Monday, December 19, 2016

Spiritual Duties Of The Wife

I got this interesting comment on my Prov 31 post:

I am trying to say that maybe we should focus more on the spiritual stuff and less on our domestic duties. No domestic duties are of course important, but are they really supposed to be our main interest in life? If there was a christian man who would think that his job is the most important thing in his life, wouldn't we protest? So how come christian woman's main focus in life should be her domestic duties, NOT her spiritual life?

Now I do understand that if one keeps homemaking blog, one writes about homemaking. :) But in several christian blogs it seems to me that the only bible verses, only spiritual thing is this Proverbs 31 Woman -thing. It's hardly the most important bible verse for christians. 

That made me think about several things. Personally I think that feminism/progressive ideology is behind the heavy emphasis laid on this particular Bible chapter. Proverbs 31 presents a "superwoman" so to say, an ideal which as some preachers pointed out, is practically impossible to achieve in real life. So when feminists start complaining about traditional family being restrictive to female ambitions, the Proverbs 31 lady is trotted out as a proof that "Biblical womanhood" is all-encompassing, that there is really no contradiction between being a successful businesswoman and a good wife and mother, etc etc.

It's also used (unfortunately) by some preachers and religious groups to browbeat housewives into various money-making activities or to accuse them of laziness if they prefer a creative hobby or lunching out with a friend to selling home-made soap and stuff on the internet. For these types of folks it's always about money. Such is the nature of our age that even Bible verses get corrupted in  pursuit of the financial gains.

On the other hand, the world keeps telling women that domesticity is dull, that homemaking, cooking and child-rearing are unimportant and can be easily outsourced so it's only logical that more traditional Christians will point to this chapter as the proof that these things are far from unimportant.

Personally I think that this chapter has both a literal and a figurative meaning. Since we don't live in polygamous households with many servants in an agricultural society, we can't literally follow it as a blueprint for our daily life but we can deduce from it the importance of being a good domestic manager and overall successful in running a household. While I don't believe that it contains a command for every woman to have a business or earn money, it shows that a good wife is financially prudent and that if money must be earned it should be earned from home.

I also don't believe there is a contradiction between spiritual life of a Christian woman and her domestic duties, however, I agree with the point that the spiritual side often gets neglected in our materialistic times. You know there are some articles supporting homemakers which start enumerating the things she does and putting a price tag on them, like driving children to school, cooking dinner, cleaning the bathroom and they end with a salary the housewife should earn.

While all this is important, there are other things a traditional woman does which can't be exactly measured, like providing a sympathetic ear, creating a nice and warm sphere at home, snuggling with her husband on the couch to watch his favourite movie, reading to her children, being there for her friends when they are in trouble, visiting an aged widowed aunt; in short providing comfort and attention to those around her. That's what women have done through the ages, even those who were wealthy and had servants to do their cleaning and cooking. Think about Jane Austen's Emma and the attention which she showed to her father. This is a sort of thing you can't put the price on.

And if we talk about spiritual duties, there is prayer and meditation and Bible studying and reading good books which give us positive examples and help us grow in our faith and encourage us in fulfilling our duties. It all takes time, too. Unfortunately, while prayer and Bible studies are at least still considered more or less important, spending too much time reading is viewed as frivolous and hardly important at all, as opposed to earning money and scrubbing the floors. I agree with the above-mentioned commenter (Housewife from Finland) that it's a pity!


  1. Yes.

    And what I like the most is that after the day's work, evenings can be spent together. No catching up on housework, no need to plan for special 'relationship weekends' to 'meet' with your spouse. I highly recommend!

  2. Housewife from FinlandDecember 20, 2016 at 3:14 AM

    Amen to Miriam. :)

    I think that if a woman is to create a peaceful atmosphere to her home, she must not have that "worklife-like" attitude towards her domestic duties. If she does -well, then she could as well go to work and hire a maid to take care of the domestic stuff. It would make no difference.

    In my opinion the point in being housewife is that you do not need to be efficient and productive in a way one needs to be in worklife. That liberates the housewife to focus on her tasks like they were some sort of zen meditation. Kind of make every duty a prayer. This, and cheerful well rested housewife, are the things that create the atmosphere of home.

    And I am afraid that when people try keep themselves so busy, this is lost. Now I do understand that the pressure to appear busy is huge.

    Anyway isn't it really odd how women bought the idea of "boring housework"? I mean accounting was boring as **** when I still worked. Taking care of my own home with my own ways and schedules is not. :)

  3. I fully agree with all of the above:)

  4. I have been teaching for the last ten years or so after being a full time wife for 20 years and what I have found is that working and keeping house is doable, but leaves little time for any leisure at all.

    1. Dear Mrs. WMC,
      That is exactly where I was once. I thought leisure is not for me - it is for others as they are somehow qualified for it. Later I have learnt, with my husband's guidance, that I, too, am worthy for some leisure and fun. As he said 'we can always buy new dishes', meaning that my well-being is more important than some housework that was left behind.

      Nobody is a machine.

  5. Yes, and it often leads to stress and marital problems.

  6. Because we are not machines and need time to relax and recuperate, especially as we get older. And women are generally worse at coping with stress.

  7. Sanne',
    You are so right. As I've gotten older, I find I can become very tired from doing too much in the home, just as I was when I was working and trying to manage the home on top of it.
    I still have times where I feel guilty if I "take a day off" when maybe I do very little but the basics; however my husband assures me that he has no issue with this. As he is self-employee, he often tells me that if I did not do all that I do (in running the home), he couldn't do all that he does.
    I feel I am very fortunate that he feels that way.

  8. As women get older, they undergo profound changes in their biology which influences their hormonal balance and all sorts of other things. We are all supposed to pretend that it's no big deal, but it often is.

    It's great to have a sympathetic spouse as many men seem not to understand how different female biology really is from male, probably because they have been taught their whole life that men and women are basically the same.

    I'd like to add to all of the above, that despite the need for rest, doing overall a good job or running the house is essential to the homemaker's well-being and self-esteem because the sense of accomplishment improves her dopamine levels. Dopamine is the hormone which makes us feeling younger and gives us zest for life. I'll write more about it later.

  9. Housewife from FinlandDecember 22, 2016 at 3:43 AM

    Yes, of course it is important to do your duties well. :) Especially if one has protestant upbringing, one cannot be happy if she does her duties badly. :)

    I have noticed that the more I dare to show my weaknesses, the stronger my husbands seems to become. Maybe men need to feel that they are the big strong man in the relationship to be able really be the best version of themselves? I think I have read something like that somewhere. Maybe in Secular Patriarchy blog, I don't know.

  10. Helen Andelin in "Fascinating Womanhood" wrote a lot about it.

  11. Housewife from FinlandDecember 22, 2016 at 5:39 AM

    Did she? I haven't read the book jet, but I ordered it to myself for christmas present. :) But it haven't arrived jet.


  12. Yes, basically her whole teaching is about how to make the man feel wonderful by admiring his manliness:)

  13. She even said men crave admiration more than sex.

  14. Sanne'
    I'd be very interested in reading about the effects of Dopamine. I know I am much happier and peaceful when my home is clean and tidy, and I'm providing nice meals for my husband.
    It is a lovely feeling of contentment.

  15. I'll write about it after Christmas.