife from 1830's. It is outdated in some areas, but the basics are valid today. The section of 'Educating daughters' is a little bit spooky because it resembles so much the situation today: *let them have fun while they are young* My favorite quote is "It is too plain that our present expensive habits are productive of much domestic unhappiness, and injurious to public prosperity."

      American Frugal Housewife can be read online

  5. Thanks for the link, Miriam! I will surely check it. I like vintage homemaking manuals. I think we live in the times when the default position is that every adult women must be in the paid employment. It doesn't mean that it is actually so in 100% of the cases, but it is promoted as the society ideal hence the enormous pressure for every woman to conform. A friend of mine has 5 children, one under the age of three and people keep asking her when is she going to start working. Apparently no amount of children is enough for a woman to justify her staying home!