While Rob and I were preparing to get married we had several conversations about me working after we got married. We agreed that I would in fact stay home, even before we were blessed with children.
Yet during the first year of our marriage I did work outside the home. I worked part-time. I did not at that time work at home (our marital home) at all. Truth be told during the first year of our marriage I never stepped foot inside our home. Rob lived there, in Florida, and I continued to live with my parents, in Scotland. We were going through the immigration process and it took a full year to get my visa that would allow me to move in and live with my husband. While we were waiting I continued to work.
When I immigrated to the USA and finally got to live with my precious husband I no longer worked in paid employment outside our home. This was not always an easy a choice. Less than a month after I arrived Stateside my husband had his hours cut at work. Living on a single income became a very tight squeeze. We again visited the idea of me finding paid employment. Again we made the decision that I should stay at home.
Why was this important to us, especially when we were not yet parents? There were a few reasons for us. I'll start with the least important and then go on to the more important reasons.
Firstly Rob was given some advice from one of the friends who led him to the Lord. This friend shared from the wisdom of being married for nearly 20 years, and living on a single income while growing and raising a family with his wife. He told Rob that if we were planning on having children and for me to stay home with them it would be wiser for me to stay home from the start. That way we would not get used to having a second income, even if we chose to save all of that second income. This was one of the best pieces of advice we received when we got married. It was not always easy to live on one income, so how much harder who that have been if we had to make a bigger adjustment from 2 incomes.
The second reason for us was that we did indeed want to have children. We were older when we got married and knew that we could not take fertility for granted. We had both seen friends and family struggle with fertility issues. The reasons for this struggle were many, but one that seemed to be shared by all those we knew was that the wife not only worked outside the home, but she also had a lot of stress from both the job and trying to juggle keeping the home and other outside commitments too. We wanted to given ourselves the best possible opportunities to be able to have children, so adding a stressful outside job did not make sense, even in the midst of a very tight budget. It was also much easier for both of us to stay healthy when I am home cooking everything from scratch instead of eating mass produced convenience foods or resorting to eating out (which also makes it more difficult to stick to a budget.)
More important than either of these good reasons, was the most important reason of all. We understood that God's will was for me to stay at home. When we searched the Scriptures we could find no evidence that the Lord desires women to work outside the home. In fact we found very much the opposite. Women who were busy outside of the home were always portrayed as wicked women, rebellious and discontent. In the New Testament women are clearly instructed to be "keepers at home." Even widows of child bearing age were instructed to remarry rather than rely on welfare. Widows who are older were to be looked after by their adult children/grandchildren rather than resort to welfare. Those widows who had neither of these options were to receive welfare from the church only if they had proved themselves to be hard working at home, and not prone to laziness.
But what about the Proverbs 31 woman? I have heard that used as justification for working outside the home. Yet this woman, who is worth is above rubies, is not shown as working outside the home. Rather she looks well to the ways of her household. She uses her spare time to be industrious for sure, but the things she does are at home industries. She buys land to provide more food. She makes clothes for her family, and makes some extras that she can sell to merchants. She prepares food to feed her family. She is indeed the ultimate stay at home wife and mother. She uses all her waking hours for the benefit of her family, while being home to look after her family.
I will continue with Part 2 - How we live on a single income. I'll share some of the things we have learned to help us live within our means.
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.